WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR CORRUPTION IN AID?
Under this title, in the June issue of Transparency International’s Newsletter, Brim Cooksey blamed foreign aid for much of the corruption found in developing countries. He wrote that one of the main reasons for the disappointing performance of structural adjustment programmes was systematic corruption. An extreme example had been Tanzania’s import substitution programme which had allowed local manufacturers to import raw materials and finished goods. Some companies stopped paying counterpart funds. Import duty and sales taxes were not paid on some imports. Neither the Treasury nor the commercial banks had the administrative capacity or the integrity to handle large volumes of free foreign exchange and the donors ignored the problem.. . . ‘in December 1996 the IMF started disbursing a US$240 million structural adjustment loan but to date not one private or parastatal company has been put in receivership for the hundreds of millions of donor dollars which went astray ….pressure to spend (donor money) has led to unbelievable over funding.. . .well known examples are NGO’s, many of which are created with the sole objective of embezzling donor money’.
The writer went on to say that the picture emerging from the recent Warioba Report on corruption was that of an oppressed people largely at the mercy of an incompetent and corrupt state apparatus. Unfortunately, the report had not mentioned corruption in aid and this matter should be explored (Thank you Ron Fennel1 for this item – Editor).
AFRICA (July-August) reported that singing of Ishe Konzberera (God Bless Africa) greeted the 74-21 vote at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Harare to relax the protection of the African elephant in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe and allow regulated sales of ivory in 1999.
Dr. Adbayo Williams, wrote in AFRICA TODAY (July/August) about what he described as the ‘new generation of visionary African leaders’ now emerging on the continent. It contrasted former President Mobuto of Zaire who ‘will spend his last days in lonely exile’ on the one hand with Nelson Mandela ‘who will be granted his last wish to die with a smiling face’, Leopold Senghor of Senegal who was spending his last days in ‘refined retirement’ and Julius Nyerere who, ‘in spartan splendour, still continues to function as the father of his nation’.
HELL ON EARTH
Tanzanians figured prominently in a two-page article in the July/August issue of NEW AFRICAN under the heading ‘Turkey: Hell on Earth for African Immigrants’. Istanbul was said to have less than 1,000 African immigrants but half of them were currently in detention, rotting away on trumped up charges. The trouble had started, the article said, when a Tanzanian was caught with heroin stuffed in his back-pack in June 1996. ‘This gave the Turkish police the excuse to raid the apartments of other Africans in the city…. Later, 43 Africans (mostly Tanzanians) were caught crossing illegally into Turkey from Greece. The immigration police promptly put them in detention. A week later the narcotics police arrested a Tanzanian with 500 grammes of heroin. The police then went straight to the African hostel, took out 13 other Africans, and planted heroin on them. A year later they are still in detention….another group was found in the apartment of a Tanzanian who had a postcard photo of a famous Turkish model singer, Hulya Avsar. The police mistook the postcard for a real photograph and thought the Tanzanian (“a monkey from the African jungle”) had had the cheek to take the beautiful model as a girl friend. The police gave the Tanzanian a good beating before realising that it was merely a postcard….’
This is the name of the second-best-selling game (after Monopoly) in the world and is, of course, the Swahili word ‘to build’. The object of Jenga, is to take wooden bricks from the bottom of a tower and put them on top without making it fall over. Last year 3 million people bought it. The SUNDAY TIMES (July 6) explained how the inventor of the game, Leslie Scott, who now lives in Denmark, spent the first years of her life in Africa and her first language was Swahili (Thank you Randal Sadleir for this item – Editor).
THE CURATE’S EGG
‘Tourism. The definitive curate’s egg, the pre-eminent mixed blessing’ – so began a recent article in THE SCOTSMAN by Julie Davidson. She went on to say ‘This week I thought of Nasser K. Awadh … whose gene pool is Zanzibar’s history, who draws his pedigree from the Yemen, from Indonesia and also from sub-Saharan Africa … and who recently slapped an Italian visitor. Crowning tourists, rather than hotels, is not one of the traditions of Zanzibar hospitality, but Nasser was defending his island’s dignity. “I asked him several times to stop throwing sweets at the children and then photographing the ensuing scrum of human monkeys but he went on doing it. So I smacked him’. Later we were standing outside the Persian Baths at Kidichi, a relic of the Omani Sultanate, when we saw the same disagreeable device practised by two German men. This time Nasser controlled his itchy palm. He scolded the children instead while I scowled and muttered at the Germans…. The curate’s egg. Nasser knows the merits of its good parts. He is much in demand for his guide’s eloquence and authority, the valued employee of Abercrombie and Kent, the only British tour operator which maintains an office in Zanzibar. But A & K’s exclusive foothold will soon be challenged by Britain’s largest tour operator, Thomson, who will be the first mass market holiday company to go into Zanzibar…..’ (Thank you Fiona Scott for this item – Editor).
The INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE (June 11) contained a ‘sponsored page’ written by Richard Synge, who is based in Cambridge, Extracts: ‘Practically every sector of the economy is being transformed. The new Government policies are attracting investor interest from all over the world……analysts say that the first results of foreign direct investments made in the past five years will show over the coming months in the form of a rapid rise in gold exports and a sharp revival in the production of goods and services for the domestic market….evidence of the benefits of reform can be seen clearly in Dar es Salaam where a construction boom is under way. Mwanza is also developing rapidly with banks and other services moving in…. over the next three to five years Tanzania will begin to score some successes that will be noticed internationally…..if Uganda has done it, then Tanzania can do it……’ (Many thanks Ronald Neath for sending this item – Editor).
‘WHAT THE WITCHDOCTOR ORDERED’
This was the heading of a serious article in the DAILY TLEGRAPH (July 2) about how rich Tanzania is in medicinal plants and in people who say they can use them in medicine. With panic in the West that the African repository of potential future drugs will disappear as agriculture spreads across the continent, Tanzania is launching a pioneer project (through the Missouri Botanical Garden) which will try to document this plant world before it is too late and through training of local people, attempt to quell the fears of local scientists about the drug company scientists who, they say, fly in, whip some exciting looking plants from the bush, and then jet home again without benefiting the host country. The author of the article had visited the corner of the market in Dar es Salaam where the healers sell their exotic wares and went on to describe the work of the Tanzanian Institute of Traditional Medicine and of botanists at the university. Mention was made of a pile of gnarled ebony roots in the market used to relieve pain; elephant dung – ‘its smoke treats children’s fits’; and, lion oil ‘which relieves an inflamed leg’ (Thank you Liz Fennel1 for this item – Editor).
‘Kiswahili has found its way into the highest level of corporate America, sort of’. So began a note in the Spring 1997 issue of Mbegu za Urafiki (the Newsletter of (American) Friends of Tanzania) which is based in Maryland and has many former Peace Corps volunteers among its membership. The note continued: ‘The Miami-based Burger King Corporation has appointed Tanga born Dennis Malamatinas (41), the son of Greek sisal farmers as its Chief Executive…. although he left Tanzania at the age of six he still speaks a few words of Kiswahili and is believed to be the highest ranking American business executive who is from Tanzania (thank you Trevor Jaggar for this item – Editor).
The September issue of NEW AFRICAN contained an article under the heading ‘Tanzania Bans Beauty Contests’ in which it wrote about what it described as the ever growing controversy over beauty contests. Organisers of a MSS Eastern Africa contest in April were warned that they were not to allow competitors to compete in swimsuits. Arguing that all beauty contests in the world allowed swimsuits, the non-Tanzanian entrants threatened to boycott the contest and the organisers backed down. But the government was said to have been furious. Arts and Languages Director Elinkunda Matteru said “We cannot allow our culture to be spoilt. We cannot allow the aping of shameful things with Africans walking in halls”. But former culture minister Philemon Sarungi was said to have defended the wearing of swimsuits as they are worn universally. The debate seems likely to continue.