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by Ben Taylor
President Magufuli celebrates three years of achievements
At a forum held at the University of Dar es Salaam in November, President Magufuli spoke of his administration’s achievements, citing expansion of industry, economic progress, removal of ghost workers from the government payroll and more.
The President, who was seated with the rest of the audience, won the praise of all the dons who took part in the discussion, including professors Humphrey Moshi, Hudson Nkotagu, Martha Qorro, Kitila Mkumbo and Rwekaza Mukandala.
President Magufuli detailed a number of achievements, including infrastructure development projects that are currently underway, and reviving Air Tanzania. He added that during the three years, Tanzania had managed to accumulate a total of $5.4 billion as the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
“This amount, which is enough to cover six months of Tanzania’s import requirements, has never been realised before. This has been possible due to prudent policies and controlling wasteful spending, including banning unnecessary foreign trips by government officials,” he said.
Contrary to some reports that Tanzania’s business climate was worsening, President Magufuli said that the country was the leading source of foreign direct investments (FDIs) among member states of the East African Community.
He restated his determination to implement the Stiegler’s Gorge Hydroelectric Power generation project in the hope that it would ensure that Tanzania had reliable and affordable electricity. He noted that a total of 32.5% of Tanzania’s land area is protected, trashing arguments that developing the 2,100MW Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric power generation project in the Selous Game Reserve would have some dire consequences on the environment and on tourism.
He argued that the project would reduce power costs, attract more investments and reduce prices of locally produced products, slamming some experts who produced an environmental impact assessment report to the effect that developing the project was bad for the environment.
On the topic of ghost workers, President Magufuli said previously TSh 237bn was being paid as salaries to ghost workers and TSh 189bn to workers with fake academic credentials on an annual basis. “Before the crackdown(s), the total civil service payroll was TSh 777bn per year, but we are now spending just TSh 251bn to pay salaries to our employees,” he said, adding: “There was a certain public official who was pocketing the salaries of 17 ghost workers every month… that is how Tanzania was.”
On industrial development, the President stated that a total of “3,066 new industries” have been established across the country in three years that he has been in power. He said this means new employment opportunities for thousands of Tanzanians in the country. He added that his government has already issued instructions to investors who have failed to develop industries they acquired some years ago to surrender them to the government.
He also remarked that “Tanzania will no longer supply raw materials abroad; we cannot continue with that business, instead we are going to produce and export ready-made goods to them.”
Finally, he recounted how the government has tightened control on unnecessary expenditures such as foreign travel by public officials, which has increased the amount of foreign reserves with the Bank of Tanzania. “Some officials were just spending public funds on flights, people were travelling abroad unnecessarily, some were conducting meetings in Dubai instead of using their offices’ boardrooms,” explained President Magufuli.
The former UDSM vice chancellor Prof Rwekaza Mukandala compared Dr Magufuli and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in various aspects. He said Magufuli has a similar zero-tolerance approach to the late Nyerere on issues of corruption, unemployment, aid dependency, and laziness. “His fate will be known after the 2020 General Election,” he said.
Opposition parties complain of tightening restrictions
The year 2018 has been a challenging one for opposition parties. First, they have suffered multiple defections to the ruling CCM – including ten MPs (7 from Chadema, 3 from CUF), almost all of whom were re-elected in by-elections to represent the same constituencies for CCM, and over 200 local councillors.
CCM attributed sweeping victories in the by-elections to the party’s acceptance by the public. In contrast, the opposition, particularly Chadema and ACT Wazalendo, called foul play and pointed to multiple irregularities, claiming that CCM had used state organs to rig elections. The two opposition parties ended up boycotting participation in by-elections while pressing for major reforms to contain irregularities recorded during the previous polls.
Second, opposition leaders have been very busy battling cases in various courts. Leaders involved in criminal cases include Chadema chairman, Freeman Mbowe; secretary general Vincent Mashinji; deputy secretary general (Mainland), John Mnyika; deputy secretary general (Zanzibar), Salumu Mwalimu; Iringa MP, Peter Msigwa; Tarime Urban MP, Esther Matiko; Tarime Rural MP, John Heche; and the women’s wing chair and Kawe MP, Halima Mdee. This group face charges of incitement, alleged to have been committed in Dar es Salaam in February, on the same occasion when the police are alleged to have inadvertently caused the death of a student, Akwilina Akwiline (see TA120). The case forced Mr Mbowe and Ms Matiko to spend Christmas and New Year in remand prison after a court decided they had violated their bail conditions.
In a separate case in November, ACT Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe was arrested and held for three days before being brought to court following remarks he made regarding clashes between citizens and police in Kigoma Region. Mr Kabwe was charged with three counts of incitement including intent to sow hatred among citizens and police through words he uttered during a press conference. He is accused of saying he had received reports from Mpete village, Uvinza district that over 100 people of Wanyantuzu ethnic group had been shot dead in clashes with security forces, though the police were yet to release information about the reported clashes.
A further series of cases saw the Mbeya Urban MP Joseph Mbilinyi, widely known as “Sugu” and the party’s secretary in the Southern Highlands, Emmanuel Masonga, being convicted for five months jail term after being found guilty of using abusive language against President Magufuli. They were released on May 10 this year after spending 73 days at Ruanda Prison.
Third, late in the year, long-mooted plans to amend the Political Parties Act of 1992 reached parliament, where a Bill of amendments to the Act was tabled. This follows several new laws and regulations introduced in the past few years that similarly tighten controls on the media, social media and bloggers, and the use of statistics.
If passed, the Bill will give the Registrar of Political Parties powers that go well beyond the original purpose of his office – to administer the registration of political parties – turning the “Registrar” into something closer to a “Regulator”. Specifically, this includes extensive powers to demand information – membership lists, details of party finances, and “any information as may be required.” Further, it includes the power to intervene in internal party management matters, such as administration of membership lists, restrictions on parties’ constitutions, and internal party disciplinary matters.
The bill also includes a new prohibition on parties acting as “a group that influences public opinion or government action,” restrictions on the formation of coalitions between parties, regulation of civic education and capacity building within parties, and a prohibition on parties forming any “militia, paramilitary or security group of any kind.”
The opposition and human rights defenders think the amendments are intended to kill the opposition and turn the country into a single party state, something that was strongly refuted by government authorities.
2019 year of action – the “Zanzibar Declaration”
In response to these and other challenges, a group of six opposition parties have said they will dedicate 2019 to mobilising the public to demand more democratic space.
Representatives of six leading opposition parties — including Chadema, Civic United Front (CUF) and ACT Wazalendo — met in Zanzibar a week before Christmas and resolved to have a campaign of public action.
The declaration states that: “time has come to renew our commitment and strengthen our solidarity in pursuing a national agenda against rising authoritarianism, an agenda that goes beyond individual interests of our parties. This will require courage to withstand the onslaught that we will face from the regime, firmness in our solidarity when attempts will be made to break it, and commitment towards inviting and incorporating other potential allies as equals in this movement.”
“We pronounce that 2019 is a year of reclaiming our democracy and taking back our powers and rights as enshrined within the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, the Constitution of Zanzibar and other enabling pieces of legislation. We will hold public rallies in any and all corners of the United Republic of Tanzania. We will not allow an unconstitutional and unlawful order to restrict us to our individual constituencies. If the government is threatened by us exercising our constitutional rights, we dare them to take us to court.”
“We declare that we will unanimously embrace all citizens and all social and economic groups in the country willing to conquer their fears and join the grand coalition that we envisage to defend our democracy. We vow that we will no longer be silenced or intimidated; we will no longer succumb to the state sanctioned violence against our individual and collective rights and entitlements. We commit ourselves to taking this message of freedom to all our fellow leaders, constituents, and allies and support them in taking action, whether small or large, as a symbol of solidarity.”
In response, the deputy Minister of Home Affairs Hamad Yusuph Masauni immediately warned the opposition that they will face stern action from the state if they dared to go through with their plans.
Meanwhile, in Belgium, recuperating Singida East MP (Chadema) Tundu Lissu said that he was homesick as he marked one year since surviving an “assassination” attempt in Dodoma. Mr Lissu, was sprayed with 32 bullets out which 16 hit him when returning home after a parliamentary session. He was rushed to the Dodoma Referral Hospital, then to Nairobi in Kenya and finally to Belgium where he has made good progress. Speculation has grown that Lissu may be given the opportunity to contest for the presidency in 2020 on the Chadema ticket.
The row over trade in cashew-nuts and the related tax revenues – see TA121 – took a new twist with the harvest of the 2018 crop. Farmers and middle-men refused to sell the crop to international traders on the grounds that the price being offered was lower than the cost of production.
With prices having fallen since 2017 for cashews on the global market, traders were reportedly offering farmers TSh 3,300 per kilogramme, down from TSh 4,500 a year earlier.
President John Magufuli ordered a 94% increase in the domestic price to help the farmers, but few private buyers were willing to pay the higher price. As a result, the President directed the government to buy the estimated 220,000 tonne crop, through the army and the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB).
Military personnel have since been ferrying truckloads of the crop purchased by the government to selected storage areas.
In recent years, cashews have been the leading agricultural export product for Tanzania, with a reported value of USD $340m in 2017. This easily surpasses earnings from coffee, cotton, tea, cloves and sisal combined.
The President further directed that if no international buyers could be found to purchase the crop from the government, Tanzania would process the nuts in-country.
The country’s cashew processing plants, however, have been under-used for years and were found to be in poor condition. The Minister of Trade and Industry, Joseph Kakunda, removed two senior civil servants over the issue, citing negligence which he said had led to deterioration of the factories. “We can’t have people whose speed of work can’t match that of President Magufuli, said Mr Kakunda.”
According to reports, Mtwara has eight processing factories with an annual capacity of 12,500 tonnes. A further facility in Lindi region, which can reportedly process up to 20,000 tonnes annually when fully operational, was repossessed by the government from its private owner. However, this still leaves the country well short of capacity to process the estimated 220,000 tonne crop.
In addition to their roles in purchasing and transporting the crop, the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) were instructed to evaluate the state of the factories and then bring them up to standard.
The purchase of cashews was also beset by problems. It emerged that many of those trying to sell nuts were not themselves farmers, but rather middle-men who had previously purchased the crop from farmers. The government directed that only those who could prove that they had themselves produced the crop, leaving traders facing the prospect of huge losses.
Observers have also argued that the imposed arrangements which guarantee farmers to receive the whole price, without the usual deductions for farm inputs, transport and other administrative costs will likely complicate loan recovery, especially for cooperative unions and farmer associations as well as private suppliers. An arrangement where farmers were being deducted TSh 30 per kilo to fund local education programmes will also be disrupted. Mtama MP and former minister Nape Nnauye told Parliament that TSh 400 million was raised this way for Lindi region last season.
President Magufuli sacked both the Minister of Agriculture Charles Tizeba and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Charles Mwijage in a mini-Cabinet reshuffle, disbanded the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania and revoked the appointment of board chairperson Anna Abdallah.
The President’s actions on this issue have been popular with farmers in the southern cashew-growing regions of Mtwara and Lindi, but serious questions remain unanswered. Will the government find buyers on the international market willing to pay higher prices, will it be able to process a sufficient quantity of nuts within Tanzania, or will the government be left holding a product that nobody will buy and nobody can process? What will be the medium and long-term impact on the agricultural economy in Mtwara and Lindi, including other actors such traders, transporters, cooperative unions and providers of credit as well as farmers themselves?
The legality of some aspects of what has become known as “Operation Korosho” has been called into question, particularly the source of funds to purchase the nuts.
“The government needs 600 billion Shillings to pay farmers. This money requires parliamentary approval,” wrote opposition leader Zitto Kabwe on Twitter. “If the President wants to do this without following the law we will oppose him.”
Dr. Azaveli Lwaitama, a lecturer from Josiah Kibira University College, raised further questions: “I am a bit confused as to where the government is going to get the money with which to buy the cashew nuts at a price that free market traders are reluctant to pay. I am also confused about the extent to which the army personnel would quickly master the trade skills required in buying [and processing] the cashew nuts.”
“Finally, I am a bit confused about what will be the psychological frame of mind that will be generated among cashew nut farmers who will, in this case, stand across army personnel, presumably in army uniform, engaging in the business of selling their cashews. Was it not in Mtwara Region where the army was once deployed to educate the natives of those areas on the importance of allowing gas to flow from their region to Dar es Salaam? Perhaps the army personnel will be advised to wear business suits rather than army or national service uniforms!! It is certainly going to be an interesting situation for journalists to witness and share with the public, if allowed to do so!”
Rights and diplomacy
A diplomatic tiff between the government of Tanzania and several western governments, including major aid donors, was sparked by a crackdown on the LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender plus) community in Dar es Salaam.
The region’s firebrand Regional Commissioner, Paul Makonda, a close ally of President Magufuli, announced in early November the formation of a “hunting force” to seek out members of the LGBT+ community. The task force was to include members of the armed forces alongside the police and secret service.
This provoked an immediate international outcry, including condemnation from the UN Human Rights chief, Michelle Bachalet, the Tánaiste (Deputy Head of Government) of Ireland, Simon Coveney, and the Government of Denmark. The World Bank temporarily suspended travel by its representatives to Tanzania, on the grounds that it could not guarantee the security of LGBT+ employees.
In response the Tanzanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs slapped down the Regional Commissioner, issuing a statement: “The government of the United Republic of Tanzania would like to clarify that these are Paul Makonda’s personal views and not the position of the government.” It added that the government would “continue to respect all international human rights conventions which it subscribes to”. The crackdown effectively stopped before it had even begun.
Nevertheless, the diplomatic storm continued to roll on. The Danish government suspended USD $9m in aid payments, pending a review of the human rights and civic space situation in the country.
The European Union Ambassador, Roeland van de Geer, left the country at short notice, recalled to Brussels. He was reportedly given an ultimatum to leave the country. The EU then issued a statement saying he had been “recalled to headquarters for consultations at political level over the situation in Tanzania.”
The EU office in Dar es Salaam then released a short statement in which it suggests its fallout with Tanzania had been due to concerns about human rights issues and the rule of law. “The EU regrets the deterioration of the human rights and rule of law situation in the country (Tanzania) and will be conducting a broader review of its relations with Tanzania,” read the statement.
Members of the United States Senate released a letter expressing concern regarding Tanzania’s worsening human rights situation. Cosigned by Senators Robert Menendez, Edward J. Markey, Christopher J. Coons and Cory A. Booker, the statement is addressed to Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State. It decries the shrinking civic and political space that have been leading to erosion of civil liberties and democratic gains in Tanzania.
On the same day, the EU Parliament adopted a resolution taking stock of the human rights situation in Tanzania. The resolution reads, in part: “Tanzanian authorities must stop suppressing the country’s LGBTI community, and repeal laws criminalising homosexuality. MEPs express their serious concern about the deteriorating political situation in Tanzania, which has worsened since the election of President John Pombe Magufuli in 2015.”
The EU Parliament’s resolution clearly shows two related aspects of the international community’s concerns regarding human rights in Tanzania. First, there is the specific issue of the crackdown on rights of the LGBT community. Second, there is wider concern about the human rights environment in Tanzania as a whole. While the former issue has prompted a far more strident response from the diplomatic community than growing concerns about rights in general, this can be seen in part as “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. It is also likely in part a reflection of the domestic politics with the EU and US, where LGBT rights are higher on the public agenda than broader – and perhaps less clear-cut – general human rights concerns.
Within Tanzania, the former Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba, put the blame on Makonda’s appointing authority, President John Magufuli. She said that the President’s failure to hold his appointee accountable has intensified Makonda’s sense of impunity. “The RC has become so arrogant knowing that nothing can happen to him no matter what he does,” she said.
Under British colonial-era laws, homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania and same-sex acts between men are punishable by a maximum life sentence.
Anti-gay sentiment has increased under President Magufuli’s administration, forcing most gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities to live in secrecy. AIDS clinics have also been shut down, accused of “promoting” homosexuality.
President intervenes in pension dispute
President Magufuli personally intervened in a pension dispute that threatened to affect the pension entitlements of many retiring civil servants.
Following the merger of several pension funds into a single fund for public servants, Public Service Social Security Fund (PSSSF), the government had enacted new regulations that would have dramatically altered payment of civil service pensions. Previously, retiring civil servants were entitled to a lump-sum payment immediate on retirement worth 50% of their pension savings, with the remaining amount spread over monthly payments for 12 years. The new regulations would have halved the amount provided up-front and increased monthly payments.
Several trade unions leaders and MPs complained about the new arrangements, saying they had been imposed without consultations and that the government had “tried to sneak them through” without proper scrutiny.
President Magufuli stepped in and quashed the new pensions payment formula. Just hours later, he fired the Social Security Regulatory Authority (SSRA) director general, Irene Isaka. He further directed that a team of stakeholders be formed to come up with an agreeable pension payment formula.
The President’s move will benefit more than 58,000 public sector workers set to retire between now and 2023, the window within which the old pension payment formula will remain in effect. It was not immediately clear if those who recently retired under the new law and whose lowly payments raised the hue and cry will be considered for a top-up.
Workers welcomed Dr Magufuli’s decision to side with them and order a fresh look at the pension payments across the board.
by Ben Taylor
In the early hours of the morning of October 11, 2018, the prominent businessman and philanthropist, Mo Dewji (see TA108 and other issues), was abducted outside the Colosseum Hotel in the Oyster Bay area of Dar es Salaam. He was released in the middle of the night ten days later on the grounds of the Gymkhana Club golf course. Mr Dewji (43), reportedly Africa’s youngest dollar billionaire, had been planning to visit the gym at the Colosseum Hotel, as part of his normal routine. Police said he was dragged away by masked armed men as he arrived at the hotel.
Paul Makonda, the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, said: “They fired a gun and then they opened the gate. Initial information indicates he was kidnapped by whites travelling in two vehicles.”
This kicked off a police operation to identify the perpetrators and to find Dewji. However, the operation did not achieve decisive progress towards either goal, and security forces in Tanzania were left still racking their brains when Dewji was found ten days later.
The Inspector General of Police, Simon Sirro, said the kidnappers dumped Mr Dewji at the Gymkhana Golf Club grounds, close to State House, at around 2am and escaped. Footage showed a tired-looking Mo with dishevelled hair and wearing a t-shirt and jogging trousers as he thanked the police and President Magufuli for their efforts to find him.
Mr Sirro told reporters that the police found four guns including an AK47, three pistols and 35 bullets in the vehicle used in the kidnap. The abductors had tried to burn the car before they fled, he added. “All indications still show that the kidnappers were foreigners,” Mr Sirro said, adding that Mr Dewji told the police that “they were speaking English and very little Swahili.” Dewji later noted that he recognised their accents as South African.
Journalists were shown pictures of a dark blue car, a Toyota Surf, which Mr Sirro said entered the country six weeks before the abduction, from a neighbouring country that he did not name but which is widely believed to be Mozambique.
The motive of the kidnap has not been established, leaving Tanzanians with more questions than answers. The police were not forthcoming with information, fuelling rumours and direct allegations by opposition politicians that even the government was a suspect in this case.
The (UK) Times newspaper reported that some sources had “suggested that the Dewji abduction was planned not to end in his safe release, but the spontaneous national outpouring of distress prompted a change of plan. Although the government shared on social media platforms appeals for information, the president was quiet on the fate of one of his country’s most famous sons.”
A former soldier with experience of South Africa’s mercenary industry told The Times: “Complicity in the plot at a high level would have been needed for two white foreigners to enter and exit the country without detection.”
Questions have also been raised over Mo’s relationship with the government. He is believed to have been among the financial backers of the ruling CCM party in the 2015 elections, but this friendliness with the party seemed to wane after his business was hit with large fines over importation tax.
As far back as 2015, the newly-elected President Magufuli talked tough about the Dewji family’s unwillingness to hand over land they possessed to the government – land that was wanted for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Lindi, southern Tanzania. The land title was subsequently revoked and handed over to the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation.
The family also owns an expansive sisal farm in Korogwe, Tanga, which had been subject to a separate dispute. In December 2017 the government moved to repossess the land, but learnt that MeTL (Mo’s group of companies) had secured a loan from an international bank using the title.
Dewji was born in 1975 in rural Tanzania. His father, Gulam Dewji, transformed his mother’s shop into a thriving import-export business, which enabled Mo and his siblings to be sent to private schools and exclusive sports clubs. Mo showed a talent for golf, and his father sent him to the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy in Florida. But, when it was clear he wouldn’t make it to a professional grade, he enrolled at Georgetown University, in Washington DC, to study international business and finance.
Dewji returned to Tanzania and joined the family business as chief financial controller and quickly set about expanding the operation. MeTL is now the country’s largest home-grown business employing a reported 24,000 people and accounting for an estimated 3.5% of gross national product (GDP).
He has featured on the cover of Forbes magazine, which ranks him as Africa’s 17th-richest person with a fortune of $1.5bn. He also served as an MP for ten years from 2005, representing Singida Urban constituency for CCM.
“I thank Allah that I have returned home safely. I thank all my fellow Tanzanians, and everyone around the world for their prayers. I thank the authorities of Tanzania, including the police force for working for my safe return,” tweeted Mo in his first public words following the ordeal.
by Ben Taylor
Over 200 dead in latest Lake Victoria ferry tragedy
The MV Nyerere, a ferry operating on Lake Victoria, capsized on September 20th. The Tanzanian government have declared that 228 people died as a result while 41 were rescued.
The ferry was running its route from Bugolora on Ukerewe Island to Bwisya on Ukara Island with passengers and a cargo of maize, bananas, and cement as well as a tractor. It went down in the afternoon, 50 metres from the dock of its intended destination.
Survivors said the man steering the vessel made a sharp turn after realising he was preparing to dock on the wrong side of the ship. With the ship close to docking, many passengers had congregated on one side of the boat, with the result that it was unbalanced and unable to cope with the sudden change of course. It keeled over wildly, righted itself, and capsized on the other side, throwing dozens of passengers – none of whom were wearing life jackets – into the lake. Most of those who drowned were trapped inside the upturned hull.
Originally, officials believed that the ferry may have been carrying more than 400 passengers, approximately four times the reported maximum capacity of the vessel. The precise number of passengers is unknown as the official responsible for dispensing tickets drowned and the machine that recorded the number of passengers was lost in the wreckage. A week after the incident, the government stated that “close to 270” passengers had been on board.
President John Magufuli declared four days of national mourning and ordered the arrest of “all those involved in the management of the ferry”.
The government formed an investigative team led by a former army general to establish the cause of the disaster. Subsequently, President Magufuli dissolved the board of directors of the Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency (TEMESA), which runs ferry services on Tanzania’s mainland, as well as the board of the transport regulator, the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA).
Just one week earlier, on September 14th, the local MP, Joseph Mkundi (Chadema), had complained in parliament that he had repeatedly warned the government that the MV Nyerere was “malfunctioning” and in urgent need of repair. A government spokesperson responded that new engines had been fitted recently.
The day after the disaster, the Minister of Home Affairs, Kangi Lugola, warned people against spreading false information that might cause turmoil. President Magufuli later cautioned politicians not to take advantage of the situation to gain political popularity.
The tragedy has led to renewed calls to address overloading on passenger and cargo boats. Overloading is seen as being largely responsible both for this latest incident as well as previous Tanzanian ferry disasters, notably the sinking of the MV Bukoba on Lake Victoria in 1996 and the MV Spice Islander in the Indian Ocean in 2011, causing the loss of 892 and 1,573 lives respectively.
One commentator argued that “most commentaries miss the point when attributing blame for such disasters. Rather than focus on the culpability of those endangering lives by overloading vessels, they lament the lack of life boats or life jackets, untrained navigators, inadequate maintenance and so on. … The elementary starting point— that government agencies perform all the roles that affect the safety of passengers, and therefore share full responsibility for disasters when they happen—is carefully avoided.”
Pope Francis, the United Nations secretary-general, Russian President Vladimir Putin and a number of African leaders expressed shock and sorrow. “His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing,” the condolence telegram said, according to the Vatican.
“Our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the Lake Victoria ferry accident. Our thoughts are with you. We cannot thank the rescuers enough,” said President Paul Kagame of Rwanda in a tweet.
The ferry did not sink and was righted a week after the disaster.
by Ben Taylor
Tanzanian gender rights activist, Rebeca Gyumi, has been awarded the prestigious UN Human Rights Prize.
Miss Gyumi is the 31-year-old Founder & Executive Director at Msichana Initiative, a civil society organization which aims to empower girls through education and addresses challenges which limit girls’ right to education. She has worked for over eight years with an organization working on youth, as a TV personality and youth advocate. Ms. Gyumi challenged the constitutionality of section 13 and 17 of The Law of Marriage Act of 1971 that allowed girls to marry at the age of 14 and 15 where there is parental consent or court’s sanction. She won the case before the High Court of Tanzania in 2016.
“I was pretty much shocked. So shocked and caught unaware that I was even considered for such a prestigious prize,” she said.
Rebeca had previous won the UNICEF Global Goal Award in 2016, and was named 2016 Woman of the Year by New Africa Magazine.
The Prize, established by the General Assembly in 1966 (A/RES/21/2217), was awarded for the first time in 1968 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on what is now known as Human Rights Day, 10 December.
This is the tenth award of the prize, coinciding this year with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Previous winners have included Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Denis Mukwege, Malala Yusafzai, Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Gyumi first saw the injustice around her as a 13-year-old, when some of her schoolmates dropped out of school because of pregnancy and were married off.
A few years later, while studying law at University, she learned about the Law of Marriage Act of 1971 and saw the potential in trying to mount a legal challenge against it. “It bothered me that the age for boys to be married was 18 but for girls it was 14,” she said.
In 2016, with just a couple of years’ experience as a lawyer, Gyumi and her colleagues started work on a legal case to petition against the Marriage Act, compiling reports to prove that child marriage for girls was an serious issue nationwide and why it needed to be stopped.
They won their case; the High Court ruled that sections 13 and 17 of the Marriage Act were unconstitutional and that the age for girls to legally marry should be raised to 18.
“I was so happy that day for the fact that a girl child had won. I was overwhelmed with joy,” she says. “I felt duty bound to fight for the girls I had interacted with. They didn’t have enough information to know how to challenge what was happening to them.”
Though her success was celebrated by many around the country, not everyone was happy. She was attacked for promoting a “Western culture”, and the government launched an appeal against the ruling in 2017, arguing that child marriage can actually protect girls who get pregnant out of wedlock.
The case is currently in Tanzania’s high court with a verdict due soon.
“For me I feel like we are at the moment where our country really needs to defend girls’ rights,” said Rebeca. “This appeal does not send a good message of our country’s intention to protect girls generally. It will look really bad on the government if they win. There is no victory in winning a case that allows girls to get married younger. It’s not a victory a country can be proud of.”
Winning the 2018 Human Rights Prize puts Gyumi on the international stage alongside other activists such as Malala Yousafzai, Denis Mukwege and Nelson Mandela, and it’s not something she takes lightly.
“It’s not just a personal honour but my country’s honour, putting our country on the map. It’s a proud moment for me and for the girls I stood up for and for the ongoing global progress that is happening around girls’ and women’s rights.”
Asked by CNN what her message is to other young girls out there, her answer was simple: “I encourage you today to be brave and stand up for your truth.”
by David Brewin
Abnormal climate change
As countries all over the world are reeling from abnormal climatic change, Tanzania has, during recent months, been unable to escape many of the effects. Parts of the country have suffered from severe drought and the onset of the rains in March exacerbated problems in various parts of the country. Some homes, roads and farms have been destroyed but Tanzania appears to have suffered less than most of its neighbours from these problems.
Need for more sugar
Tanzania has a sugar cane deficit of 135,000 tonnes. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa is therefore issuing import permits to private sugar manufacturers, enabling them to import while seeking investment in both cultivation and processing of sugar as a permanent solution.
The government is also setting aside approximately $300,000 to companies wishing to develop sugarcane plantations in Tanzania.
The National Social Security Fund as well as certain pension funds are contributing to sugar cane cultivation and production at Mkulazi Farm in the Morogoro Region. The Mkulazi Sugar factory, which is under construction, hopes to start production in January 2019, and produce 30,000 tonnes of sugar per year.
In Kagera Region, the Sultanate of Oman has agreed to invest new funds to increasing production at its factory from 60,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes per year.
Tanzania is not a major coffee exporting country but it does produce Arabica (70% of coffee exports from Tanzania) of high quality in Moshi and other areas, and also Robusta (30%) which is the basis of cheaper instant coffee. In 2017/18, Tanzania ranked 19th in the world in terms of coffee production, exporting 48,000 metric tonnes to countries such as Germany, Japan, Italy, Belgium and France.
The Moshi Coffee Exchange is an auction which takes place every week in the Kilimanjaro Region, where licensed exporters can purchase coffee alongside unlicensed local exporters.
Other counties with significant exports of coffee are Ethiopia (33% of its exports), Rwanda (27%), Uganda (18%), with Tanzania on 5% and Kenya on 4%.
According to Tanzania Coffee Board Acting Director General Primus Kimayo, coffee production dropped to 780,000 bags in 2016/17 from 1.03 million bags in 2015/16. It was expected that there would be further reductions to 716,000 bags in 2017/18. This makes it difficult for farmers to meet the government’s target of 1.6 million bags by 2021.
Tanzanian coffee producers could produce more if farmers focused on all aspects of the production process and increased yields substantially. In Uganda, for example, in 2013 the government deployed the army to provide agricultural extension services and employed soldiers to improve production of coffee seedlings.
But the recent dramatically increased popularity of coffee in Europe and China. For example, a heading to an article published by the British Guardian newspaper read “Coffee culture is taking China by storm”. It pointed out to Tanzania that opportunities could arise to benefit by increasing its production, especially of premium Arabica coffee grown mainly in Moshi District.
Nile Perch & Human Rights
Controversy has been caused in Tanzania over dwindling stocks of Nile Perch fish in Lake Victoria caused by over-fishing. Research by the Tanzanian Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries shows that there are an estimated 1 million tonnes of fish in Lake Victoria – mostly the Nile perch – valued at between $300 and $500 million. It is estimated that in 2017 Tanzania harvested 300,000 tonnes of Nile perch. Harvests in Kenya and Uganda were about 50,000 tonnes and 350,000 tonnes respectively.
The three countries involved (Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya) are so concerned about the over-fishing that they have launched a joint operation known as “Save the Nile Perch” with fishing industries in the Lake starting to implement the plan. Each country has provided a budget of USD $600,000 each to go towards the cost. Controversy has arisen in the Tanzanian parliament as the government introduced measures to protect the Nile Perch stocks from being further reduced due to overfishing, and also to reduce corruption in the industry.
No time was lost in beginning to implement the project, but as strong measures began to take effect, MPs in parliament began to reflect on concerns about side effects. The MP for Geita, Constantine Kanyasu, spoke of high fines of up to 50 million Tanzanian Shillings ($22,000) imposed on fishermen found in possession of immature fish.
The MP for Ubungo, Saed Kubenea, described the operation as humiliating for residents, as officers were beating people, confiscating fishing gear, and soliciting bribes from the fishermen. “We want the operation halted and the Tanzanian government to review its plans and come up with another operation that would be conducted with respect for human rights,” he said.
The MPs asked the government to form a special committee to review the exercise.
The Arumeru District Commissioner has imposed a blanket ban on the importation of Kenyan carrots in a bid to protect local producers from competition. He stated: “During the harvesting period, carrots are imported to Tanzania from Kenya but, by the powers I have been given by the President, not a single carrot will be imported into the district.” He said that he and all carrot farmers would stand along the Arusha-Moshi highway to inspect all lorries, to ensure that middlemen did not import a single carrot from Kenya. These actions have, of course, brought into question Tanzanians commitment to open its borders for cross-border trade, as required by the East African Communities Common Market Protocol.
by Naomi Rouse
Outcry as boy, 13, dies after beating from teacher
Campaigners have urged the Tanzanian government to review corporal punishment in schools after a 13-year-old boy died following a beating by his teacher.
Sperius Eradius, from Kagera, died on 27 August a few days after the punishment, having been accused of stealing from another teacher.
The case is being investigated by Tanzania’s health ministry, while local media reported on Monday that two teachers had been charged with Sperius’ murder.
The case has provoked an outcry from campaigners, who said children are being subjected to degrading and violent punishments. Representatives from the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment and Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) said they hoped the case would bring an end to the use of such violence in schools.
Tanzania is one of a small number of African countries where corporal punishment is not banned in any setting. President John Magufuli has publicly stated his support for caning children. (The Guardian)
World Bank pulls $300m Tanzania loan over pregnant schoolgirl ban
The money, a significant proportion of funding totalling $500m awarded to Tanzania by the bank in 2018, was scheduled for approval last month to help to improve access to secondary education.
In a double blow, the World Bank announcement came on the same day that Denmark, Tanzania’s second biggest donor, said it was withholding $10m of aid funding due to concerns over human rights abuses and “unacceptable homophobic comments” by a government official.
Tanzanian schools routinely expel girls who become pregnant, who are thought to number about 8,000 a year. The practice dates back several decades but has intensified since President John Magufuli took office in 2015. Some schools have imposed compulsory pregnancy tests on girls.
A spokesman said: “Working with our partners, the World Bank will continue to advocate girls’ access to education through our dialogue with the Tanzanian government. The economic and social returns for girls finishing their education are very high in every society for both current and future generations.”
Tanzania has one of the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world, with widespread sexual violence and girls exchanging sex for school fees, food and shelter, according to the UN.
The World Bank’s vice president for Africa, Dr Hafez Ghanem held talks with President John Magufuli early in December in an effort to resolve the issue.
Following this meeting, the state house issued a statement confirming that the World Bank finally agreed to release the loan. However, Dr Ghanem explained that the World Bank is working with the Tanzanian government to redesign the project, and that the government has agreed to find a solution so that the girls can go back to school. He said though the project start date was 30th October, the World Bank would delay as long as necessary to accommodate the agreements made with the government.
Dr Ghanem confirmed that the World Bank had also discussed the new Statistics Act with the government, saying “Statistics is our work. All our decisions and analyses are based on statistics, so if we don’t get reliable and credible statistics, we will be unable to do our work. We made this clear to the government and the government made it clear to us that they are open to discussions on modalities of dealing with this.”
An amendment to the statistics law would impose a fine, at least three years in jail, or both on those who questioned the accuracy of government figures.
Discussions with the government had also touched on the discrimination against the LGBTI community, but did not include a commitment from the government to guarantee human rights, freedom of the press and democracy, as Dr Ghanem said the World Bank cannot get involved in political questions, but focuses on development issues. Dr Ghanem also emphasised the importance of Tanzania creating a conducive environment for business investment and noted a worsening in the ease of doing business in the last two years, which meant Tanzania would be overtaken by other countries. (The Guardian, The Citizen)
The case for revisiting school funding
The capitation grant (a ‘per pupil’ allocation of funding for schools) was introduced in 2002 to provide an income for schools after the government abolished fees for primary schools. Disbursements began in 2013 but were not consistently disbursed until 2016.
The grant is supposed to be allocated with 30% for teaching equipment, 30% for facility repair, 20% for examinations, 10% for sports, and 10% for administration.
Actual disbursements remain below the proposed $10 per pupil (at the time this was equivalent to TSh 16,000). However, only TSh 10,000 per pupil was disbursed, of which TSh 4,000 went to regional government for text books.
Teachers from Mapanda, Mufindi interviewed by The Citizen said the funding was insufficient. They were receiving TSh 157,000 per month, out of which they needed to fund travel and an overnight stay in Mafinga to collect the money from the bank, as the government required the money to be collected and reported on monthly. The Mufindi District Primary Education Officer said that otherwise if the government was short of money and saw money in school accounts, the understanding would be that the district does not need those funds.
Teachers highlighted that the amounts were far too small to fund any meaningful repairs on the school (in the case of one teacher interviewed
– just TSh 47,000). Another teacher said that they had incurred debts as a result of borrowing to buy basic supplies like chalk. One teacher said “often we are forced to write exams on the board because we cannot afford printing”.
Education policy analyst Makumbu Mwenezi said that Tanzania would need to engage community contributions as in other developing countries, as the TSh 500 per pupil per month allocation would not be enough to cover basic education costs.
Studies by Twaweza show that the average amount per pupil received by schools fell to TSh 2,055 in 2015, but went up to TSh 5,247 in 2016. Twaweza commented that while the capitation grant had helped to raise enrolment rates and relieve an acute shortage of teaching and learning materials in schools, it still needed to be increased significantly to lead to any meaningful changes in quality of learning. The Permanent Secretary for Education said they were in discussions with the President’s Office, Regional and Local Government and the Ministry of Finance and Planning to increase funding for education. (The Citizen)
by Ben Taylor
Where next for Maalim Seif?
The political scene in Zanzibar continues to be dominated by fallout from the 2015 elections. With the next elections scheduled for less than two years from now, it appears inevitable that the hangover from 2015 will play a major part in the 2020 polls.
Central to this is the future of the Isle’s main opposition party, CUF, and its leadership disputes. The power struggle pits one faction supporting Seif Sharif Hamad, the former Zanzibar Vice President and long-time dominant force within the party in Zanzibar, against another supporting Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, the party’s chairman from 1995 to 2015 and four-time CUF Tanzania presidential candidate.
Lipumba withdrew his resignation as party chair in June 2016, having previously resigned in the run-up to the 2015 elections in protest at the party’s endorsement of Chadema presidential candidate, Edward Lowassa. This threw him into a dispute with other senior party figures, in which he won the backing of the Registrar of Political Parties, but the issue remains unresolved in court.
In September 2018, the main opposition party across Tanzania as a whole, Chadema, offered Seif Hamad a lifeline – inviting him to switch parties and run as the Chadema candidate for the Zanzibar presidency in 2020.
The Chairman of the Chadema Party Elders, Hashim Juma, said Chadema was ready to accommodate Mr Hamad. “If he accepts our offer, he will be our flag bearer during forthcoming presidential election,” he said.
He argued that there were elements currently bent on seeing CUF remaining in an endless crisis, and it was therefore wise for Mr Hamad to shift to Chadema where he would receive cooperation to try and oust the ruling CCM from power in Zanzibar.
“All CUF Members of Parliament and those who believe in change have an opportunity to join Chadema. We speak the same language,” he said.
More recently, in December, rumours emerged that Hamad was planning to join ACT Wazalendo, another opposition party, led by firebrand MP Zitto Kabwe.
Mr Hamad refuted the claims. He told The Citizen that since CUF had pending cases at the court, his faction had alternative plans that would only be implemented after the court judgement.
He said claims that they were planning to join ACT Wazalendo wasn’t among the said alternative plan, noting that being one of the CUF founders, it would not be easy for him to leave the party.
Mr Khalifa Suleiman Khalifa, an ally of Prof-Lipumba, had earlier told the press that Mr Hamad planned to join ACT Wazalendo. “Principally, ACT Wazalendo and Mr Hamad have agreed on a deal where Mr Hamad will control the party on the Zanzibar side and Zitto Kabwe will command the party on Mainland Tanzania,” he said.
Mr Kabwe said ACT Wazalendo had no agenda of lobbying CUF leaders to join them, saying Tanzania required strong and best opposition to strengthen its democracy and that disputes within the second largest opposition party were weakening struggles they were making through democratic paths.
“We won’t turn into a hyena that waits for a fight to end so that it would grab the victim in order to benefit ourselves. Our party believes that by doing so we would be committing a political sin,” he said.
There is little doubt that Seif Hamad commands great personal support among residents of Zanzibar. It is unclear, however, how many of his supporters would follow him to another party, were he to switch. Much apparent party loyalty in Tanzania is, in reality, loyalty to individual politicians. But were Hamad to run for President of Zanzibar on a non-CUF ticket, it seems likely that the main beneficiaries would be the ruling party, CCM, profiting from a divided opposition.
Zanzibar pays its electricity bills
The Zanzibar Electricity Corporation (ZECO) has paid TSh 45 billion (approximately USD $20m) to the Tanzania National Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) over the past 18 months. The money is out of TSh 65 billion debt for power supply to the Isles, and that the corporation has projected to settle the remaining bill of TSh20 billion by June 2019.
President John Magufuli last year directed Tanesco to cut power to customers with long-standing debts, irrespective of who they were. He said Tanesco should not hesitate to disconnect even State House if his office did not pay its electricity bills on time, adding that there should be no sacred cows in the cash-strapped public utility’s endeavour to recover huge sums in unpaid bills.
The Union and Zanzibar governments and institutions are among Tanesco’s biggest debtors, having accumulated debts totalling tens of billions of shillings.
Addressing the media in March 2017, Zanzibar President Ali Mohammed Shein had said Zanzibar’s debt had accumulated over 20 years, adding that he was not sure whether the archipelago would not be disconnected. “We will have no option but to use oil lamps if power is cut,” he was quoted saying.
This led to discussions between leading politicians of both Tanzania and Zanzibar, and leaders of both electricity companies, which put in place a schedule of repayments.
by Roger Nellist
Tanzania’s mining sector turmoil continues
The ban on the export of mineral concentrates that the government imposed in early 2017 is still in force and has hit the country’s major gold producer, Acacia Mining, hard. The company has been forced to stockpile its output, especially from its Bulyanhulu gold mine, and as a result this year has suffered a big drop in its revenues and cash reserves. In an effort to contain costs Acacia initiated in the summer a process of voluntary redundancies but in September, in a leaked internal memo from the company’s Managing Director, Mr Assa Mwaipopo, employees were told that it had become necessary to adopt a compulsory retrenchment scheme, beginning that month with a staff consultation process. Employees would be consulted on the staff retrenchment selection criteria, the timing of lay-offs and the terms of the severance package. It is understood that this is the second time that Acacia Mining has retrenched its Tanzanian workforce since the government’s mineral export ban came into effect.
Acacia’s parent company – the Canadian (Toronto based) Barrick Gold Corporation – owns 64% of Acacia Mining and this year has itself embarked on a massive staff reduction programme. Barrick’s Executive Chairman, John Thornton, said in September that he was seeking to achieve a leaner organisation and that, having slashed middle management by half to about 700, “we want to get it down to 300”.
In October, industry reports suggested that Barrick wished to take back full ownership and control of Acacia Mining, though it was uncertain whether that meant all three of Acacia’s Tanzanian gold mines or just Bulyanhulu. (The other two mines that Acacia operates are North Mara and Buzwagi). Estimates then put the value of the remaining 36% stake in Acacia at about $300 million. However, the potential buy-back was thought to be complicated by two big issues. First, Barrick was in merger talks with Randgold Resources, its big African gold producing rival, and needed to finalise that mega deal (rumoured to be worth more than $18 billion) before the merged group could find solutions to the Acacia Mining problem. Also, Barrick had just concluded a 50-50 deal with the Shandong Gold Corporation, a large Chinese mining company, under which each company will purchase 50% of the other’s shares. The Chinese deal is important for Tanzania because it can bring additional capital, technical expertise and importantly political connections. Thornton commented: “It’s one thing to be a Canadian company. It’s another to have China as your partner”. The second complicating issue is that Acacia is still in dispute with the Tanzanian government over its earlier concentrate exports and the bill it has been handed of $190 billion in unpaid taxes; Barrick has been trying to resolve the dispute and is unlikely to want to take back full ownership of Acacia until those major matters are settled.
But that is not the only problem Acacia Mining faces. In late October Mr Mwaipopo (the company’s Managing Director) appeared in court in Dar es Salaam charged with several serious criminal offences including money-laundering, tax evasion and forgery. The executive denied all charges but was remanded. He is one of three senior Acacia officials facing charges at the Kisutu Resident’s Magistrate Court, all of whom deny the charges. The other two are Acacia’s former Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Deo Mwanyika, and the Bulyanhulu gold mine’s Corporate Relations Manager, Alex Lugendo. The charges claim that in one transaction, $719 million was transferred into the account of a government official.
Acacia Mining issued a statement in response to these and other matters. “In light of recent developments in Tanzania,” the statement read, “the Company is now considering its position including in particular with respect to the Government actions and the charges now being brought.”
More work for the TEITI
At the end of October in Dodoma the Minister for Minerals, Ms Angella Kairuki, launched the Board of the Tanzania Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TEITI) and commissioned it to compile a special register detailing the ownership, shareholders, revenue and income of Tanzania’s extractive companies and operations. Acknowledging that this would not be an easy task she emphasised that such a register was essential to enable Tanzanians to know who owns what and for the government to satisfy itself that the country is obtaining its rightful share of the revenues generated from mineral, gas, and perhaps eventually oil, production. The Minister announced that some regulations would be changed to ensure that the TEITI can audit the extractive operations thoroughly. The TEITI Board is chaired by the former Controller and Auditor General, Mr Ludovick Utouh.
by Enos Bukuku
The cost of a new Constitution
It may seem odd to many people that a document as important and as sacred as a constitution can be valued in monetary terms. The importance of such a document must surely outweigh the time, effort and costs involved in bringing it into existence.
Tanzania already has a constitution but it is clear that it is no longer fit for purpose and that is why former President Kikwete kickstarted the process of creating a new constitution which would better serve Tanzanians.
However, his successor President Magufuli is not convinced that it is so important to rekindle the dying embers of the proposed katiba that his predecessor had ignited with such fanfare. During the very early stages of his presidency he informed the nation that a new constitution is not a priority. It is now just over 3 years since he took office and until recently it was not clear how far up his priority list this issue had moved.
He recently spoke at a symposium at the University of Dar es Salaam during which he maintained that a new constitution is not a priority, is an expensive task, and that he would rather spend the money on national development projects.
As has been the case since he took office, there have been several politicians, interest groups and individuals who have called for the government to proceed with the rewriting of the constitution. Former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa and Joseph Butiku, the Executive Director of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, have called for the draft constitution prepared by the Constitutional Review Committee, to be adopted.
The Council of Islamic Organisations has also called for a new constitution ahead of the 2020 elections. Sheikh Issa Ponda, the Council’s secretary, voiced his concerns by saying; “There is no way we can register big achievements without a new constitution before the 2020 polls. People are tired of the current situation and under this constitution, we don’t believe that there will be a free and fair election. There is a need to have an independent electoral commission.”
Getting to this stage of rewriting the constitution has cost over TSh 116 billion so far. It would be a dreadful waste of public money if the quest for a new katiba is abandoned and those costs written off. No one seems to talk about, or even know, how much more funds are likely to be needed to complete the process.
It does make one think that it is a price worth paying.