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When government policies marginalise young people

7th February 2012
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This week, our columnist GERALD KITABU caught up with Musoma Urban MP, Hon. VICENT NYERERE who granted him an interview. Among other things, they discussed the region’s natural resources and how they are being utilized for the development of the region. Here are excerpts:

 

QUESTION: Could you kindly tell us the resources available in your region?

ANSWER: Thank you. Mara region is one of the regions in the country endowed with plenty of natural resources which, if utilized effectively, could change the region’s development and livelihood of the people.

For example, the region boasts, among others, of Lake Victoria which is the second largest fresh water lake in the world. Alongside the lake, we have fertile soils that could support agriculture including fruits and vegetables.

Fishing is another economic earner carried out on the Lake. The region also used to have four fish processing industries. These were Prime catch, Tanzania Fish Filters, Fish Park (T) Ltd, and Alfa TFP. Unfortunately, two of them are no longer functioning.

 

 

Q: Why is this so?

A: It is because of poor management. All problems started when the government failed to monitor and control fisheries activities along the Lake. This gave a loophole for some fishermen to sell their fish in other countries such as Kenya and Uganda where the price is higher compared to Tanzania.

For example, while a kilo of Nile Perch in Uganda is sold at an equivalent of 6,000/-, the same Kilo fetches between 1900/- and 2000/-. So, a lot of fish get smuggled outside while our local industries lack enough fish to effectively and sufficiently operate.

So, lack of fish has crippled our local industries, the government is denied of revenues and the locals loose jobs from the no longer functioning fish processing industries. To make ends meet, some youths have opted to try their luck in mining sites such as Nyamongo where they, again, face another challenge.

Most are not highly educated and so they don’t get jobs because mining activities use high technology and modern instruments. Some youths cannot operate such high-tech equipments due to lack of education. Because they cannot be absorbed in such economic activities, their idle minds entice them to engage in crimes such as stealing, and armed robbery. Some simply invade the mining sites to get something to earn a living.

 

Q: You said your region has plenty of fertile soil, why can’t they engage in agriculture?

A: The youths have not yet adequately capacitated on land issues. Many don’t have land. But mind you that the land is owned by the state.

When minerals such as gold are discovered somewhere, the government evacuates people to make way for the investors who do mining without empowering young people with mining skills. In fact, we have not yet put in place a better policy and laws to develop our people.

 

Q: Why?

 

A: For example, when the youth are removed from their place where they used to earn a living and get replaced by the investors, sometimes they are not compensated and some are paid very little money equivalent to 50/- shillings.

Lack of clear policies, poor coordination, and weak economic strategies have landed many youths into joblessness. This forces many youths to start demanding their rights through demonstrations or by force. 

 

 

Q: Are youths aware of their rights?

A: Yes! Why not! For your information today many people are very aware of their rights. If you underrate them you are in trouble. Even those who have never been to school know where to get their rights. They learn through peers, workshops and other social gatherings.

A good example is, in the past when people used to be abused and would not take any legal action, but today things have changed. If one is abused, you will see him or her reporting the matter to the police station or to other human rights centres. This shows that many people are more aware now than before.

 

Q: You have ports in Musoma. How have they contributed to the development of your region?

A: I was born and raised in Musoma so I know the region very well. In the past there used to be cargo ships such as MV Umoja which used to ferry goods between Mwanza, Kisumu, Uganda and Musoma. Today, the ship is not operating anymore.

The ship is currently used as an ‘entertainment hall’. Last year’s Miss Mwanza contest for example was held on the ship.

This shows lack of seriousness and poor development plans. At national level, take an example of last year’s 50 years’ celebrations. One of the very interesting things about the celebrations was that at the national stadium, we were shown heavy weapons and tanks which the government said were for the defense and security of this country and its people.

Surprisingly, a few days later, Dar es Salaam with its many tanks and weapons, was affected by heavy floods that claimed lives of hundreds of Dar es Salaam’s poor people and we didn’t see any tanks or heavy weapons being used to rescue people. So, what was the reason for displaying the weapons and tanks before the public. Was that not a ridicule for the poor people?

 

Q: Looking at the number of unemployed youths, how do you think they can be empowered?

A: There are many ways through which the youths can be empowered. It must be very well understood that the youths constitute a very important energetic group in the community. They are future parents and leaders. It is from the youths that a better nation with happy people is built on.

If they are well organized and get access to resources, get support from financial institutions, they will be availed many development opportunities.

 

Q: What resources are you talking about?

A: There are many, but the most important resource is land. Agriculture employs more than 80 percent of the population. This means that it is the major single employer than any other resource. Surprisingly, many youths don’t have access to land. Laws and policies are not youth-friendly. Fertile soils and mining sites are being given to investors.

This is evident in the series of land conflicts happening every passing day in different parts of the country. The fact that youths do not have access to land limits them from accessing loans from financial institutions. As a result many youths are leaving their villages, flocking urban areas where they end up engaging in crimes and other illegal activities.

 

Q: So, what should be the solution to all this?

A: On agriculture, the government is taking it as an event and not as an ongoing economic process. For example, Kilimo kwanza is not well known among many farmers. Before implementation, the villagers who are the main target, should have been given land titles, education on better farming methods, education on food crops, processing industries and markets.

This way, kilimo kwanza would have been successful. Instead, Kilimo kwanza has frustrated the youth. That’s why many youths are now migrating from their villagers to urban areas to earn a living. Most are engaged in motorcycle business.

The youth should own land. Their villages should be surveyed and given title deeds. Plans should be made for them to have access to financial institutions.  In mining sites, the government should empower young people to provide services such as supplying cooking oils, fuel, chemicals for processing of minerals and many others. This would make them feel part of the mining industry.

In fisheries, the government must revive food processing and fish industries so that they can provide employment for the youth. The youth must be empowered to grow vegetables, fruits, fish farming and markets.

Musoma port depends on the effectiveness of the Dar es Salaam port but now the Dar es Salaam port is weak and ineffective. It also depends on the effectiveness of the Dar es Salaam to Mwanza railway line which ferries goods and containers from Dar es Salaam port.

The goods and containers are then ferried to Uganda. But because of the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of Dar es Salaam port and the railway line, Musoma port cannot function properly. Today, because of weakness and bureaucracy at Dar es Salaam port, some neighbouring countries such as Zambia, and DRC have started shifting from using our ports.

They are now using the Mombasa port. Mozambique has started repairing its ports, Durban port is now in full swing operation and at the moment Zambia and Congo have started using Durban port. If the government continues with the current trend of bureaucracy and ineffectiveness we are going to loose many revenues and employment opportunities in our ports and other sectors that have direct link with the ports.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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