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Judicial CP - December 2003

Corpun file 12407

Family Mirror, Dar es Salaam, 2 December 2003

Village officials cane recalcitrant villagers

By PST Correspondent
in Mtwara

Village authorities in Masasi district, Mtwara region are reportedly administering corporal punishment to villagers to force them to cultivate cassava.

Under Ondoa Njaa Masasi (ONJAMA) programme each villager in the district is required to cultivate at least two acres of cassava.

ONJAMA was started about two decades ago, to rid the district of hunger. The recalcitrant villagers are reportedly being caned to force them execute the programme.

The opposition NCCR-Mageuzi in the district has described the act as barbaric, and a violation of human rights.

An official of the party, Jetha Othman, told PST that the district commissioner had ordered village executive officers to cane all those who defy the order.

Othman also said shopkeepers in the district were barred from running their businesses in the morning and were forced to do shamba work instead until 12 'clock when they are allowed to open shops.

Othman said the government had also ordered the peasants to plant their cassava under cashewnut trees, which he said was not viable.

He called on the government to use other methods to involve the villagers in cultivation instead of using unnecessary and inhuman methods.

Othman said it was wrong to punish the villagers because they are facing a famine which has been caused by lack of rain.

He was quick to warn that his party was not against developmental activities, but they advocated for proper and civilized ways of involving the public.

He said caning and jailing people thought to be refusing to cultivate cassava was tantamount to the forced labour employed by the colonial masters.

"It is a shame that people are still treated in this way in independent Tanzania," he said. Efforts to get the Mtwara district authority to comment proved futile.


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