A well-balanced five-page article in the July issue of PROSPECT added many more accolades to the ones President Mkapa is receiving as his final term of office approaches its end. The author, Jonathon Power, who writes for the International Herald Tribune, compared Tanzania as it was 20 years ago with what it is like today. ‘Since coming to power in 1995, Mkapa has left his reformist mark on everything from tax policy to privatisation, from the bureaucracy to human rights, from political freedom to the free press. Of Nyerere’s well-meaning but autocratic Christian socialism there is hardly a sign left. As Deputy Foreign Minister Abdulkader Shareef put it to me, as we sailed across to Zanzibar, “Nyerere was redistributing poverty….. we are not anti-socialism…… But before distributing wealth we must create it.”
The article concluded: ‘If Tanzania can get past the October elections without too much trouble in Zanzibar, if the next president can be as dynamic as Ben Mkapa has been, if aid donors hold steady, if rich countries open their agricultural markets… then Tanzania has a reasonably bright future….. I think that Tanzanians now know how to keep their ship pointing forward. If I were Tony Blair, preparing for the G8 summit I would cross Tanzania off my worry list.’ Thank you Debbie Simmons for sending this – Editor.
Under the heading ‘A Fair Poll in Zanzibar Will Be Mkapa’s Legacy’ the EAST AFRICAN (July 4) published a long article by CUF Zanzibar Leader Seif Sharriff Hamad which began: ‘History is the story of men and events. Sometimes single men can shape events to create history and sometimes history judges them by how they respond to events beyond their control. Many journalists have made assessments of President Mkapa’s government but it is not yet clear how history will judge him. He is perhaps the foremost sitting African President in the international community, with distinguished positions on the UK Commission for Africa, the Commission on the impact of globalisation on developing countries and co-chairman of the Helsinki process on good governance. How President Mkapa will handle the forthcoming election in Zanzibar will have a significant impact on his legacy. Indeed, it may be the determining factor in how his term will be remembered. He has a clear choice: to entrench the rule of law and the precepts of democracy and decency, to ensure that the election is free and fair and thus to bequeath robust democratic institutions to the people of Zanzibar; or to bow to pressure from those who would illegally disrupt the process, deny people their right to vote and cling to power through force. In a recent interview with the UK magazine Prospect, President Mkapa admitted that there were militants within CCM in Zanzibar who were not prepared to hand over power even if the process amounted to rigging. He should not let the greed of a few disturb the stability of the whole of Tanzania. On this choice rests his legacy.’
The German publication DEVELOPMENT AND COOPERATION (July) published an interview with Tanzanian Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary Peniel Lyimo. Extracts: “You have said you will reject aid if donor conditions turn out to be too strict. Can you really afford to do that?” “We will not accept aid at any cost or terms. The aid has to conform to our priorities.” “What has been the greatest success in your country?” “Restoration of macro-economic stability and increase in real economic growth. Foreign direct investment reached $350 million compared with less than $100 million in the early 1990s.” “Tanzania has become something of a donor ‘darling’. Do you have any advice for other governments who are not in favour with donor nations?” “We have a proven track record of successes. And we have established a very good and strong partnership with our development partners. So in my view we have earned this status”.
An article entitled ‘An Argentinisation of Tanzania?’ by Issa Shivji was published in PAMBAZUKA NEWS on May 17. Extracts: ‘With general elections due in Tanzania in October why can’t aspirant candidates talk about how the country is going to avoid recent Latin American experiences with the ‘Washington consensus’. Argentina became the start of the ‘Washington consensus.’ The IMF held up Argentina as a showpiece. Public utilities were cut up and sold off. Foreign investment flowed in. GDP grew by 10 per cent. It was an economic miracle. Then came the great crash in 2001 …. the ‘Washington’ baby collapsed like a pack of cards…… But our experiences of Latin America are passing us by……….. we should be learning from history in this election year in Tanzania. We should be taking stock, particularly of the last 10 years of neo-liberal reforms…..Regrettably, none of this is happening. The so-called free media does not even report such experiences as those of Argentine; cliche politicians are talking …..about the good done by the third phase government….Shouldn’t our aspirant candidates be telling us what they have learnt and how they propose to avoid the Argentinisation of Tanzania?’
According to the Kenyan publication E-TURBO NEWS (May) Mount Kilimanjaro remains the biggest attraction as far as Kenyan tour operators and tourism planners are concerned. Extracts: ‘For decades, Kenyan tour operators have been selling their tourist services under the brand name of Mount Kilimanjaro which stands majestically and silently in Tanzania….. Kenyan Tourism and Wildlife Minister Morris Dzoro angered Tanzanian delegates who were attending an Africa Travel Association Congress in Nairobi by his comment that “Mount Kilimanjaro is among top tourist attractions available in Kenya.” “We are sorry that the Kenyan minister erred in his comment to such a big international gathering of tourist professionals and planners,” said Amant Macha, the marketing manager for the Tanzania Tourist Board. “And if it was a slip of the tongue, Mr. Dzoro should have said ‘sorry’ to the delegates” Macha said. (Many thanks Yusufu Kashangwa, Head of the Tanzania Trade Centre, for sending this item – Editor).
South Africa’s AFRICAN DECISIONS (Issue 3, 2005) revealed that a critically endangered, previously unknown monkey species – the Highland Mangabey (Lophocebus kipinji) has been discovered in the mountains of southern Tanzania. Brown with a black face, it is thought to be closely related to the baboon and lives in trees at altitudes as high as 2,450 metres above sea level on Mount Rungwe and in the Kitulo National Park. It has long fur and a distinctive ‘honk bark’ call. Thank you John Sankey and Jill Thompson for sending more detailed stories on this which appeared in the Daily Telegraph and the Times on 20th May – Editor.
Reporting on what it described as ‘the largest exhibition of contemporary African work ever seen in Europe’ DEVELOPMENTS (Issue 29) recommended its readers to visit the British Museum where they would be able to see some of the earliest man-made objects ever discovered, including beautifully designed hand tools close to 2 million years old from the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania – and be able to ‘trace the trajectory’ through the Museum’s Africa Galleries, into the present.
Simon Hancock on the BBC’s ‘CLICK ON LINE’ PROGRAMME featured Tanzania. Extracts: ‘Mobile phones are taking the country by storm, although only one in 10 houses has electricity. An alien landing in Tanzania could be forgiven for thinking that the only business here was the mobile phone. Some 97% of Tanzanians say they can access a mobile phone, and what is just as interesting is how those phones are being used. Take Zanzibar for example. Here, fishing is one of the mainstays of the economy…..Many fishermen now carry mobile phones while they are at sea, and they use them to check market prices. If there are too many fish in Zanzibar, they sail to Dar es Salaam to get better prices. Phones also serve another even more vital use, allowing fishermen in trouble to call for assistance…… You can get a signal in places so remote you would not even think to turn your mobile on, if you were in the US or Europe, such as the smallest villages or even on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. It is fair to say that the mobile networks are so dominant that the country will probably never develop or need a fixed-line infrastructure. But recently a debate has been raging as to whether this kind of leap-frogging may have any downside. It was always assumed that here lurks the spectre of the digital divide. Since the first internet evangelists emerged from the mist, it has become gospel that for economies to grow and business to flourish, the internet was essential. After all, it was in the West. So, without landlines, the communications industry would stall, internet take up would be hampered and all kinds of economic horrors would be unleashed. However, no-one told the Tanzanians about these dire predictions, so they just got on with things……
The NEW CIVIL ENGINEER (April) reported that the ‘ICE Graduates and Students National Committee’ has instigated an award for mentors who provide exemplary support to younger colleagues through the early stages of their careers. It went on to report that founder-member of the ICE headquarters in Tanzania, Professor Awadhi Mawenya, had been awarded the annual engineering excellence award by the Tanzania Engineers Registration Board. He is the first civil engineer to receive the national award. Thank you Dick Waller for sending this news – Editor.
Gillian Reynolds, writing in the DAILY TELEGRPAH (31st May) was impressed by a series of five 15-minute programmes presented on BBC Radio by Tanzanian journalist Adam Lusekelo. Extracts: Each told a good story well. When only the bad and bizarre are reported, said Lusekelo, we get used to Africa being portrayed as helpless, hopeless, the begging bowl of the world. It’s not like that, he said, and went on to prove it. We met media mogul Reginald Mengi, a businessman who owns 70% of all Tanzanian media. “Is it dangerous for one man to have such control”, asked Lusekelo? Mengi, chuckling, said that with business interests such as his (Coca-Cola and mining were mentioned), when would he have time to interfere? He was concentrating on what he does best: business. Thank you John Sankey for this – Editor.
An article in NATURE (August) analyses lion attacks on humans in Tanzania over the past 15 years. There were 563 known deaths during this period and many more injuries. Numbers have increased since 1990, which the authors Craig Packer, Dennis Ikanda, Bernard Kissui, and Hadas Kushnir attribute to the increase in human population and depletion in natural prey. Attacks are commonest around harvest time, and in areas where there are few prey apart from bush pigs. Although more than 18% of victims are children under 10, most are men attacked when walking/foraging, working in fields, sleeping in the fields to protect their crops, or when actively hunting lions. The authors hope the analysis will help plan strategies to reduce risks to rural Tanzanians while sustaining viable populations of lions.
Sign warning “Man eating lion has killed 40 and injured 7”