Friday, January 23, 2009

Expose on salient issues in students politic


The whistle marking the beginning of elections processes at the University of Dar es salaam (UDSM) has recently been blown. With the position the UDSM students famously known as intellectuals at the Hill had, have, or at least ought to occupy in the society these processes should not pass without raising the eyebrows of many. Consequently the hub of this commentary is the UDSM students’ organization believed to be the spring of national leadership. The writer exposes salient issues on students politic and attempts to fill the ideological vacuum in the UDSM student community
Concerned Students Should reform UDSM politic

Past decade experienced notable students’ struggles in the country. The use of the coercive instruments of the state like the police and the unanimous closure of the University continues to characterize the reaction of the Government towards students’ struggles. University of Dar es salaam normally referred to as the Hill, experiences students’ struggles since its inception in early 1960s. The well-documented incidences like the 1966 National Service Demonstration and the 1978 Struggle against the salaries hike of the MPs are well known to the activists of the past and present.

It may be recalled that one of the first actions of the independent government was the establishment of the University College of Dar es salaam as part of the University of East Africa.
As could have been expected, no sooner had the new college been opened than the students formed their organs of representation. One such student organization, which was formed in order to take care of students’ affairs, interests and problems, was the University College of Dar es salaam Student Union (USUD).

USUD, which was an elitist and a petty bourgeois student organization was established in October 1961 and changed its name to DUSO in 1970 following the establishment of the University of Dar es salaam. During USUD tenure, there established in 1964 the National Union of Tanzania Students (NAUTS), which organized the demonstration against the conditions for compulsory National Service Programme by the Government. The service was to include the students completing their high school or institutions of higher learning. It was proposed that the duration of the service to be two years and the salaries of the students to be cut by 40% in eighteen months of service.

During DUSO’s time there were also massive student struggles which involved the militant student organization USARF that was established by Yoweri Museveni (Current President of Uganda) and other activists like Walter Rodney, Issa Shivji and Horace Campbell. DUSO was banned in 1978 following the demonstration by students against the move by the members of parliament to hike their salaries while the country was in a deep economic crisis. Students were not only badly beaten by the Police but also sent home by Lorries. This is the major incident for which students stood for the issue that was not affecting them directly.

Following the 1978 student struggles the government placed all the activities of the students under the party youth wing. Therefore, Muungano wa Wanafunzi Tanzania (MUWATA) was established and operated under Umoja wa Vijana wa Chama cha Mapinduzi (UVCCM). The following years were largely silent of any students’ struggles besides the fact that students struggled to get rid of MUWATA.They were successful in early 1990 when MUWATA was abandoned following the wave of multipartism. Hence, The Dar Es Salaam University’s Student Organization (DARUSO-Mlimani) was established as a sole students’ organization at the University of Dar es salaam as recognized by the University of Dar es salaam Act No. 12 of 1970.

The establishment of DARUSO revived the students’ activism at the hill. Although the struggles were rampant, they followed the social-economic changes that were taking place in the country. Most of the struggles were characterized by bread- and-butter politics. Students were largely struggling for students’ welfare issues like the allowances and the likes. Majority of the students have turned into petty bourgeoisies hence progressive ideas are very limited.

The DARUSO constitution recalls that diligent students’ organization had improved to great extent a cordial relationship based on mutual understanding between the students of the University of Dar es salaam and other stakeholders/beneficiaries. DARUSO was meant to enhance academic prosperity, good governance, democracy and human rights observance. However, for the past few years this organization has been betraying its just course. DARUSO is plagued with corruption and misuse of funds; lack of transparency and accountability; conflicts among its leaders; increasing gap between its leaders and the common students; tribalism and other forms of discrimination, puppetism and individualism. The root causes of all these menace are known to be poor management and poor leadership. As a result the students have lost trust and interest over DARUSO and its processes.
This calls for a movement of concerned students to make progressive change in the students’ community through a holistic reform process. This reform process will enhance academic prosperity, good governance, democracy and human rights observance through promoting good leadership and social responsibility.

Trust, confidence, partnership, tripartite and mutually between the government, DARUSO and UDSM administration should be restored. Dialogue should be promoted at all levels in collaboration with other actors such as The Tanzania Students Networking Programme (TSNP). Every problem should be solved through negotiations, protest should not be entertained. This may be used if all the means of solving matters amicably have been exhausted.

Democratization is needed to address the academic problems of students. For instance, students should be involved in academic planning fully and encouraged to make useful inputs in the development of academic curricula. In 1984, for the first time since independence, the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania was amended to include a Bill of Rights. The Constitution provided for the right to education and the right to opinion and expression which include academic freedom. But rights are not simply given; they are won. And even when won, they cannot endure unless protected, nurtured and continuously defended against encroachment and curtailment.

Concerning the students’ welfare the era of the government to cover all the costs and other amenities has gone. The forerunners of student activism have struggled to resist cost sharing but they failed. A new approach is needed to ensure that in the implementation of these programs does not affect the welfare of the poor students. This should include massive sensitization of the student community and ensure that safety nets such as the education fund are operating. The stringent conditions of the international Shylocks have begun to put a squeeze on education in a dramatic fashion. Tanzania, like the rest of the African continent, finds itself entangled in a web of socio-economic crises. As budgetary allocations for education become minuscule, education is threatening to become the preserve of a minority of the wealthy and influential in our society.

This new outlook is to involve promoting self-realization among students and enabling the students to understand their responsibility in the community. As People's free and independent existence is in question, they are beginning to question the existence of unfree and right-less policies. Students, as academicians, intellectuals and purveyors of knowledge, have a human obligation and a social responsibility towards the People's Struggle for Rights, Freedom, Social Transformation and Human Emancipation. The participation of students in the struggle of the people is inseparably linked with the struggle for the autonomy of institutions of higher education and the freedom to pursue knowledge without let, hindrance and interference from persons in authority.

Society needs to see a well-coordinated, networked, knowledgeable and committed students’ community in which students freely and actively participate in issues pertaining to their welfare and that of the whole society. The concerned students should come up and reform the UDSM student politic.

The author of this article-Mnyika, J.J. is a youth activist.

This article was written early 2005(by then the author was non partisan) but it can be circulated and serve as food for thought early 2009 and beyond. A series of events have happened since then in student body politic, with both positive and negative trends. Of recent the university was closed and DARUSO top leadership are not part of the students who have been so far re-admitted.( DARUSO has been technically disbanded due to leadership vacuum- unlikely DUSO which was legally disbanded). The demonstration organized by TSNP against cost sharing policy and solidarity call for unconditionally readmission of all students has been technically banned by the police. (By mere reason that TSNP has said its an organization while it is a company limited by guarantee!. So according to Commander Kova, TSNP that submitted permit application letter is legally inexistent. Although he recognizes that there is a company registered in BRELA No.42386 called Tanzania Students Networking Programme).

Mpishi na Mafiga Matatu

Mpishi yoyote makini hulenga kuhakikisha mafiga yanamwezesha kupika. Mpishi makini huangalia mafiga yanayowezesha chungu kukaa vizuri, chakula kisimwagike, kiive, apakuwe, kiliwe. Mpishi makini hana lengo la kuhakikisha mafiga yako sawa sawa lakini mbinu ni kuhakikisha yapo sawa. Nia ni kuona chungu hakipinduki. Maendeleo ni chungu cha chakula, kiongozi ni figa, kura ni Mpishi. Mpishi makini hachunguzi figa kwa rangi, anaangalia figa lililo sawa ambalo litawezesha chungu kukaa vizuri. Mpiga kura makini anapaswa kuchangua kiongozi bora ili apate maendeleo. Kikwete anakiri kabisa kuwa mafiga yake ni mabovu. Vipi amlazimishe Mpishi kuyapikia? Ndio maana nasema nakubaliana na hoja ya mafiga matatu kama zana ya kukibeba chungu cha maendeleo. Mpishi makini akikosa mafiga bora ndani ya nyumba yake anatoka kwenda kutafuta na akikosa huazima kwa jirani. Upinzani umeanzishwa kutoa viongozi mbadala,haya ni mafiga bora yanayopaswa kuchaguliwa. Tukiendelea kuyaacha mafiga yale yale ambayo tunaona ni mabovu, chungu hakitakaa, kitamwagika na tutalala na njaa ya maendeleo. Tutaendelea kukosa viongozi wenye kuwajibika na kuhamasisha nguvu za kutatua kero za wananchi.

Nukuu ya Leo

Chama kimoja hakiwezi kuwa mama wa wote na wala hakiwezi kabisa kuwa mama wa yote

(John Mnyika, 2005. Kutoka:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ni wakati wa vitendo si sherehe


Awali ya yote nakutakia mwaka mpya wenye upendo, furaha na mafanikio. Kwa mwezi mmoja nimekuwa safarini Mbeya kuanzia Disemba 9 mpaka Disemba 12, kuna mang'amuzi mengi kutokana na safari hiyo ambayo niyaandika wakati mwingine. Lakini kwa leo, napenda kukushirikisha Hotuba ya Obama wakati wa kuapishwa kwake:

Barack Obama has been sworn in as the 44th US president. Here is his inauguration speech in full. "My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition. Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans. That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights. Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labour, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom. For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and travelled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction. This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do. Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government. Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - that a nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good. As for our common defence, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more. Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint. We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you. For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace. To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it. As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honour them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate. Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath. So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have travelled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: "Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]." America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America."