President Benjamin Mkapa will retire gracefully, as has become the custom amongst presidents in Tanzania, at the end of his second term and a new president will be elected on October 30, 2005.
During recent weeks, in an atmosphere of increased political excitement, eleven leading politicians, seeking to obtain the coveted nomination as candidate of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Party have been criss-crossing the country in search of support from party members. The weakness of most of the 16 opposition parties (compared with the 294 political parties which took part in the British general election!) and their apparent determination not to cooperate to beat CCM almost guarantees that there will be another CCM president – the fourth since independence in 1961. Continue reading
The political situation in Zanzibar is, as usual, much more tense than on the mainland. Although the remarkable Muafaka accord signed in October 10, 2001, set the stage for peaceful elections, rivalry between the two main parties, CCM and CUF, has reached a peak already, well ahead of the elections.
In the 1995 elections CCM won the presidentials by 51% against 49% for CUF. In 2000 CCM won by 67% to CUF’s 33%. Both elections were criticized by foreign observers and subsequent by-elections indicated that the 2000 parliamentary election had almost certainly been rigged. Subsequent riots resulted in the death of some 30 people. Continue reading
It is now perhaps an appropriate time, as his two terms of office draw to a close, to make a note of some of President Mkapa’s achievements.
Firstly, he has restored the dignity of Tanzania’s national currency. When he took over the presidency, the Tanzania Shilling was depreciating much more rapidly than it is doing now, and was treated with disdain by visitors and citizens alike. Continue reading
Exchange rates: £1 = Shs 2,010
$1 = Shs 1,110
In its third review of Tanzania’s ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE under the three year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) arrangement, reported in the Guardian, Agustin Carstens, the Deputy Managing Director of the IMF said that the results were excellent. Tanzania had made further strides in enhancing macroeconomic stability and addressing key impediments to growth through the accelerated pursuit of structural reforms. The report said the completion of the review enabled a further release of about $4.2million bringing total disbursements under the programme to the equivalent $17 million. Continue reading
Under the bright morning sunshine a colourful but dignified procession of judges in scarlet robes led by Chief Justice Samatta, followed by magistrates and lawyers in black, followed the Police Band along the Dar es Salaam waterfront from the old Forodhani Hotel, newly refurbished as the temporary home of the Court of Appeal, to (fortunately covered) stands erected in front of the High Court, to be greeted by an audience of invited guests. These included eleven African Chief Justices (from Botswana to Nigeria, Egypt to Zimbabwe). Distinguished Tanzanians present included Chief Fundikira, Minister for Justice in the 1960s.
This celebration of the Silver Jubilee of the Tanzanian Court of Appeal on September 15, 2004 was especially blest: before President Mkapa arrived much – needed, torrential rain set in, floating the red carpets, soaking the National Service dancers and almost drowning out the speeches. The President restated Tanzania’s commitment to the rule of law and independence of the judges and welcomed judicial efforts to combat corruption. He asked the judges to find ways to improve access to justice for all by reducing the cost and complexity of litigation.
The ceremony was followed by a reception in the High Court where a remarkable exhibition depicted the judicial history of Tanzania. Among the significant cases recalled was the trial of Julius Nyerere for criminal libel in 1958 – see reviews below.
The conference (supported financially by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe) then proceeded to discuss judicial activities. Tanzanians can take pride in the quality and commitment of their judges, who also show on such occasions a rare and welcome capacity for honest self – appraisal and an openness to criticism of their judgments.
On the last day the foreign guests were treated to a delightful visit to Zanzibar, starting in the old High Court where, in 1897, the first East African Court of Appeal had been inaugurated.
At a celebratory dinner Chief Justice Samatta invited all present to return for the 50th anniversary of the court in 2029.
Tune in to any radio station in East Africa and the chances are that you will be listening to “Bongo Flava”. This is used to describe the very popular music currently coming out of Dar-es-Salaam, almost all sung in Swahili but in a wide varety of styles from rap to soul music and with unique locally developed flavours. Some of the groups such as Watatuzi Family seem to draw from Taarab and Mchiriku music styles while others are closer to reggae.
However, the originators of Bongo Flava are undoubtedly the Rap and Hip Hop artists. This stems from back to the early 1990s when The Hard Blasterz Crew and others started recording rap music. While rap in America grew from the streets with disenchanted and disempowered rappers, in Tanzania the early rappers tended to be from well off families, who thought it fashionable to follow US trends. Continue reading
A recent Daily News article under this heading wanted to emphasise the positive. It was reporting on a study commissioned by the Tanzania Commission for Aids on the transmission of HIV/AIDS which revealed that only 7% of Tanzanians have been affected while 93% are still safe. It wrote that these findings also indicated a positive sexual behavioural change, and that Tanzanians’ awareness of the virus transmission and prevention was close to 100%. For example 76% of women were aware that food sharing could not transmit AIDS compared with 58% in 1999. “Young women and men are now waiting longer before having first sex and fewer of them have multiple partners,” TACAIDS Chairman Herman Lupogo, was quoted as saying. He added that HIV/AIDS prevalence nationwide was twice as high in urban as in rural areas, with Mbeya and Iringa regions topping the infection rate at 13%. The most vulnerable people were the wealthier and the highly educated.
Others are less upbeat – The Danish Ambassador Mr. Peter Lysholt Hansen has been quoted as saying “The figure of just eight percent is an illusion. I am convinced the real figure is higher.” The WHO/UNAIDS 2004 report on the global epidemic estimates that in 2003 some 160,000 people died in Tanzania as a direct result of AIDS and that there were 1.6 million people living with HIV, around 9% of the population. According to UNAIDS statistics, life expectancy at birth in 2005 has fallen to 43.9 years, there are thought to be 980,000 children orphaned as a
result of AIDS, and more than 50 percent of all hospital beds are occupied by people with HIV/AIDS, according to the Ministry of Health.
The London GUARDIAN, writing about global warming (March 14) published a photograph which it said showed that the snowy cap of Mt. Kilimanjaro, at 5,895 metres (19,340 ft) was now all but gone – 15 years before scientists predicted it would melt through global warming.
The paper reported that 34 ministers at a G8 energy and environment summit meeting in London were receiving a book – published by the Climate Group and entitled Northsoutheast-west: a 360-degree view of climate change – that included a picture depicting global-warming. The book’s text described the devastating speed of climate change documented by ten of the world’s top photographers. Continue reading
The main passion of most Tanzanians is not politics (except at present perhaps) but football and the lacklustre performance of the Tanzanian national team has been a constant disappointment to fans. They have now been encouraged to note that the Football Association of Tanzania has been restructured – it has become the Tanzania Football Federation – with a newly elected President, Leodegar Tenga, an engineer. It is expected that the International Soccer Federation (FIFA) will in future take a more active role in the management of football and in providing support.