Arumeru By-Election Bombshell
Big New Gas Discovery
Constitution Review Commission
Attempt to Remove PM fails
Soda Ash and the Flamingos
A pdf of the issue can be downloaded here
Arumeru By-Election Bombshell
Big New Gas Discovery
Constitution Review Commission
Attempt to Remove PM fails
Soda Ash and the Flamingos
A pdf of the issue can be downloaded here
For what is believed to be the first time in some fifty years, Tanzania’s ruling party – the Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) – has lost a parliamentary by-election. It happened on 1 April 2012 in the Arumeru East constituency, Arusha region. The result had been expected to be close, but in fact the rapidly growing leading opposition party, the Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), won the seat comfortably.
The results were as follows:
Joshua Nassari Chadema 32,972 (54%)
Sioi Sumari CCM 26,757 (44%)
The CCM candidate was the son of the previous MP for the area who had died a few months earlier. He received support during the campaign from former President Benjamin Mkapa amongst others. There were six other candidates but they all got less than 100 votes. In a trend which is causing growing concern, only 60,696 voters, out of 120,000 who had registered, actually voted.
Political analysts have been having a field day in estimating how this result will influence the next general election in 2015. They note that Chadema has secured victory in all strategic constituencies in Northern Tanzania from Karatu and Arusha Urban to Arumeru (which borders the Moshi-Arusha road), Hai, Rombo and Moshi Urban. Many observers felt that the 50 year old CCM party had failed to respond adequately to the allegations levelled by Chadema that the country’s poverty was linked to the corrupt practices of some CCM officials.
CCM Ideology and Publicity Secretary Nape Nnayuye was quoted as saying that CCM had made radical reforms to check its weaknesses, including unethical conduct among the rank and file. He said that the party had reduced the problem of unethical conduct by 50 per cent.
CCM maintains high levels of support in rural areas but Chadema is gaining more and more support in towns and cities. One observer commented: ‘The era of CCM landslides is over, Chadema is emerging as a serious threat to CCM’s dominance while the small parties seem to be fading away’.
There were no major incidents on election day and the voting went smoothly. However, in the weeks before the by-election there were many incidents, most of them minor but a few involving violence. Several of the worst were during the initial selection of the party candidates where there was intense competition between senior party members.
Some of the CCM cadres who participated in the campaigns said: “There are some Chadema leaders who have been personally, or through their agents, going around Arumeru East collecting or sometimes buying voters’ cards.”
CCM cadres were said to have ‘hijacked’ a Chadema leader and later admitted that they had held one for interrogation but did not harm him. They said that they wanted to question the man as part of a follow-up on Chadema misdeeds. They were questioned by Usa River police but later let out on bail.
Chadema refuted reports that their cadres were buying voters’ cards. They said that they were only verifying the cards, using a permanent voters’ register, which was allowed by law.
CCM candidate Sioi said: “I’m contesting through a party which has a clean record on development….you have seen examples of the good projects which have been implemented by CCM….we have a record here of electing presidents and members of parliament by 100 per cent of the votes… Please vote for me to maintain the record”.
As the ruling CCM party reeled from the shock by-election result in Mainland Tanzania, its CUF coalition partner in Zanzibar also suffered a shock. For many years there have been only two significant parties in the Isles – the ruling CCM, which has always come first in elections, and the Civic United Front (CUF) which is the accepted leading opposition party and has always come second. No other parties were of any significance.
However, when the results of the Uzini by-election (for a seat in the Zanzibar House of Representatives), following the death in a road accident of the incumbent, were announced, CUF found itself in third position!
The results were as follows:
CCM 5,377 Chadema 281 CUF 222 Two other parties 22
In the previous election CCM had got 2,187, CUF 383 and APT 124. There had been no Chadema candidate.
An inquest (of some sort) by CUF was obviously required and soon took place.
The Citizen quoted Mji Mkongwe MP (in the House of Representatives) and CUF Deputy Secretary General for Zanzibar Ismail Jussa as attributing CUF’s defeat to ‘mainlanders and Christians’ living in the area who had not voted for CUF. He added that people from the mainland should not be employed in Zanzibar’s substantial tourist industry.
He immediately came under heavy attack from a cross-section of politicians. In an interview with The Citizen on Saturday, the leaders condemned remarks which could ‘incite serious sectarian divisions in the country.’ Speaking separately, the politicians demanded that Mr Jussa apologise for his remarks, which they warned could steer the country into a serious tribal or religious crisis. They said that Registrar of Political Parties John Tendwa should take stern action against Mr Jussa.
Among those who attacked the MP was the Deputy Minister for Communications and Transport and CUF MP for Wawi Hamad Rashid Mohammed. The Deputy Minister was quoted as saying “What we witnessed in Rwanda, Burundi or even Kenya started in a similar way. His actions are intolerable as they send the wrong message to the international community as far as Zanzibar’s Government of National Unity is concerned” He added that it was ironical for Mr Jussa to utter such words when his Mji Mkongwe constituency was home to different shades and colours of Zanzibaris.
Other MPs felt that the by-election defeat had had nothing to do with Christianity or Mainlanders in Uzini. It was attributed to what was termed as the party’s ‘diminishing influence and appeal.’ Following a debate in the House of Assembly Mr Jussa’s proposal on restricting employment of mainlanders in Zanzibar was defeated by a vote of 22 to 21 MPs.
The junior partner in the coalition government in Britain is beginning to show strains and something similar seems to be happening to the junior partner, CUF, in the Zanzibar government following the Uzini by-election.
Attacks have been made on Zanzibar First Vice President Seif Shariff Hamad, who has asked those eyeing his position as CUF Secretary General to hold their horses because he has not yet made a decision to retire from politics. Highly regarded as the doyen of political opposition in Zanzibar, he has led CUF in Zanzibar for nearly 20 years, and maintains that he does not fear challenges for the party’s top executive post. He has welcomed whoever wishes to challenge him to do so in the next internal elections scheduled for 2014. Speaking at a press conference in Zanzibar, Hamad said he was perplexed why some people were talking about CUF elections now, while the party polls were three years away.
The reason is that Wawi MP Hamad Rashid Mohammed had launched a campaign to market himself as a suitable replacement for Mr Shariff Hamad. The Wawi MP said he wanted to dislodge Mr Hamad because, as Zanzibar’s First VP, he could no longer serve the political interests of the opposition party efficiently. The Wawi MP was then expelled from the party. Later, two other CUF MPs defected.
Meanwhile, Mr Shariff Hamad had catalogued the achievements that the power-sharing government has registered during its first year of existence, including the creation of a peaceful and tranquil country. However, he said, there were still some challenges facing the government including cross-cutting issues such as drug abuse and trafficking, the environment and HIV/Aids.
Tanzania is in the midst of a vast programme of energy development aimed at putting an end to the country’s repeated cuts in supply of electricity (see TA 101). And in March 2012 there was some very good news for Tanzanians:
BG Group announced a significant gas discovery from its Jodari-1 exploration well in Block 1, located approximately 39 km offshore southern Tanzania and in a water depth of 1,150 m. Their evaluation suggested gas reserves in the range of 2.5 to 4.4 trillion cubic feet (tcf). When combined with their previous discoveries (Chaza-1 in Block 1, and the Chewa-1 and Pweza-1 discoveries in Block 4), total gas reserves are estimated at up to 7 tcf. The gas was found in rock formed during the Oligocene epoch between 23 million and 34 million years ago; the same age of rock in which huge gas reserves were discovered recently off Mozambique by an American investor.
The partnership between BG Group (60% and operator) and Ophir Energy (40%) has had exploration successes in all four wells drilled so far in Tanzania, and their next target for drilling is the Mzia-1 location, about 23 kilometres to the north of Jodari-1.
BG Group is a world leader in natural gas, with a strategy focused on connecting competitively priced resources to specific, high-value markets. Active in more than 25 countries on five continents, BG Group claims that it combines a deep understanding of gas markets with a proven track record in finding and commercialising reserves. The Group emphasises however that the figures above are all forward-looking estimates and, as such, they are only predictions. Actual results may differ materially.
Ophir Energy is a conglomerate in which Indian Steel magnate Lakshmi Metal holds 14% of the shares, the hedge fund Och-Ziff (10%), the Polish millionaire Jan Kulkzic (10.6%), plus Tokyo Sexwale, the South African tycoon who was jailed with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island. Ophir’s chief executive Nick Cooper commented that Jodari 1 is the biggest discovery in the company’s history. Reacting to this exciting news, Ophir’s stock market valuation rose substantially on the London Stock Exchange.
Biomass-based fuels, namely firewood, charcoal and bio-residues, still dominate the energy balance in Tanzania, accounting for about 90 percent of the primary energy supply. About 42 million cubic metres of wood were consumed in Tanzania in 1999, of which 26 million cubic metres were consumed in rural areas as firewood and 14 million cubic metres in the urban areas mainly as charcoal. The fuel is used predominantly for household cooking and heating.
It is estimated that around 40,000 bags of charcoal enter Dar es Salaam city daily and a comparable amount enters the other major Tanzanian towns, a combined total consumption of around 2,650 tonnes each day. Wood and charcoal are technically renewable fuels with near zero net carbon emissions, since the amount of carbon dioxide emitted when they are burnt is equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed when they were growing. However, their uncontrolled use is leading to deforestation and accompanying environmental problems such as soil erosion, and also to urban air quality problems. A forestry expert with Tanzania’s Natural Resources and Tourism Ministry, Stephen Bandoma, said charcoal use could be reduced if there were alternative energy such as natural gas and solar power. However, he added, “Many ordinary people cannot afford alternative energy and instead end up using charcoal. Few people can afford to buy Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) when the price of a cylinder has risen from TShs 20,000 two years ago to TShs 50,000.”
Since 2006, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has worked hard to raise awareness of alternative sources of energy. Their programme refers to a range of technologies, including solar-powered fridges for storing vaccines, road surfacing material made out of molasses, ships powered by the sun and grease-consuming bacteria.
A recent World Bank credit of $22.88 million includes funds for a study on the implementation of small hydropower projects in rural areas and capital subsidies to bring down the cost of energy. Investment opportunities exist for developing hydropower dams, solar photovoltaic systems and biomass based electricity co-generation in sugar, wood, and tea factories to provide electricity.
The rural energy projects developed with the help of the Bank will ultimately be owned and implemented largely by the private sector, NGOs and conservation initiatives, largely independent of the national utility, Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (Tanesco). Nationally, total installed generation capacity is 1,219 MW, of which hydropower comprises 561 MW (46%) (Kidatu, Kihansi, Mtera, Pangani, Hale, and Nyumba ya Mungu) and thermal (gas and diesel) 658 MW (54%).
Warning on biofuel production
East African Cooperation Minister Samuel Sitta has revealed that the government is in the process of formulating a new policy on bio-energy production. He warned against growing bio-fuel products on vast lands without adequate research, saying that bio-energy production competes with food production and they do not complement each other. Sitta also cautioned that if precautions were not taken, production of bio-energy would turn villagers into labourers. The idea that government should direct more efforts to the production of jatropha was still theoretical. Special emphasis must be given to food production.
Business as Usual
The international oil firm Puma Energy, who took over BP’s operations in Tanzania in 2010, is planning a new $11 million investment to ensure sufficient oil and petroleum supply for domestic and industrial use. Maregesi Manyama explained to TA that the investment would be for construction of additional fuel storage tanks, re-branding retail and commercial sites and improving automation loading facilities.
Thanks to Judie and Thomas Mwarabu for sending a number of news items relating to energy from the Guardian. Other information from www.tatedo.org
By Frederick Longino
In the light of the political enthusiasm in Tanzania today, there is no doubt that everyone, with the exception of the cynics, was eagerly looking forward to the selection by President Kikwete of the (hopefully) reputable, distinguished and impartial people needed to serve on the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) which will be responsible for collecting public views and recommending the main features of the proposed new constitution.
On 6 April 2012 he revealed the names of the team before a well-attended press conference at the State House.
They include former Prime Minister and Chairperson of the Anti-corruption Enquiry Commission Judge Joseph Warioba as the Chairperson and retired Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhan as the Vice Chairperson, as well as 30 other members – 15 from the mainland and 15 from Zanzibar. The President named Assaa Ahmad Rashid as the Commission’s Secretary, to be assisted by Casmir Sumba Kyuki. The former previously served as Permanent Secretary in the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ministry, while the latter was Principal Draftsman in the Attorney General’s Chambers.
The 15 from Tanzania mainland include Prof Mwesiga Baregu (political science professor at St. Augustine University and Chadema political advisor), Riziki Shahari Mngwali (lecturer at the Centre for Foreign Relations, Dar es Salaam), Dr Edmund Mvungi (constitutional lawyer, Vice Chancellor of Bagamoyo University and NCCR-Mageuzi party legal advisor), Richard Lyimo, John Nkolo (chair of the Tanzanian Centre for Democracy), Alhaj Said Hamad El-Maamry (lawyer and sports administrator), Jesca Mkuchu (Tanzania Gender Networking Programme), Professor Palamagamba Kabudi (Dean of the University of Dar es Salaam School of Law), Humphrey Polepole (Youth Advocacy), Yahya Msulwa (Teachers’ Union), Esther Mkwizu (private sector), Maria Malingumu Kashonda (chairperson of the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association), Al-Shaymaa Kwegyir (CCM MP special seat), Mwantumu Malale (former Principal Secretary in the Government and the Vice Chancellor of the Islamic University of Morogoro) and Joseph Butiku (Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation executive director).
Members from Zanzibar include Dr Salim Ahmed Salim (former Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and member of the Nyerere Foundation), Fatma Said Ali, Omar Sheha Mussa (former CCM MP Chumbuni), Raya Salim Hamad (CCM House of Representatives Special seat), Awadh Ali Said (Zanzibar Law Society), Ussi Khamis Haji (lawyer and former Vice-chair Zanzibar Electoral Commission), Salma Maoulidi (Womens rights), Simai Mohamed Said (chairman of the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors), Abubakar Mohamed Ali (Director General Zanzibar Clove Producers Organization) and Ally Abdullah Ally Saleh (BBC Swahili correspondent).
The selection had been made from a pool of 550 names proposed by political parties, religious institutions, NGOs and other interested parties.
The media, as well as online discussions, indicated that many Tanzanians at home and abroad approved many of the names in spite of a minority opposition from a few who are unhappy with the omission of renowned constitutional lawyer Professor Issa Shivji and the domination of lawyers in the Commission.
Admirably, President Kikwete opted to maintain the solidarity of Tanzanians and ensure that even controversial and outspoken names were included. Well-wishers are lauding the President’s fearless heart and willingness to stand against some of his own party, despite the epithets that have flowed freely since speculation about the membership built up. If this was a CCM love story to rival opposition parties, then Kikwete wrote a script that even opposers of the President would have been proud of. Kikwete admitted (Nipashe) on March 7 that, he feared for his party in power first, despite praising the performance of the opposition MPs team, with emphasis on his impressive record in listening to different opinions. He added: “How many times have I been in that position and tried to reconcile opposing views?”
It is difficult to find anything negative to say about the Commission at the moment– but people expect more firepower in parliament in 2014 when the final Constitution Bill will be tabled for debate and approval.
The Commission was due to commence work on 1 May 2012 and to finish by the end of October 2013, when it will prepare a draft document to be tabled in a Constituent Assembly for deliberation, before being taken back to the people, who will then decide on it through a referendum.
(Since this was written we have learnt that CHADEMA founder and retired Chairperson Edwin Mtei had protested that there were 21 Muslims and only nine Christians on the team; this did not adequately reflect the calibre and experience required, he said. CHADEMA MP for Singida East Tundu Lissu was unhappy about the 15 Zanzibar members representing a population of 1.5 million while the 15 members from the mainland represented some 40 million people – Editor).
UPDATE: In fact the aims to remove five ministers suspected of corruption where successful – please see update at end of article (events came after printed edition went to press)
As this issue of TA went to press a determined attempt in Parliament to force the resignation of Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda failed. On April 23, after a week of high drama in the National Assembly, Chadema Deputy Leader in the House, Zitto Kabwe, who following the Arumeru by-election now has 49 MPs, drew up a motion of no confidence in the government. The original target of the angry MPs was a group of five government ministers, headed by the Minister of Finance, considered to be the main culprits. But it soon became apparent that a vote of no confidence in these ministers had to be addressed to the Prime Minister and not to minsters who served under him. Defenders of the Prime Minister later objected that he himself had done nothing wrong.
The crisis arose when President Kikwete was in Brazil attending a conference and, later, for a brief time, in Malawi, attending the funeral of the late President Mutharika, so that responsibility fell firmly on the shoulders of the PM.
This saga is long and complicated and the issue seems likely be raised again when parliament re-assembles in June after a recess.
Report of the Controller and Auditor General
Every year, for many years, the Controller and Auditor General (AG) has published an annual report summarising the financial performance of the various ministries of government. These reports have often been highly critical but have frequently been swept under the carpet and actions to punish those in error have been rare.
A press release from Sikika (firstname.lastname@example.org) on April 22 provided some details about the various alleged misdemeanours:
‘There were goods paid for but not delivered amounting to TShs 31 billion and expenditures not properly supported amounting to TShs 8 billion. There were salaries paid to retirees, absentees and ineligible officers amounting to TShs.143 million and questionable payments amounting to TShs.1.5 billion….. There were also cumulative losses incurred by the Government in terms of public monies, stores written off and abandoned claims that had increased from TShs.11 billion during the year 2009/2010 to almost 13 billion in 2010/2011. In the health sector payments amounting TShs 77 million were made without supporting payment vouchers, salaries amounting to TShs 50 million were paid to retired workers and nugatory expenditures amounted to TShs 32 million. It was further reported that in 2011 the Health ministry spent about TShs 1 billion on the Nane-nane celebrations while in the same year the Ministry failed to pay intern doctors allowances amounting to TShs. 176 million only. It was this lack of priorities within the Ministry that led to the doctors’ strike earlier in the year.’
In its research on the whole matter the media and, in particular, the social networks, soon began to publish many highly confidential and secret government documents which is an unusual new development in Tanzania.
On April 19, in what was described in the Citizen as an extraordinary move, opposition MPs, who frequently differ strongly, put aside their differences and teamed up to call for the resignation of five cabinet ministers adding that they would demand the resignation of the PM if the ministers did not resign voluntarily. 39 Chadema MPs signed plus 27 from CUF and the two from the smaller parties. The ministers were accused of corruption and presiding over incompetence and embezzle¬ment of billions of shillings by public servants.
Strenuous efforts were made to persuade a few unhappy CCM (government party) MPs to join the action but most were dissuaded by their Party leadership.
However, Ludewa MP Deo Filikunjombe was the first from CCM to publicly admit to having signed the petition and it seems that three or four other CCM MPs signed quietly. Mr Filikunjombe was quoted as saying that he had decided to sign as a representative of the people. “We are all aware of the rot in the government and what we need now is change, not a revolution…..I was summoned by a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office but I knew what he wanted so I decided to sign first before I went to see him. When we met I told him that I had signed the petition and why I had decided to do so.”
By this time Mr Kabwe was oozing confidence saying that he would easily surpass the 20% rule but things then started to go wrong.
The Speaker’s ruling
National Assembly Speaker Anne Makinda finally ruled out the possibility of a motion of no confidence. She said that National Assembly Standing Orders stipulated that for a petition to be accepted it had to be submitted to the Speaker at least 14 days prior to the day such a motion was to be moved. This was not possible as the House was about to go into recess.
Another hurdle was Section 133 (2) (b) of the Standing Orders. The section categorically stated that any motion for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister could not be moved if, among other things, there were no allegations that the PM had contravened the Public Leadership Code of Ethics Act. MPs pushing for the passing of the motion had not so far presented any proof that the PM had contravened this ethics law. The Speaker was required to ascertain that this criterion was strictly met.
One CCM MP said that Kabwe had hijacked a CCM agenda as it was the ruling party MPs who had decided in their caucus to ask President Kikwete to sack five ministers.
MP for Sumwe Richard Ndassa told The Citizen on Saturday that Chadema had no basis for reprimanding the PM. “It is true that some ministers are not working as required. But is that ground enough to censure the Prime Minister? You can’t make the Premier accountable for mistakes committed by ministers,” he said.
Presumably everyone will now wait until June.
UPDATE – MID MAY 2012
(In the light of political developments after Tanzanian Affairs No 102 had been
printed it is necessary to make amendments to this article. In fact, the organisers of the proposed vote of no confidence were not aiming to remove the Prime Minister
but wanted to remove half a dozen ministers who had been severely criticised in the annual report of the Controller and Auditor General. In this aim the proposers eventually did not fail; they actually succeeded, as is explained in the amendment below- Editor).
When President Kikwete returned from his overseas travels CCM MPs asked him to take strong action. He therefore first got the authority of the Central Committee of the Party to allow him to take whatever action he felt appropriate. In a confused situation the President then announced that he was ‘reshuffling’ his cabinet. Six ministers (including those responsible for Finance, Energy, Industry, Transport and Health) and two deputy ministers were asked to resign.
So as to ensure that they did so, he immediately appointed new ministers to succeed them. Prominent among these is Dr Harrison Mwakyembe who made his name when he chaired the enquiry commission on the Richmond electricity generation scandal. He is the new Minister of Transport and will be responsible for problems created following the termination of the management contract with the RITES Indian railway company.
Thus the threatened vote of no confidence (which was eventually supported by 72 MPs from all parties including CCM) turned out to be not a failure but a rather remarkable success. The opposition CHADEMA’s Zitto Kabwe MP could hardly conceal his sense of satisfaction and immediately began lecturing the new ministers on what they should and should not do. He was quoted in the Guardian as saying that he would consult his fellow MPs on whether or not to proceed with the vote of no confidence when parliament resumed its sittings.
Praise for President Kikwete’s rapid action has been widespread and the CCM has made it clear that the Party would neither defend nor have mercy on ministers found wanting by investigations that are set to be carried out by the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB).
The Ministry Trade and Industry states that soda ash has the characteristic of multiplying at 4 million cubic litres per year meaning that its cubic reserves keep growing. President Kikwete has been quoted as saying: “What matters is the application of environmentally friendly technology to avoid disrupting the breeding grounds.”
The United Republic of Tanzania’s decision to seek an extension of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) has sparked a hot debate in the Zanzibar House of Representatives, with Zanzibaris threatening to withdraw from the deal. Debating a private motion tabled by CUF Representative for Mji Mkongwe Ismail Jussa, the lawmakers demanded the resignation of a minister who had allegedly taken part in formulating the application, which had already been tabled before the UN.
According to the Citizen: ‘They bayed for the blood of Mr Ali Juma Shamuhuna, the Zanzibar Minister for Energy, accusing him of betray¬ing Zanzibaris by helping to prepare the application.’ Mr Jussa argued in the House of Representatives that marine and oil issues should be the preserve of Zanzibar and that the Union government had no business making the application. In addition, backbenchers led by Mr Jussa demanded that the Zanzibar government send a delegation to the UN if the Union government ignored their plea.
Tanzania’s Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Prof Anna Tibaijuka, recently led a delegation to the UN to present a request for the extension of the Extended Continental Shelf (ECS), which lies 150 miles beyond the current 200 miles of the EEZ – The Citizen.
Tanzania has arrested five suspected Somali pirates on an island close to its Songo Songo natural gas reserves. International oil companies are showing increasing excitement about the size of the recent discoveries of gas off Tanzania and the possibility of the country becoming a major Liquid Natural Gas hub like Qatar.
The Tanzanian Navy arrested the pirates, each of whom was armed with a sub-machine gun. The pirates were in close communication with a mother ship that had seven more pirates aboard and a Spanish vessel brought them to Tanzania for custody. The Tanzanian Navy has been conducting regular patrols to ensure Somali pirates do not enter the country’s territorial waters – Yahoo News.
Iranian Ambassador to Tanzania Murahhedi has been explaining to Citizen reporter Lugenzi Kabale how relations between Tanzania and Iran go back a very long time. Extracts from the report:
‘From early times monsoon winds have permitted rapid maritime travel between East Africa and Asia. Although large-scale Persian settlement in East Africa is unlikely, Persian cultural and religious influences are unmistakably present.
Cooperation between Tanzania and the Islamic Republic of Iran dates back over 1,000 years when Iranians, then under the Shiraz empire, sailed to East Africa’s trade gateway, Kilwa to exchange goods with the locals. “It is that historical fact which drives Iran’s desire to re-awaken the two countries’ ties at this time, but putting more weight on health, diplomacy, trade and agricultural aspects”.
The Shiraz who traded with East Africans mingled with the local people, a process that contributed in developing the Kiswahili language with additional vocabulary from the Portuguese, Chinese, Indian and later on German and English languages. “Aware of this rich history, I am proud of the 1000 years of cooperation between Iran and the East African coast. with special attention to Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar,” he said. “On coming to serve here as ambassador, I had all the feelings that I am going to a place where I may call ‘home away from home’.” Ambassador Murahhedi added that with the warm and friendly attitude abundantly found among Tanzanians, he finds work¬ing in the country very attractive.
Speaking on efforts by the two countries to strengthen the historical cooperation, the ambassador said his government has recently released a $10million grant to Tanzania for building two health centres in Zanzibar and the Kigamboni area in Dar es Salaam, as well as constructing an up-to-date irrigation technology transfer centre. In the agricultural sector, his country has provided 150 light tractors to enable rural peasants to increase acreage.
In the higher education sector, Mr Murahhedi said 10 Tanzanians will be flying to Iran annually for Masters and PhD academic programmes in different areas of specialisation. Iran has recorded significant educational, technological and scientific developments in the past 33 years of the Islamic revolution and is prepared to share what it has by training Tanzanians who will come back home and spearhead their nation’s efforts to alleviate poverty.
The envoy revealed that before the 1979 revolution, Iran was a market for consumer and industrial goods, but after the revolution this trend was reversed and presently Iran is a major exporter of industrial manufactured goods including farm machinery. He noted “What we have learnt in Iran is that if someone hates you and imposes sanctions on your economy … he is instructing you to work hard and be self-sufficient. Western powers sanctions have made us strive to produce all our needs locally.” Ninety per cent of equipment for Iran’s defence forces is locally manufactured. Furthermore, Iran has managed to design, manufacture and launch into orbit several light satellites for various national uses.