ZANZIBAR – GROWING CONCERN
TANZANIA AND THE MAI
EL NINO DEVASTATION
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF WADI MOJA
Category Archives: Issue 60
ZANZIBAR -GROWING CONCERN
Although the Zanzibar government has long insisted that there is no political crisis in the Isles this view is not widely shared. The ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party did publish a statement in March admitting that there was an impasse but added that a solution depended on the political goodwill of the Civic United Front (CUF) opposition party. The statement also praised Zanzibar President Salmin Amour for his openness in dealing with the situation and his willingness to talk about it to the media.
This change in tack was perhaps stimulated by Father of the Nation Mwalimu Nyerere who had caused some consternation when he said on January 23 (according to the Dar es Salaam ‘Express’) that the first step in resolving any crisis was to admit that there was a problem. It would be unwise to “fumbia macho” (close the eyes); the Zanzibar problem was not only for Zanzibaris, he said. “It is also a Tanzanian problem. The Union would bear the brunt if something went wrong there. It was time the Union government did something to avert a conflict which would have security overtones on the mainland”.
When Professor Haroub Othman of the University of Dar es Salaam (quoted in the ‘Daily News’) said at a seminar that he thought that Mwalimu would be the best mediator in what he described as the ‘crisis-laden islands’ and that he had a feeling that the CCM was not serious in wanting a solution, did not want Mwalimu to intervene and was not even very keen on him, he was soundly rebuked. CCM’s Zanzibar Publicity Secretary Ms Maudline Castico said that the Professor should apologise for making such outrageous statements on CCM’s relationship with the former President. CCM in Zanzibar had the highest respect for Mwalimu and would always treasure his role in the liberation and development of the country, she said. She reminded the Professor about the efforts made by CCM to promote and broaden democracy in the Isles and pointed out that the House Speaker had opened an office in the opposition stronghold of Pemba in an effort to bring about mutual understanding.
Probably referring to the amount of time Mwalimu Nyerere is spending as mediator in Burundi, Serengeti CCM MP Julius Semwaiko told Union parliamentarians that Tanzania should concentrate on solving problems at home rather than those in foreign countries. “We should ask our colleagues from Zanzibar what is going on there” Semwaiko said.
Gradually the press – both government and privately owned – has been taking up the issue. The government-owned ‘Daily News’ in an editorial on January 12, Zanzibar Revolution Day, the 34th anniversary of the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution, wrote: ‘We would like to make a special appeal to President Amour and the opposition to embark on dialogue immediately to solve the present political impasse in the Isles’.
But on the same day Zanzibar President Amour was quoted by the ‘Daily News’ as saying that that there was ‘a conspiracy to bring Zanzibar into turmoil, perpetrated from outside by using internal elements’ but that the solution to the political impasse in the isles would be reached by Zanzibaris themselves. In an apparent reference to a recent by-election in which support for the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) had dropped significantly, he said that the political situation in Zanzibar was excellent and seemed to improve with each passing day. People were learning more and more to live together in harmony under the multi-party system.
Dar es Salaam Archbishop Polycarp Pengo on January 12 urged churches to pray for tranquillity in Zanzibar; the political situation in the Isles was of concern to everybody, he said.
Meanwhile international concern about the situation continues. South African Vice-President Thabo Mbeki was in Zanzibar last year and the Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations was in Zanzibar earlier this year, apparently trying to help. The ‘Daily News’ reported however that the Zanzibar government maintained that they had been there for ‘purely holiday purposes’. President Marti Ahtisaari of Finland is also thought to have discussed the problem during his recent visit and an EU delegation led by Britain had a meeting with Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete and raised concern about the crackdown on opposition politicians.
More significant was a second visit to Zanzibar by Commonwealth Secretary General Chief Emeka Anyaoku in January during which (according to the ‘East African’) he had 10 meetings with CCM and CUF party leaders. He proposed what he called a ‘middle course’ including a five-point plan under which the parties would be requested to desist from making confrontational public statements; CUF would be given some ministerial posts in a coalition government plus five of the 10 nominated seats in the Zanzibar House of Representatives plus two additional seats in the Union Parliament; CUF would be expected to call off its boycott of proceedings in the Zanzibar parliament; the media would be asked to give balanced coverage of political activities, and, the government should agree that all former Zanzibar political office holders would receive uniform treatment. Unlike the position after his previous visit, the Chiefs visit did not end there. On February 23 he sent his personal representative, Mr Moses Anafa, to continue the talks but a blanket of secrecy then descended and it is not known whether any positive results were achieved. CCM Publicity Secretary Ms Maudline Castico, who did not take part in the talks, said that she did not think the envoy had any new agenda to offer; any solution depended on the goodwill of CUF.
Visiting British Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Tony Lloyd was reported in the ‘Business Times’ on April 3 as having sharply differed with Tanzanian President Mkapa’s oft-stated position that he has no mandate to intervene in Zanzibar. “The Union does not govern Dar es Salaam only” Lloyd was quoted as saying “Zanzibar is part and parcel of the Union and that is why we say that (the Union Government) has a role to ensure that things are normalised.” According to a letter in the Dar es Salaam ‘Sunday Observer’ Lloyd also pointed out that it was Tanzania that was the signatory to the international conventions on human rights and should be responsible for any violations in any part of the Union including Zanzibar.
Director of the Norwegian Agency for International Development (NORAD) Jan Arne Munkeby said “Until a political solution to the problem of Zanzibar has been found, Norway will not enter into new agreements for assistance to Zanzibar.”
The reaction of Minister of State in President Mkapa’s Office Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru was to castigate these two diplomats for talking to the press instead of following official channels. According to the ‘Daily News’ (April 2) Zanzibar CCM Publicity Secretary Maudline Castico went further. The remarks by the envoys of Britain and Norway were a gross misconception of the real situation in the Isles; they were one-sided in favouring the opposition. They had gone too far by meddling in the political affairs of Zanzibar instead of concentrating more on development issues, she said. These diplomats had remained silent when the opposition engaged in acts aimed at disturbing the peace. There was no violation of human rights in the Isles as the two envoys had implied. In a reference to the treason trial (see below) she went on ‘It is the height of absurdity to suggest that criminal prosecution is a violation of human rights since law courts are institutions established to ensure those same human rights are safeguarded’.
It is also reported that three journalists, including a BBC correspondent, were briefly detained by the Zanzibar police while trying to cover demonstrations in support of those being charged with treason.
DAY OF HARMONY
When the newly elected CUF MP for Mkunazini took his seat on February 3 there was a rare day of harmony between the parties Mr Juma Duni Haji MP pledged his allegiance to the Zanzibar government, shook hands with CCM cabinet ministers and was applauded on both sides of the House. The other CUF MP’s even attended morning prayers for the first time since November 1995 – they object to blessings for President Amour – and stayed in the House until it ended the session.
But, by the next day, the harmony was over. The 25 CUF MP’s were abruptly suspended (and lost their allowances) for 20 days for ‘their persistent failure to attend House sittings’.
THE TREASON TRIAL
The trial for treason of 17 CUF opposition political leaders, including CUF Deputy Secretary General Nassor Seif Amour and three members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives continues. They were originally arrested (in December) on charges of sedition; they allegedly plotted to overthrow the Zanzibar Government and remove President Amour; later the charge became treason. All have been refused bail and several have been held in prison for over four months. On January 6 CUF leader Seif Shariff Hamad and Secretary General Shabani Mloo were interrogated for 2 hours by Police CID from Dar es Salaam but later released.
The 17 CUF activists started a hunger strike on January 19 because of what they described as ‘the unsatisfactory handling of their case (a preliminary hearing before submission to the High Court) by the state.’ They ended their strike on January 23 after being assured by Zanzibar Attorney General Ali Mohamed Omar that their case would be handled fairly. He agreed to look into why the police had delayed producing the file on the case. The case had been adjourned from January 9 to February 3. The Magistrate said (at the Vuga regional court) that he was not competent to give a ruling on the failure of the prosecution to bring evidence against the accused.
On February 3 the court was told that the Attorney General had indicated that the evidence so far collected by the police was not enough considering the seriousness of the charges; these could attract capital punishment or life imprisonment he said. The police were given one more month to collect evidence.
When the case was resumed on March 3 the prosecutor, Police Superintendent Patrick Biatao, said that the Attorney General had ordered police to round up more suspects after going through a police file. Many of these suspects had left Zanzibar but a man-hunt had been launched. Mr Omar had warned the police that going ahead with the trial without arresting the other suspects was tantamount to fighting a losing battle.
The defence counsel requested the court to dismiss the case as the prosecution had failed to bring the needed evidence within the allotted one month without giving convincing reasons. The trial Magistrate agreed with the defence that the Attorney General should be summoned to shed light on the evidence and the case was due to come up again on March 17th. The defence asked the court not to agree to any further adjournments and the magistrate said that he needed time to study the request.
When the case resumed on March 17 it was attended by foreign diplomats from Dar es Salaam. Responding to alleged criticisms from the diplomats, Zanzibar Chief Minister Dr. Mohamed Bilal said that the treason charges were not politically motivated and that the diplomats concerned were contravening diplomatic norms in interfering in Zanzibar’s internal affairs.
LIPUMBA LOSES CASE
Former CUF candidate for the post of President of Tanzania, Professor Ibrahim Lipumba, and the Majira newspaper have lost a case in the Isles’ High Court in which they were accused of defamation. Prof. Lipumba admitted that in a speech in Pemba during the last general elections he had accused Zanzibar Electoral Commission Chairman Zubeir Juma Mzee of buying a house in Kilimani for Shs 60 million paid for from a bribe he had received for ensuring that President Amour would win the presidency. The defendants were ordered to pay Shs 30 million each to Mr Mzee for defamation. The judge said that no proof had been provided to support the allegation that Mzee had bought the said house. Speculation that he was often seen in the house was not enough evidence to prove that he had bought the house immediately after the election. President Amour announced in April that Mr Mzee had been reappointed for another five year term as chairman of the Electoral Commission.
And now some good news! Tsetse flies have been finally eradicated from Zanzibar. Under an International Atomic Agency project, tsetse were mass bred in a ‘fly factory,’ male flies being sterilised with gamma radiation and released by air to mate with females, who were therefore not able to produce offspring. Since September 1996 not a single wild fly has been captured in once heavily infested areas of Unguja – Daily News.
AND ON THE MAINLAND…
On the mainland there has been little political controversy during recent weeks. A newspaper poll has indicated the continued popularity of President Mkapa and the collapse of the only viable opposition party – the NCCR- Mageuzi (as explained in the last two issues of ‘Tanzanian Affairs’) has made his task easier. Some observers however detect an increase in internal differences within the ruling party which President Mkapa must keep under control if he is to ensure his selection as candidate for the next Presidential elections in the year 2000.
The ruling CCM party continues to profit greatly from the split in the NCCR-Mageuzi between its Chairman, Augustine Mrema, and its Secretary General Mabere Marando and their respective followers. CCM is claiming considerable success in its campaign, especially in the NCCR stronghold of Kilimanjaro Region, to bring back former members who deserted the party to join the NCCR.
Mr Marando has said that he would be willing to work with Mrema if he stopped his dictatorship. Augustine Mrema complained that, during a visit to the southern regions of the country, he had been barred from holding meetings ‘just because his party was in a political crisis’. The crisis, he said, had been caused by the government and Marando was just a government agent. Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye was quoted in the ‘Daily News’ as vigorously denying these accusations and other government sources indicated that Mrema’s rallies sometimes had to be banned because of friction between members of the strife-ridden party itself.
In the light of the collapse of the opposition, CCM had little difficulty in ensuring the election of its candidate, Raphael Mlolwa, as MP for Kahama at a by-election on March 1″ even though, in the last general election, six opposition parties obtained 30,335 votes compared with only 21,894 for the CCM. The seat could probably have been won if the opposition was united.
CCM’s Felix Mrema earlier won from NCCR the Arusha Urban by- election. At his swearing in ceremony in Parliament members of both the CCM and the opposition cheered when, after being congratulated by the Prime Minister, Felix Mrema went on to embrace opposition leader Augustine Mrema.
A by-election was scheduled for May 3 in the Singida constituency following the death of the MP Mr Joseph Monko.
SUBSIDIES TO PARTIES
The ‘Daily News’ reports that there have been increasing complaints about the wisdom of the hard-pressed government continuing to pay subsidies to the political parties. These amount to Shs 360 million per month to the CCM, Shs 47 million to CUF, Shs 32 million to NCCR-Mageuzi and Shs 6.7 million each to CHADEMA and the UDP.
Eight opposition political parties have set up an ‘Inter-Political Parties Committee for Constitutional Reform (KAMAKA)’ under the chairmanship of Bob Makani of the small CHADEMA party to ‘recommend necessary changes in the constitution’. The Committee said that the country’s constitution still described Tanzania as following a policy of socialism and self-reliance. Other points made were that private candidates for election to parliament were still forbidden and that government appointed Regional Commissioners should not be in parliament and be MP’s at the same time.
There was a serious riot at the Magomeni Mwembechai Mosque in Dar es Salaam on February 13. Four police posts and their communication facilities were vandalised, 35 motor vehicles were damaged and two were set on fire. Six people were injured by stones, sticks and iron bars. The Police arrested 261 people who were later taken to court. The trouble seemed to be caused by faction differences amongst Muslims at the Mosque but some Christians took advantage of the mayhem and took part in looting. Two people were killed, allegedly by the police trying to restore order. This resulted in further trouble at the Mosque on March 29 when young Muslims started throwing stones at police, burnt two vehicles and attacked a CCM office. Fifty people were arrested.
DONOR CONTRIBUTIONS AND CORRUPTION
At the Consultative Group Meeting between government and the donors held in Dar es Salaam (unusually, as such meetings are normally held in Paris) starting on December 10th donors pledged $1.0 billion to Tanzania for the year 1998. Several donors said that they would contribute to a fund to help Tanzania reduce its $8.1 billion debt, about half of which was multilateral. The entire cabinet answered questions from the delegates.
Responding to continued concerns amongst donors about corruption, President Mkapa told the 200 delegates “My war against corruption is not restricted within the covers of the Warioba Report; (outlined in earlier issues of TA) anyone else (in addition to those mentioned in the report as possible culprits) against whom sufficient evidence that can stand in court is established, will be sent to court. And that is official. Corruption will be made a high-risk low-profit endeavour” he said. Cases were difficult to prove in court and that was why he had used his powers to retire public servants in the public interest. “They are powers that I have used extensively and will continue to use.. . .We have to build a consensus with donor countries on ways to criminalise corruption in international tendering where the really big money is. Such corruption should be a criminal offence in donor countries as it is in Tanzania” he said.
The Daily News reported on December 17″ that during the last 7 years (1991 to May 1997) 522 police had been fired for corruption including 176 during the period from January to May 1997. Police Inspector General Omar Mahita said that a Criminal Intelligence Unit had been set up to coordinate swift arrest of suspects.
TANZANIA AND THE MULTILATERAL AGREEMENT ON INVESTMENT (MAI)
The twenty nine members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have been busy for the last seven years negotiating a proposed ‘Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI)’ which, initially at least, is designed to create a ‘level playing field’ for investment between member countries of the OECD. It is beginning to create some alarm in developing countries including Tanzania however because of some of its proposed provisions. For example, the draft Agreement states that the MA1 would not allow developing countries which wished to join:
– to discriminate in favour of their own national investors compared with foreign investors;
– to place restrictions on the entry of or the nationality of key management personnel;
– to require investors to achieve a certain percentage of local content or export a certain proportion of output unless the investor gives some advantage to the country e.g. by offering to spend money on research.
The British government favours MAI in principle but over 120 questions have been asked in the British parliament and the European parliament has voted against the MAI by 437 votes to eight. Requests for exemptions from its rules fill 1,000 pages. The US negotiator said in February that his government would not sign it and a coalition of some 600 international organisations has come together to oppose the MAI.
Christine Lawrence, after discussing the matter with the World Development Movement (25 Beehive Place, London SW9 7QR Tel: 0171 737 6215) and sending them a copy of the last issue of TA (no 59) received the following reply:
‘There can be few better examples of the type of country whose long term future under an MAI regime gives rise for concern than Tanzania. There are real risks of a neo-colonialist scenario of low wage economies largely dependent on natural resources, with no available path to broad-based development. The Business Section of ‘Tanzanian Affairs’ No 59 mentions the great interest in a ‘Minerals Sector’ conference and (a few paragraphs later) concern for the fate of vast numbers of small scale mining labourers.
There is a good example of how the MAI might affect Tanzania on page 24 (of TA 59). The opening paragraph describes current efforts to attract foreign investment and states ‘there are no limits on the number of experts allowed in under the immigration quotas in the mining and petroleum sectors’ – implying that limits do exist in other sectors. Such limits ensure that local people are employed in the investment venture; thereby increasing their skills and creating potential for future home-grown industry. The MAI would abolish the right of countries like Tanzania to exercise such policies – the multinational would have the right to employ only expatriates should it so wish.
Tanzania could avoid this type of restraint by not signing the agreement but it would run the risk of being excluded from mainstream foreign investment, which is a key element of the development process, as evidenced by the existing enthusiasm outlined in ‘Tanzanian Affairs’. We have seen from the history of the World Bank structural adjustment programmes that it is virtually impossible for the poorest countries to opt out of economic prescriptions backed by the richest countries.’
Following discussions in the Britain-Tanzania Society, Tanzania Trade Centre Director in London, Simon Mlay, has made a number of other points:
a) the ability of Tanzania to generate enough foreign earnings to service and repay her huge external debt ($8.09 million on December 31 1997) and to provide foreign exchange needed to finance the development of infrastructure, education, health and other social services is a cornerstone of a sustainable development strategy and as such the Government should be able to exercise the option of favouring foreign investments that show commitment to sourcing raw materials locally as well as promoting exports. MAI prohibits government from seeking to promote this and strengthens investors’ reluctance to refuse to consider any such requirement even when there are ‘advantages’ on offer by the Government.
b) Tanzania’s rich natural resources (minerals, timber, arable land etc) are collectively owned by the people; the Government needs to promote the interests of the people by ensuring that they become stakeholders in partnership with foreign investors as the economy is liberalised. MAI will tie the hands of Government and make foreign investors unwilling to negotiate even where their operations entail displacing indigenous people whose livelihood depends on the resources taken over by the foreign investor.
c) OECD is the leading source of investments into sub Saharan Africa. Tanzania does not have the option of staying out of the MAT nor does it have a realistic chance of negotiating meaningful exceptions when they decide to accede Given the weak regulatory and legal framework and the silence of MAI in respect of off-shore registered companies, it should be of concern that MA1 could unwittingly worsen the drain on resources through tax evasion and dubious accounting practices.
d) Any multilateral agreement on investments or trade that is not negotiated within the framework of the UN systems (e.g. UNCTAD) with the full participation of all members is unlikely to fully represent the interests of developing countries.
EL NIN0 DEVASTATION
The El Nino weather phenomenon has created devastation all over the country during for the last five months. There has been damage to roads, bridges, railways, airports, housing, agriculture and health provision. Many people have been killed; 350,000 were rendered homeless. As this issue of TA goes to press (April 13) there are reports of a major disaster in the Merelani area in the Arusha Province with over 50 miners missing after torrential rains caused flooding and the collapse of tunnels dug in the search for the precious stone Tanzanite and gold.
Train services between Dodoma, Kigoma and Mwanza were suspended for weeks and, at the end of December, 400 wagons were stranded. Two key bridges in Morogoro were swept away. In February, 60,000 tons of cargo destined for neighbouring countries was held up in Dar es Salaam. In Bukoba 5,000 11ecta-es of coffee and ba~anas were reported destroyed Tobacco production was expected to fall from 42 million kgs in 1997 to 25 million kgs in 1995. Even the Batik clothes industry has suffered because of the lack of sunlight needed for drying in the final stage of production. Maize production in Rukwa Region was expected to be cut to 30,000 tons compared with the average of 50,000 tons normally obtained and cotton production in the Lake regions was expected to fall from 85,000 to 45,000 tons. Tourism was affected when the routes to the main national parks became waterlogged.
The first estimates of the cost of El Nino is some $1l7 million. President Mkapa went to Dodoma for a special meeting with MP’s on February 10 at which he announced that government expenditure had to be cut immediately. Seminars, workshops and symposia would have to stop unless they were donor financed, local and overseas trips by government officials would be severely restricted; there should be a reduction in the number of officials accompanying ministers to meetings of parliament in Dodoma; officers who had received loans for vehicles must not use government transport. President Mkapa appealed to donors to set up a Multilateral Debt Fund for the country to help the government pay for the necessary repairs and rehabilitation. The President wondered how Tanzania could be expected to continue to pay its enormous debts when the economy was unable to generate the necessary funds.
Rut it was not all bad news. With rivers flowing and dams filling, Tanzania’s chronic electricity cuts became a thing of the past and cattle ranchers were not complaining about the abundance of grazing following the rains. El Nino was also good for tea growers. Production is likely to increase from 23,164 kgs last year to some 25,000 kgs this year. And the Rufiji Leprosy Trust, while reporting three deaths and the whole Rufiji valley being like a huge lake, added that fresh fish was plentiful during the floods.
TANZANIA IN THE MEDIA
‘One by one they entered the conference hall. President Mkapa, his predecessor Ali Hassan Mwinyi and the country’s first president Julius Nyerere. Smiling broadly, the three politicians waved to the applauding crowd …..The scene dramatically illustrated Tanzania’s success in achieving peaceful, democratic transitions of government. Very few other African counties, if any, can boast of having a current president and two former leaders together in the same room. By the measures of the continent, the country’s political stability is an impressive achievement.’ So began an article in the GUARDIAN WEEKLY
A recent article in the ECONOMIST referred to what it described as the bleak future for Zanzibar’s traditional cash crop because Indonesia’s economic collapse ‘will almost certainly curtail demand for the scented Kretek cigarettes that absorb the bulk of the world’s clove crop.. . . But Zanzibar’s tourist industry is booming; the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Agency has approved $260 million-worth of projects in tourism, ten times the total for other industries. Tourist revenue is expected to be $2.5 million this year, twice that of the year before’ (Thank you Debbie Simmons, for these two items – Editor).
£1 OFF DEBT
The TIMES (April 4) gave publicity to a campaign being organised by the charity Christian Aid under which people are invited to attach £1 coins to cards which are then sent to constituency MP’s for forwarding to British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown as a contribution to relief of developing world debt. The first £6,300 raised has been put towards reducing (fractionally) Tanzania’s debt to Britain (Thank you Betty Wells and Christine Lawrence for sending the newspaper cutting -Editor). The TIMES also chose as the picture to illustrate an article on the economic situation in China a photograph of the Guard of Honour in Beijing which had greeted President Mkapa on his arrival for a state visit in early April. The next day it printed a picture of some of the miners who had escaped from the tragedy in Arusha Region mentioned above.
DEBT RELIEF. WHY NOT UNTIL 2002?
On April 14 the TIMES, quoting from Oxfam material, explained why Tanzania is going to have to wait several years before it can benefit from the ‘Highly Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC)’ described in TA No 59. The article explained how Uganda had just become the first country to ‘get its hands on some of the money’. Mozambique had gone through the tortuous qualification process but would still not see any cash until the end of another year-long review. The article went on: ‘For all the colourful photo opportunities afforded by the Clinton’s recent grand tour of Africa, a desperately poor country such as Burkina Faso will not get any relief until at least 2000. Tanzania, where Hillary and Chelsea went on safari, may never be eligible for debt relief even though one in six children die there before the age of five. Tanzania is a particularly perverse example of the IMF’s strict eligibility criteria. Countries have to take part in IMF economic reforms for six years before being eligible. Tanzania has been in IMF programmes since the mid-1980’s but will still not qualify until at least 2002 because it temporarily fell out with the donor community in 1994 over targets for revenue collection. The IMF dates the start of Tanzania’s HIPC track record from November 1996 when it inaugurated a fresh adjustment programme. It gets no credit for past participation in IMF programmes (Thank you Christine Lawrence for bringing this information to our attention -Editor).
HOW TANZANIA MADE A MAN OF HIM!
Ann McFerran didn’t want to embarrass her 19-year son Patrick by turning up at his ‘gap-year’ project. But his letters home persuaded her to have one last adventure’ These were the first words in a full-page article in the DAILY TELEGRAPH on February 14 under a headline (‘How Africa made a man of my son’) which probably did embarrass him! When offered snake for dinner one night the son asked his mother “where else will you eat snake.” He suggested that she should ‘live a little.’ The 51-year old mother admitted to being torn between total revulsion and a renewed thirst for adventure. The son was clearly enjoying himself as his letters from a British charity project near the Tarangire National Park had indicated. “On Sunday morning I got up before dawn to meet a Tanzanian who took me to find gold. . .we walked for four hours” . . . .. “I went to the nearest town for my birthday and found myself staring amazed at a water tap. I wish you could see this place.” The mother concluded her article: ‘On our last day we visited a cultural village in Tarangire’s wildlife conservation area….in a Maasai village we were greeted like visiting royalty, our hands grabbed by women and children.. .as the sun set young men began a rhythmic chant that seemed to explode though their throats as they jumped in the air in perfect unison. We watched mesmerised. Later we sat in silence under the stars -closer and wiser ….I pondered how Africa had changed my son into a thoughtful young man.’ (Thank you Donald Wright for sending us this article -Editor).
COKE IS BEST!
BUSINESS IN AFRICA (December-January) had some difficulty in concealing its surprise, if not indignation, when it published a six-page news article about an inaugural award (the ‘US Corporate Citizenship Africa Award’) by the ‘US Corporate Council for Africa’ to the Coca Cola Company. It asked whether a soft drink made of 99% sugar and water should have been allowed to reach the position where its annual sales surpassed the economies of whole regions of Africa. Defenders of the award had pointed out, however, that the company had invested or committed $600 million in Africa including $50 million in Tanzania. The total investment was about half of US aid to the continent in 1997. Some $30 million had been devoted to charity in recent years and there had been a great deal of sport sponsorship in East Africa. But no mention was made of the profits obtained by Coca Cola in Africa. (Meanwhile, the EAST AFRICAN reports that Bonnie Bottlers of Moshi has received an award from Coca Cola for reaching the ‘international quality standard’ benchmark in the production of Coke – Editor).
TOURISM TN ZANZIBAR
‘Forget the ski slopes. The rich and famous are chilling out in the tropical hotspots of Jamaica and Zanzibar’ wrote Grace Berry in THE TIMES (January 29). ‘They’re just tripping over one another to get to Zanzibar…. Designer Amanda Wakeley gets the inspiration for her collections there’. But Tanzanian authorities are not happy about the thousands of budget tourists or backpackers flocking there according to the South African SUNDAY INDEPENDENT (February l). These foreigners, they say, promote decadence and crime. Zanzibaris call them vishuka (those who wear rags) says Omar Ali, a senior official in the Criminal Investigation Department. According to unofficial figures they spend less than $20 a day and promote drugs and sex through their loose association with beach boys. The article went on to say that crime is low in Zanzibar but on December 27 the DAILY TELEGRAPH reported that a 28-year old German visitor had been shot dead, allegedly by members of the Tanzania Defence Forces at Fumba, 25 kms from Zanzibar town in a restricted area close to a military camp. Officials were reported as saying that the incident happened after the visitor refused to be searched But critics, including tour operators, argue that no sign was posted to warn visitors to stay away. The Tanzania Tourist Board opposes a ban on backpackers saying that it would impair efforts to boost the tourist industry. Although they are usually thrifty, a good word from them back home, always brings other visitors, the Board says. Ali’s remarks were said to reflect only the concerns of the security authorities.
The SUNDAY TIMES (January ll) reported that a British tourist couple were attacked by seven robbers and stabbed while walking at 11 pm near the Serena Inn. Two German women were reported to have been mugged in the same area and another tourist was mugged on a beach at 3pm. The British High Commission was advising people to exert caution on quiet beaches and in urban areas at night. As we go to press it is reported that CCM has expressed shock at an incident in which six thugs armed with knives gang raped a female European volunteer in Zanzibar town. (Thank you David Leishman ,from South Africa and Geoffrey Stoke11 for sending parts of this information Editor).
The January issue of THE MSITU NEWSLETTER is again packed with extracts of news stories about the environment. The main story complains that a government decree of May 1997 under which all illegal inhabitants of the 4,362 ha Kazimzumbwi Forest reserve (Coast Region) should move out within three months, had fallen on deaf ears. Agricultural activities, tree felling for charcoal and construction of houses were continuing.
A page was devoted to the news that the government had approved, in spite of strong opposition from environmental groups (worried about the possible impact it will have on the Rufiji Delta) a prawn farming project by the Dar es Salaam-based ‘African Fishing Company’. (Thank you Joy Clancy of the University of Twente in the Netherlands for sending this information on the strength of the opposition to this project. The article you sent indicated that 10,000 ha of mangrove shrubs (of eight specie) would have to he cleared; that the sea and fish could suffer ,from pollution from prawn waste and fertilisers; and, it was doubtful !f there would be enough fish available to feed the prawns -Editor).
THE CHILDREN OF THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS
The JOHANNESBURG STAR reported in mid February that some 340 children fathered by South African freedom fighters during the struggle against apartheid are battling to make a living in Tanzania. Only those whose fathers died during the struggle can apply to the South African High Commission in Dar es Salaam for assistance from a special pension fund set up by the South African government. An ANC spokesman said that party members who were still alive had the responsibility of looking after their children.
Tanzania featured prominently in an illustrated 4-page article in the spring 1998 issue of BIRDS. The article, about the ‘Royal Society of Birds International Network’, written by Paul Buckley, Zul Bhatia and Rob Lake, explained that the 19 bird species which are found only in Tanzania are threatened. Since 1993 the RSPB has supported a project in the Uluguru Mountains under Zul Bhatia, where there are 15 birds of special conservation interest. Pride of place goes to the Uluguru bush shrike, a critically threatened species found only in these forests. Few people have seen it and little is known of its ecology; it is believed to live in the lower forests, just those that are under greatest danger through increasing human pressure. An exciting discovery had been finding the globally threatened Usambara eagle owl, previously thought to be found only in two other mountain ranges. The main object of the RSPB’s efforts has been to understand pressures on the forest, the perceptions of local people and ways to involve them in managing the forest to improve the quality of life and ensure its protection (Thank you Donald Wright for sending this item -Editor).
It’s 11 am and people say that I will easily find a daladala (minibus) going to Kimbiji -a fishing village I knew from 40 years ago. And so I did, as the buses all competed for custom at Kigomboni by the ferry. One conductor seized me and thrust me into a minibus meant for 25 and already holding 40. I am pushed up into the centre isle and soon establish myself on smiling terms with those around me -you could never do that in England. The only thing is to hang on and keep standing.
Years ago I knew this road south from Dar es Salaam and that it might take me an hour to reach Kimbiji. “Of course you’ll get there” said the taxi driver in town “Roads are much better than when you lived here.” We passed Njimwema, Vikindu, and lots of village names now forgotten.
Eventually I got a sort of seat balancing on the hump of the transmission with my feet either side of the gear lever. Later I got a real seat and found that I was next to a young lobster and crab merchant who lived in Kimbiji and kindly agreed to be my guide in case things had changed. His name he said was ‘Julius Nyerere’ and as he looked nothing like the original I asked how this was, surprised that Mwalimu should be a model for the young in 1998.
JN seemed rather spivvy for the unspoilt village I remembered, so I left this topic and concentrated on the ‘road’ which had degenerated into a series of unplumbed pools. The bus plunged into these valiantly and its sort of bonnet often disappeared, to the accompaniment of clouds of steam rising within the cabin. Eventually we came to a worse pool than usual and upon a bus coming the other way which had foundered, blocking the way. The ‘conductor’ announced he was going no further.
How far still left to walk to Kimbiji? Perhaps half an hour I was told.
There was no going back, having endured 90 minutes of rough travel So, trousers rolled, Alfred Prufrock style, and in bare feet I stepped out with a few others, grumbling about the hidden coral obstacles that struck our feet as we went. Of my guide JN there was no sign But, as we neared the village a heavy road grader overtook us and there perched high up was JN with a slightly mocking look.
He hadn’t expected me to come to his remote village and had thought that, as a European, I would be making for Ras Kutani or some such tourist spot nearby. But from that moment this young man of 22 assumed responsibility for me and took me to meet Mwinyimadi Amor, father of the village chairman and various notables.
I had only brought a small rucksack with camera and swimming trunks and began to realise that no daladala would be going back to Dar es Salaam that day as it was now 4pm, and the road was still blocked.
But the village I had known -a compact village, a dafu’s throw from the beach -had disappeared. In the 1970’s I was told it had been ordered to move -was it Ujamaa or some illusory threat from the sea? And it had settled half a mile inland. A dark tangle of mango and cashew nut trees showed where the old village had been. A maritime Dunsinane!
JN and a band of young followers recognised my desire for a swim by shouting ‘beachi’ or more likely Bichi (raw, inexperienced) and I hope that didn’t reflect my state. We all plunged in.
Back to the village. Various gatherings outside shops or ‘soda’ bars waylaid me as the light faded. Soon over 100 people had gathered round as we sat on the ground and listened to the talk of 40 years ago. Not many, sadly, are still alive to remember it. “What colour was your Landrover?” Its number? And where did you find us meeting?” and so on.
I had been 25 then – the first District Officer Mzizima, as the peri- urban area around Dar es Salaam was known. One day I travelled out to Kimbiji as part of my work and found a TANU political meeting in progress for which no permit had been issued. A ‘meeting’ was more than six people and this had 50 or more. Retreating to get advice, I was told to return to the village, close the meeting and take details of the leaders. In due course they appeared before the Resident Magistrate and I had, reluctantly, to give evidence and the leaders were duly convicted and fined. The authority of the administering government had been challenged and had to be upheld.
Periodically after that I had to return to Kimbiji and I was able to help the people in various ways and so I was forgiven. One of my last acts, with their consent, was to excise two elegant blue and white cups, possibly 18’~ century, from the ancient chimney-like graves hidden in a close thicket near the sea and present them on the village’s behalf to the National Museum. Where are they now?
All these things were mulled over and when we talked about these hidden graves they knew I knew the place and loved it, even though this time I had arrived on foot, shabby and alone.
“Chakula vipi” called JN and I was invited to select my supper in the family house – very tasty rice and beef – and then adjourn to the unlit verandah in front of his father’s house. Old Fadhili seemed to be blind and had one distorted polio leg which had never been walked on. “He is an Mchawi” said JN but this was meant to be a joke – not a withdoctor, but a dabbler in medicine, as well as being a teacher.
The village was in darkness but I could hear noise from a generator powering a large TV in the village hall. It was CNN bringing us international football from West Africa. What wonderful propaganda opportunities CNN has on a virgin audience in rural Tanzania as TV spreads and silences traditional evening conversation.
Amazing! JN has given me his room complete with large bed and mosquito net. JN said he had his sister’s room as she was away. I will never know.
In the morning I would have liked another swim but JN wanted to be off with his lobsters and crabs to sell at the ferry as he did every day and didn’t want to miss the trade. Eventually the faded blue bus – of a type that operated in Dar es Salaam many decades ago – got started with a push from all of us and back we set out on the bumpy ride to the ferry. I felt that I knew almost every pool and corner by the time we had gradually filled up with passengers. This time, sitting close behind the driver, it was my job to hold and tip up the can of diesel being gradually sucked into the engine by plastic tube. Twice we ran out and had to fill up from assignments known only to the driver.
Time to reflect on my journey. JN told me that the whole unspoilt beach on which we had bathed had been sold to ‘Europeans’ for the further development of the Ras Kutani resort. Well, at least, I thought, that sale would have brought money and benefits to the village. But no, it seemed that the land had been sold by individuals for their own benefit. Strange ways the modern socialism of Tanzania have taken.
JN was not JN at all. All young men assume these soubriqets and so I said goodbye to Mansur Fadhili who had so naturally and unaffectedly assumed responsibility for me and left me to recross the ferry and return to his village.
And Kiinbiji? Perhaps in another 40 years it will be just a by-water village like Kunduchi, cut off from and ignored by the tourist trade surrounding it, with just a few yards of shore left for fishermen to beach their outrigger ngalawas and canoes and ply their own centuries-old livelihood.
NEW BRITISH HIGH COMMISSIONER
The Head of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Southern Africa Department is the new British High Commissioner in Dar es Salaam. He is Mr Bruce Dinwiddy who began his career as an economist in Swaziland. Born in 1946, he has also served in the diplomatic service as Head of Chancery in Cairo. Counsellor in Bonn and Deputy High Commissioner in Ottawa. His recreations, listed in ‘Who’s Who’ include golf, tennis and music.
There is also a new American Ambassador in Tanzania. He is M. Charles Stith, a theologian by training.
'IT WILL WORK THIS TIME'
According to the ambassadors in Washington of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda quoted in the ‘Business Times’ the ambitious attempt by the three nations to bring about a political and economic federation will work this time because of the emphasis being placed on the private sector and the diminished government interference in the market.