US General Charles Wald, Deputy Commander of the US European Command based in Germany, (which also has responsibility for 93 countries, including all of the sub-Saharan region apart from the Horn), recently responded to a journalist’s question about a report that Tanzania was not co-operating fully with the US on terrorism. He was quoted in the WASHINGTON TIMES as saying that US military forces were working with the Tanzanian government to counter a terrorism threat. Unnamed Bush administration officials had apparently said that Tanzanian officials had only haltingly co-operated with American efforts to root out terrorists. The paper quoted an anonymous Western diplomat as saying: ‘The Tanzanians see terrorism as an international issue, not a domestic one, because most terrorists are imported. The problem with that argument is that Tanzania is a permissive environment.’ The newspaper article went on: ‘US Treasury Department officials charged in January that the Tanzanian branch of a Saudi Arabian charity had engaged in terrorist activities and plotted attacks last year against tourist hotels on Zanzibar…..The scheduled attacks did not take place due to increased security by local authorities, but planning for the attacks remained active.’ Some Tanzanians were said to view the high level of American concern as exaggerated. They pointed out that the Tanzanian mainland had not suffered an attack for five-and-a-half years.
In a detailed report published on February 2 THE EAST AFRICAN took to task what it called the ‘errent lawyers of Tanzania and the 23 cases pending against them. There was said to be growing concern over falling standards, pilferage of clients’ money and unethical conduct. The report was based on a paper obtained from the Tanganyika Law Association (TLS). A common complaint was the lack of an effective legal mechanism to crack down on errant lawyers. “Complaints against advocates have increased, although the society has taken steps against lawyers who abuse their profession”, TLS acting executive secretary Anitha Moshi said. Despite the growing list of complaints, not a single lawyer had lost his licence to practice in Tanzania. But Ms Moshi insisted that the TLS was taking action and had forced some advocates to return clients’ money. Asked about cases of magistrates dismissed by the Government and then readily admitted to the Bar, she said the practicing certificate is issued by the Chief Justice after he verifies an applicant’s records. Surprisingly, many former magistrates, who were sacked over corruption or other unprofessional conduct, have crossed over to the Bar as advocates. The regional ethics committees of TLS said they were satisfied with the conduct of advocates in Tanga, Arusha, Mbeya and Kilimanjaro regions, where no complaints had been filed. Mwanza had received one complaint but cases against lawyers in Dar es Salaam included receiving legal fees but failing to appear in court, withdrawing from arbitration proceedings after being paid and refusing to refund clients’ money.
The AFRICA RESEARCH BULLETIN (December 2) announced that Stella Artois beer, a brand popular during Tanzania’s beer shortages in the early 1990’s, had made a comeback and was to be brewed by a locally owned brewery under licence from Belgium’s ‘Interbrew’, the world’s third largest beer producer. This would represent competition for Tanzania Breweries which controlled 98% of Tanzania’s beer market. Minister for Trade and Industry Dr Juma Ngasongwa said that producing Stella Artois locally would ensure that more Tanzanians were employed and that government revenue would increase.
The World Bank’s publication FINDINGS (April) described, in four succinctly-written pages, recent development in Tanzania’s coffee industry by the Senior Economist John Baffes. The paper recorded that during the 1960s the cooperatives and the Coffee Board became involved in most aspects of marketing and trade in coffee. This involvement culminated in the nationalisation of most Arabic coffee estates in northern Tanzania in 1973. Since then the coffee sector had been subject to a shifting of power between the cooperatives and the Coffee Board with the needs of the sector itself never seriously addressed.
The performance of the sector deteriorated and reforms became necessary. The first steps were taken in 1990 when the Coffee Board began to make more timely payments to cooperatives. The Board became a marketing agent rather than a marketer. In March 1992 input markets were opened to private traders and a few months later exporters were allowed to retain 10% of their export earnings in foreign currency and, soon thereafter, 100%. More reforms came in 1993 allowing private sector participation in marketing and processing.
While these reforms brought about some improvement there were still many problems. Although the processing capacity for coffee had increased enormously – since 1988 twelve new factories had been built – many of these were operating at only a quarter of installed capacity.
Uncertainties in the coffee sector were exacerbated by the ‘one-licence regulation’ issued by the Coffee Board just three days before the official start of the 2002/03 coffee buying season in the Western coffee zone. The regulation limited applicants for private coffee buying, coffee processing or coffee export licences to just one of these licences so as to help the cooperatives increase their market share at the expense of private traders.
The paper made a number of recommendations: taxes should be substantially reduced; the Coffee Board’s licensing procedures should be re-examined; the coffee auction should be voluntary; the Board should take greater responsibility for statistics; and, its powers and those of the ministries should be substantially reduced. The regulatory framework should facilitate the transfer of nationalised estates to private individuals so that their full potential could be realised.
The paper also includes an account of the numerous significant changes made since 1920 in the coffee estate sector.
Why has the Tanzania shilling dropped so heavily against the US dollar in recent weeks? The latest AFRICA RESEARCH BULLETIN suggested that it was because of severe food shortages in late 2003 and the action of the Government in trying to ease the situation by waiving some taxes paid by food importers. The result had been massive food shipments in January paid for in dollars at the same time as a recent drop in exports of coffee and cashew nuts caused by low rainfall.
AFRICA ANALYSIS (March 5) expressed concern about the possible threat to tourism in Zanzibar following what it described as a brutal attack by machete-wielding robbers who boarded a yacht with 15 tourists on board off Pemba on 21st February. None of the holidaymakers were hurt but the robbers escaped with money, passports, jewellery and computers.
Schoolboys fidget and mess about in class, while girls sit still and concentrate – all because of biological sex differences that evolved millions of years ago. A team from the University of Minnesota, quoted in the DAILY TELEGRAPH (April 15) and based on an article in NATURE, had conducted a four-year study of young chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park in Tanzania. They noted how young chimps learnt to fish for termites using a stick. Although both sexes received the same attention, on average, the females picked up enough skill to extract their own termites by the age of 31 months while males took 58 months. Males spent more time playing and in physical activity. The fact that young chimps followed the same sex specific roles as humans was said to indicate that such behaviour had deep- rooted biological origins, probably dating back more than 6 million years.
AFRICA CONFIDENTIAL (19th December) revealed what it described as ‘a bad-tempered discussion on Zimbabwe’ at the Commonwealth Summit Meeting in Nigeria from 5th to 8th December. Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon had applied for an extension of his term of office but this was opposed by some African countries because he was supporting continued sanctions against Zimbabwe. According to Africa Confidential, in September last year, Tanzania’s High Commissioner in London had approached his Sri Lankan counterpart with a plan to put up an Asian candidate against McKinnon. The person eventually selected to do this was former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kardirgamar. Discussions continued some weeks later in Romania and Switzerland which involved, amongst others, former OAU Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim from Tanzania. Efforts to mobilise a large African vote against Mc Kinnon did not succeed however and McKinnon was eventually re-elected by 41 votes to 11. Only South Africa, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia amongst African countries allowed themselves to be publicly identified with support for the Sri Lankan candidate. (TA has been told that Tanzania voted for McKinnon as did Uganda and Kenya – Editor).
HABARI, the journal of the Sweden-Tanzania Society, is written in Swedish. However, in its first issue of 2004, it contained three articles in English on languages spoken in Tanzania and included a comprehensive language map of the country. The first article, by Malin Petzell was on a socio-linguistic study on the position of the Kagulu language which is spoken by 200,000 to 300,000 people in Kilosa district. It was said that it still held a strong position in society but was in the ‘endangered’ category particularly in urban areas. The second paper, written by Jennifer Palmgren, had the title ‘Kiswahili language, nation-building and identity’. There was also a half-page on basic English-Kisukuma greetings.
Under the heading ‘Drawing on ancient remedies’ the South African MAIL AND GUARDIAN (27th February) described how traditional and modern medicine is being fused in the fight against AIDS in Tanga by an ‘Aids Working Group’. It is estimated that the region has a ratio of one doctor to 33,000 people but there is one traditional healer to every 156 people. An elderly healer, Mohamed Kasomo, is actually working with doctors in a modern hospital and is using all kinds of herbs for a variety of AIDS-related complaints including loss of appetite, fever, skin infections, abdominal discomfort and oral and vaginal fungus. The herbs are packaged in powder form and every two weeks about 700 patients go to the hospital to collect their packages. They then take them home where they boil them into tea. Although the traditional healers are not curing AIDS they are making marked improvements in people’s standards of living, the article said. (Thank you David Leishman for sending this item – Editor).
‘It may look like dung and smell like dung, but it’s a life-saver for the deaf of Africa’. THE THIRD SECTOR quoted in THE TIMES (January 13) reported that Christmas cards made from elephant droppings have raised £1,000 for deaf children in Tanzania. Some cards were sold in game parks and one of these parks also requested 1,000 elephant dung folders to package its annual report. A hotel was said to have ordered ‘Dumbo-dung’ lampshades – (Thank you Liz Fennell for sending this item – Editor).
‘Juma Twaha had gone blind but his life in the atmosphere of torpor and decay in Temeke, Dar es Salaam, was causing him some torment. Not having the sureness of foot of those blind from birth, he would often stumble into the treacherous potholes. This would immediately prompt mirth and jeers from an entourage of small children who would collapse on the ground in a theatrical mimicry of Juma’s clumsiness. Last August his luck changed. A 35-person team from Orbis, the global sight-saving charity, came to Tanzania to train ophthalmologists in cataract surgery. Mr Twaha became the first person in a Tanzanian public hospital to receive small incision surgery on his cataracts. His sight was restored.’ Seeing himself in the mirror for the first time for years, he exclaimed “Actually I’m pretty good looking. I should now be able to find a wife!” (Thank you Donald Wright for sending this item from the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (December 14) – Editor.
AFRICAN BUSINESS (March) presented its first annual review of Africa’s top companies listed on a sub-regional basis. In East Africa, it quoted ‘Market Capitalisation’ as placing Tanzania Breweries top of the list and Tanzania Cigarettes fifth. Out of the first ten companies all except two were Kenyan. Tanzania’s stock exchange, which generated a loss of 8% compared badly with that of Uganda which had a 140% return – one of the highest in the world. Zimbabwe (in US dollar terms) was said to be the worst performing market in the world. Tanzania’s exchange lists only six companies compared to Kenya’s fifty.
THE EAST AFRICAN has published a report on the mining industry in Tanzania which stated that an international mineral auditing firm, Alex Stewart of the US, had been engaged by the Government to verify the amount of gold mined and revenue earned. This happened after the Government had finally persuaded the large scale mining companies to provide it with details of their operations. Brief extracts from the report, by Faustine Rwambali and Joseph Mwamunyange: ‘Unlike in the past when the sector was dominated by artisanal miners, which made monitoring of production and actual sales figures difficult, the entrance of large-scale mining companies has made it easier to monitor mining activities. Tanzanians have for long debated whether the Government has been earning all the revenue due to it from the country’s precious metals…. There are five giant gold mining companies in Tanzania – Afrika Mashariki Gold Mines Ltd (North Mara Gold Project); Resolute (Tanzania) Ltd (Golden Pride Project); Kahama Mining Corporation Ltd (Bulyanhulu Mine); Meremeta Ltd (Buhemba Gold Mine); and Geita Gold Mining Ltd (Geita Gold Mine). Tulakawa Mine, owned by Pangea Mining Ltd., was opened recently. The five companies jointly produce an estimated 1.45 million troy ounces of gold annually. According to Tanzania’s investment law, mining firms pay only 3 per cent of their earnings in royalties. Amendments to the mining law that were effected in the late 1990s, created an enabling environment to attract large scale mining investors.
The ECONOMIST published yet another of its frequent highly critical articles about the early years of independent Tanzania in its January 3 issue. It began: ‘Julius Nyerere, the socialist who founded and nearly destroyed Tanzania, must be grumbling in his grave. His protégé, President Mkapa, who cannot seem to look at a state enterprise without trying to privatise it, is bringing market discipline even to the health sector. Compounding his betrayal, his government last month appointed a Briton, David Tregoning, to overhaul the state hospital in Dar Salaam……. The revered Nyerere was not fond of business – minded Westerners: in the early 1960s, he kicked them off their farms and nationalised multinationals’ Tanzanian subsidiaries….. Nowadays, though the Government hates to admit it, Tanzania does what foreign donors say. It was at their insistence that Dr Tregoning was hired….. donors will be paying for the hospital’s face-lift and demanded some control over how their money is spent…..
The article went on: ‘The hospital’s history mirrors Tanzania’s. The state-of-the-art facility, when it was built in 1960, just before independence, decayed under Mr Nyerere’s unaccountable socialist regime. Donated equipment festered in storerooms; underpaid medical staff pinched drugs; patients lay unattended and underfed in overcrowded, filthy wards…… This should soon change with $2 million a year from the African Development Bank and the Illinois -based Abbott Laboratories Fund .
Dr Tregoning will oversee the renovation of laboratories, the introduction of new training techniques, the establishment of an HIV Management Programme and the upgrading of technology across the hospital…..’
The article also included some praise for Tanzania: ‘Tanzania’s recent overall record has been good. There has been an impressive growth in agriculture under Mr Mkapa. He has imposed fiscal discipline; inflation has fallen, Tanzanians are less likely to find cockroaches in their beer now that the state brewery has been sold off; the national telecoms firm and airline are also largely in private hands and foreign companies now manage the water and electricity utilities. Some economists now predict that the economy might even become the biggest in East Africa in a few years time by overtaking Kenya’s (Thank you Jill Bowden for sending this item – Editor).