On Thursday, Prime Minister Mizengo Kayanza Pinda endorsed police brutality when he said it was right for the police to beat those he called ‘disobedient’ enough not to obey orders from the force.
He was responding to a question from one lawmaker who wanted to know why police had beaten up leaders as well as members of the opposition party, Chadema, during recent skirmishes caused by a bomb attack in Arusha.
To the prime minister, who is one of the most powerful leaders within the circles of the State, it wasn’t unlawful for police to beat up the opposition leaders as well as their members.
The surprising, albeit good, thing is that the premier is a lawyer who once worked as State Attorney before joining the security circles, and therefore understands the law very well.
He knows that the police aren’t allowed to beat any unarmed civilian. In a situation where a civilian causes trouble or disobeys an order, it’s the duty of the police officers to arrest that person. Now, when he endorses that the police could act with brutality against those who have gathered peacefully to pay last respects to one of their fallen heroes, what message does he want to send to the general public?
We are all aware that our beloved country has been tested by major events recently -- including gas-related chaos in Mtwara region, the right to be heard debate that rocked the Lake zone regions, and finally two terrorist attacks in Arusha between May and June.
These incidences may be seen as isolated but in reality, they have caused serious damage to the image of the country especially in the eyes of peace believers as well as the international community.
We would have expected the prime minister, a man who once claimed to belong to a peasant family, to talk peace -- bravely and wisely -- especially at these difficult times in our nation, at least for now.
But making such provocative statements in the very august House that passes laws that govern our country casts doubt on the commitments of our top leaders in building a peaceful and united country.
We are told that two wrongs don’t make a right. But, it seems that, to our prime minister, two wrongs do make right. Hon. Mizengo Pinda seems to the fallacy that two wrongs do make a right. According to our ancestors, two wrongs do not make a right is a proverb that contradicts the premier’s fallacy – a wrongful action is not a morally appropriate way to correct or cancel a previous wrongful action.
In a country like Tanzania, when a Prime Minister says, “enough is enough” or ‘we are fed up’ by so and so, it means a strong endorsement that cannot be questioned by our law enforcers. Last year when he used these words -- during the deadly doctors’ strike -- something terrible happened, though there’s no evidence that it was connected to what was said in Parliament. It might have been just a coincidence, but the fact that one of our beloved leaders uttered those words in Parliament, the same way he did this week, leaves more questions than answers.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said in one of his speeches, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Again talking about peace, Luther further said, "We must build dykes of courage to hold back the flood of fear... That old law about "an eye for an eye" leaves everybody blind... The time is always right to do the right thing... Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
From the above quotes by Dr Luther Jr. it’s obvious that Pinda’s endorsement is seriously flawed and very dangerous especially in a fragile nation like ours, which has failed to recover from the hangout of the 2010 general election’s outcome.
Prime Minister wants us to believe that the theory of an eye for an eye is the best way to deal with the current political chaos. He is totally wrong.
As Dr Luther Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi once said, an eye for an eye as endorsed in Parliament, this week, by Prime Minister will finally leaves everybody blind. Today it’s Chadema, tomorrow who knows, it might be the ruling party facing similar situation.
Throughout the world, the leaders who encouraged the use of force against their opponents left behind a blood-tainted legacy while those like Nelson Mandela who followed the words of Dr Luther Jr. created a memorable and lasting legacy.
That’s why today, we, at the Guardian on Sunday, would like to differ sharply with our Prime Minister because we believe as one of the senior leaders of this country, his advice is seriously flawed and above all very dangerous to the future of our nation.