REMARKABLE RESULTS FOLLOWING PAST MISTAKES
The FINANCIAL TIMES published a thoughtful and balanced 4-page supplement on March 31 in which it wrote that Tanzania was undergoing a transformation from being the standard bearer of African Socialism to an advocate of market driven reform. ‘The results are remarkable’ it wrote, and went on: ‘The mining sector is booming, tourism is growing, sold-off state companies are thriving and the government’s economic discipline has won the praise of the IMF ….. But erratic weather conditions saw floods last year and threaten a serious food shortage this year. Management is weak, the civil service is inefficient, phone lines are bad, roads are poor, illiteracy is increasing, health care is declining. Corruption is widespread and implementation of privatisation is behind schedule. Above all, Tanzania still has to overcome the legacy of the failed polices of the early postindependence period … Yet, for all these concerns, there is still a sense of opportunities being grasped and potential slowly being realised.
On Zanzibar the article is much less optimistic. Extract: ….. (it is) midmorning … and a few milling tourists peer from a safe distance at the armed police surrounding Zanzibar town’s court. The guns and nervous aggression do not tally well with the tranquil retreat they were sold in the tourist brochures. Yet the police, watchful lest 18 political prisoners …. escape from the latest in an endless series of treason hearings, are every bit as Zanzibari as the islands’ stunning beaches and fading clove fields …. Thank you Pru Watts-Russell and Marlene Yeo for sending this -Editor.
Under the heading ‘Tanzania Corruption Company Ltd’ Asha Mtwangi, writing in the BBC’s FOCUS ON AFRICA (April-June) described ‘Bongoism’ in detail. ‘Bongo’, she wrote, ‘is derived from the Swahili word meaning brain. If you’ve got one, explore it, use it and you’ll survive. Dar es Salaam is the heart of this new Bongoism ….. as you wonder how to beat the snaking lines of patients queuing for the only X-ray machine at the public hospital you have to ‘think fast’ …. Once the magic words have been said you will willingly part with a little something …. everywhere you meet middlemen, people with lists of contacts which would turn the yellow pages green with envy. You need a new passport fast. Someone knows someone who knows someone who can do it …. with wages of $42 a month in government service and $24 in parastatals it’s small wonder people survive by their wits. They have no option …. ‘ .
Peter Preston in the London GUARDIAN (March 15) described (with many references to the Warioba Report) what he termed Tanzania’s ‘institutional corruption’ and the ‘burning anger’ this was causing amongst the people. President Mkapa’s efforts to implement Warioba had waned in the face of intransigence from the very leaders the Commission had wanted sacked: too powerful; too entrenched. Would it help, he asked, if the British Government were to tighten up its act and stop the Inland Revenue from giving tax deductions for bribes paid by companies doing business in Tanzania and were to bring British law fully behind the new International Convention on Combating Bribery? It would help a little, he wrote. It would give the system one more squeeze Thank you John Pearce for sending this item -Editor.
THE ‘MOST LOVED COUNTRY’
Reporting on Canadian Governor General Romeo Le Blanc’s visit to Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Morocco and Tanzania, NEW AFRICAN (April) described Tanzania as ‘by far Canada’s most loved African country’. As part of the visit Canada announced $13.4 million of new aid. The Governor General was accompanied by some 100 parliamentarians, businessmen and government officials.
PRIVATELY CONDUCTED RESEARCH
Michael Carr and W Stephens in the TROPICAL AGRICULTURAL ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER of March 1999 explained how the new industry-funded privatised Tea Research Institute of Tanzania (TRIT) might be leading the way for other commodity crops in Tanzania where similar changes in structure and funding of agricultural research were overdue. They explained the delicacy of the change from government sponsored research to privately conducted research and how it had proved necessary to close one research station in order to concentrate efforts at the two other stations -Ngwazi in the south and Marikitanda in the north. TRIT has set an ambitious target to raise annual production from the present 20-25,000 tons of made tea to over 40,000 tons in ten years.
Reporting on a workshop on the International Property Rights issue in Zanzibar, THE AFRICA LINK (September 1998) quoted the ‘Father of Tanzanian cinema’, Mzee Rashidi Kawawa, as lamenting: “Our artists continue being ripped off by pirates….There is art all over the country -in the caves, in the ground, in ruins, in houses, on the pavements, everywhere . . . . . But our cultural rivals … have been stealing and plundering our heritage, taking them to their museums … pirates and copyright violators are killing artistic creativity … our artists languish in absolute poverty”. The Chairman of the local association of musicians (CHAMUDATA) John Kitime said that a group calling themselves ‘The Big Five’ now controlled all the audio cassette business in Tanzania. The South African Film Security Office is helping in the planning steps to combat the piracy.
SIX GRAMMES OF SEAWEED
‘Seven years ago Murtaza Fazal arrived in Tanzania with a kilogram of seaweed sneaked out of the Philippines. Only six grammes survived the journey’. So began an article in the FINANCIAL TIMES (March 24) which went on to explain how seaweed had overtaken cloves and was now second only to tourism in Zanzibar’s economy. Seaweed contains a gum called carrageenan that is used as a stabiliser and in ice cream, salad dressing, luncheon meat and shampoo. The dried product is processed in Denmark or the USA. Mr Fazal’s company has seen production increase from 150 tonnes from 150 tonnes in 1985 to 1,800 tonnes last year; Zanzibar as a whole produced 5,500 tonnes last year making it the third largest producer. nut Mr Fazal warned that high taxes, poor infrastructure and bureaucratic red tape risked destroying this highly competitive industry. “To export a shipment we have to fill in 21 forms for each of our 120 containers, and I have to sort things out at the port. In America I exported 4,000 containers and never saw the port” he was quoted as saying.
‘THE RISING STAR’ -‘DRAMATIC REVIVAL’
The FINANCIAL TIMES (February 3) headlined its coverage of a recent international mining conference with the words: ‘Tanzania tipped as the rising star of Africa’. In the TIMES (March 1) the headline read ‘Prospectors beat a path to Africa’s (in this case, Tanzania’s -Editor) new streets of gold.’ And the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST (February 28) under the heading ‘Foreign firms rush to tap potential of right rocks, right government’ highlighted what it described as the dramatic revival of the mining industry in Tanzania. It quoted Ashanti Exploration Managing Director Mike Cowley describing Tanzania as the number one country in Africa in terms of gold exploration. “If anybody wants to explore in Africa they will be trying to get a position in Tanzania” he said. The country had one of the best physical policies for mining in Africa. Thank you Ron Fennell for sending this latter item from Hong Kong. Details of the mining boom in Tanzania were given in Tanzanian Affairs No. 62 -Editor.
‘AFRICA’S MOST RESPECTED ELDER STATESPERSON’
Ikaweba Bunting of the NEW INTERNATIONALIST (January-February), reporting on a recent interview with Julius Nyerere recalled that Mwalimu had been the subject of the cover story in the very first issue of the magazine in 1970. ‘Three decades on’ he wrote ‘Mandela aside, Nyerere is still Africa’s most respected elder statesperson’. Extracts from the interview: On the Arusha Declaration: “I still travel around with it. I read it over and over to see what I would change. Maybe I would improve on the Kiswahili … but the Declaration is still valid. I would not change a thing”. On his mistakes: “I would not have nationalised the sisal plantations. Agriculture is difficult to socialise …. the land issue and family holdings were very sensitive. I saw this intellectually but it was hard to translate into policy implementation … ” On the World Bank: “I was in Washington last year. The first question they asked was ‘how did you fail’. I said that we took over a country with 85% illiterates … there were 2 engineers and 12 doctors after 43 years of British rule ….. When I stepped down there was 91% literacy and we had trained thousands of engineers and doctors …. As Tanzania’s social services have deteriorated during the last ten years when Tanzania has been signing on the dotted line and doing everything the World Bank and the IMF wants I asked them again ‘What went wrong?’ These people just sat there looking at me. Then they asked what could they do? I told them to have some humility. Humility -they are so arrogant! …….the conditions and policies of the World Bank: and the IMF are to enable countries to pay debt not to develop. That is all! ” Thank you Peter Yea for sending this -Editor.
THE BENEFITS OF HUNTING
AFRICA TODAY (January) pointed out the importance of hunting to raise revenue to help with the grave problem facing preservation of wildlife. The article said that if wildlife was to have a secure future it was essential that a value should be attached to it. In 1997 some 950 hunters practised their sport in Tanzania and revenue in excess of $440 million was obtained. This worked out at Shs 42,000 per visitor compared with the Shs 700 per visitor in the case of photographic safaris. In the same issue there was an article on the success of radio drama in developing public awareness of AIDS in Tanzania -‘Mashaka is the best known truck driver in Tanzania and his exploits are famous throughout the country. He spends most of his time on the road, rarely sees his wife and has a girlfriend in every town. A few weeks ago he fell ill and Tanzanians are holding their breath, as he grows sicker by the week. He coughs, has rashes on the skin and complains that his friends are avoiding him …. Mashaka is a fictional character in one of the country’s most popular soap operas, Geuza Mwendo, and his plight is the talk of some six million people who listen to the show every week …. ‘.
‘Tanzanians who want to settle scores with old enemies only have to shout Mwizi! Mwizi! Immediately all hell breaks loose and in a matter of minutes their victim is dead’. So began an article in NEW AFRICAN (January) under the heading ‘Necklacing spreads to Tanzania’ (from South Africa) in which it was explained that mobs collect kerosene, matches and old tyres and then set victims ablaze. They call it Mwenge wa Uhuru the flame of freedom, after the uhuru torch which is raced annually through Tanzania …. ‘Many Tanzanians believe that the police are so inefficient that they are justified in taking the law into their own hands ……ignoring President Mkapa’s advice to them to stop killing the little thieves … “You have to deal with the huge looters who are milking this country dry” he said.
‘A DISAPPEARING BREED’
‘A man wearing only shorts and sandals walks along a track. He carries a hunting rifle for protection against wild animals. The sinking sun burnishes his back a deep bronze and sets aflame his shoulder-length hair. At his side lopes a lion cub, golden in the evening light. Tony Fitzjohn is among the last of a disappearing breed of game warden on a continent where wildlife is in retreat. Once an assistant to George Adamson, the renowned conservationist, the 54-year old Briton manages Mkomazi Game Reserve. The story of his amazing years in the bush is the subject of a forthcoming film To Walk With Lions starring Richard Harris as the magus-like conservationist and John Michie as his untamed protege ……..Fitzjohn has earned himself many enemies; not just sports hunters and commercial poachers, but also local Maasai people claiming ancestral grazing rights at Mkomazi……and powerful figures in the Tanzanian government who could make fortunes if sports hunting were allowed in the reserve’ -extracts from an article by David Orr in the TIMES on January 2. Thank you Liz Fennel! for this item Editor.
Reporting from Toronto, Chris Roberts in AFRICA TODAY (April) wrote about the palpable excitement hanging in the air at the offices of the small Canadian oil-exploration company Canop following receipt of the results of exploration in Tanzania. Canop’s onshore and offshore concession, beginning 60 kms south of Dar es Salaam, if preliminary results are confirmed, would be able to plug into the planned natural gas pipeline of the SONGAS project led by two other Canadian companIes -TransCanada Pipelines and Ocelot Energy.
The SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (February 20), discussing the debt issue, quoted the case of Angelus Mtego who is in his final year in school in Ludewa, southern Tanzania. He is 15 but no bigger than the average British 10-year old. His main ambition in life is to go on to secondary school but last year only 10 out of 70 in his year group were accepted. However, for Angelus the biggest hurdle is the cost. His father is too poor to pay his secondary school fees of US$IOO. The government had to introduce fees because of its huge budget deficit itself partially caused by Tanzania’s vast foreign debt. Thank you John Pearce for sending this from Australia Editor.
Dr R Towey and Dr E Kimaro wrote in the BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL (December 19-26) about how difficult it was for local doctors to carry out research in sub-Saharan Africa. They wanted to find out the obstacles to safe anaesthesia in outlying districts near Lake Victoria and wanted hard data, not just anecdotes. They spent four months visiting 27 hospitals -sometimes hitchhiking, sometimes buying petrol for hospital cars to get lifts, sometimes sleeping in wards or in bus stations. Eventually they established a computer database with reliable data. Three-quarters of the hospitals had no oxygen or equipment to give safe paediatric anaesthesia. A quarter had no equipment for anaesthesia even for adults. ‘How do they manage? They give bolus doses of parental ketamine; the surgeon does his best without muscle relaxation and the patients’ lungs are not protected by a cuffed endotracheal tube; safe ventilation of the lungs is impossible; and, there is no oxygen … .it is a nightmare ….. yet the cost of upgrading the majority of hospitals to a safe level is $50,000 -the approximate cost of one anaesthetic machine in Western Europe’.
PRIVATISlNG THE RUFIJI DELTA
The East African Wildlife Society’s journal SW ARA (October -December) joined the increasing clamour from conservationists around the world against the proposed prawn farming scheme in the Rufiji Delta which the government is supporting because it insists that it is environmentally viable. The article said that the 10,000 hectare project would privatise one fifth of the Rufiji Delta which contains eight of the nine species of mangrove found along the East African coast. Two thousand Delta residents were said to be seeking permission at the High Court to sue the government for endorsing the project which they say would deny them access to natural resources including prawns and fish which they have always had. The article concluded by saying that experience elsewhere had shown that such prawn farming failed on average after ten years, leaving behind severe environmental damage. Thank you Tony Macdonald for sending this information Editor.
An article by Darrel Bristow-Bovey in the South African SUNDAY INDEPENDENT (February 14) reflected on the history of what we now call safaris since they began in 1895 with the establishment of the East African Protectorate (Kenya), a British response to German expansion in Tanganyika. The hunter’s trophies -horns, tusks -were tangible evidence of a land bent to the will of the settlers. The cost of safaris had escalated over the years. One safari in the late 1930’s entailed an armoured car, a mobile movie theatre, motorcycle messengers, a generator and a mobile drawing room with a grand piano. The writer went on: ‘r recently crossed the border to Arusha, safari capital of old Tanganyika. Once a rival to early Nairobi, it is now in a state of charming disrepair, home to the worst roads and best Indian restaurants on the continent….. The safari may have lost its false Hollywood glamour, but its fundamental purpose remains. It exists to mediate the experience of visitors to Africa -to keep them safe and well-fed yet to give them an inkling, however illusory, of authenticity. Safari takes you to the land, and in it you glimpse a better version of yourself, a dream of your place in the world … ..Thank you David Leishman for sending this and other items from the South African media -Editor.
Michael Okema writing in the EAST AFRICAN (February 15) explained why there are so many albinos -at least two pupils in every school -in the Kijitonyama-Uzuri-Mwanyamala triangle of Dar es Salaam. He quoted researchers at the Ocean Road Hospital as saying that it was because of the matrilineal cultural practises of the coastal Wazigua, Wanguu, Wazaramo and Makonde ethnic groups. Similar genes in parents, usually found among relatives, were said to increase the chances of producing an albino child. As children of a maternal uncle belong to the clan of the wife of that uncle and therefore to a different clan from the children of his sisters and brothers, first cousins may marry, thus enhancing the chances of albino children … There is also the Arab tradition of marriage among relatives so that the family property remains within the clan. The Tanzania Albino Society says that the country has 700,000 albinos. Of the 200,000 in Dar es Salaam 60% are in Kinondoni, 30% in Temeke and 10% in Ilala. The way people often treat albinos, Okema describes as ‘apartheid in reverse’.
The Oxford United Football Club was thrown a lifeline after the resignation of its managing director following allegations of fraud according to the WANTAGE HERALD (February 2). Mr Firoz Khan, who came to Britain from Tanzania at the age of 19 and who now owns 1,000 hotel rooms in London, apparently agreed to buy the club and to provide £500,000 to maintain it until the transaction was completed –Thank you Geoffrey Stokell for this item -Editor.