President Jakaya Kikwete has said his government has all along taken bold decisions in the national interest but without expecting public praise.
He made remarks to that effect when addressing hundreds of Iringa residents gathered at Samora grounds for the climax of the 24th World Water Week, whose theme for this year is ‘Water and Food Security’.
The president explained that soon assuming power (in late 2005), he ordered that pastoralists who had “invaded” Usangu Basin in Mbeya Region be relocated to protect the crucial water catchment area for the benefit of the nation.
“Some people blamed him for the decision without caring to consider that the area means a lot to this nation,” he noted.
He said, as a leader, he has never sought public praise or cheap popularity while failing to attend to important matters and will continue to make bold decisions whenever necessary despite complaints from some quarters.
Stressing that it was important for people to understand that whatever he did was in the national interest, President Kikwete underlined the need to protect Ruaha and Rufiji river valleys.
“All elected political leaders must know this, and should avoid being driven by political interests because that would mean reneging on basic responsibilities,” he said.
The president said the state of water supply and food security in the country had assumed alarming proportions “because the water level in most big rivers have fallen drastically, and this including Ruaha River – which is fed by sources found in more than nine regions”.
“We still have serious problems with Ruaha River, and our only salvation lies in our coming to its rescue. I have therefore instructed the authorities overseeing the Rufiji Basin and the Water, Environment, and Natural Resources and Tourism ministries to discuss ways to make that rescue effort succeed,” he said.
“If we don’t take this into serious consideration, we will be making a big blunder because no one imagined 20 or so years ago that this river would ever be at risk of drying up,” he added.
President Kikwete declared that, with the threat of catastrophe looming, he would make more difficult decisions after having an audience with Dodoma, Iringa, Mbeya, Morogoro, Rukwa and Singida regional authorities on the fate of the river.
“Our country depends so heavily on Ruaha River for power generation and food production that we cannot accept this to happen because it will mean inviting an acute shortage of food and a crippling power crisis,” he said.
Winding up his 2011/12 Budget speech in the National Assembly mid-last year, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said the Kikwete government has made a number of bold decisions, the most salient including the filing of cases against cabinet ministers associated with grand corruption and gross abuse of office.
He said the construction of ward schools to enable more students to join secondary school and the building of the University of Dodoma were some of the other similarly bold decisions.