‘One by one they entered the conference hall. President Mkapa, his predecessor Ali Hassan Mwinyi and the country’s first president Julius Nyerere. Smiling broadly, the three politicians waved to the applauding crowd …..The scene dramatically illustrated Tanzania’s success in achieving peaceful, democratic transitions of government. Very few other African counties, if any, can boast of having a current president and two former leaders together in the same room. By the measures of the continent, the country’s political stability is an impressive achievement.’ So began an article in the GUARDIAN WEEKLY

A recent article in the ECONOMIST referred to what it described as the bleak future for Zanzibar’s traditional cash crop because Indonesia’s economic collapse ‘will almost certainly curtail demand for the scented Kretek cigarettes that absorb the bulk of the world’s clove crop.. . . But Zanzibar’s tourist industry is booming; the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Agency has approved $260 million-worth of projects in tourism, ten times the total for other industries. Tourist revenue is expected to be $2.5 million this year, twice that of the year before’ (Thank you Debbie Simmons, for these two items – Editor).

The TIMES (April 4) gave publicity to a campaign being organised by the charity Christian Aid under which people are invited to attach £1 coins to cards which are then sent to constituency MP’s for forwarding to British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown as a contribution to relief of developing world debt. The first £6,300 raised has been put towards reducing (fractionally) Tanzania’s debt to Britain (Thank you Betty Wells and Christine Lawrence for sending the newspaper cutting -Editor). The TIMES also chose as the picture to illustrate an article on the economic situation in China a photograph of the Guard of Honour in Beijing which had greeted President Mkapa on his arrival for a state visit in early April. The next day it printed a picture of some of the miners who had escaped from the tragedy in Arusha Region mentioned above.

On April 14 the TIMES, quoting from Oxfam material, explained why Tanzania is going to have to wait several years before it can benefit from the ‘Highly Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC)’ described in TA No 59. The article explained how Uganda had just become the first country to ‘get its hands on some of the money’. Mozambique had gone through the tortuous qualification process but would still not see any cash until the end of another year-long review. The article went on: ‘For all the colourful photo opportunities afforded by the Clinton’s recent grand tour of Africa, a desperately poor country such as Burkina Faso will not get any relief until at least 2000. Tanzania, where Hillary and Chelsea went on safari, may never be eligible for debt relief even though one in six children die there before the age of five. Tanzania is a particularly perverse example of the IMF’s strict eligibility criteria. Countries have to take part in IMF economic reforms for six years before being eligible. Tanzania has been in IMF programmes since the mid-1980’s but will still not qualify until at least 2002 because it temporarily fell out with the donor community in 1994 over targets for revenue collection. The IMF dates the start of Tanzania’s HIPC track record from November 1996 when it inaugurated a fresh adjustment programme. It gets no credit for past participation in IMF programmes (Thank you Christine Lawrence for bringing this information to our attention -Editor).

Ann McFerran didn’t want to embarrass her 19-year son Patrick by turning up at his ‘gap-year’ project. But his letters home persuaded her to have one last adventure’ These were the first words in a full-page article in the DAILY TELEGRAPH on February 14 under a headline (‘How Africa made a man of my son’) which probably did embarrass him! When offered snake for dinner one night the son asked his mother “where else will you eat snake.” He suggested that she should ‘live a little.’ The 51-year old mother admitted to being torn between total revulsion and a renewed thirst for adventure. The son was clearly enjoying himself as his letters from a British charity project near the Tarangire National Park had indicated. “On Sunday morning I got up before dawn to meet a Tanzanian who took me to find gold. . .we walked for four hours” . . . .. “I went to the nearest town for my birthday and found myself staring amazed at a water tap. I wish you could see this place.” The mother concluded her article: ‘On our last day we visited a cultural village in Tarangire’s wildlife conservation area….in a Maasai village we were greeted like visiting royalty, our hands grabbed by women and children.. .as the sun set young men began a rhythmic chant that seemed to explode though their throats as they jumped in the air in perfect unison. We watched mesmerised. Later we sat in silence under the stars -closer and wiser ….I pondered how Africa had changed my son into a thoughtful young man.’ (Thank you Donald Wright for sending us this article -Editor).

BUSINESS IN AFRICA (December-January) had some difficulty in concealing its surprise, if not indignation, when it published a six-page news article about an inaugural award (the ‘US Corporate Citizenship Africa Award’) by the ‘US Corporate Council for Africa’ to the Coca Cola Company. It asked whether a soft drink made of 99% sugar and water should have been allowed to reach the position where its annual sales surpassed the economies of whole regions of Africa. Defenders of the award had pointed out, however, that the company had invested or committed $600 million in Africa including $50 million in Tanzania. The total investment was about half of US aid to the continent in 1997. Some $30 million had been devoted to charity in recent years and there had been a great deal of sport sponsorship in East Africa. But no mention was made of the profits obtained by Coca Cola in Africa. (Meanwhile, the EAST AFRICAN reports that Bonnie Bottlers of Moshi has received an award from Coca Cola for reaching the ‘international quality standard’ benchmark in the production of Coke – Editor).

‘Forget the ski slopes. The rich and famous are chilling out in the tropical hotspots of Jamaica and Zanzibar’ wrote Grace Berry in THE TIMES (January 29). ‘They’re just tripping over one another to get to Zanzibar…. Designer Amanda Wakeley gets the inspiration for her collections there’. But Tanzanian authorities are not happy about the thousands of budget tourists or backpackers flocking there according to the South African SUNDAY INDEPENDENT (February l). These foreigners, they say, promote decadence and crime. Zanzibaris call them vishuka (those who wear rags) says Omar Ali, a senior official in the Criminal Investigation Department. According to unofficial figures they spend less than $20 a day and promote drugs and sex through their loose association with beach boys. The article went on to say that crime is low in Zanzibar but on December 27 the DAILY TELEGRAPH reported that a 28-year old German visitor had been shot dead, allegedly by members of the Tanzania Defence Forces at Fumba, 25 kms from Zanzibar town in a restricted area close to a military camp. Officials were reported as saying that the incident happened after the visitor refused to be searched But critics, including tour operators, argue that no sign was posted to warn visitors to stay away. The Tanzania Tourist Board opposes a ban on backpackers saying that it would impair efforts to boost the tourist industry. Although they are usually thrifty, a good word from them back home, always brings other visitors, the Board says. Ali’s remarks were said to reflect only the concerns of the security authorities.

The SUNDAY TIMES (January ll) reported that a British tourist couple were attacked by seven robbers and stabbed while walking at 11 pm near the Serena Inn. Two German women were reported to have been mugged in the same area and another tourist was mugged on a beach at 3pm. The British High Commission was advising people to exert caution on quiet beaches and in urban areas at night. As we go to press it is reported that CCM has expressed shock at an incident in which six thugs armed with knives gang raped a female European volunteer in Zanzibar town. (Thank you David Leishman ,from South Africa and Geoffrey Stoke11 for sending parts of this information Editor).

The January issue of THE MSITU NEWSLETTER is again packed with extracts of news stories about the environment. The main story complains that a government decree of May 1997 under which all illegal inhabitants of the 4,362 ha Kazimzumbwi Forest reserve (Coast Region) should move out within three months, had fallen on deaf ears. Agricultural activities, tree felling for charcoal and construction of houses were continuing.

A page was devoted to the news that the government had approved, in spite of strong opposition from environmental groups (worried about the possible impact it will have on the Rufiji Delta) a prawn farming project by the Dar es Salaam-based ‘African Fishing Company’. (Thank you Joy Clancy of the University of Twente in the Netherlands for sending this information on the strength of the opposition to this project. The article you sent indicated that 10,000 ha of mangrove shrubs (of eight specie) would have to he cleared; that the sea and fish could suffer ,from pollution from prawn waste and fertilisers; and, it was doubtful !f there would be enough fish available to feed the prawns -Editor).

The JOHANNESBURG STAR reported in mid February that some 340 children fathered by South African freedom fighters during the struggle against apartheid are battling to make a living in Tanzania. Only those whose fathers died during the struggle can apply to the South African High Commission in Dar es Salaam for assistance from a special pension fund set up by the South African government. An ANC spokesman said that party members who were still alive had the responsibility of looking after their children.

Tanzania featured prominently in an illustrated 4-page article in the spring 1998 issue of BIRDS. The article, about the ‘Royal Society of Birds International Network’, written by Paul Buckley, Zul Bhatia and Rob Lake, explained that the 19 bird species which are found only in Tanzania are threatened. Since 1993 the RSPB has supported a project in the Uluguru Mountains under Zul Bhatia, where there are 15 birds of special conservation interest. Pride of place goes to the Uluguru bush shrike, a critically threatened species found only in these forests. Few people have seen it and little is known of its ecology; it is believed to live in the lower forests, just those that are under greatest danger through increasing human pressure. An exciting discovery had been finding the globally threatened Usambara eagle owl, previously thought to be found only in two other mountain ranges. The main object of the RSPB’s efforts has been to understand pressures on the forest, the perceptions of local people and ways to involve them in managing the forest to improve the quality of life and ensure its protection (Thank you Donald Wright for sending this item -Editor).

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