The economic crisis continues to pre-occupy the minds of all who are concerned about Tanzania. In this issue we concentrate on three aspects of the crisis: the possibility of an agreement with the IIF; the new relationship between the Government and the Party arising out of Mwalimu Nyerere’s retirement; and agriculture. In his article “Tanzania: A Time For Decision” Colin Legum writes about the first two of these issues. It is possible that by the time this Bulletin is in your hands, some of the key decisions to which he refers will have been taken. An inkling of the way in which the discussions are being conducted is explained in the article “Seminars and Workshops”.
But half of this issue is a sixteen page supplement on the prime mover (or, as some tight say, non-mover) of Tanzania’s economy – agriculture.
Two of the British contributors to this supplement have been in Tanzania recently.
Andrew Coulson writes, – I recently returned to Tanzania for the first time since 1979. Not much had changed. There is a striking new terminal at Dar es Salaam airport, even more parastatals (430 according to the Daily News), and a burst of building in Dar es Salaam, not least along the Bagamoyo road. The city now has 1.7 million inhabitants, almost ten times its population in 1967. But it doesn’t feel like that since transport is so unpredictable and expensive that life has increasingly moved to the suburbs. When I was there, in February, everything was green. Clouds, greeness, availability of fruits and quick-yielding vegetables, the visibility of many new cars and pick-ups on the streets, and the fact that most of the large buildings had recently been painted, gave the city a relatively prosperous appearance. But what had changed were the prices: 8/- for buses from the university to town; 120/- for a tube of toothpaste, 4/- to 10/- for a mango; 31- to 4/- for an orange, 30/- for a bar of soap, 500/- for a bedsheet, and 1/- for ten roast groundnuts in a tiny polythene bag. The minimum wage is 800/- a month, this is insufficient to house and bring up a family. But meanwhile the value of foreign exchange has not changed. The pound still exchanges for about 20/-. This is almost the same as its colonial period value.”
Another contributor, Michael Stocking suffered another kind of shock. He was robbed on the mountain road near Amani in Tanga Region losing all his belongings, two months data from work done for the FAO in Zimbabwe, and the manuscript for part of a book he is writing. Getting out of Tanzania without money, passport or an air ticket, he describes as an “interesting experience”. He told me that thanks must go to the border guards at Namanga for taking pity on him and letting him cross into Kenya without so much as a single piece of paper, the Regional Representative of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Nairobi for his care and concern and Belgian World Airlines for taking home an unticketed, very dirty and poor passenger with no luggage!.