Prime Minister Edward Lowassa with President Kikwete
Prime Minister Edward Lowassa soon entered into the spirit of the new regime by taking some pretty tough action himself. Examples:
He suspended the Executive Director of Same District Council for ‘failing’ to distribute in time relief food to starving people. Other officials failing to distribute relief food were warned that they would be dismissed – Nipashe
He directed the Ministry of Energy and Minerals to revoke mining licences issued to quarrying firms in the Kunduchi/Mtongano area of Dar es Salaam to save the environment from imminent destruction.
He suspended the Temeke Municipal Engineer for turning a blind eye to the construction of a four-storey building that had collapsed. The developer didn’t have the proper documentation for the construction which was undertaken shoddily. Some bodies were recovered from the rubble.
But then the PM appeared to take took one step too far. In action slightly reminiscent of the slum clearance operation by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, young street vendors, who try to scratch a living from sales of goods in the street, were driven away. However, reported Mwananchi, so violent was the reaction from the vendors in Mwanza that two people died and many were injured before anti-riot police quelled the violence with tear gas. Kiosks were also demolished and vendors removed in Dar es Salaam on March 9 when, according to the Swahili press, some 25 residents were injured and one was feared dead following street battles between National Service (JKT) youngsters employed by the ‘S-Group’ security firm, on behalf of the City Council, and touts at commuter bus stands. The JKT youths called for reinforcements from their camp and started hitting out at all and sundry, including drivers, passengers and passers-by. The matter was brought under control after the anti-riot police (FFU) took over the streets. The PM then said he was halting the operation to allow local authorities and vendors alike more time to prepare for the change. Later, 36 JKT servicemen appeared in court on charges of conspiracy, causing grievous bodily harm and criminal damage to property.