TANZANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

(In order to make this section as interesting and representative as possible we welcome contributions from readers. If you see a mention of Tanzania in the journal, magazine or newspaper you read, especially if you live or travel outside the UK, please send us the relevant item, together with the name and date of the publication to the address on the back page. If you do not wish your name be published please say so -Editor).

‘Even a tiny health budget, if spent well, can make a difference.’ So wrote the ECONOMIST (August 17) in describing in detail a joint venture of the Tanzanian Health Ministry and the Canadian International Development Research Centre in Morogoro and Rufuji. The first task was to find out which diseases caused the most trouble. Researchers traveled on bicycles to carry out a door-to-door survey. The results were surprising. The amount that health authorities spent on each disease bore no relation whatsoever to the harm which the disease inflicted on the people. Some diseases were horribly neglected. Malaria accounted for 30% of the years of life lost in Morogoro but only 5% of the 1996 health budget was devoted to it. A cluster of childhood problems including pneumonia, diarrhoea, malnutrition, measles and malaria, constituted 28% of the disease burden but received only 13% of the budget. Other conditions attracted more than their fair share of cash. Tuberculosis, which accounted for less than 4% of years of life lost, received 22% of the budget. Vaccine preventable diseases accounted for 4% of the total burden, but immunisation swallowed up 30% of the budget. The next step in the project was to give the health workers a simple algorithm to show how to treat common symptoms and to change some treatments. The results were described as stunning. In Rufiji infant mortality fell by 28% in one year and the proportion of children dying before their fifth birthday dropped by 14% (Thank you David Birmingham/or sending this item -Editor).

The SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST (17th October) reported the launching by Oxfam in Hong Kong of a campaign promoting fair trade in coffee. Oxfam Director for Hong Kong, Chong Chanyau said the campaign, which would involve exhibitions, concerts and coffee tasting activities, would help exploited farmers in poor countries such as Tanzania to earn a decent livelihood. He noted that the price of coffee beans had fallen nearly 50% in the past three years and complained that the big coffee roasters such as Sarah Lee, Nestle, Kraft and Procter and Gamble were making huge profits. With the fair trade coffee however, one third ofthe price would reach the farmers in Tanzania. (Thank you Ronald Blanche for sending this item from Hong Kong -Editor).

The BBC’s FOCUS ON AFRICA (October/December) featured a story sent in by Tanzanian listener Leocardia Simbi: ‘I had been happily married to the lively, loving and lovable Kaisuke for three years. My life was so bound up with his; he had become everything to me…. Up until that point we were childless and I became worried that my husband would divorce me…. I decided to do something about it. “Take this stuff’, said Dr Kanyororo, a traditional healer, as he handed my husband and I some green leaves to chew. The witch doctor later took me to a grove. He said he and I should undress so that he could apply some special traditional ointment to my genitals. He undressed himself in the twinkling of an eye. Hesitantly, I followed suit. At that moment a torch-light flashed on us. It was my husband. When he realised it was a witch doctor with me, he made a U-turn without uttering a word…. Now, two years later, not only am I still childless, but I am also a divorcee.’

NEWS AND VIEWS, the staff magazine of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (October-November) said, in an article headed ‘Four Euro Partners under One Roof’ that ground-breaking arrangements to re-house the British High Commission in Dar es Salaam had been welcomed by staff. Not only had the British High Commission co-located with Germany, the Netherlands and the EC but the brand new accommodation -Umoja House -was also jointly owned by the four European partners. The new arrangements were said to have raised a few smiles. “The UK leads on security; the Dutch are responsible for the phones and TV; and, the Germans run the cleaning contract”, said Louise Taylor, the Relocations Manager. (Thank you John Sankey for sending this -Editor).

The American publication AFRICA NEWS REPORT (2nd December) reported that Tanzania was among 18 developing countries about to benefit from a World Bank/UN/Unesco/other international donors programme to provide primary education for all its children by 2015. Research indicated that children who learnt to read, write and count earned roughly ten times as much in their working lives as children unable to attend school. A sum of $400 million was being made available over the next three years for the programme.

‘Musicians are singing and performing in their local languages and styles, ignoring even the predominant Kiswahili’ according to an article by Herald Tagama in NEW AFRICAN (October). Those who ignored the trend risked being swept away by the powerful wind of change. Those singing in Swahili often did so with the heavy accents of their tribal languages …. The 26 year-old Loshilaa Mokitalush, whose Maasai intonation, accoutrement and lyrics thrilled people, now had a hit song describing his bemusement after a teacher had told his pupils that Europeans discovered Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Victoria ….. Amongst older musicians Hamza Kalala had directed a sharply pointed jab at proponents of economic liberalization -“Where I come from, strings of beads (brought by the first Europeans) are only for tying cattle/where I come from women put them round their waists to tantalise their husbands …. and then he slams privatisation and liberalisation -both ideas coming from the West …. Saidi Karoli, from Bukoba, who sings in Kihaya and Kiswahili, has become a major star.

South Africa’s BUSINESS DAY (September 30) wrote about what it described as a ‘valuation and payment’ dispute between the Tanzanian Telecommunications Company Ltd (TTCL) and one of the leading cellular operators in Africa, Mobile Systems International (MSI). (More details have been given above). The Government was said to have indicated that it was bent on reviewing the agreement under which MSI took over a 35% stake. MSI was a Dutch-based cellular operator founded by Sudanese entrepreneur Mohammed Ibrahim; it had some of the leading private equity funds from Europe and America amongst its shareholders. MSI had reportedly sought a court injunction in London to restrain the Tanzanian Government from taking any further steps in order to ‘protect its shareholders’. MSI was said to have paid the first instalment of its equity of $60 million last year but had delayed or found it difficult to pay the second $60 million. MSI was said to be claiming that some individuals on the Government’s side had not been acting in good faith. (Thank you David Leishman for this item -Editor)

AFRICA ANALYSIS (September) reported that the three member countries of the East African Community were at loggerheads over a Tanzanian proposal to enforce a six-month ban on fishing in Lake Victoria. The Mwanza-based ‘Victoria Fish Processors Association’ had volunteered to stop fishing for four months every year from June to allow the fish to breed. But Uganda was asking for evidence to support the move in view of the 50,000 people employed in its fishing industry who would be affected. In Kenya only four out of ten fish processors in Kisumu were said to be operational because of the acute fish shortage. Scientists were in agreement that something drastic had to be done as, in the last three decades, fish species in the Lake had declined from about 300 to three dominant species while the number of fishermen had increased 300%. Close to 60% of the fish caught in Lake Victoria were said to be immature.

Following the death in September on Mount Kilimanjaro of three porters, who were forced to sleep outside on the mountain, the pressure group ‘Tourism Concern’ said that British trekking firms should do more to safeguard the rights of porters they employed. Reporting this, THE TIMES (November 30), said that porters wages could be as little as £2 a day while loads of up to 60 kilograms were not uncommon. Boots and jackets were often not provided. Only half of the 80 British trekking operators were offering well defined porter­friendly policies according to ‘Tourism Concern’ which advocated limiting how much weight could be carried, improving wages and ensuring the provision of protective clothing (Thank you John Sankey for this item -Editor).

Several British newspapers gave considerable publicity to the news that Rod Liddle of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme had been forced to resign after refusing to give up a newspaper column in which he had expressed some very strong views. It will be recalled that his attack on President Mkapa in the Guardian on 24th July (which was referred to in TA No. 73) had also attracted considerable criticism ­Editor.

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