Magufuli Bars gov’t officials from attending “National torch” Rally, Orders them to return ‘allowances’


Tanzania President John Magufuli banned over 1,500 government officials from attending the climax of the nation’s symbolic lighting event popularly known as Uhuru Torch as a cost cutting measure.

The Uhuru Torch is one of the National Symbols of Tanzania. It is a kerosene torch which symbolizes freedom and light.

Uhuru torch was first lit on top of Mount Kilimanjaro on December 9, 1961 symbolically to Shine the country and across the borders to bring hope where there is despair, love where there is enmity and respect where there is hatred. The Uhuru Torch race takes place every year starting from different places.

A State House statement said Wednesday that the “bulldozer” had directed government officials who had received allowances to attend Friday’s ceremony to return the money, adding that the decision was meant to reduce unnecessary expenditure.

However, the statement indicated that Uhuru Torch rally was still relevant, but its climax should be attended only by leaders of Simiyu Region. Zanzibar President Ali Mohammed Shein is expected be the guest of honor.

The Opposition, particularly Chadema, has over the years called for the scrapping of the rally saying it was an excuse for embezzling public funds. Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe is on record for saying that Chadema would consign the Torch to the National Museum if it came to into power.

Prof Gaudence Mpangala of the Ruaha Catholic University told The Citizen Wednesday that President Magufuli’s decision was not surprising, coming in the wake of his cancellation of Independence Day and Union Day celebrations as part of his cost-cutting drive.

He added that the question of whether or not the Uhuru Torch was relevant did not have a straightforward answer.

“As you may be aware, the philosophy of the Uhuru Torch race is crystal clear – to bring hope where there is despair, love where there is enmity and respect where there is hatred. That translates into nation-building, which is an arduous but noble task.”

“But there is still a very relevant question, which cannot just be wished away – do we still need the nationwide race, and for how long? To answer this question we need to conduct a scientific study. We also need to ask ourselves if the race is still being conducted in the same spirit as was the case in the past.”

Credit: Citizen Newspaper