TANZANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

In further pursuit of its intense interest in matters concerning aviation in Tanzania the London GUARDIAN published on 24th July an article by Rod Liddle, editor of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, which was largely devoted to an attack on President Mkapa. The article seemed to gloat over the fact that Tanzania had now sunk to the 151st position in the latest UN Human Development Report, one place above what was described as the ‘Benighted Islamic Hellhole of Mauritania’ and also below Sudan, Haiti, Djibouti and Bangladesh. ‘How bad could a country be to come below Haiti?’ he asked. The article went on to refer to the £28 million paid for the air traffic control system and the £14 million (actually £7 million) which President Mkapa was said to be spending on a new jet plane. This £42 million was virtually the exact amount of money Britain was giving Tanzania in aid this year. There followed sideswipes at the conduct of the last elections in Zanzibar and at President Mkapa’s welcome for the dispossession of white farmers in Zimbabwe. The heading of the article was “Why do we give money to corrupt states?”

Clare Short subsequently described the article as “virtually a racist attack on the Tanzanian President”.
(However, Tanzania has been selected to be the host of a UN Human Development Forum later this year in recognition of the ‘important achievements it has made in democratic, participatory governance which forms an important element in the country’s impressive overall reform agenda’. The UNDP Resident Representative in Dar es Salaam, quoted in the Tanzanian Guardian, said that there were now 173 countries worldwide included in the index -compared with 162
last year -and Tanzania had jumped from 156th to 151st in the league table -Editor)
.

Tanzanian High Commissioner in London Gumbo Kibelloh responded to the Liddle article in the GUARDIAN on July 30 by pointing out the achievements of the Mkapa administration and inviting Liddle to visit him at the High Commission “to discuss the real situation in Tanzania”. Letters of protest about the article written to the paper by the Chairman and other members of the Britain-Tanzania Society were not published.

The radar deal had also continued to feature heavily in other papers. Under the heading “Watchmen radar deal is a disaster for the people of Tanzania”, UK Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb wrote in the EAST AFRICAN (8th July) as follows: “In a communication to the IMF dated 18th July, 2000 the Tanzanian government claimed that it was unable to finance it through bilateral or multilateral aid but had obtained bank and supplier financing of $35 million on concessional terms. He noted that, as of September 12 last year, Barclays Bank, which had provided the finance, had some 93 million ordinary shares in BAE Systems. Barclays Bank had not explained why, as a commercial lender, it had seen fit to subsidise heavily an arms sale to a highly indebted developing country …. I have now been told that even the military capability of the system is inadequate; it covers only about one-third of the country and two more systems would be needed to cover the whole country. Barclays Bank might have simply had a fit of generosity. Or perhaps it has something to do with the fact that on 11th October, 2000 Barclays’ secured a banking licence to operate in Tanzania. The other more sinister explanation was that the contract price was fiddled and artificially inflated so it looked to the outside world as if Barclays was providing a concessional loan which was necessary to get the deal past the IMF ….

Then came the order, just before Ms Short’s arrival in Tanzania, of a new jet plane for President Mkapa which enabled the GUARDIAN (July 27) to report that Clare Short (said to be known in Tanzania as ‘Mama Radar’) had defended the purchase. She was quoted as saying: “After all, the Queen has her own jet and the British Prime Minister has the use of a jet”. She went on “The President needed a jet to replace his current plane, a 24-year-old Fokker. .. Tanzania’s roads are hopeless and it is a long drive from Dar to Dodoma where Parliament is based …. unlike the Radar deal it was openly disclosed to the Tanzanian Parliament. There is no whiff of corruption about this purchase either”. She attacked those in the World Bank who had raised questions about the deal for its “neo-colonialist attitudes”.

(Meanwhile CUF is reported in Mtanzania to have collected 28,000 signatures on a petition against the purchase of the jet -Editor)

BBC TV1 was so parochial in its coverage of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in July that Tanzanian Francis Naali’s great achievement in winning the marathon received little attention. As he stood on the podium receiving his gold medal the Tanzanian National Anthem could be heard in the background but the foreground was occupied by several of the numerous commentators brought in to explain every detail about the contribution of the British athletes. Tanzania’s John Yuda got better TV coverage for his bronze medal in another race. Noel Thomas described the scene: ‘The Tanzanian led for most of the way and had the crowd with him as he was closely followed by three Kenyans. At the end the Kenyans closed in and it seemed as though he would fail but in a desperate last bid not to be overtaken, managed to throw off the third of the Kenyans and snatch the bronze medal by a whisker. As he stood on the platform to receive the bronze medal he was completely unsmiling; he simply stared into the future as if completely in another world, but was all the more impressive for that’.

NEWSAFRlCA (July) devoted a page to what it described as Tanzania’s worst train accident since the first railway line was built in 1893. The accident on 24th June, which occurred between Igandu and Msagali near Dodoma, killed 281 people and injured 371 out of the 1,200 passengers travelling on the train. Following the crash there were allegations of sabotage following discontent amongst workers threatened by redundancy as a result of plans for privatization of the Railways Corporation.

Apparently the blowpipe of the train was broken causing failure of the brakes as it approached Dodoma. The train then started going backwards at an increasing speed until it crashed into another train. According to Majira the train had to change engines three times before the disaster. The original engine was changed in Morogoro but this new one also developed technical problems and had to be replaced in Kilosa. The 2,200-horsepower diesel engine was supposed to pull 22 wagons to Dodoma but the engine failed 25 kilometres before the city. The engine was among the ten best in the rolling stock having been bought in 1991 from Germany and having been overhauled in 1999 by German technicians. Five top railway officials were said to have been suspended. An 11-member committee was appointed on 6th July to investigate the accident. President Mkapa endeavoured to calm the nation by pointing out that the UK, India, Mozambique, Germany and Pakistan had all recently suffered similar serious rail accidents.

The AFRICA SERVICE OF THE UN’S IRIN reported on May 29 that a multi-agency survey, undertaken by the Tanzanian government, the British-based NGO Saferworld, the Nairobi-based Security Research and Information Centre (SRIC) and the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa (ISS) on the impact of small arms in Tanzania, had found that firearms were having a negative, though limited, impact on Tanzania and that there was widespread support for tightening controls on them. Tanzania’s ‘National Action Plan’, developed in November 2001, was described as ‘The first coordinated and comprehensive national approach to develop a practical and realistic plan … based on a thorough assessment of the small arms problem” according to The National Defence and Security Committee. The Committee has had its remit extended to cover small arms control issues, and a national Arms Management and Disarmament Committee (AMAD) been set up, including key civil society partners, to direct and oversee the implementation of the National Plan. Tanzania was among the leaders in the region said Lt-Col (Retd) Jan Kamenju, Director of SRIC.

In Tanzania, though exposure to violent conflict and the levels of the use of firearms in crime were relatively low, firearms were having a growing negative effect in certain parts -with penetration most serious in Kigoma and Kagera regions bordering war-tom Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and in Morogoro Region, in the southeast. The penetration of firearms was an issue, though to a lesser extent, in the regions of Arusha in the northeast, Mwanza in the north and Pwani in the east. The report highlighted a strong perception of rising crime in Tanga Region in the northeast, which, it said, needed to be monitored for fear that, at some point, it could bring about a worsening firearm situation. Crime rates were still generally low in Tanzania and what crime was committed tended to be theft, often opportunistic, involving house­breaking and cattle theft. However, in Kigoma and Kagera one of the destabilising factors was “the presence of factions within refugee camps”, which was heightening the feeling of insecurity. “This has a particularly negative impact on the level of firearm proliferation in these regions, both in terms of illegal weapons in the hands of rebel fighters and the responsive demand for arms as a means of self­defence and security that a diminishing sense of safety stimulates,” it added.
(This Item was delivered to the “Africa-English” Service of the UN’s IRIN Humanitarian Information Unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations).

In an article on the proliferation of trade in illegal small arms in the Great Lakes region, the EAST AFRICAN (lOth June) said that 75% of these illegal arms originated from Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. The article quoted the International Action Network of Small Arms (IANSA) a UK NGO, as stating that four out of 10 fishermen around Lake Victoria owned small arms and five out of 50 people in the region had access to illegal weapons. An AK-47 rifle could be bought for from Shs 150,000 to Shs 400,000. The police had reported that about 11,000 people including 11 policemen had been killed in incidents involving the use of weapons between 1998 and 2001. The article said that it was suspected that some of the planes used to export fish to Ukraine, Russia, the Far East and South Africa returned with illegal arms for sale in the region.

‘Some 12,000 ‘Somali Bantu’s’, as they are known, used to be farmers in Somalia but were always treated as second-class citizens and deprived of basic rights such as education.’ So wrote Jonathan Clayton in THE TIMES (July 18). Before Somalia’s civil war drove them as refugees into Kenya, the Bantus were despised by Somalia’s primarily nomadic clans, living along the Juba River. With no clan system to protect them, they were robbed, raped, bullied and chased into exile when Somalia descended into anarchy in 1991. They can be traced back to the slave trade of Zanzibar’s Arab sultans during the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of their ancestors were captured by the sultan’s raiding dhows and taken to the Zanzibar slave market for sale and onward transport to the Arab world. Vessels wrecked in monsoon winds would pitch their hapless human cargoes on to the Somali coast. They have been living in the refugee camp at Dadaab near the Kenya/Somalia border. They have no desire to return to Somalia and the UN refugee agency therefore approached Mozambique and Tanzania to ask them to accept them as refugees. But these countries felt that they did not have the means to take them and the United States had now agreed to accept the entire community and they are to be resettled in towns and cities across America. They have begun to leave for Nairobi prior to their journey to the States in convoys carrying between 250 and 300 passengers at a time.

Baffour Ankomah, the outspoken NEW AFRICAN writer, described in an article in the magazine’s June issue, the birth pangs of the new African Union (AU) which was set up on 1 st July in Durban, South Africa. In the article headed “African Union in Danger of Being Stillborn” he revealed that the OAU was owed US$ 54 million by 45 of its 54 member countries (Tanzania was said to owe $853,000). He went on to explain that in preparation for the setting-up of the AU a “high-level advisory panel” of 15 eminent persons had been set up. Among the members was Tanzania’s Mrs Gertrude Mongella, who had been head of the OAU election observer mission to Zimbabwe and was President of ‘Advocacy for Women.’ There then followed a lengthy and frank interview with Amari Essy, the distinguished Ivorian diplomat, who was elected as Secretary General of the OAU last July in succession to Tanzania’s Salim Salim with the mandate to transform the OAU into the AU within one year. Asked whether it was true that some of the OAU staff were deliberately undermining him in this task Essy said “Yes, 1 know. When 1 took office 1 didn’t sack anybody. 1 have been working with the same people left behind by Salim because as a Pan-Africanist, you don’t discriminate or select this group or that group …. When 1 was elected, 1 met Salim in Lusaka and he said that he had put in place a good working group, so when 1 arrived in Addis Ababa everything would be ready for me. 1 could have dismantled the working group but that wasn’t the ideal solution and 1 had to live with it ….. but nobody seems to be happy though it must be admitted that, because of the transition from OAU to AU, there is speculation about job security”. Asked whether it was a tough assignment that he had been given he said yes. One of the problems was the secretariat. When Salim was leaving, a lot of bad things were said against him …. And there was a split in the office … the atmosphere was bad. “I had to spend a lot of time speaking to them and explain that as Africans it was a big honour for us to be part ofbuilding the new African Union”.

Essy was then asked about Zimbabwe. The OAU had said that the elections had been free, fair and legitimate. (Tanzanian Affairs No. 72). The Commonwealth and much of the Western world had said the opposite. Was he still standing by the OAU verdict? Essy replied: “Ask Mrs Gertrude Mongella of Tanzania -she was the leader of the OAU team .. .I followed her report” …. ”

The Bunyanhulu issue (see above) received a mention in the NEW STATESMAN on May 27. Extracts: ‘President Bush Senior is on the Board of Barrick Mining, a Canadian Company that now finds itself embroiled in a row over allegations of a massacre (by another company) in Tanzania …. The Lawyers Environmental Action Team have fought not only Barrick but the World Bank (which backed the gold mining venture) and the Tanzanian Government to try to find out exactly what happened at Bunyanhulu … (Thank you Peter Yea for sending this item -Editor).

Jens Finke, the author of two forthcoming ‘Rough Guides’ on Tanzania and Zanzibar gave an advanced extract from these in an article in ROUGH NEWS (Summer 2002). Extracts: ‘Most guidebooks curtly write off Dodoma in a paragraph or two but it’s been one of the highlights of my travels in Tanzania. The de facto capital is a place with as much visible charm as other planned cities (like Abuja and Brasilia) ….. .In fact Tanzanians have had a fair go at the project, impressive when you consider the impoverishment of the country, but it’s thanks to the typically haphazard track of Tanzanian officialdom that Dodoma has begun to gather something akin to charm. Unplanned streets and squatter housing have sprouted between the potholed boulevards in places where grandiose projects like the new national library were once planned and which now boast an increasing number of busy bars and clubs, making Dodoma one of the liveliest towns in Tanzania …. Local journalists delight in reminding readers how the capital’s name (Dodoma means ‘to sink’ in Kigogo) refers to an elephant that got stuck in the mud and how the planned city is a white elephant stuck in the middle of nowhere. This seems unfair. … Sunday afternoons are special as the day when families have the time to go out together and mini-bars lay on family -oriented entertainment. In the local park two stand-up comedians were on the outdoor stage and they interrupted their topical routine with jokes about the Mzungu (white man) who had just arrived, which caused hilarity among the crowd and brought me a sympathetic beer from the table I joined. That afternoon, the comedians were followed by the ‘Swordfish Cultural Troupe’ who laid on a medley of tribal dances and masterful displays of drumming. The highlight was a rendition of the Sindimba dance from the Makonde tribe in which masked dancers representing an evil spirit instil the fear of God into bystanders by cavorting around on stilts. But the final act was the most eagerly­awaited of the afternoon, by the women at least. A bare-chested man appeared on stage with a short plank and a wooden cylinder. Balancing the plank atop the cylinder on a table, he stood up on the see-saw which rocks back and forth and then announced that he would undress while standing on the see-saw. As his trousers and then his boxer shorts came down the women went berserk and several ran-up on to the stage to shower coins on the table. As soon as he was naked, he repeated the whole act in reverse, scooped up the coins and his clothes and disappeared, pursued by one of the women who had been sitting at my table. Dodoma dull? I don’t think so (Thank you Liz Fennell for this item ~Editor).

AFRICAN DECISIONS (April -June) in its ‘Investment Monitor’ feature said that the privatisation of the Morogoro -based Canvas Mill Ltd seemed to be taking off, with increased export orders and the payment of about Shillings 1.2 billion in various taxes within the first three years of operation. The Mill’s production capacity had risen to 75% of installed capacity and the mill had won export orders in at least eight countries earning it $9 million from exports. It was currently working on an order for cloth uniforms for NATO armed services.

NEWSAFRICA (1st July) in an article entitled’ Beer Wars’ described recent changes in the highly competitive and complicated beer market in East Africa. Extracts: ‘The international giant South African Breweries (SAB) which operates in 23 countries and controls Tanzania Breweries and 82% of the total beer market in Tanzania, has closed down its Kenya subsidiary Castle Breweries and relocated to Tanzania’. Some analysts were quoted as saying that this move was a concession to competition in a reducing beer market in Kenya rather than a planned strategic decision. SAB announced it had agreed to a deal with East African Breweries to take over the latter’s Moshi-based Kibo Breweries through its Tanzania Breweries subsidiary and would now sell in Tanzania East African Breweries well known brands Tusker, Pilsner and Kibo Gold. Already the company was selling Safari, Kilimanjaro, Ndovu and F orty9 er beers. Under the arrangement Kenya Breweries would buy a 20% shareholding in Tanzania Breweries and SAB would buy a 20% shareholding in the East African Brewery’s subsidiary Kenya Breweries.

The BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL (August 3) published a 6-page article on the new scientific discipline of ‘Travel Medicine’. The article included a great deal of information about new treatments for malaria (recommended drugs are melloquine, doxycycline or atovaquone) and other diseases in Sub Saharan Africa. The article advised travellers to obtain ‘standby treatment kits’ which they can use for self-treatment if unable to obtain medical advice within 24 hours of becoming unwell (Thank you Christine Lawrence for sending this information -Editor).

In a letter to THE TIMES on 13th May reader Peter Hatt (6th King’s African Rifles 1950 -53) said that a replica of the ‘splendid’ Askari Monument in Dar es Salaam, which commemorated the African soldiers who lost their lives while serving in the First World War, should be installed in London on an appropriate podium.

AFRICAN DECISIONS (April-June) reported that Tanzanian community leader Sebastien Chuwa and the ‘African Blackwood Conservation Project’ had been given ‘Spirit of the Land’ awards during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, USA. The awards were for environmental education and tree-planting programmes around Mount Kilimanjaro.

The JOHANNESBURG STAR (17th May) reported that Tanzania was returning a shipment of 10 million Chinese condoms, paid for by the UN Fund for Population Activities, which were earmarked for free distribution in Tanzanian health clinics and other points. The nine shipping containers holding the condoms worth about $60,000 had been purchased from a company in Singapore which had contracted a manufacturer in China to make the condoms. Assistant Health Minister Hussein Mwinyi said that many of them had ‘weak points’ including holes and soft spots that caused them to burst under pressure. THE TIMES had the same story on 18th May. (Thank you John Ainley for sending this item -Editor).

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