PIUMA demands meeting with Prime Minister Lowassa

Note: pressure on the Ministry of Health has resulted in the pledge of a fact-finding mission by the Prime Minister of Tanzania to Bulongwa to review the lock-out of PIUMA staff and the interruption of the use of Partec blood analysis technology. The Prime Minister has yet to accept a request for a meeting with the Bulongwa area PLWHA organization, PIUMA.

PIUMA is active on a range of health, advocacy and economic development issues, fighting for justice and for dignity for people living with HIV, their families and their villages. PIUMA members are proud Tanzanians whose work is deeply rooted in Tanzanian law and in the country's traditions of equality and community-based democracy.

The following letter has been sent by PIUMA to Tanzanian media outlets.

Dear Editor,

With this mail I have attached a short explaination on how people living with HIV/AIDS in Makete District have been struggling to be included in the timetable to meet the Hon. Prime Minister without success.

We have sent our request to the District Commission since Monday through his District Administrative Secretary who had said the timetable is organised in Iringa Region by RAC and therefore she can't help. We have been struggling to meet the DC himself without sucess as his assistants have never given us a chance to talk to the DC. We have been in his office five times only to be told, "Now he is talking to the district director; come later," or, " He is attending an important meeting; you should come tomorrow" and even, "He has travelled to Iringa for another meeting."

The Prime Minister promised to meet people living with HIV (PLWHA) in Makete District in a speech he made in Iringa in April 2006. Therefore we feel we should be given at least five minutes with him.

The Prime Minister wanted to meet PLWHA because the clinic where they are being treated in Bulongwa was closed - there were no services for a number of days; foreign doctors in the hospital were sent away; moneys allocated for HIV/AIDS were embezzled. When we talked openly about this, some of our members who are HIV postive and were working in the hospital were sacked unlawfully (the chairman of the PIUMA group, Kabuyu Kyando, was one of them).

We demand to meet the Prime Minister as there are still a number of issues unresolved. The Minister of Health and Social Welfare was here twice, but he has not replied to our demands, therefore we have no other alternative than meeting and talking to the PM.

Let him talk to the oppressed and crushed people of Makete! We are Tanzanian, we have the right to be heard! He is our leader and as citizens we should be given an equal chance to talk and to see him.

What good is a visit if he will not see and talk to PLWHA? Is he just interested in viewing hospital buildings? Obviously not! If, rather, he wants to learn about performance, how his subordinates are delivering government supported services on the ground, then let him talk to the people. Why are the district officials blocking us from seeing him?


Jackson Mbogela
September 22, 2006.