“Quite frankly, for the first time, our country was pushed towards a profound division of Tanzanians, and even civil war, for religious affiliation,” President Kikwete deplored in a New Year’s televised speech.
“Fortunately, it did not happen, and I pray to God to keep us away from this, for good,” Mr. Kikwete, who is a Muslim indicated, threatening grievous penalties against “any troublemaker,” without any discrimination.
In October 2012, Christian churches were ransacked in the nation’s economic capital, Dar-es-Salaam, by a group of Muslims.
According to police and city officials, these violent acts had broken out after rumors that a 12-year- old boy had urinated on the copy of the Koran of a Muslim comrade.
Then the police had to make a massive intervention in Dar-es-Salaam, as well as in the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar to prevent similar demonstrations by the Muslim community.
The Tanzanian leader also seized the opportunity of the New Year to present the preliminary results of the general population and housing census that was carried out in August 2012.
According to him, the population of Tanzania has jumped from 34 million people in 2002, to over 44.929 million in 2012.
The continental side of the country represents a total of 43.6 million inhabitants alone, against a little bit over a million islanders on Zanzibar.
“With such a population growth rate, we will be about 51 million people by 2016, which will be a tremendous burden for the country, the community and the economy,” the president warned, urging Tanzanians to think about family planning.
He concluded his message by assuring that the substantial resources of natural gas recently found in the country would be used to the benefit of all Tanzanians.