Archive for January, 2008

ALMOST 100,000 BOOKS

In the summer of 2007 the remarkable student charity READ International distributed no less than 98,000 books (plus educational equipment) to 96 schools across four regions of Tanzania. Next year eleven projects will send 275,000 books to 200 Tanzanian schools and give over 100 UK school presentations. By 2009 the network aims to have 20 university affiliates and well over 1,000 student volunteers involved.

READ InternationalL-R Rob Wilson, Tom Levitt MP, Mwanadai Majaar, Douglas Alexander MP

The Director of READ International, Rob Wilson, describes how it began and the rapidity of its growth: Read the rest of this entry »

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FAITH NEWS

The President and PopeThe President and First Lady meet with Pope Benedict XVI – photo Issah Michuzi

Pope Benedict XVI has promised to visit Tanzania after receiving an invitation from President Kikwete, who met the Pope at the Holy See in October. The Pope commended Tanzania for upholding tolerance and religious harmony. “Tanzania is among the most peaceful countries in the world – it does not deny sleep to the Vatican” he said – Guardian. Read the rest of this entry »

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TANZANIA & KENYA

As this issue of TA goes to press the Tanzanian Government announced its stand on the crisis in Kenya following the alleged fixing of the presidential election there.

It said that Tanzania was very concerned about the situation in Kenya and was happy that no Tanzanians had been injured. It advised Tanzanians not to visit the country while the disturbances continued. It said that it would not be good for Tanzania to take sides but it would be ready to listen to what they had to say.

As an indication of Tanzania’s importance to Kenya in its tribulations, President Kikwete received messages from both sides in the dispute. One was presented to President Kikwete by Kibaki supporter Uhuru Kenyatta and the other by the Secretary General of Raila Odingo’s Party (ODM), Prof. Peter Onyong’o. In his responses, President Kikwete said he was happy to hear the willingness by leaders to hold a dialogue and added: “ am saddened by what is happening in Kenya.”

Four Tanzanian opposition parties (Civic United Front (CUF), Tanzania Labour Party (TLP), Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) and NCCR- Mageuzi) tried to organise a demonstration in Dar es Salaam supporting the opposition in Kenya over the disputed poll results but police in full combat gear stopped it.

The ‘Southern African Network of Human Rights NGOs’ (SAHRINGON) applauded President Kikwete for not rushing to congratulate Mwai Kibaki who was sworn in as Kenya President immediately after the election results were announced – Majira.

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THAI RAINMAKERS

Thai experts are expected to start demonstrations to create rainfall in Mbeya and Iringa regions by March 2008 according to the Guardian. Director of Transport and Communications in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Dr Bartholomew Rufunjo, said the government and the delegation from Thailand, which was recently in Tanzania, had completed all the necessary preparations. Rufunjo said the costs would be shared by both governments. Tanzania would be responsible for handling the rainmakers and all the Tanzanian specialists and would provide an airplane to be used during cloud seeding. Thailand would provide the technology and equipment. Rufunjo said that Thais had been using such technology to create rainfall in their country for more than 30 years and nobody had been adversely affected

The Thai delegation included the Director of the ‘Royal Rainmaking Bureau.’ Some water experts however, said that it would have an adverse effect on the environment. A scientist at the Water Resources Institute in Dar es Salaam warned that the government must first study the viability, practicability and implications of artificial rain technology before importing it. She said that the chemicals used could affect climatic patterns, the ecosystem, water sources and the soil. Excessive use of the chemicals would affect biodiversity and make the soil unproductive, besides being a water pollutant.

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END OF TANZANIA RAILWAYS CORP…AND AIR TANZANIA IS REBORN

Workers protested at the head offices of the state-owned Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) in Dar es Salaam on October 1 as the new strategic investor officially took over the management of its operations. They made a spirited but unsuccessful attempt to block the facility’s long-awaited official handover. The old corporation, whose condition was described in the Guardian as being generally regarded as pathetic, was finally handed over to the new ‘Tanzania Railway Ltd as (TRL)’ – a firm set up jointly by the Government of Tanzania (49%) and Rites Company Ltd of India (51%). The latter operates as a wing of the Government of India. Speaking at the handing-over ceremony, Infrastructure Development Minister Andrew Chenge said that the TRL would increase the newlook facility’s capacity to handle cargo and expand the country’s trade and business with neighbouring countries like Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. Read the rest of this entry »

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CRIME

A dramatic encounter near Moshi on September 8 resulted in the killing of 14 Kenyans suspected to have been planning to raid the Exim Bank branch. The Police action is believed to have foiled the robbery attempt following a fierce exchange of fire. The Police recovered an AK47 rifle, five pistols and a sizeable number of rounds of ammunition plus passports and identity cards with the suspects’ bodies, Meanwhile, Police in Nairobi said they had been informed that the 14 were also planning to rescue six Kenyans facing robbery charges in Tanzania. The incident came a month after the arrest of two Kenyans in connection with a $180,000 bank robbery in Mwanga, Kilimanjaro Region. Following a tip-off, police arrested the two in a house in Arusha’s Njiro Estate and recovered seven guns, including two AK47 rifles with 85 rounds of ammunition, a light machine gun, five pistols with 35 rounds of ammunition, two hand grenades, two bullet proof jackets, bhang and US$ 845. Read the rest of this entry »

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BRITAIN & TANZANIA

VISA application fees to the United Kingdom were reduced from November 5. British High Commission Press and Political Officer John Bradshaw said that this followed a rise in the value of the Tanzanian Shilling. A six months multiple entry visit visa is now TShs157,000 instead of 176,000/-, while a long term validity visit visa is TShs 500,000 instead of TShs 560,000. Under the new setup there will be no interview for those submitting all relevant documentation that is required. The High Commission has stepped up its control over issuance of entry clearance by taking biometric fingerprints to reduce the influx of illegal immigrants into Britain. The mission has also started on-line visa applications to cope with the long queues at Umoja House.

An MCC team defeated Zanzibar Cricket Stars by 133 runs to 88 in a friendly international. A big crowd saw how the islanders gave the British team a ‘good run for its money’. Deputy British High Commissioner, Tony Brennan, who played on the MCC side, lauded the island team for its high standard. He said the MCC expected to meet even stiffer competition when they meet again in 2008.

Parliament’s Speaker Samuel Sitta has explained how he was now wearing a new gown made in the UK. “It took long to finish as it was stitched with gold thread.” However, he said, he would continue wearing the old gown that had been in use for 12 years, “After all it is not exactly in tatters” he said – Habari Leo.

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BUSINESS & THE ECONOMY

The Citizen (November 8th) reported that Tanzania lost at least $33 million (about TShs 40 billion) in uncollected non-tax forest revenue in the fiscal year 2006/07 as a result of the shortage of staff and supporting resources for the collection and prevention of illegal logging. The Head of Cooperation at the Finnish Embassy told a recent general budget review meeting in Dar es Salaam that the low rates of investment and expenditure on forest revenue collection and forest law enforcement also limited the revenue collection from forestry.

The non-tax revenue in forestry consists of registration fees, forest royalty fees, export permits, and penalties for forest law violations.

In royalties of timber sales alone, which account for about 93% of all forestry revenue collected, the Government loses around $23.8 million (TShs32 billion) annually.
Development partners urged the Government to put its house in order and strengthen its revenue collection mechanisms. They said it is incomprehensible that Tanzania should fail to collect so much revenue and still continue to depend on foreign aid to fund its budget.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism budget was cut by 13.8% for 2007/08 which has directly affected the ministry’s ability to effectively manage the forest resources and the revenue collection.
However, although the forest sector’s contribution to revenue collection increased from TShs 4 billion in 2001 to about TShs 15.2 billion in 2006, Government expenditure on forest activities particularly in relation to revenue collection decreased (Thank you Jerry Jones for sending this – Editor)

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TANZANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

The FINANCIAL TIMES published on 7th November an excellent six page supplement on Tanzania.
In a detailed analysis of President Kikwete’s performance since he took office two years ago it said that he had yet to prove that he can build significant new successes on the achievements of his predecessors. The article went on: ‘Some say that ministers imposed on him by CCM elders are dragging him down or that the money men behind the party are blocking reform…. A deeper explanation is that Tanzania lacks political accountability. People in power are isolated from the masses. One manifestation of the problem is corruption……’ In its criticism of the agriculture sector the paper wrote that the delicate matter of land reform remained a deterrent to big agricultural investors. ‘The sector has attracted only about five per cent of new investment since 1980…. In Parliament the opposition is increasingly vocal in its criticisms but, as 63% of MPs are from the CCM, parliament still functions as a rubber- stamp institution.’ Writing about the thriving gold mining sector it noted that the sector paid $28 million in taxes annually from 1997 to 2006 but this was only the equivalent of half the contributions by the country’s biggest beer company. Read the rest of this entry »

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ONGOING BIWATER CASE

Writing in the GUARDIAN (August 16th) Xan Rice describes how the three British senior managers of City Water were forcibly escorted out of Tanzania on June 1st 2005 to mark the end of City Water’s involvement in water supply in Dar-es-Salaam but also the beginning of a long legal dispute between BiWater plc (which led the consortium) and the Tanzanian Government (See previous issues of TA – Editor related stories ) Read the rest of this entry »

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