(Tanzania is no more free of serious crime than any other country. And crime is also very much the same the whole world over. For this reason, the Bulletin of Tanzanian Affairs rarely features news or articles on the subject. However, during the first months of 1988, the attention of many Tanzanians has been rivetted on three particularly spectacular crimes. And these crimes tend to illustrate some of the social problems besetting President Mwinyi’ s Government. The crimes concern elephant tusks, travellers cheques and a hijacking. The social problems which they reflect are poaching, theft by public servants and a recent and growing trend amongst young people to try and get out of Tanzania to greener pastures believed to exist elsewhere. We are indebted to the Daily News and SHIHATA for the information contained in the following three stories – Editor).

On January 9th Police in Ruvuma announced the arrest of the Member of Parliament for Songea Urban, together with three others, for unlawful possession of 105 elephant tusks valued at over Shs 2.0 million. The MP was arrested in his Government Landrover near Namabengo village, 32 kilometres from Songea. Thousands of Songea residents thronged the Police station after the news was released. The Police revealed that they had received a tip three days before and were on the alert.

The High Court of Tanzania was due to hold a special session in Songea to try the case on April 5th because it falls under the Economic Sabotage and Organised Crime Act. The Prosecution indicated that they would be producing 15 witnesses. The case was expected to last at least one week.

Adam Lusekelo, the Sunday News’ satirical writer wrote in one of his recent regular Sunday features that he had decided that he wanted to run for Parliament. “Which means that I have got two and a half years to practice speech (addressing a mirror for two hours every day), a bit of theatre (the Pawkwa Theatre Association will take care of that) and, of course, a respectable wardrobe of Kaunda or safari suits (two, ill- fitting, to be warn while I am campaigning. Someone told me that wearing ill-fitting safari suits shows that one is nearer the masses).

A friend asked ‘And where do you plan to stand for MP?’ ‘Some place near the Selous Game Reserve, ….. I’ve got some jumbo sized ideas in mind’.

‘But first you’ll have to persuade some guys in some Party panel that you are serious about being an MP for a constituency near some game park ….. What are you going to tell them to convince them that you are MP material?’

‘Alright, I’ll say this: Gentlemen, I come before you as a potential MP and all you have got to do is to look at my face. You all will agree with me that my face is an honest face. My face is a reflection of my being. I love this country. I love the people. I love the land. I also love the animals of this country. It pains me to see some unscrupulous persons out in search for a quickie. They are pauperising the country. I am boiling with indignation. I also feel, dear Gentlemen, that those who introduced the anti-sabotage economic bill into Parliament were suspiciously clement. I think we need something much tougher’.

‘Come to think of it, you could make it you know. And then you’ll get your brand new Landrover’.

‘No way. I need something bigger than that. A Scania lorry’. ‘What, a whole truck to travel around just to meet the voters with? ‘Oh, come on: don’t be so small minded. What if I meet some constituents who want to transport their cardamom to some profitable destination across the border? Who will help them if not their MP? .. What if, during my nocturnal drive, I lose my way and find myself in the middle of the game park where I meet a herd of elephants who feel like voluntarily contributing to the Mozambique Government to help in it’s fight against MNR bandits’ ………. ”

The case of Sarah Simbaulanga, a National Bank of Commerce (NBC) employee who stole Shs 31.0 million in foreign exchange (mostly travellers cheques) astonished Tanzanians because of the sum of money involved in the theft, the apparent ease with which it was carried out and, the biggest surprise of all, the immediate admission of guilt after the lady had been arrested. The accused looked very calm in the dock. “Yes” she said “it is true” to the five counts she was facing. The Principal Resident Magistrate asked her twice if she really understood the charges against her. She confirmed her plea of guilty.

The evidence presented to a packed court in Dar es Salaam was, in abbreviated form, as follows:

Between October 19th and 29th 1987 Simbaulanga and an accomplice named Torcha (whose extradition from Kenya is being demanded by the Tanzanian authorities) stole from the NBC 1,100 travellers cheques worth US$ 390,000 and 200 travellers cheques worth £20,000. Simbaulanga and Toroha had been friends since the early seventies when she had been at Kisutu Secondary school in Dar es Salaam. She and Toroha hired two rooms at the Skyway Hotel on the night of October 29-30. Simbaulanga had managed to obtain four passports for herself and her three children. They travelled on an Air Tanzania plane to Nairobi on October 31st. They then used some of the travellers cheques to buy five KLM tickets to London. On November 1st and 2nd they made twelve different transactions using $246,000, The Police are still trying to trace the remaining travellers cheques.

The accused then bought five tickets to Nairobi on November 5th, and in Nairobi they carried out further transactions with new travellers cheques they had bought in London. Torota bought four mini-buses and a pick-up and registered them under the name of his wife Elizabeth.

Later three other suspected accomplices were arrested Simbaulanga’s NEC Controller, a KLM Sales Manager and a businessman.

On February 10th Simbaulanga was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, seven years on each count, to run concurrently. But, on February 16th, the Prosecution appealed the case and asked the High Court to issue an order for the sentence to run consecutively. Subsequently, Simbaulanga was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

The case was one of many referred to later by SHIHATA under the heading ‘Tanzania’s thriving theft industry’ in which it quoted a whole spate of thefts by servants of the NBC from branches all over the country. It estimated the total loss at over Shs 60.0 million.

An attempt to force an Air Tanzania Boeing 737 plane to fly from Dar es Salaam to London on the night of February 13th 1988 failed after the pilot duped the hijackers and landed at the Dar es Salaam International airport.

The plane was seized by four youths who had been transit passengers from Zanzibar ostensibly on their way to Kilimanjaro. Thus they were not subject to normal security checks. The hijackers were subsequently found to be in possession of two toy guns and a knife. The leader of the group threatened passengers that he would blow up the plane in mid-air. The Captain of the plane noticed that the hijackers could not read his instrument panel and so he was able to travel in a wide circle and eventually land again at Dar es Salaam. Passengers were not allowed to leave the plane by the hijackers who believed that they had made a stopover in Northern Kenya for refuelling. But, as dawn broke, the hijackers realised that they had been tricked and surrendered. In the trial which followed (very quickly after the event) each hijacker received a sentence of 15 years in prison.



In the mid-Sixties Gus Liebenow found Dar es Salaam one of the cleanest cities in Africa, its port charming, and its citizens honest and industrious. He expands on this romantic view by describing the University at that time as a modern Camelot where Tanzanian scholars met with a host of radical expatriate academics. At the Round Table they set about constructing a new development strategy based on the concept of African Socialism in what is described as one of the most intellectually stimulating campuses in Africa.

Gus Liebenow was shocked when he returned to Tanzania in 1986. He observed dilapidated taxis; decaying streets, pavements and buildings; uncleared garbage; sanitation and water supply inadequacies. He noted reports in the Daily News of cholera outbreaks, neglect of duties by Government employees; increasing incidence of AIDS; food and cash crop smuggling; striking sugar cane workers killed by Field Force Unit police; public sector inefficiency, laxity and dishonesty.

What went wrong? According to this highly readable and concise survey, pretty much everything. The problems are judged to have begun with pre-Colonial Arab influence on the mainland followed by 70 years of German and British rule. Adverse economic factors beyond the control of the Government such as climate, falling commodity prices and higher oil bills in the 1970’s are cited. Then there were costly political events such as the break-up of the East African Community and the war with Uganda. Much of the blame is placed on the Socialist development strategy, which is considered ill – judged and disastrously implemented. While the Left seeks to explain the failure by claiming that the strategy has not really been socialism at all, Gus Liebenow observes that in June 1986 the remarkably open, self-critical and pragmatic Tanzanians moved to begin winding up the great experiment in African Socialism.

It’s tempting to continue Gus Liebenow’s imaginative Morte D’Julius analogy. Much of the time in Camelot was spent in organising a fruitless search for the Holy Grail. The downfall of the fellowship and high i deals of the Round Table came about when the trusted Sir Lancelot betrayed King Arthur by kissing Queen Guinevere. Who should be cast in these roles – is Lancelot the state bureaucracy and Queen Guinevere inefficiency and petty corruption – or is Lancelot Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Queen Guinevere the IMF?
Michael Hodd

LABOUR AND POVERTY IN RURAL TANZANIA. Ujamaa and Rural Development in the United Republic of Tanzania. Clarenden Press: Oxford, 1986. pp 143.

This is a small book with great pretensions. Aiming to provide an up-to-date assessment of Tanzania’s experience in rural development (a big subject) it claims to provide “a basis on which many of the current controversies can at last be solved empirically”. This it certainly does not do, even if it provides some interesting statistical results worthy of further investigation. Its claim to superiority is its application of econometrics, based on a sample here of 600 households drawn from over 8 regions in a range of different ecological situations . One might say that the results demonstrate both the advantages and the limitations of the approach. As far as the sample is concerned, it is nevertheless concentrated in a curve along the East and Centre of the country from Tanga through Dar es Salaam to Dodomaa : Sukumaland and most of the West and the South East are omitted. At the same time there are problems associated with bringing together households taken from villages within agro-ecological zones which vary greatly and considering them as a group.

The core chapter is on peasant differentiation which is found to be substantial – not in itself an original finding . The interesting result here is that, despite the range of conditions from which the sample is drawn, only 15% of inequality is accounted for by inter-village variation, 85% being due to variation within villages irrespective of location. Looking at the cause of this variation in income per adult equivalent, this turns out to be differences in non-labour endowments. Of the total variation 44% is due to crops, 21% to livestock and 30% to non-farm income. To illustrate the criticism made earlier, there are difficulties here in analysing the livestock factor since livestock play very different roles in different areas of Tanzania, being virtually absent, for instance, in the South East. Access to crops such as coffee is important in respect of cash crop income and here the results may disguise differences in the quality of land owned, coffee land being a very different kind of asset from that in the lowlands. There is no discussion in the book of correction for land quality. The variation in crop income is ascribed to differences in the use of inputs , associated itself with greater income, which also is thought to generate a greater willingness to assume risks, rather than any difference in land or labour availability.

There is some useful hard data on the economics of the communal plot, which is the focus of Ujamaa. As much as 20% of total labour time is spent on the communal shamba, although output yielded per household is only some 28 shillings from individual plots, implying a substantial opportunity cost.

The authors summarise with a strongly negative view of the Tanzanian economy in which “Rural isolation is compounded by a poor transport system and limited availability of even the most basic goads. In this way, Tanzania’s economy is in sharp contrast with many other peasant economies which are characterised by a dense network of market transactions and a wide variety of economic activities”. The implication is that this is largely the consequence of rural and development policies adopted, including Ujamaa. It is probably an exaggerated picture which fails to take adequate account of regional variations within Tanzania and the handicaps of infrastructure and climate with which it has to contend.

Nevertheless the statistical vigour of the approach followed, the hypotheses put forward for testing, and the variety of individual findings derived present a challenge first to establish a broader statistical base to the data, along the lines of Kenya’s Integrated Rural Surveys, and secondly, to explore them in more detail at the level of each agro-economic zone.
Ian Livingston

TANZANIA AFTER NYERERE: ed. Michael Hodd, Pinter Publishers, London and New York. 1988.

This book presents in abbreviated form some of the papers submitted at a conference under the same title held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in June 1986. At the time of the conference it was fully expected that the chapter of Tanzanian history coinciding with the influence and leadership of Julius Nyerere would come to a close in the following October on his final retirement from the Chairmanship of the Party. But his unexpected re-election to office for a further five years means that this collection of essays must now be regarded as an interim report rather than an epilogue. From the title one would have also expected a tinge of prophesy, but mercifully nearly all the contributors have wisely avoided any such endeavour. Only one, taking his life in his hands, has concluded that ‘an authoritarian state, gravedigger of democracy, is appearing’. Well, we will see.

As an account of various facets of the Tanzanian experience during the years of Nyerere’s presidency the book has much to commend it. All the essays are short and most of them reproduce in summary form the gist of accumulated knowledge without too much partisan treatment. There are, however, two aspects of the history of the period that, though not entirely absent, might profitably have received greater emphasis.

One is the issue in which the evolution of policy reflected a learning process. An example is to be found in the changing attitude towards legislation. In the sixties there was certainly a naive belief that Government had only to issue an order and the desired result would ensue. Today there is a clearer perception of the limits of Government power and of the importance of a longer perspective. The relaxation of price controls was not simply obedience to the IMF, but a recognition of their futility in times of dire scarcity, when the alternative market takes over. It would be unfair to attribute these changing perceptions solely to a learning process in a young democracy. Some aspects of policy, such as the belief in capital intensive agriculture, at the time was conventional wisdom, shared by so-called experts everywhere. We must not overlook the fact that we, too, are learning.

The other feature of the period under examination was the personality of Nyerere himself. This is touched upon by one or two writers, but deserves wider recognition. Nyerere is after all a giant of a man, not only in his own country, but also the world over. His utter incorruptibility, his frugality amidst poverty and above all his readiness to admit mistakes, failures and shortcomings were certainly part of the secret of his great moral influence. As a factor in the history of the period it is characteristically difficult to assess, but it is nevertheless undeniably an important component.

It is a pity that the book retains quite a number of printing errors, a few of them significant, such as a statistic that accidentally loses the word ‘million’. The use of initials and acronyms without explanation is also unfortunate. But there is good stuff in this book and I commend it to your readers.
J. Roger Carter


This appeared in TA 30 (May 1988)

Too much old school tie
“Tanganyika is no fairy land. It is suffering from too much old school tie”. So wrote the Tanganyika Herald in its issue of 5th February 1938. It quoted extensively and prominently from some writing it had discovered in an Oxford newspaper by a Mr. John Balfour who had recently returned from a 10,000 mile African tour.

Hr. Balfour wrote: “The Administrative Officer’s life is to sit in an office from 8.30 to 12.30 and 2 to 4 doing sums, writing memoranda and reports just as he did for examinations at school. At 4 o’clock sharp he puts down his pen, has tea and then plays golf, tennis or football. The British magistrate adjourns his court even though in the middle of delivering a judgement. At sundown the officer sips whiskies and sodas and plays bridge.

From the lowest officer to the Governor, from the Governor to the Colonial Office, the administration is a machine in which no single cog can budge until a group of others has been started. Individual action brings frowns. An academic system of rules is pinned on the board like the rules of a public school.

An official with 15 years experience complained to me that he had less power, responsibility and money and more interference than when he started.

The Administration is grossly overstaffed. In a certain specialised department 66% of the expenditure goes to pay the official’s salary; another hefty slice goes to the native subordinates.
But if staffs or salaries were cut down public school boys would not consent to be colonial administrators. The job would not allow them to lead the lives of leisured sportsmen from four o’clock onwards ……

Inciting Zanzibar Arabs
The ‘Tanganyika Opinion’ in its leading article of February 25th 1938 wrote that: “The British Resident in Zanzibar has fully maintained the honoured traditions of British diplomacy (fithina) in his recent speech at the Arab Idd Baraza. As all the world and its wife knows, the whole trouble about the clove trade in Zanzibar originated with the formation of what is called the ‘Clove Growers Association’ (CGA). To judge from its nomenclature, one would suppose that it is an association of the actual clove growers. But it is nothing of the sort and the leading lights of the CGA have as little to do with the growing of cloves as we have with the growing of potatoes. It is a body bossed by the representatives of British commercial interests in Zanzibar for the express purpose of ousting the Indian traders from the clove market. It has created an unjust monopoly so that the growers of cloves will have to content themselves with selling their produce to the CGA willy-nilly at prices much lower than they would have realised in a free and competitive market.

When this CGA was first brought into being the clove growers of Zanzibar (both Arabs and natives) strongly resented it but, being mostly an inarticulate and unorganised people, their protest could not take any tangible form.

The Indian traders were made of sterner stuff. Being an intelligent and self-respecting people they had no alternative but to resist the Government’s Clove Decrees and, as they knew that India was a large importer of Zanzibar cloves they naturally sought the assistance of their motherland. India accepted the challenge and has decided to maintain a boycott of Zanzibar cloves until the Government abolishes the CGA and recognises the principles of free trade”.

The article went on to quote the speech of the Resident [President ? post editor] in which he indicated that the Government was considering a change of policy. He did not believe that (although he admitted that they had a grievance) the Indians would want to be in permanent antagonism with the Government and with their Arab and Swahili fellow citizens as all were suffering from the effects of the boycott.