As Tanzanians welcome and celebrate the new year today, they hope 2019 will bring better tidings for both family, business and the country in general.
While the majority of those interviewed feel the past year has been one of struggle to make ends meet, there was nevertheless a sense that things would improve.
They were largely hopeful the beginning of the new year provides an opportunity to learn from the past and set the pace for an improved environment going forward.
The socioeconomic and political difficulties of the last one year notwithstanding, Tanzanians of all walks of life thronged churches and entertainment spots to usher in 2019 in their own respective styles.
Merry-making is expected across the country as families gather for once-in-a year festivities, reunions and visitations, including in homes that house the less privileged in society to offer donations and provide moral support.
Fireworks were expected across major cities on the stroke of midnight last night. The same had been witnessed in several cities in countries such as North Korea, Japan and Australia which have an early break into the new year.
The festivities, however, gradually fizzle out as families soon get back to work and the daily hustles, including taking their children to school and also attending to the old and sick.
In interviews with The Citizen yesterday, a cross section of leaders in business, politics and in civil society were in agreement that Tanzanians should make 2019 a year of hope and dialogue to enhance national unity.
For business leaders, entrenched policy reforms should help them quickly forget the hurdles of 2018 that made doing business difficult for many.
CEO Roundtable of Tanzania chairman Sanjay Rughani roots for a more meaningful engagement between the government and the private sector this year, with tax reforms topping the agenda.
“We expect 2019 to be a turn-around year for most businesses and do not expect to see closures as was the case in the last one year,” he said.
For politicians and civil rights crusaders, the overriding call is for the government to restore the rule of law and respect for human rights that they said had been under constant attack in the recent past.
Chadema secretary-general Vincent Mashinji roots for dialogue among stakeholders to bring the country together in a year of local government elections and preparations for the 2020 General Election.
ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe, however, feels the onus was on the government and President John Magufuli to make 2019 a good or a bad year for democracy and good governance.
For rights advocates such as Tanganyika Law Society president Fatma Karume and Mr Onesmo Olengurumwa of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC), Tanzanians should make a new year resolution to defend their own rights and interests instead of leaving the task to only a few individuals.
They said 2019 could also become the turning point for a new constitution in the country.