‘FROM SOCIALIST SHEEP TO CAPITALIST LION’?
In a 7-page cover story in its February issue AFRICAN BUSINESS Maja Wallengren wrote that ‘decades of socialism have so enervated the enterprise spirit in Tanzania that it acquired the unwelcome reputation of being a sheep in a region of predators. All this is about to change and the country is clearing its throat to roar like a lion’. The Director General of the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) was quoted as saying that it was his hope that in the 21st century not only Asian tigers but also some African lions will be roaring in the international economic arena and Tanzania could be one of them.
QUALITY YES; QUANTITY NO.
AFRICAN BUSINESS (March) described the state of Tanzania’s struggling coffee industry as ‘quality not quantity’ following reports that the production in the year 1996/67 would be only 42,000 tonnes, a drop of 20% from the previous year. Traders were quoted as saying that massive replanting schemes were needed to replace the many trees which are 50 to 100 years old and thus increase the average yields from the 250kg per hectare in Tanzania to the Kenya figure of 500 kgs. However, quality was said to be improving and the country was now again earning a world class reputation for its mild Arabica. Production of Robusta coffee in Bukoba remained steady at 12-14,000 tonnes but here the problem was price. Vietnam’s coffee production had increased from 20,000 tonnes in the mid-1980’s to almost 250,000 tonnes for 1996/97 which was depressing world prices (A massive new replanting programme is about to start under a $14 million EC aid grant – Editor).
Zoe Heller, the columnist in the SUNDAY TIMES MAGAZINE explained (on March 9) how she had thrown over her boyfriend and, in order to distance herself from him, moved from Los Angeles to New York. But she doesn’t seem very happy with her new friends: ‘I have been out to a dinner party at a fancy house on the Upper East Side’ she wrote. ‘There was a revolting deb type there banging on about her recent jaunt up Kilimanjaro. “God, Africa, I mean, it’s sooo poor”! she kept on bellowing. “But so real, you know”. She told me about how fetchingly hard her thighs got during her ascent. ” ….. my porter was sooo sweet – when it got really cold and my nose was running, he’d take a handkerchief and wipe my nose for me”. “Ah, yes” I murmured “those marvellous Tanzanians, they do make remarkably good bearers, don’t they ……. ”
THE ‘MAGIC WAND’
NEW AFRICA (February) recounted how Mwalimu Julius Nyerere recently sold his famous cane or ‘magic wand’ as he calls it to raise funds for his sponsorship of the education of bright but poor children. Dozens of wealthy Tanzanians wanted to buy it. Former UN Adviser Gertrude Mongella was said to have offered Shs 3 million but it was local business tycoon and soccer financier Ahmed Bora who eventually got it for Shs 4.5 million. Nyerere was said to have been shocked by this revelation of the wealth of Tanzania’s new capitalist class. One of his relatives said that Mwalimu had lots of sticks and he had probably sold one of the powerless ones, not the magic one. Midst much public criticism Mr Bora decided to give the stick back to Mwalimu. No one knew whether he got his money back. Some were said to believe that the wand just refused to stay in Bora’s hands.
‘WHERE TO BE MUGGED’
Under this heading the INDEPENDENT published a guide to mugging (based on information from the British Foreign Office Travel Advice Unit) in its issue of March 1. Countries featured in this particular issue included Indonesia, Iran, Sierra Leone and Swaziland. On Tanzania it wrote: ‘Incidents of mugging and theft are common especially on public transport and beaches. Food should not be accepted from strangers as it may be drugged. Armed car thefts, particularly of four-wheel drive vehicles occur fairly frequently and may be accompanied by personal violence (Thank you Jane Carroll for this item- Editor).
The JOHANNESBURG STAR’s BUSINESS REPORT in its issue dated January 23 was highly critical of Tanzania’s six-year old investment act and wrote that the country was now rewriting its investment code. ‘The Investor Road Map of Tanzania’ sponsored by USAID had ranked it among countries with the worst investment hurdles. The article went on: ‘The report said that it took between 545 and 1,095 days to lodge an application for business …. there were delays in finding land, high taxes, poor infrastructure and far too many forms to fill in. In all, a firm in Dar es Salaam could expect to submit at least 89 separate filings per year ….. and financial institutions had to submit up to 235 returns every year. …. While it takes only one or two days to clear imports into Mauritius, Namibia or South Africa, in Tanzania it takes up to three months’. The article went on to describe the changes likely under the new code with its one-stop centre and a ‘facilitation office’ which was expected to make a considerable improvement in the investment climate.
ONE MAN COMPENDIUM
In an article on a recent African music festival at the Barbican in London NEW AFRICAN (February) reported as follows: ‘Tanzania’s much travelled master musician Hukwe Zawose, who is almost a one-man compendium of his nation’s cultural heritage, performed a spellbinding demonstration of song and dance with myriad traditional instruments’. It reminded readers that Hukwe’ s current album Chibeto had been chosen as African Life’s ‘Album of the Year’. The VSO publication ORBIT (fourth quarter 1996) listing the same album in its ‘Top 10 Sounds of 1966′ described Zawose as ‘one of Tanzania’s national treasures and a magical character of mythical proportions’ .
‘MALARIA FEAR FOR AFRICA TRIP MAYOR’
Under this heading the DAILY TELEGRAPH (21/3/97) wrote that a Labour mayor who spent £1,500 of council money on a week-long ‘fact finding’ trip to Musoma, Tanzania has returned with suspected malaria. Dawn Neal’s visit had been criticised at a time of financial cuts on Calderdale Council, West Yorkshire. She was accompanied by her boyfriend Danny McIntire, a fellow councillor and Margaret Berry, the council’s senior environmental health officer. They left Halifax to see the Serengeti Game reserve and advise the locals on tourism and also handed over a piece of medical equipment that can help to clear swallowed fishbones from throats. “This was not a holiday” she said. “It was a fact-finding mission to Calderdale’s twin town and we intend to begin fund-raising to pay for medical supplies for the people of Musoma” but a former mayor, Liberal Democrat Stephen Pearson, said “I don’t believe glad-handing people is going to make a fundamental difference to their quality of life”.
“When our children do well in primary school we get really worried” said a farmer in the western Usambara mountains. He was peaking to Charles Worth who wrote in CHRISTIAN AID NEWS (February/March) that since the government had imposed fees, secondary education had become a luxury which this family could scarcely afford. Only one family out of 300 in the village were able to send their children to secondary school. … many Tanzanians felt enslaved today because of Tanzania’s massive debt burden – the World Bank and IMF had imposed a structural adjustment programme which had drastically cut government spending on health and education …. ‘ Mr Worth went on: ‘Victorian campaigners had the vision and persistence to help bring an end to the evil of slavery. Can the British churches today catch their spirit, change the rules and end the slavery of debt in Tanzania?’ (Thank you Betty Wells for this item – Ed).
ONE HUNDRED CONSULTANTS
‘That is the staffing level of a London hospital with 300-400 beds and a district population of 200,000 – the same as Muheza district in Tanga Region. In London there are many more junior doctors and a network of GP’s. Muheza has three doctors. If each saw only inpatients for 10 hours a day, seven days a week, that would be 3xlOx7 = 210 hours, half an hour for each inpatient. Yet many are very sick and need more intensive treatment or operations done by the same three doctors. Then there are long hours to be spent seeking outpatients, supervising the laboratory and X-ray, and administration, teaching and trips to the ministry in Dar es Salaam to be fitted in …… ‘ extracts from a recent issue of the NEWSLETTER of ‘MEDICINES FOR MUHEZA’ (Thank you Trevor Jaggar for this item- Editor).
The New York WALL STREET JOURNAL has published an article by Robert Greenberger under the heading’ Some Hotels May Do More Laundering of Cash Than Towels’ which has attracted a lot of attention. It stated that there were indications that Zanzibar banking and hotel businesses were being used by foreign investors to launder international drug money. It was alleged that huge sums were being deposited in banks by hotels which had few guests. The IMF has been quoted as saying that shady financial flows were flourishing in Zanzibar but the Government of Zanzibar and the Bank of Tanzania have denied the allegations.
‘ALMOST LIKE HOME’
‘Tanzania may not resemble the famous gold producing regions of Western Australia on the surface, but Australian explorers active in the east African nation reckon that underground it is almost like home. ‘Tanganyika Gold’ has 28 exploration tenements in two main areas – the Lake Victoria Goldfield and the Lupa Goldfield. “it is exciting to be in an area that is very unexplored by Western standards and clearly has a lot of gold” says Managing Director Ian Middlemas. “It has similar geology to W Australia”….. Two tenements have been drilled so far – at Buhemba in the north of the Lake region and Busolwa to the South. The latter included intersects of 32m at 2.48 grams per tonne – a lot of the holes end in mineralisation Mr Middlemas said – THE WEST AUSTRALIAN (December 23) – (Thank you Mr D Gledhill for this item and for the mention of your gold prospecting uncles who were on the Lupa in the 1930 ‘s – Ed).
‘BARRED FROM ANIMAL KINGDOM’
Under this heading, at the end of a speaking tour of Britain by three Maasai spokespeople complaining about the action of the Tanzanian government in driving them from their lands in the interests of game and tourism, the London OBSERVER (April 6) published a half page article. It concentrated on the situation at the Mkomazi Game Reserve in the Same district and contrasted what it described as ‘the glass-fronted house with a satellite dish, verandah and spectacular views’ of manager Tony Fitzjohn (said to be nicknamed ‘boy Tarzan’ by the Maasai) and ‘the fly-infested, stinking animal carcasses, children with distended bodies standing in glum groups … near the boundaries of the 1,400-square mile reserve’. Mkomazi is run by a non-profit trust-making trust set up by the late George Adamson – husband of ‘Born Free’ author Joy Adamson – and Mr Fitzjohn and supported by the wealthy, including Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and the film stars Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood and Ali MacGraw; the Duke of Kent is a patron. When the trust arrived in 1989 the Maasai thought they would be able to negotiate but they claim that his has not happened and that they were driven out of the land at gunpoint. Sixty three of them are challenging the government in court. The trust, on the other hand, claims that it has succeeded in its conservation task and that the elephant count has gone up from two in ] 968 to 1,000 in 1993; the East African black rhino population had previously been hunted from 65,000 to near extinction; the area was badly overgrazed and there had been serious erosion when the Maasai were there.
AFRICAN BUSINESS (January) had a cover story and seven pages of text on Tanzania’s impressive political and economic progress. One of the articles was about the sad state of the sugar industry due to a severing of government subsidies to the Sugar Development Corporation (SUDECO) and the associated lack of capital for rehabilitation of factories now running at an average of only 50% capacity. It was assumed that SUDECO would be privatised some time this year.
THE MAASAI AND THE MINERS
The BBC WORLD SERVICE in its FARMING TODA Y programme on February 26 reported on the effect of mining for minerals on Maasai cattle keeping around the settlement of Simajiro. Cattle fall into the pits left after the miners of Rhodolite (a pale violet or red garnet) move on to other sites and as the miners encroach upon the surrounds of the village itself. A Maasai spokesman in a taped interview complained also of the water supply problem and a woman reporter spoke of the careful control of overgrazing of the poor land by the Maasai. (Thank you Mr P H C Clarke for this item – Editor).
“At one time attacks by wild animals constituted 25% of all evacuations” said Juliette Heza, the longest serving flight nurse in the Flying Doctor Service quoted in AMREF NEWS (Spring 1997). “Nowadays”, she said, “most of the patients are from traffic accidents, malaria, cardiac emergencies and exhaustion amongst tourists”. She went on “I’ve treated dozens of hyena bites and snake bites. We still get buffalo attacks – they’re very arrogant animals. They can be very frightening”. The Flying Doctor Service teams aim to leave their base within five minutes of receiving a call for help.
THE BIGGEST RATS
‘They nibble at sleeping people. They gnaw at parcels in the post office. They take free rides in cars and trains …. .rats are on the rampage in Tanzania’ according to NEW AFRICAN (April). Minister of Transport and Communications William Kusila was quoted as claiming that the biggest rats of all were found on Tanzanian trains. “They grow fat on the food brought on board by travellers” he said. The article concluded ‘Foreign funded projects to eliminate crop destroying rodents ceased when donors cut their aid three years ago. Now the whole nation is being overwhelmed by a plague of rats and very little is being done about it’ .
A new Centre for Refugee Studies has been established at the University of Dar es Salaam reports the BRITISH COUNCIL’S AFRICA NEWSLETTER (January 1997). A British Council managed link has been arranged between the Centre and the Refugee Studies Programme at Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University (Thank you Trevor Jaggar for this item – Editor).
FROM TOTTENHAM TO TANZANIA
‘A friend of mine, a surgeon, volunteered to work overseas and was swiftly transferred from Tottenham to Tanzania and a post in a city hospital… the wards were adequately equipped and the work was most satisfying … But she found that there was little she could do to affect a series of curious occurrences in one intensive care bed … patients had been passing away with far greater frequency in bed No 13 than occupants of other beds. Some staff thought that the bed was jinxed …. And then our surgeon discovered that the victims of bed 13 all died on the same day – a Wednesday, early in the morning. She decided to stake out the ward. All was quiet until the appearance of the cleaner, mechanically cleaning the floors as usual. Then suddenly, above the grinding din, she could just hear the high-pitched life-support machine alarm bleeping desperately. Springing to the rescue, the surgeon rushed over to see that the intensive care apparatus appeared to be switched off. To her horror she then noticed that the cleaner had been plugging his floor-polisher into the most convenient socket.. … ‘ from ‘Urban Myths’ in THE GUARDIAN (November 11).
(In our last issue there was a story about the difficulties ‘Mission Aviation Overseas’ was facing in obtaining licenses for airstrips in Maasai country. Christine Lawrence tells us that eighteen licences have now been granted – Editor).