Two of Tanzania’s most distinguished chiefs in the period before independence have passed away.
The country’s first Justice Minister after independence, Chief Abdallah Said Fundikira, died of heart complications in Tabora in mid August. The late Chief joined Makerere University College in Uganda from 1940 to 1946 and obtained a qualification in Agriculture. In 1957, he was ordained as Chief of the Wanyamwezi in the Nyanyembe chiefdom. He lost his title when founding President Nyerere scrapped all chiefdoms after independence. Continue reading
According to the Chairman of the Civic United Front (CUF) Professor Ibrahim Lipumba, quoted in Mtanzania and other media outlets, negotiations which have been going on between his party and CCM for the last eighteen months have reached a blind alley. He told the press that there was a very slim chance of a successful conclusion to the talks, which were due to end on August 15, unless there was international arbitration. Lipumba attributed the impasse to a lack of political will in the Zanzibar branch of the ruling CCM party. “It seems that President Kikwete (who had said at his inauguration that he was determined to solve the impasse in Zanzibar) has given in to hardliners who have been resisting any changes or amicable solutions,” Lipumba said. Warning that the political situation in Zanzibar was very volatile he reminded people of what was happening in Darfur. Continue reading
On the mainland things have been relatively quiet politically in recent months. But, as this issue of Tanzanian Affairs went to press, there were heated debates in parliament as the opposition parties tried to exercise their limited muscle.
National Assembly Speaker Samuel Sitta prevented the tabling of a private member’s motion by Dr Wilbroad Slaa, opposition CHADEMA MP over an alleged scam at the Bank of Tanzania – Mtanzania.
Then the outspoken CHADEMA MP Zitto Kabwe was suspended under House Standing Orders until January 2008 after the House voted against him, midst acclamation from ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) MP’s. He was accused of humiliating Energy and Minerals Minister Nazir Karamagi. He had claimed that the Minister had lied about a controversial gold mining contract which he had signed in London. Kabwe had tried to table a private members motion requiring the formation of a committee to investigate the contract. Continue reading
In her 2007/2008 budget statement in June, Finance Minister Mrs Zakhia Meghji stated that she would not borrow from the domestic market this year through Treasury bill and government bonds. The East African described this as the most ambitious fiscal target by a finance minister in years. She must have felt under some pressure to do this because large government deficits make it difficult for the private sector to obtain credit and contribute to inflation. Interest rates on Treasury bills are 16% in Tanzania compared with 12% in Uganda and 6% in Kenya. In the previous year the Government took TShs 35.92bn from the Bank of Tanzania.
Mrs Meghji indicated that next year’s revenue should be enough to enable the government not to borrow locally as weather forecasts appeared encouraging. She will be relying on considerable support from the donor community however to do this. Some 42% of the budget would come from donors – up 3% on 2006/2007.
Many of the other measures she announced attracted strong criticism especially a proposed increase of almost 9% on diesel and petrol and also more tax on kerosene which would have seriously affected the poor. Some opposition MP’s described the budget as the worst since independence. Eventually, under heavy pressure from MP’s, she deleted the kerosene tax increase from the budget, and reduced the proposed increase in vehicle licenses for smaller vehicles and increased them for luxury cars.
Priorities for expenditure were: education (18%), roads (12.8%), health (10%) and water (5.1%). She was criticised by MP’s for allocating only 6.2% to the agricultural sector.
Funds were also provided for the identity card scheme which is aimed at facilitating tax collection, accessing bank credit and to help in the war against crime. Income tax for low income earners was reduced from 18.5% to 15%. The budget also had a ‘green’ element. Tariffs for low energy consuming bulbs and solar energy panels were zero rated.
In summary, the Government expects to spend TShs 6.06 trillion, an increase of TShs 1.20tn on the previous year.
Meghji praised the efforts being made in revenue collection and estimated that GDP would grow at 7.3% this year.
Tanzania no longer needs financial support from the International Monetary Fund according to IMF Deputy Managing Director Murilo Portugal quoted in the Guardian. He said that Tanzania had achieved strong growth and low inflation through macroeconomic policies in the past few years. He added that the external position had strengthened in recent years, and debt relief had reduced Tanzania’s external debt burden. He said the role of the Fund now would be to continue supporting Tanzania’s development of a sound macroeconomic policy framework and to encourage reforms in areas that are critical to securing higher and more sustainable growth. Much remained to be done for Tanzania to make greater inroads in reducing poverty and raising living standards especially in creating a business environment conducive to private investment. Continue reading
In March 2007 a gold coin minted in German East Africa in 1916 was sold for £1,400 by the London auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb. Sometimes known as the ‘Tabora pound’, this coin has an interesting history.
At the beginning of 1916 the Governor of German East Africa, Dr Heinrich Schnee, was confident that the colony’s small army would continue to hold the Allied forces at bay. His immediate problem was the shortage of metallic currency caused by hoarding and the impossibility of getting fresh supplies of coins from Germany because of the Royal Navy’s blockade. That same blockade prevented the export of gold to Germany and the Governor decided to use Tanganyikan gold to mint coins locally. Continue reading
Extracts from the Tanzanian section of the 2007 Annual Report of Amnesty International:
Journalists writing articles criticizing the government were at times harassed, threatened or arrested. Three journalists of Rai newspaper were arrested and charged in July. In August a Citizen journalist was arrested and threatened with being stripped of his citizenship and expelled from the country on account of an interview he gave in a documentary film about arms trafficking. Three visiting mainland journalists were briefly arrested in Zanzibar in September.
Female genital mutilation continued to be illegally practised in many rural areas on the mainland, with rates of over 80 per cent among some ethnic groups. No prosecutions were reported. The World Health Organization reported a high rate of domestic violence in Tanzania, with 30 per cent of victims suffering serious injuries due to severe beatings.
The government accepted the need to reduce severe overcrowding in prisons but little action was taken. The National Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance inspected mainland prisons and criticized harsh conditions, particularly the holding of juvenile prisoners together with adults. The Commission was still barred by the Zanzibar government from working or opening an office in Zanzibar.
The government ordered the deportation of all illegal immigrants who had failed to register or apply for citizenship. Deportations began of several thousand people originating from neighbouring countries such as Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo who had lived in Tanzania for up to 15 years or longer. There were a much larger number of such people, some of whom were former refugees integrated into rural communities who had never regularized their status.
In August President Kikwete commuted all death sentences on mainland Tanzania to life imprisonment. The total number of commutations was not officially disclosed, but was estimated to be about 400. At the end of 2006, no one was under sentence of death in Tanzania.
NEW SCIENTIST (April 21) described how a farmer in Zanzibar, had a severe shock four years ago when he went to harvest his cassava (manioc). “The bushes looked healthy” he said, but when he dug up the tubers he found every last one had rotted away. “I had lost my entire crop. And we were hungry and I was desperate”.
What he didn’t know then was that his crop was the first known victim of a plague caused by a new and virulent strain of the ‘cassava brown streak virus’ that is now spreading across eastern and central Africa. Other pests and viruses that afflict cassava – notably the ‘cassava mosaic virus’, which has been advancing across East Africa since the late 1980s, leave visible marks on the foliage but always spare some of the crop.
Brown streak is a stealth virus. It has been known since 1935 when British scientists reported it in coastal Tanganyika but, until recently, it remained largely confined to Tanzania’s low-lying coastal plains. Now it has become much more virulent – apparently starting from this farm in Zanzibar. It is a threat to the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Institute for Tropical Agriculture’s branch in Dar es Salaam, cassava yield in Tanzania has fallen by between 50 and 80 per cent and during the past five years. The economic damage to farmers is conservatively estimated at more than $50 million a year.
The institute has cross-bred some of the local varieties in Zanzibar with other varieties that seem to tolerate the new virus. The first trials have been successful and some of the new varieties have now been released to farmers in Zanzibar so moving from trials to a fully operational project. Farmers in Zanzibar are clamouring for the new varieties especially a variety called Kiroba which is a favourite because of its sweet taste and smooth texture.
Thank you John Rollinson for sending this news – Editor
As happens from time to time in the European Union, enthusiasts for a ‘fast tracking’ process to expedite progress towards the establishment of an East African Federation, are coming up against more and more opposition. Many Tanzanian MP’s have publicly declared their opposition to the establishment of such a federation by 2013 but, according to East African Cooperation Affairs Minister Ibrahim Msabaha in an interview with The Guardian, they had done so as individuals and not on behalf of the people they represented. Most of the delegates who contributed to a recent debate of legislators in Dodoma rejected the fast-tracking idea as a non-starter, saying the citizenry needed more time to evaluate the process before making a definitive stand that would take the nation’s interests into account. Dr Msabaha explained that the Government was not against legislator’s opinions so long as it was understood that they aired their views in their personal capacities and not by virtue of their being the official legislative representative of the people in their respective constituencies.
The fact that only a fraction of the legislators who gave their views were staunchly against the fast-tracking idea raised many questions. The dominant view among the MPs, just as is the case with the larger public, relates to fear of the possibility of Tanzania becoming a loser after the formation of the proposed federation.
Most people interviewed on the issue have said they do not see the need of having the federation at the moment because Tanzania is still lagging behind Kenya and Uganda in economic development and might end up being little more than a market for the goods they produce. Many recommended that the formation of the federation should get peoples’ consent, preferably through a referendum.
EAC Secretary General, Juma Mwapachu, was quoted as saying: “People are completely confused. What we are currently doing is not fast-tracking the East African Federation but fast-tracking the building blocs i.e. the customs union, common market, monetary union, and ultimately, the Federation itself. The time for a full-scale federation may be years ahead. It is something that cannot be decided now.”