27 Sept 2009

Accidents do happen! However, some accidents are avoidable especially if someone somewhere would have taken their responsibility seriously. For ages, thousands of innocent Tanzanian lives have been lost in fire, marine (e.g. MV Bukoba), rail and road accidents. It’s fair to say that most if these accidents could have been avoided had those entrusted with passenger safety been up to their tasks. Sadly, in most cases it’s the poor who end up paying the ultimate price. Occasionally, a driver would be nabbed and sent to prison while vehicle inspectors and traffic police who allowed a car that caused accident to be on road despite its mechanical failures are left untouched and unpunished. Of course, punishing them could not bring back the dead but at least it could have served as a lesson to careless drivers and their greedy vehicle proprietors.

A couple of months ago, several people lost their lives in a series of bomb explosions at a Dar suburb of Mbagala. No one knows exactly why the bombs exploded in the first place as we usually believe that bombs are in safe hands in when stored in an Army armoury. The causes of the explosions have been left to speculation since the incident report has been deeply buried in Dr Hussein Mwinyi’s filing cabinets. It should be remembered that the investigation which lead to the publication of the report must have cost a huge amount of taxpayers’ money. As if adding salt to the wound ,we are made to face another loss of public funds after, and nobody seems to care!

Dr Mwinyi pledged that he would resign should the report cite negligence on TPDF as one source of the blasts. He couldn’t be more serious. How could a report prepared by his subordinates implicate him? That’s not in the old Tanzania you and I know! As I said earlier, a resignation of the minister, or the CDF, or the officer in charge of the armoury couldn’t bring back the lives of those who died in the explosions. However, it could have served one purpose that is always ignored when human errors, mistakes or negligence play a vital role in the occurrence of an accident.

The two families who lost their beloved ones in the recent blast will be compensated. Dr Mwinyi and his deputy, Dr William Nchimbi, will very likely promise another mchakato to investigate the causes of the blast, as if they have already made the first report known to the public. What a misuse of doctorates of philosophy! One would have expected excellent performances in a ministry headed by two PhD holders. And as Tanzanians are so good at letting things go, sooner than later the Mbagala tragedies would be forgotten...until another explosion happens, which is still likely.

Expecting pressure from our opposition parties would be fooling ourselves as we all know that whatever they say on behalf of the disadvantaged would most likely be portrayed by the ruling party and its government as sheer political opportunism. Expectedly, some money-making non-governmental body identifying itself as championing for human rights would call for an inquiry, not because it believes that’s the right thing to do but rather to please its funders that it is actually advocating for human rights in our country. That’s the bitter reality about the kind of civil society we have in Tanzania. It’s not only weak in its traditional role as “the public realm of organised social activity located between the state and the private household” but it has also become a breeding ground for ufisadi and mafisadi.

It’s high time Tanzanians wherever they are to understand that we have a very gloomy future if we continue to accept everything as our destiny. Poor leadership is not our fate because we had an election in 2005, and yet we put back into power the same old party that has proved a complete failure after decades of ruling-and wrecking- our country. We have another election next year but there is every indication that the same blunder would be repeated.

We don’t have to settle for less like Simba and Yanga who are busy recruiting “international players” only to remain spectators in regional tournaments. We deserve more than what CCM has been promising to offer us during election campaigns only to come back five years later asking for more time to “finish where they left” as if they had started delivering anything out of their promises in the first place.

Mbagala resident have every reason to demand more than compensations from the people they entrusted with the task of ensuring their safety. Afterall, the little they would get as compensation would not only be incapable of bringing back the innocent lives of their beloved ones taken so prematurely due to negligence by Dr Mwinyi and his bunch of irresponsible officials but would also not be sufficient to prevent father tragedies in the future.


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