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The East African : Apr 6th 2015
The EastAfrican OPINION APRIL 4-10,2015 Let’s not delude ourselves that these attacks are aimed only at Kenya.” Jene≥ali Ulimwengu T he horrendous terror attack in Garissa, in northeastern Kenya this past week, serves as a reminder that we are liv- ing in dangerous times and that that danger is ubiquitous; it can strike anywhere, at any time. After the Westgate attack in 2013, which marked a high watermark in an otherwise continual terror campaign, this is probably the most shocking assault on civilians in Kenya. It is also a rare happening in a learning institution. But the point to be made from this should be that every place is at risk and everybody is under threat, and it’s not only in Kenya but all over the region. The rest of the region may delude itself in believing that these attacks are retribution against Kenya for its military intervention in Somalia, but nothing could be dafter than that. Of course that is what Al Shabaab says, but we have to go beyond easy justifications and look at what the group represents. This is a fascist group that intends to impose an “Is- Di≥ty money, c≥minalised politics make ou≥ ≥ule≥s impotent in the face of te≥≥o≥ lamic” state in Somalia under which that country, and more in the region, would be catapulted back to medieval times and before. As an Al Qaeda franchise, it sees no reason why women should go to school or to the factory; it thinks nothing of stoning adulterers to death; as far as it’s concerned, thieves should have their hands chopped off, those who listen to music should be flogged, and everybody should be a Muslim. That’s only for starters, but we are almost all of us offenders already. If their rule were introduced in our countries, many of us would be widows or widowers, many of our politicians would walk around handless and popular musician Diamond Platinumz would go back to hawking water in Temeke. So, since we’re all threatened, we may as well work together to face up to this virus. There are, of course, the very rudimentary security measures that we continue to ignore at our peril. It seems anybody can enter any building in Dar es Salaam without the slightest screening. I see throngs of young men and women “chilling” in discotheques where the only security apparatus is the muscled bouncer waiting to deal with those who become too happy. All these are ideal, soft targets, and it beats me how we can continue to ignore the immediacy of security checks in these areas of human concentration. Then, there was a lot of hullabaloo in sections of Kenyan society when a suggestion was made to introduce the “nyumba-kumi” system, understandably because it bore the undertones of the “socialist” era in Tanzania. Maybe it’s time this 10-cell system was rethought in light of what is happening. People coming and going into and out of neighbourhoods without anybody knowing exactly what they are up to is not a very good idea of security, and freedom without security is an empty word. But let’s think some more. Obvi- ously Al Shabaab has huge financial resources, which bankroll their murders. It’s clear to me that these resources are ill-gotten and are products of money-laundering operations. It’s this money that has hiked prop- erty prices in our region. For example, in Dar es Salaam, the price of an unremarkable plot of land in a prime area would buy you three spacious villas — with grounds — in Pretoria, Johannesburg or Cape Town. I suspect it’s no different in Nairobi and elsewhere. Where is this money coming from, and why don’t our governments seem to care a hoot? I know some of this filthy money finds its way into our political processes, which criminalises our political systems — we have an election coming up in Tanzania, remember? — and renders them impotent to deal with terror. Another by-product of these terror attacks is more destructive. The act of separating Muslims from non-Muslims and then killing the latter will necessarily drive a wedge between Separating Muslims from non-Muslims and then killing the latter will drive a wedge between our communities our communities, which are already uneasy with each other, courtesy of political mismanagement and cluelessness. Our rulers need to move with fore- boding and haste combined. Rash action will backfire, while procrastination will prove once again to be the thief of time. Jene≥ali Ulimwengu is chai≥man of the boa≥d of the Raia Mwema newspape≥ and an advocate of the High Cou≥t in Da≥ es Salaam. E-mail: ulimwengu@jene≥ali.com 19 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Electronic correspondence should be sent to: email@example.com. Send attached text or Word documents Muntu not to blame for FDC’s past electoral losses I TOTALLY disagree with the argument in the lead story in The EastAfrican issue of March 28 entitled The Muntu enigma may cost FDC the presidency a third time. Blaming Mugisha Muntu for the past losses is irresponsible. From the outset, let me state that it is proper for the Forum DC to be criticised, as this will help us improve the organisation, but it is wrong for facts to be blatantly ignored or distorted. The facts are that Muntu was not the FDC presidential candidate when the party lost in 2005 and 2011. Neither was he the party president. After the last election, the party spent a whole year resolving the post-election conflict. We consider this conflict resolved. The FDC cannot make the ret- rogressive step away from internal democracy to a sole candidature or sole vision bearer. The party has trained its leaders countrywide, adopted a strategic plan, reconstituted the secretariat, held rallies and talk show. The current focus of the party is organisational, leadership development and candidate identification. We are also involved in the free and fair election campaign with other parties and civil society. The approach of the party is transparent and participatory. We consider those areas as critical to resolving some internal issues in the party. In the 2011 elections, we had problems getting candidates in some parts of the country. Our focus now is to handle these challenges. So, how is the Muntu enigma denying the FDC the presidency a third time? We don’t see it in his intentions as party leader and not in the methods we use. Even when we lost in 2005 and 2011, there were very credible reports by both local and international observers about the conduct and outcome those elections. There was also a Supreme Court ruling which clearly highlighted the fraudulent conduct of those elections. A balanced story would have pointed out that it was neither a Kizza Besigye nor a Muntu failure. To ignore this fact and blame the FDC and now Muntu is, to say the least, dishonest. As a party we are alive to the current political environment and are trying hard not to despair. Moreover, we believe that it is critical that we organise better internally and partner with others to change the external environment. That is why the FDC is com- mitted to the free and fair election campaign, interparty dialogue, activism, interparty cooperation on a project-by-project basis and internal party development. We launched a policy agenda that has disarmed our critics and got positive reviews countrywide. Perhaps it would have been fair to comment on our policy commitment to invest in people, build economic infrastructure and regional and security frameworks. Are these bad or good intentions? Unfortunately, the reporter majored in discounting the very excellent organisation at Serena Hotel and miscounting the numbers in Nakivubo. They were more than 200, because the tent alone had 200 chairs, in the pavilion sat more than 100 and those next to the stage were more. At our second public event in Iganga, which was also blessed with rain, we had a mammoth crowd. Your reporter dared not men- tion it. In politics, crowds are very important for morale boosting, but good organisation is better in translating crowds into believers who will not be bought off and or intimidated Ugandanstyle. For the public launches, we will talk to crowds, individuals, and handfuls till Ugandans, low and high; urban and rural; rich and poor; start to associate the FDC with these ideals. This month, the FDC will con- duct grassroots elections for its committees. Muntu is certainly not the enigma. We are charting a way out of the challenges that have confronted the party. FDC is also a victim of the broader dictatorial political environment in Uganda and this should not be disregarded. Alaso Alice Asianut Secretary General FDC Stephen Partington firstname.lastname@example.org POLITICS AND VERSE ‘The Nation’s State’ The State of the Nation Is excellent, says The man at the helm In his rose-tinted shades. The people are rich And the people are free, And things are improving For you and for me. Security’s fine And our borders, secure; There’s no need to fear Al-Shabaab any more. Corruption in government’s Gonna be solved, The dodgy folk named And sent packing, home! Sorry’s been said For the wrongs of the past, Thought we’d rather have Justice! But haven’t been asked.
Mar 30th 2015
Apr 13th 2015