SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS

Colin Legum has referred in the paper above to a seminar and a workshop. But during the last 3 months there has been a veritable plethora of seminars and workshops as Tanzania struggles to solve its serious problems. Eight have been reported on in the pages of the Daily News between January and March ’86.

It is quite apparent that there has been a great deal of frank and open discussion at these meetings. Speaking at the end of what was in fact the third annual “Workshop on Policies and Strategies for Economic Recovery”, Prime Minister J.S. Warioba stated that such workshops dispel the notion that it is taboo to be openly critical of Government policy. Referring to the two previous workshops he said that “The many constructive critical papers and the few unconstructive ones which have been submitted at each workshop and the range of open debate which has taken place is testimony to this. It has dispelled the myth that Government is a rigid institution with a fixed position. I am sure you have noted that several recommendations that you have made in the previous workshops have been incorporated in Government policy measures. This is proof that the Government is always open to new ideas and it is ready to listen to advice. We appreciate a critical appraisal of our policies from every quarter, even from our detractors.”

There is every indication that at this particular seminar there were some fairly heated and emotional exchanges particularly on the issue of the IMF. Ndugu Warioba’s words on this are interesting: “In his opening remarks the President encouraged you to make comprehensive studies and analysis of the foreign institutions, multilateral and bilateral recovery packages as well as our own internal adjustment programmes and come out with some practical recommendations for the Government to consider. I have read some of the papers presented at this workshop and I have also read about your discussions. But I feel we have stagnated or we are becoming stereotyped. We should not treat this as a subject for a debating club where you pick a subject, you have a proposer and an opposer, you debate and the matter ends there. This country faces a very serious economic crisis. With or without the IMF things will be very tough for the next several years. A stabilisation package is not going to be a novel thing, not even for Tanzania. Many countries have had stabilisation packages, with or without the IMF.

Unlike the subject of a debating club the real business of a stabilisation package begins after the debate and after the choice has been made. It is important therefore to know exactly how that package is going to affect every sector of the economy and society. A failed academic paper will at worst end up in a waste paper basket, but a failed stabilisation package has very serious consequences for the country and the people, particularly the ordinary people. I have detected a note of emotionalism and polarisation. It is beginning to appear that one is either pro-IMF or anti-IMF. I think this is wrong particularly for economic experts. Tanzanians are neither pro-IMF nor anti-IMF. They are pro-Tanzania. You can help this country if you remain objective. Try to guard that objectivity and you will be very useful to this society; if you do not do so you will not have much of an impact.”

A singular note had been struck a few days earlier in a commentary in the Daily News but this also included some reference to the British position.

“The IMF is not formally on the agenda but their demand for a devaluation of up to 50/- to the dollar and an increase in interest rates to 35% are uppermost in the minds of those who have been negotiating with the IMF. As if to pre-empt the discussion of alternatives to the IMF only this week a British Minister (as if she forgot the present place of Britain) urged Tanzania to enter into an agreement with the IMF. Fortunately Tanzania’s diplomacy is sophisticated so there has not yet been any public rebuke.

“Britain is not in a good position to offer advice on assistance to Africa especially at this time when the position of the British leadership is probably the most extreme in defence of apartheid. Moreover among the OBCD countries the level of British aid is now the lowest, given the free market ideas of the present leader. As a long standing trading partner of Tanzania, Britain has been one of the tightest in the offering of export guarantees to Tanzania. Her leaders find it easier to lend to South Africa than to Tanzania. This is why Tanzania’s indebtedness to Britain is relatively small, much smaller than Tanzania’s present debt to Algeria or to India.

“One clear lesson to be learnt from other experiences so far is that there is no quick remedy for recovery. Whatever the strategies they will have to be borne on the shoulders of the vast majority of the working poor of Tanzania. The question will be which sections of the society will bear the burden of recovery. Will it be borne by all or by the poorest of the poor ? It is clear that economic strategies will need political change so the balance between the required political changes and the specific alternatives are significant.

“One concern which can be expressed is to question the very conception of annual meetings on economic policies and strategies. The nature of the Tanzanian economy is such that it takes three to five years to see the results of new changes in policies.”

President Mwinyi in opening the seminar had clarified the Government’s position. “The Government will continue with its dual policy of negotiating with the IMF for realistic terms while making internal adjustments aimed at economic stabilisation.”

He reiterated, however, that whether or not an IMF package was won, a realistic solution to Tanzania’s economic problems depended on what the people did to improve the situation through higher agricultural and industrial production.

At a seminar for political commissars and political education officers of the Tanzanian Peoples Defence Forces and the National Service there was no reluctance in expressing opinions. One of the resolutions passed stated that the Government should not succumb to the conditions of the IMF. Accepting the rigid IMF conditions “would bring about political and economic turmoil and disrupt unity, peace and tranquillity in the country.”

One of the measures the Government has already taken to deal with the economic crisis was referred to by Ndugu Daudi Mwakawago, the Minister for Labour and Manpower Development at another seminar organised by the Union of Tanzania Yorkers (JUWATA). “The Government expects to save 190 million shillings annually following the laying off of 12,360 civil servants last year” he said. He went on to say that 14,117 other employees were layed off by parastatal organisations under the cost reduction exercise, affecting a 160.8 million shillings saving in salaries and another 964.2 million shillings in operational costs.

He told seminar participants that more lay-offs could not be ruled out at this point. “I can’t say how long the exercise will take – it all depends on the economic performance,” he said.

He explained that if the situation deteriorated the Government might be forced to scrap some public institutions along with their employees. The Government had earmarked 27,261 workers for redundancy to save 305.9 million shillings, but 15,354 of the Employees were absorbed by local Governments. Ndugu Mwakawago pointed out that apart from the lay-offs, the Government had cut down the number of ministries from 21 to 14 under the cost reduction measures.

He said all but 108 of the civil servants declared redundant had received their terminal benefits by the end of last month. Ndugu Mwakawago said an appeals committee formed by his Ministry received 333 complaints by lay-off victims last year, 60 of which were proved genuine and the complainants ordered reinstated.

At a seminar in Arusha organised by the Institute of Engineers in Tanzania (IET), the Minister for Communications and Works, Ndugu Mustafa Nyang’anyi said that the country was only too aware of the unsatisfactory implementation of development projects. “The Kirumi Bridge project, for instance, which you will also be discussing in this seminar, has taken us twelve years to complete instead of the initially planned three years”. He told the nearly two hundred engineers attending the seminar that a technical audit system to ensure that Government and parastatal projects comply with established standards is to be introduced in the country soon. This was aimed at curbing wastage of millions of public funds, he added.

The Minister said that the audit system had been decided upon because foreign firms which were mostly responsible for planning and designing local projects, did not always comply with standards applicable in Tanzania. The foreign firms did not only plan and design local projects, but also executed and supervised their implementation with very little involvement of the local engineers, he pointed out. “The case of the Mbeya cement factory serves to illustrate this point”.

Seminars have also been held on “Productivity Management at the Shop Floor Level” in Zanzibar and on “Strategies for the Development of Women and Children” on the mainland.

David Brewin

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