TANZANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

Many publications featured Tanzania’s elections but they expressed highly critical views. Examples:

The TIMES (October 31) showed a picture of an opposition supporter in Zanzibar being thrown into a truck after clashing with police. The INDEPENDENT quoted the adverse comments of the Commonwealth observers. NEWSAFRICA (November 20) headlined its election coverage: ‘Nyerere’s legacy sold out; Party political squabbling and claims of fraud and vote rigging have exposed the political vacuum left by Julius Nyerere’. The BBC’s FOCUS ON AFRICA (October-December) lamented the lack of debate during the election on policies eg: AIDS, economic restructuring, public health, the East African Community, Burundi. All attention had been directed to personalities and they all seemed to have broadly the same policies. Under the heading ‘Costly victory’ Jackson Mwalalu in AFRICA TODAY (December) wrote that Tanzania’s ruling party got the candidate it wanted into the presidency of Zanzibar ‘but the Union may suffer as a result. President Karume, promising to open a new chapter in the history of the islands, must be aware … that the new chapter could well turn out to be as ugly as the olive branch he is extending to his opponents could be pointless ….. ‘ But NEW AFRICAN (December) under the heading ‘America can learn a thing or two’ brought in a new angle. ‘What’ it asked ‘do Tanzania and America have in common? Tanzania listens while America preaches what it doesn’t practice’. It quoted adverse American comments on the Zanzibar election and went on: ‘Interestingly, two days after the re-vote in Zanzibar, ‘irregularities’ were established to have taken place in Florida; … unopened ballot boxes found in a church … results delayed …. people divided, America, the great preacher of free and fair elections had not been able to have one. .. Salman Rushdie writing in The TIMES (December 9) said that it would be a long time before America could preach to the rest of the world about electoral transparency. The American election had been about as transparent as ‘a Floridian swamp’. The ECONOMIST (November 4) headed its article ‘Not so good in Zanzibar’ and wrote that CUF had almost no access to radio or newspapers during the election period and had reason to be angry. The EAST AFRICAN’S leader (November 6) under the heading ‘Thuggery by Mahita’s Men’ (Omar Mahita is Tanzania’s Inspector General of Police) wrote that ‘a cloud of shame is hanging over Tanzania because of the brutality visited upon citizens in Zanzibar …. In the same issue Tanzanian Michael Okema said that CUF knew that CCM would not readily concede defeat … but it needed an election through which it could expose the real intentions of CCM. CCM also needed an election behind which it could act and also to portray CUF as a party of troublemakers …. CUF obviously feels it cannot topple the government democratically or otherwise because the nature of the Union is such that the mainland will always prop it up. Weakening or even breaking up the Union then becomes a priority for anyone who wants to seize power in Zanzibar. In the same issue, Tanzanian Issa Shivji’s article was headed ‘CCM Clearly Out to Steal the Election in Zanzibar’. He concluded: ‘People are said to get the rulers they deserve. I would like to believe that that does not apply to the children of the Mwalimu’. Under the heading ‘A question of democracy’ NEWSAFRICA (December 4) quoted CUF presidential candidate Ibrahim Lipumba as saying that the election process had been full of fictional goings-on that could only be found in Chinua Achebe’s novels. The article went on: ‘Given the level of acrimony, it was unsurprising that the opposition boycotted President Mkapa’s inauguration ceremony. How could one celebrate the crowning of a leader who stole votes’. President Mkapa however had dismissed the unco-operative opposition as people blinded with greed for power. The article added ‘President Karume, Zanzibar’s youngest President, is already cutting the figure of the humane and considerate President he is….. Many people, the opposition in particular, say the outcome of the last elections was depressing and disappointing. Many Tanzanians must be missing the late President Nyerere’. But FOCUS ON AFRICA’S January-March issue reported that ‘On polling day the ZEC official responsible for the Urban West Districts absconded, not reporting in until the following day. As a result many polling stations opened hours late’ thus confirming the CCM explanation ofwhat had happened.

In South Africa among the headlines in BUSINESS DAY were: ‘Victory for Mkapa will be bitter sweet. … Election Chaos as Tanzanians Vote’. An article by David Martin in the SUNDAY INDEPENDENT had a touch of nostalgia. He wrote: ‘There was much to be cherished in the old system in Tanzania: The two contestants in each constituency (both from the CCM party) had to travel together in transport supplied by the party, sleep in the same room and eat from the same plate….from their joint platform the candidates could not promise, as is the way with politicians worldwide, that if voted into power they could do this or that for the electorate … under the western multiparty system anything goes, it has spawned a new breed of politicians who are younger and often unaware of the country’s history … money counts and buys votes … ethnicity and religion are rearing their ugly heads … ‘ (Thank you David Leishman for these and other items below from the South African press ¬≠Editor).

ROBINSON CRUSOES ONLY
Under this heading The South African MAIL AND GUARDIAN (November 10) advised readers, if they visited Zanzibar (,where the beaches are postcard perfect~ white sand, green sea’) to leave again. It recommended them to go to a tiny strip of land about 13 km away which was even better: ‘Chumbe Island’s nature reserve beat 115 projects from 42 countries last year to win British Airways ‘Global Tourism for Tomorrow’ award. . . . Chumbe Coral Park was founded by Sibylle Riedmiller, a German environmentalist in her 70’s who visited the uninhabited island in 1991 … she turned it into an eco-resort for the free education of local children … only 14 overnight guests are allowed on the island at a time and they must have ‘zero impact’ … climb the 131 steps of the lighthouse built by the British in 1904 and you get the full 24 ha. extent of the place so thick with vegetation that no one has seen its rare deer population in years …. ‘ .

The Australian CAMBRIDGE POST (October 21) featured as its main headline the arrival at the Isanga primary and secondary schools adjacent to the Resolute Gold Mine in Nzega of two container loads of books, sports gear and clothes donated by the paper’s readers. There was so much material that four other schools in the district benefited also. (Thankyou Mr Gledhill for sending this item -Editor).

UDZUNGWA
The 124~page winter edition of TRAVEL AFRICA contained an article on one of Tanzania’s least known and least visited national parks astride the Mikumi~Ifakara road -the Udzungwa Mountains. Extracts: ‘The park is renowned for its endemic species which include monkeys, the rare Abbott’s duiker, the endangered wild dog, the unusual and globally threatened forest partridge, the Rufous-winged sunbird, the dappled mountain robin and many butterflies and other smaller creatures found nowhere else. It is also the only place in East Africa with unbroken forest cover from lowland to montane. But most people who visit the area want to climb up to see the beautiful Sanje Falls’.

CONSERVATION AND THE MAASAI
Issue No 11 of DEVELOPMENTS, the International Development Magazine, contained a letter from environmentalist Dr John Henshaw complaining about criticism of the Tanzanian wildlife service for its alleged ill treatment of Maasai. He wrote that he saw no evidence of a vendetta against them by Tanzania National Parks, the Wildlife Department nor the Ngorongoro Conservation area many of whose staff were Maasai. Local people were involved in community participation programmes and the Maasai had received economic, compensatory and cultural benefits as a direct result of wildlife conservation and management programmes. The same journal also gave the story of a factory on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam -a mothballed clothing factory put out of business by second-hand western clothing imports -which had been converted into weaving mosquito nets. The factory now employed 140 people and was producing a range of nets sold on the streets where business was booming. In some regions less than 5% of the people were using nets -the only practical weapon against malaria where the drugs westerners rely on, at 20 US cents a daily dose, are prohibitively expensive.

ASYLUM SEEKERS
The political crisis in Zanzibar has turned the islands into a refugee-producing hot spot according to NEWSAFRICA (November 6) but British immigration authorities will not list Tanzania as a refugee-producing nation. The result is that the Zanzibaris are now applying for political asylum masquerading as Somalis, Sudanese, and Burundians.

STAMPS
THE SWAHILI COAST (No 7, 2000) had an article headed ‘Zanzibar: Its history in stamps’ which explained how the first stamps were Indian and sold from a little office in the British Consulate in 1875. In 1890 Zanzibar became a British Protectorate and Thomas Remington was sent out from London to become the first postmaster. The Indian stamps were overprinted with the word Zanzibar. The first set of Zanzibar stamps showed Sultan Hamid bin Thwaini but before the stamps arrived from UK the Sultan had died. The article then traced the rule of other Sultan’s represented in stamps. After the 1964 revolution all mail had the Sultan’s face crossed or blacked out in ball pen and then new Zanzibar Republic stamps were produced. Other articles in this issue featured Bagamoyo and photographs of ‘millenium’ fashion.

TANZANIAN GIRLS HANDICAPPED
The UN’s AFRICA RECOVERY (July) wrote about the education of girls. Extracts: Tanzania has been more successful than many other developing countries in achieving gender equality, with girls making up 49.6% of the enrolled primary students in 1997. But only 56.7% of primary school age children attended school in 1998 … more than a million girls were still not in school. But girls in school suffer discriminatory practices like household workloads and their performance is consistently lower than that of boys especially in science and maths ….

SOUTH AFRICAN ZANZIBARIS
The November issue of SAWUBONA contained an illustrated article about a community of people whose origin is Zanzibar but who live in Chatworth, Durban. The article recalled how the slave trade had been abolished in 1807 and the Sultan of Zanzibar had declared the export of slaves forbidden in 1845. However, the abolition merely served to increase the price of slaves since only one in four of the dhows transporting the slaves managed to slip through the British and French warships patrolling the oceans. An Arab dhow transporting Zanzibaris to Arabia was intercepted in the Red Sea by a British warship and escorted back to Zanzibar. The British Consul had heard that there was a shortage of labour in Natal and over the next three years 600 Zanzibaris, an rescued from Arab dhows, were shipped to Durban as indentured labourers. The Zanzibaris established a community at King’s Rest in Durban. They cleared the land and built homes; they planted fruit orchards and large vegetable gardens. During apartheid in 1966 they were forcibly removed to Chatsworth. The government, not knowing how to classify them, put them in the ‘other Asians’ category. But the Indian community didn’t identify with them and the Zanzibaris found themselves isolated. 34 years later the community has grown from 600 to 5,000. Many have married into various African cultures while remaining faithful to Islam. The community is campaigning to be allowed to return to their old homes in Kings Rest. Sadly, many younger men are suffering from drug abuse and delinquency but the older generation still dream about being able to visit their motherland.

It is not often that the WALL STREET JOURNAL features Tanzania on its front page. On September 25 it wrote: ‘For a Tanzanian long-distance runner the first order of business at the Australian Olympics was to bring the finish line into focus’. Restituta Joseph’s spectacles had been stolen at a track meet in Algeria but in Sydney she soon had a new pair. The day after, four other Tanzanian athletes went to see the dentist. “1 got my upper dentures refitted” said chef de mission Erasto Zambi showing off a smile. “They’ve got very good medical examinations here” he said. “Very good” …… The clinic helped over 1,000 people during the games. (Thank you Nick Weston for sending this item -Editor).

‘A GRAND OLD LADY’
Under this title REFUGEES wrote some time ago about how refugees who fled Zaire in 1996 were helped to return home by the 1,500ton lake steamer which shuttles between Kigoma and Uvira in the Congo. Originally named by the Germans ‘Gotsen’ she was converted into a gunboat during the First World War before being scuttled just outside Kigoma harbour, first taking care to oil all her machinery so as to be able to salvage her after the war. She was raised by the British and her story inspired the book ‘The African Queen’ and the 1950’s film.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.