|April 25, 2011
Moves to avert food protests
Government plans to take urgent measures to alleviate economic hardships that the majority of the population is facing to ward off a replication of protests taking place in East African Community. The warning comes in the wake of street protests in Uganda and Kenya over the increasing cost of living, conditions which, our respondents noted, prevail in Tanzania as well. The Minister for Finance, Mustafa Mkulo, however allayed the fears, saying that the situation in the two neighbouring countries was dissimilar to that of Tanzania.
He noted for instance that while inflation in Uganda had hit double digits, Tanzania's was still in the single digit range and that indicators showed that its economy was performing better. Critics, however, stressed that the government had to take necessary steps to put brakes on the increases in fuel and food prices, the two major areas that trigger escalation in the cost of living.
Reports show that the inflation rate in Uganda rose to 11.1 per cent this month, up from 6.4 per cent in February leading to the now famous 'Walk-to-Work' campaign in which opposition leaders are petitioning the government to put the situation in check. The demonstrations have led to deaths, injuries while hundreds of marchers, including opposition MPs and leaders, have been arrested. Reports from Uganda show that at least 104 people have been arrested for participating in the "Walk-to-Work" campaign last week.
In Kenya, hundreds of activists held street demonstrations in Mombasa and Nairobi, demanding a quick intervention to reduce the prices of fuel and food. The Kenyan government responded by declaring that everything was being done to put the situation under control. Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta announced a reduction of tax in diesel and kerosene by 20 and 30 per cent respectively.