An open letter from President Samia Suluhu.
TODAY, Tanzania marks 30 years since we officially restored the multiparty political system.
During that period, our nation has passed through happiness, sadness, turmoil and endured all kinds of challenges whilst treading the new path.
This was never meant to be a smooth transition because such times have never been easy all over the world.
The years during which Tanzania reintroduced the multiparty system were truly trying times.
The early 1990s witnessed challenges such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, intrastate conflicts across the African continent, Rwanda genocide and countless of political and economic crisis in the developing countries like ours.
But Tanzanians sailed through this period united as ever and 30 years on, we have maintained that tradition.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all Tanzanians and it is my huge expectation that the leaders who will come 50 to 100 years later, will continue to lead a unified country with citizens who do not discriminate each other and do not fight against each other even if they have different perceptions on how to run their country.
It is important to reflect on how we moved into this multiparty system. President Ali Hassan Mwinyi formed a commission led by Chief Justice Francis Nyalali which found that only 20 per cent of Tanzanians wanted the multiparty system. It was the wisdom of Mzee Mwinyi and his fellow leaders who decided to listen to the few.
If our elders would have waited for the 80 per cent to demand multiparty democracy before agreeing to make the transition, possibly today we wouldn’t be where we are. This is a big lesson to politicians of my generation and those who will come in the future.
In any matter of great national interest, knowledge and wisdom are more important than numbers.
From one political party – Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), and now we have about 20 registered parties. Instead of listening to one voice and sometimes saying ‘Long Live Chairperson’s Thoughts,” now Tanzanians listen to different schools of thought and voices.
Fortunately, Chairman Mao Zedong once said “Let a hundred flowers blossom”.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate all those who made this journey a success. CCM and government leaders who saw the need to allow the multi-party system before the war and violence forced us to, and activists and intellectuals who were helping to show us that we needed to make the transition to a multi-party system.
However, it will be a big mistake to think that it is a work done. I believe we are now going through the same difficult environment that existed when we started the multi-party system. There are wars in various parts of the world, including in developed countries, a liberal democratic system is going through a crisis and big countries are fighting for world domination. It is a challenge that our generation leaders need to overcome as my predecessors did.
That is why in my leadership I believe in what is known as 4Rs which is an abbreviation of four words, Reconciliation, Resiliency, Reforms and Rebuilding.
In the famous 19th-century Iolanthe operetta, writers Gilbert and Sullivan mentioned one thing about the American nation at that time; “Everyone born is either a conservative child or a liberal child.”
I do not believe in such positions. That a human being, be it a politician, a leader or a common citizen, has a hardline stance on matters of national interest. A particular position or situation may be understood or accepted at some point but not always. Not always it is time for complimenting each other and not always it is time for confronting each other.
In building a better Tanzania I aspire to build a society of reconciliation and harmony. I wish to build unity regardless of our political, religious, ethnic and all other differences. This will be possible by building a society that enjoys equal rights before the law, without discrimination and that provides equal economic opportunities for all.
I believe reconciliation cannot be achieved through discrimination and where there are those who are deprived of their opportunities and economic and civil rights.
The Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere always told us that national building is not an easy task; it requires commitment and political will. It is, therefore, important for every Tanzanian to understand that this country will not make any progress if we, citizens and leaders do not stand firm to protect our resources and values. We need to stand united to build a strong nation, because unity and solidarity is the only solution for us as a nation to overcome challenges facing our country and the universe.
As we march ahead, we will certainly face turbulence and derailment in various aspects; politically, economically, environmentally and socially but it is important to persevere and be resilient. This is because we have no other nation than ours…this is our country, our home. I was so much encouraged and motivated by the manner in which Tanzanians have embraced the Royal Tour project. You have shown the highest degree of patriotism.
Change is important for personal development, although for others, the concept of change can be unsettling. Many of us would prefer to shy away from changes no matter whether they are big or small. However, change is an integral part of our personal development journey and for the most part, it should be embraced.
In marking 30 years of multiparty democracy, my government is committed and will always strive to initiate changes in the political and economic systems, as well as making legal electoral reforms. The objective is to ensure we match with the current demands. It is, therefore, important for us to clearly know when to make changes that touch all aspects of life, even when such changes face objections from some quarters during that specific time.
I assure Tanzanians that legal electoral reforms will bring about level playing field competition and provide opportunity for the electorates to elect leaders of their choice. Economically, reforms will provide broader opportunities for the majority to benefit, instead of the few.
I am aware that citizens don’t feed in reconciliation, neither change. At the end of the day, as my predecessors did in this century; Benjamin Mkapa, Jakaya Kikwete and John Magufuli, the main goal has to be the growth of our economy.
We need to build the economy, which will increase job opportunities for our youths as well as opening up opportunities for all social groups in the country.
Already, we are developing big infrastructure projects and others in mining and energy sectors.
Efforts done through campaigns of the Royal Tour are meant to stimulate the tourism sector, which was badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In agriculture, we are going to make other major reforms to make this key sector to deliver and attain a desired contribution to our economy.
I believe that with our efforts of 4Rs, we can fulfill the objectives of having a good multiparty system. The main objective was not just having a multi-party system but to build a society which embraces reconciliation, tolerance and a sustainable economy for all.
This is the best way of developing the dreams of those who had fought for the establishment of the multiparty system.