Archive for Miscellany

MULTIPLE ARRESTS FOR “HOMOSEXUALITY”

Authorities in Zanzibar in September 2017 detained 20 people accused of engaging in same-sex activities, another incident in an ongoing crackdown on homosexuality in Tanzania. Twelve women and eight men were arrested following a police raid on a hotel where the suspects were attending a workshop, said regional police chief Hassan Ali. “We rounded them up because we suspect that they were engaged in homosexuality in Zanzibar, which is illegal in Zanzibar and is against the law of the country,” he said, adding that police “will intensify (their) vigilance against those groups.”

Under a colonial-era law, “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” is a criminal offence in Tanzania. Sex among men is punishable by jail terms ranging from 30 years to life imprisonment.

A year earlier, in September 2016, the government temporarily suspended HIV/AIDS outreach projects targeting gay men. And in February 2017, the government stopped 40 privately run health centres from providing AIDS-related services, accusing them of catering to homosexuals.

It is reported that “several dozen” people have been arrested since December 2016 for “homosexuality” or “promoting homosexuality”.

More recently, in October, thirteen human rights lawyers and activists were arrested while holding a meeting at the Peacock Hotel in Dar es Salaam for “promoting homosexuality.” Lazaro Mambosasa, Dar es Salaam head of police, confirmed the arrests, stating that the “criminals” had violated Tanzanian law. The meeting had been organized by the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA), a Pan African organization whose mandate is to advance women’s and sexual rights. ISLA say homosexuality was not on the agenda at their meeting.

“Its aim was to explore the possibility of mounting legal challenges to the government’s ban on drop-in centres serving key populations at risk of HIV, as well as the ban on importation of water-based lubricants, an essential HIV prevention tool,” said a statement issued by Human Rights Watch, a partner of ISLA.

In a separate incident, a woman in Geita could face jail after a video of her kissing another woman and presenting her with a ring went viral on social media. She was arrested in the town after the clip of her at a party was widely shared.

President Magufuli has threatened to arrest and expel activists and to de-register organisations that campaign for gay rights.

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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORT BLOCKED

Tanzania’s Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) has blocked Human Rights Watch (HRW) from launching a report on abuses against migrant Tanzanian domestic workers in Oman and United Arab Emirates. Dr Willium Kindekete of COSTECH said the commission decided to ban the report because the researchers did not follow procedures.

He said HRW officials who were to launch the report have some immigration issues. “Their visas do not identify them as researchers, but just visitors; so they aren’t allowed to work in the country,” said Dr Kindekete.

HRW researcher on Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa, Rothna Begum, said she had followed the correct procedures – including getting agreement for the launch from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labour – but received information of the ban one hour before the scheduled launch. She noted that something must have happened behind the scenes leading to the ban. She added that the real focus of the research was to give a chance to the government to find a way forward in helping domestic workers from Tanzania abused in Oman and UAE.

She said HRW interviewed 87 people including Tanzanian officials, trade unionists, recruitment agents and 50 Tanzanian female domestic workers who worked in Oman and the UAE. “All the respondents said their employers and agents confiscated their passports. Many worked long hours (up to 21 hours a day) without rest. They said they were paid less than promised or not at all, forced to eat spoiled or left-over food, shouted at and insulted daily and physically and sexually abused.”

The report, “Working Like a Robot’: Abuse of Tanzanian Domestic Workers in Oman and the United Arab Emirates” was released by Human Rights Watch on their website. It found that Tanzanian domestic workers in Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) face excessive working hours, unpaid salaries, and physical and sexual abuse. Abusive visa-sponsorship rules in those countries and gaps in Tanzania’s policies leave the women exposed to exploitation, according to the report.

There are thousands of Tanzanian domestic workers in the Middle East. While some have decent working conditions, many others face abuse, said Human Rights Watch.

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AGRICULTURE

by David Brewin

Charcoal and wood
Moves are underway to ban trade in wood and especially in charcoal in Tanzania in a government program to curb deforestation. Statistics from the Tanzania Forest Service Agency show that the country converts more than 370,000 hectares of forest to charcoal every year. But charcoal traders are opposed and saying that thousands of people who use charcoal or earn a living from producing or selling it will suffer. Poor households across Tanzania’s main cities and towns regard forests as a source of income, harvesting trees to supply growing markets for charcoal and timber. About 2 million tonnes of charcoal is consumed in Tanzania ever year, half of it in Dar es Salaam.

Sea cucumbers
The growing demand for sea cucumbers has prompted traders in Zanzibar to call for regulation of exports of this marine species. According to the East African they say that trade in the sea cucumber is unregulated on the island with poachers smuggling it to Asian markets. In China a kilogram of processed sea cucumbers can go for as much as $300 depending on the species.

Sea cucumbers are processed and exported either by sea or air to China, Hong Kong and Dubai, where the demand is high. Exporting to Asia via Ethiopian airlines costs $1.20 per kilo. To process the sea cucumbers, farmers boil them in hot water sprinkled with salt, then dry them on the shore. 1 kg of sea cucumbers shrinks to about 200 grams. The dried product is considered a luxury food item in many Asian seafood markets. The delicacy not only generates revenue but also contributes to food security among fishing communities. It is believed to have high nutritional and medicinal value and is used in China to treat health problems such as fatigue, impotence and joint pains. The harvest period lasts about seven months. There are about 1,000 species worldwide according the National Geographic Magazine.

Coffee levies
The Tanzanian government is scrapping 17 taxes and levies imposed on coffee as part of measures to boost production. The levies include coffee buying, processing and selling fees as well as marketing. Examples of fees include $1,000 for a licence to sell coffee, $20 for a permit to purchase parchment dry cherry coffee and $250 for a coffee processing licence. The country has put in place a 10-year development plan to raise the annual production of coffee. It is hoped that production will increase from about 50,000 tonnes 100,000 tonnes over the next four years

Coffee accounts for about 5% of Tanzania’s total exports and generates about $100 million per year. Tanzania is the fourth largest coffee producing country in Africa after Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Uganda.

Fertiliser pricing
Tanzania has set regulations for the importation and supply of cheaper fertilisers and appointed two firms to supply 55,000 tonnes of urea and diammonium phosphate. 50kg bags will sell between for $26 and $50.

The fertiliser deal was agreed upon between King Mohammed of Morocco and President Magufuli during the King’s tour of Tanzania in October. Tanzania plans to build a $3bn fertiliser factory in partnership with German, Danish and Pakistan industrialists.

Sweet potato laws
New efforts are underway to harmonise standards for sweet potato seed production, which is considered crucial in improving the quality, quantity and market access of the crop. New standards for production of the crop include ensuring that potato seed multipliers sell quality vine seedlings that are disease-free and that they are of the right variety and quantity. Margaret McEwan, a senior project manager for the International Potato Centre has been quoted as saying that the production of sweet potatoes had been hampered by virus diseases that affect the quality of vines. She said: “with the improved disease – resistant sweet potatoes farmers can produce between 12 and 15 tonnes per hectare compared with 4 tonnes using the existing varieties.” Sweet potatoes are the most important food crop in East and Central Africa after cassava and maize.

Tsetse fly eradication
The Tanzanian islands of Zanzibar are among pioneers to successfully use radiation against the tsetse fly, according to a report released by the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM). This has been achieved through the nuclear-based sterile insect technique (SIT), a form of insect pest control that involves the mass-breeding and sterilisation of male tsetse flies using ionising radiation in special rearing facilities. The sterile males are released systematically in tsetse infested areas, where they mate with wild females, which do not subsequently produce offspring.

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TRANSPORT

by Ben Taylor

Arguments flare over Air Tanzania plane seized in Canada A new commercial aircraft, purchased by the government as part of President Magufuli’s efforts to boost the previously-ailing Air Tanzania (ATCL), has been seized in Canada by a construction firm in dispute with the Tanzanian government over a long-standing debt. The aircraft – a Bombardier Q400 – had been expected to arrive in Tanzania in July 2017, but remains in Canada at the time of writing. The Canadian firm, Stirling Civil Engineering Ltd, seized the plane in Canada over a $38 million lawsuit before it could be delivered by Bombardier Inc to the Tanzanian government. The claim stems from a 2010 compensation ruling by the International Court of Arbitration over a terminated contract to construct a road between Bagamoyo and Wazo Hill / Kunduchi.

The government plans to revive ATCL involve the purchase of at least six new aircraft, including one Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The new planes are reported to have been placed under the ownership of the Tanzania Government Flight Agency – a state-owned firm – to avoid possible confiscation of the planes from lawsuits related to Air Tanzania’s multi million-dollar debts from previous suppliers.

The seizure of the aircraft came to light after two opposition MPs, Zitto Kabwe (ACT Wazalendo) and Tundu Lissu (Chadema), asked questions about the late arrival of the new plane. Kabwe raised the matter on social media and then Lissu held a press conference. In response, the then acting director of Information Department

Services, Ms Zamaradi Kawawa, described the “Bombardier fiasco” as “dirty games” by some members of the opposition. “The government is aware that some of the opposition leaders are behind this. They hold malicious intentions towards efforts done by President Magufuli on bringing development in the country, but their days are numbered, their betrayal is intolerable,” she said, accusing them of being unpatriotic.

Lissu asked “who is patriotic between me and the government that didn’t want to tell its people about the court case and subsequent seizure of the plane? Who is sullying the image of the country internationally between me and the government which is failing to adhere to international standards and clear the debt since 2010?”

A few days later, Lissu was arrested and his residence in Dar es Salaam was searched by the police. Two weeks later, in early September, he was shot multiple times by unknown assailants outside his home in Dodoma. He narrowly survived the attack. (See politics section, this issue).

The government of Tanzania has appealed through diplomatic channels to the government of Canada to intervene to ensure the plane’s release and delivery to Tanzania. Further, the government has promised to challenge Stirling Civil Engineering’s claims in court. (The Citizen, Reuters)

Former ATCL chiefs found guilty
Two former senior officials of the same national airline (ATCL) have been found guilty of conspiracy, abuse of office and occasioning loss. Former Managing Director David Mattaka and his Chief Finance Officer Elisaph Ikombe were each sentenced to 21 years imprisonment or fines of TShs 35m each. They are expected to pay the fines. The trial magistrate, Victoria Nongwa, also gave the two convicts a one-month ultimatum to compensate ATCL with 143,442 US dollars (over TShs 320m), representing the loss they had caused.

The court found that while discharging their duties in 2007, the two intentionally abused their positions by inviting tenders to supply ATCL with 26 motor vehicles without approval of tender board, by procuring the motor vehicles from a Dubai-based firm without conducting competitive tendering, and by authorising payments for purchase of the motor vehicles without a formal procurement contract.

Tanzania purchases new radar equipment
The Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA), has signed a TShs 61 billion contract with the French firm Thales Air Systems to install a new surveillance radar system. The system will involve installation of new equipment at four airports: Julius Nyerere International Airport (Dar es Salaam), Kilimanjaro International Airport, Songwe Airport in Mbeya and Mwanza Airport.

The Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Prof Makame Mbarawa, spoke at the signing ceremony, explaining that a shortage of the relevant equipment in Tanzania has meant the eastern triangle portion of the country’s airspace is currently being monitored by Kenya. He noted that this has been denying TCAA up to $1m in fees annually from airlines using that portion of the airspace.

TCAA director general Hamza Johari said the project was part of wider efforts to secure the country’s air space. He added that TCAA would purchase the radars with internally sourced funds, of which 45% would be from the authority’s various sources and the government will provide the remaining 55%. He explained that the French firm won the tender through competitive bidding which involved five bidders.

New railway law
The Tanzanian Parliament has passed a new law – the Railways Act, 2017 – which will, among other things, enable the establishment of a new railway company, the Tanzania Railway Cooperation (TRC). The new company will be responsible for handling all rail matters including transportation services, developing, promoting and managing infrastructure assets in the country. The new law also facilitates the disbandment of Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL) and the Rail Assets Holding Company (RAHCO). “All the contracts and agreements entered by TRL and RAHCO will be accommodated into the new company that means even the debts that the two entities had,” said Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Prof Mbarawa. He added that the new law will replace the 2002 Railways Act.

Bulldozer goes to work around Ubungo

Tanesco building and Morogoro Road, Ubungo (Paul Scott. wikipedia)

President Magufuli has directed that the Tanesco headquarters building on Morogoro Road in Ubungo, Dar es Salaam must be demolished as it encroaches on the road reserve. The 10-story building is located within 90m of the centre of the road, in contravention of the Road Reserve Act. On the other side of the road, a boundary wall for the offices of the Ministry of Water also encroaches, and has already been demolished following the President’s instruction.

Potential demolition of the Tanesco building was raised in 2011 while President Magufuli was Ministry of Works. He had then instructed the National Roads Agency (Tanroads) and Tanesco to demolish the building, only to find himself overruled by the then Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda.

Demolition of the building has become more urgent as the space is required for construction of a new $88m flyover interchange at Ubungo, similar to the interchange already under construction at TAZARA. Around 1,300 houses, public buildings and houses of prayers have been demolished this year by Tanroads to pave the way for the expansion of the Kimara-Kiluvya section of Morogoro Road.

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HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

Prize for Dr Malecela
Tanzania’s Dr Mwele Malecela has been awarded the 2017 Kyelem Prize in recognition of her work in combating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Dr Malecela, now serving as a Director in the World Health Organisation (WHO) African regional office, was previously director general of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in Tanzania. She was fired from that position by President Magufuli in December 2016, the day after she told the media there were signs that the Zika virus was present in Tanzania.

Dr Malecela’s prize was received on her behalf by Dr Upendo Mwingira, the NTD programme manager in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children. “It’s a real honour to have Dr Upendo receive the award on my behalf! Thanks Tanzania NTD Programme, it’s our collective success!” said Dr Malecela.

The Kyelem Prize is awarded by the NTDs research coalition (CORNTD), a group of researchers, programme implementers and their supporters with a shared goal of optimising elimination of NTDs. The prize is named after the late Dr Dominique Kyelem, a medical doctor from Burkina Faso who worked tirelessly in combating NTDs. (The Citizen)

Innovation in malaria prevention
The London Times recently published an article by Kate Wright about what it described as ‘Trojan cows’ and the worldwide campaign to defeat malaria. A biotech company is going further than the use of nets or insecticides to thwart the mosquitoes that carry malaria from person to person. They have now begun using livestock doused in human scent to lure mosquitoes to their deaths.

In much of East Africa livestock such as cows and goats often live alongside people. These animals get malaria. Mosquitoes tend to prefer sucking blood from humans. A potent cocktail of four or five human odour compounds has now been developed that can be sprayed on to animals so that they can develop their own alluring ‘eau de human’ rather than ‘eau de cologne’.

The concept has been tested on a small scale where researchers conducted experiments in which they go into a greenhouse, and then, together with the goats, face the mosquitos, noting where each one landed. The researchers found that mosquitos were attracted to the goats sprayed with a common worming medicine that also kills mosquitos. The mosquitos can thus be persuaded to bite cows or goats that will kill them and prevent them from spreading malaria. (The Times)

Malaria past and present
A new study has found that the prevalence of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa is at the lowest point since 1900. A team of researchers led by Professor Bob Snow of the Centre for Tropical Medicine & Global Health at Oxford University, spent 21 years finding and analysing data from over 50,000 surveys of malaria prevalence from across Africa.

The study found an overall decline of 24% in the number of children infected with malaria between 2010 and 2015, and a 40% drop between 1900 and 1929.

“Investment in malaria control in Africa has been sporadic in the past,” said Professor Snow. “The world has seen a reduction in malaria over the last 15 years, based largely on the use of treated bed nets and antimalarial drugs. If we take our eye off the ball, then rising drug resistance and falling control will lead to the sorts of increases we saw in the 90s.”

The financial boost provided by the Global Fund has, since 2005, led to one of the largest drops in malaria infection prevalence witnessed. However, gains made after 2005 have stalled since 2010. A decline in funding, coupled with increased insecticide and drug resistance, are the main obstacles to the elimination of malaria in Africa. (The Conversation)

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KEY “ESCROW” SUSPECTS ARRESTED

Harbinder Singh Sethi and James Rugemalira kneel outside the courtroom

Two key suspects in the alleged corruption case around power generation contracts – popularly known as the “Escrow” case – have been arrested and charged in Dar es Salaam.

Harbinder Singh Sethi of Pan Africa Power Solutions Tanzania (PAP) and James Rugemalira of VIP Engineering and Marketing jointly face six charges of economic sabotage, forgery, impersonation, running a criminal syndicate, obtaining money by false pretence and causing loss of money to the government. This is the first time that the two, who were at the centre of one of the most high-profile scandals in Tanzania’s recent history, have appeared in court, almost three years after Parliament recommended their prosecution.

Their arrest is seen by many as a strong move by the government to bring to justice suspects implicated in mega scandals. It will also likely boost President John Magufuli’s scorecard on his pledge to combat corruption from the top. Donors and others have previously criticised what they perceived as government inaction on the case, including delaying some aid disbursements.

Mr Sethi and Mr Rugemalira were brought to the court on June 19th, under tight security. Mr Sethi knelt down and Mr Rugemalira squatted before they were led to the dock. They face economic sabotage charges relating to causing the government a loss of over USD $22m and TSh 309m. The suspects were denied bail.

Government prosecutors told the court that Mr Rugemalira, who owned a 30% stake in IPTL, and Sethi, the executive chairman of PAP, colluded with government officials in running an illegal syndicate with an intention of profiteering from their collusion. The prosecution accused Mr Sethi of forging a company registration certificate in October 2011 and lying that he was a Tanzanian resident living in Masaki area while knowing it was not true. Both the accused were said to have illegally withdrawn large sums of money from the escrow bank account.

Mr Sethi, who mostly lives in South Africa, was reportedly arrested at Julius Nyerere International Airport as he and his wife were about to fly out.

Mr Sethi and Mr Rugemalira were named in 2014 in Parliament as having overseen a plan which saw more than TSh 300bn transferred from an Escrow account held jointly by IPTL and the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) at the Bank of Tanzania (BoT). According to the investigations of the Tanzanian media, followed up by the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, much of the money was shared around among a long list of high level politicians, government officials, judges and religious leaders, among others. The scandal led to the resignation of the then Attorney General, Fredrick Werema, and Energy and Minerals minister Sospeter Muhongo, while President Jakaya Kikwete fired the then Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development minister, Prof Anna Tibaijuka. Several other senior government officials in various ministries are facing charges over their role in facilitating the matter or receiving money from the escrow proceeds.

“For a long time now, people have been curious to know the progress of our investigation on the Tegeta escrow and IPTL scandals,” said Valentino Mlowola, Director General of the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau (PCCB). “I can announce today that the prime suspects … have been arrested and will be charged with economic sabotage and other related offences.”

“I want to sincerely thank the government for charging the two businessmen over the escrow scandal as recommended by Parliament,” said Mr Zitto Kabwe, the ACT-Wazalendo party leader and Kigoma Urban MP. Mr Kabwe chaired the Public Accounts Committee that investigated the case.

Following the arrests, one of those accused of receiving a portion of the funds, William Ngeleja, the former Minister of Energy and Minerals and the current MP for Segerea (CCM), said he would return to the government the TSh 40.4m he had received from Rugemalira. Ngeleja said he had accepted the money as a “donation” to support constituency development activities and had not at the time realised the money was connected with a scandal.

PCCB public relations officer Musa Misalaba said the bureau has all the details of how the IPTL account funds were disbursed, and will use all its tools of investigation to determine the extent of impropriety, if any. He said the investigations are covering all beneficiaries and others implicated in the scandal, irrespective of whether they are politicians, public servants, religious leaders, or similar, but he declined to disclose the names of the beneficiaries.

Those widely named as having received funds from Rugemalira include Prof Tibaijuka, and Andrew Chenge, former Attorney General and current MP for Bariadi West, who are both reported to have received TSh 1.6bn. Others said to have received smaller amounts include judges, religious leaders, and employees and board members of various public institutions including Tanesco, the tax authority (TRA) and the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC).
(The Citizen, The Guardian, Daily News, Mwananchi)

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AGRICULTURE

by David Brewin

The armyworm returns in another form

Fall armyworm

The much-feared armyworm caterpillars have returned in another form to parts of Africa including Tanzania. These armyworms are called “fall armyworm”, and they began emerging in early 2017 throughout East Africa and beyond. During recent months, the governments of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have allocated more than $7.85 million for the purchase of specialised chemicals to fight them as they could wipe out large areas particularly of maize and sugarcane.

The fall armyworm is not easily noticeable in its early stages as it attacks from the heart of the maize or sugar plant. It burrows into the stalks of maize like a borer and once the worms turn into moths they can lay more than 2000 eggs in different places with a lifespan of 30 days spreading fast and in huge numbers.

The Permanent Secretary in the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Mathew Mtigumwe has been quoted in the press as saying that the government is aware of the presence of the new species and has put into action various initiatives to control the situation particularly in the Katavi, Mbeya and Songwe areas. Rungwe Region has been attacked from neighbouring Zambia.

The fall armyworm appears to be new in Africa and it attacks maize at all stages. Control is difficult because of the cost and scarcity of specialised pesticides as the crops are resistant to the conventional chemicals formerly used against armyworm.

Expansion of irrigation
Tanzania is said to be still well below achieving its target of 1 million hectares of irrigated land, as efforts to boost irrigation in Tanzania continue but the industry faces many problems. These include ongoing low productivity, rising food prices, and growing concerns that climate change will impact on Africa’s already unpredictable weather.

The total area of irrigated land in Tanzania is expected to double between 2004 and 2040 which promises big increases in food security. Crop yields are estimated to be 2 to 4 times higher on irrigated land than on non-irrigated land.

Tanzania may actually be much closer than expected to its national target of 1 million hectares of land irrigated, but the figures are difficult to confirm because official statistics often do not include irrigation schemes set up and run by individual small farmers. Further research is needed.

Cashew nut smuggling
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has warned that traders and farmers in Lindi Region must stop selling cashew nuts to “racketeers”, and told them that they must use the official authorised marketing channels which will also provide better prices. Some traders have been buying the nuts at TSh 1,000 per kilo but the real price is expected to rise to TSh 3,500 this year.

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HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

Concern over rising diabetes burden
Experts on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have predicted that the cost of curbing diabetes in Tanzania and other eastern African countries will increase from $3.8 billion in 2015 to $16.2 billion by 2030. The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology Commission on Diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa, say the cost associated with the disease could more than double in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030, with Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia especially hard-hit. They say that this is likely to happen if type 2 diabetes cases continue to increase.

“We conclude that sub-Saharan Africa is not prepared for the increasing burden of diabetes brought about by rapid and ongoing transitions,” said the commission’s report. “Effective management of diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa will require careful considerations about the expansion of services to meet current and future burden, while ensuring that services are integrated with those for other chronic diseases. The health, economic, and societal consequences of inaction will be huge. Decisive action is needed now, by all stakeholders, to address the scale and urgency of diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The report estimates that the economic cost of diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015 totalled $19.5 billion, equivalent to 1.2% of the region’s GDP. More than half of this economic cost is spent on accessing diabetes treatment, including medication and hospital stays. The remaining economic costs were a result of productivity losses, mostly from early death, as well as people leaving the workforce early, taking sick leave and being less productive at work due to poor health.

Rapid societal transitions that are producing increases in wealth, urbanisation, changing lifestyle and eating habits, more sedentary work practices and aging populations have led to increased risk of type 2 diabetes. (The Citizen)

Tanzania moves to put all people living with HIV on ARVs
TANZANIA officially started anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment for people living with HIV after testing positive effective October last year, with the government announcing that the new arrangement targets 1.2 million victims. The move comes in the wake of a World Health Organisation (WHO) directive in 2015 that any HIV-positive person must immediately be put on anti-retroviral treatment regardless of CD4 count.

The WHO directive followed studies that established that it was safer for patients to start using the drugs before the CD4 count dropped. Previously, Tanzania was applying a system under which only patients whose CD4 cell count had dropped to below 350 qualified for the therapy.

The Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla, told Parliament that between July 2015 and June 2016, about 84,000 people who had tested HIV positive were enrolled for ARVs treatment.

“We will ensure that whoever is found with HIV, including children and elders, start taking the drugs straightway,” said the deputy minister.

The government also plans to include a new generic version of the antiretroviral drug Dolutegravir (DTG) in the national HIV/Aids treatment protocols. The Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, told The Citizen that the ARV had been lined up for registration and licensing by the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA). A generic of DTG, first approved in the United States in 2013, is already in use in Kenya and has the backing of Unitai, the global health initiative working to end tuberculosis, HIV/ Aids and malaria epidemics.

“Shipments are scheduled to start in January 2018 after the TFDA’s registration process is completed,” said the Minister. She added that Tanzania would start using the generic drug in combination with other ARVs. DTG, whose brand name is Tivicay, is produced by ViiV Healthcare, which is majority-owned by British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.

A total of 1.4 million Tanzanians were estimated to be living with HIV in 2015. An estimated 54,000 new infections and 36,000 AIDS-related deaths occur in Tanzania each year. (Daily News, The Citizen)

Government reiterates respect for traditional healers
The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders and Children, Ummy Mwalimu, told parliament that traditional healers are legally recognised by the government through the Traditional and Alternative Health Practice Council, 2002. She said that the government has set-up a new registration system for herbalist and traditional healers, where they are supposed to register at their specific localities under the office of the District Medical Officers (DMOs).

The minister was responding to questions from MPs. Joseph Kasheku, Geita Rural MP, expressed concern with the level of education of some of the practising herbalists in the country, and called on the government to come up with an educational plan for traditional healers, especially since many Tanzanians depend on their services. Ushetu MP, Elias Kwandikwa, wanted to know why the government was arresting traditional healers in Ushetu District.

In 1974, the Traditional Medicine Research Unit was established at the University of Dar es Salaam, and in 1989 the government set up a Traditional Health Services Unit in order to unify traditional health practitioners and mobilise them to form their own association.

Traditional health services were officially recognised in the National Health Policy of 1990, and in 2002 the Traditional and Alternative Medicines Act was introduced. (Daily News)

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POLITICS & MISCELLANY

CCM reforms and disciplinary measures

The CCM National Congress approved a series of changes to the party’s constitution. The major changes include a reduction of members of the party’s top organs, a reduction of party meeting frequencies and the abolition of unconstitutional posts. The party’s National Executive Committee now has 163 members, down from 388, and the Central Committee has reduced from 34 to 24 members. Other reforms include prohibition of multi-leadership posts within the party.

Addressing the party congress, the party chairman, President Magufuli, said the reforms aimed at boosting efficiency and reducing dependence on financiers. “This is a big party, we have 8.5 million members, we have resources and many sources of income, there is no need for us to continue begging,” he said.

At the same series of meetings, the party’s National Executive Committee stripped 18 senior figures of their party membership, including former Minister Sophia Simba. This move was interpreted widely as a purge of key supporters of Edward Lowassa who had remained in the party after his defection from CCM to Chadema in the run up to the 2015 election. Others, including Central Committee member, Emmanuel Nchimbi, were given “strong warnings”, or “forgiven”, as in the case of the party’s chairman for Dodoma Region, Adam Kimbisa.

In July 2015, Simba, Nchimbi, and Kimbisa as members of CCM’s central committee publicly opposed the decision of the party’s central committee to remove Lowassa from a shortlist of presidential candidates, saying they disagreed with the manner in which the presidential hopefuls were short-listed. (Daily News, The Guardian)

New scrutiny of foreign nationals’ immigration status
A government notice issued in February “invited” all employers and non-citizens working in Tanzania to participate in a formal verification exercise. The notice, issued by the Labour Commissioner in the Prime Minister’s Office, gave all non-Tanzanians currently working in the country 30 days to submit their work permits to the nearest labour office for verification purposes.

In April, the Immigration Department then launched an electronic verification system for use in scrutinising and approving residential permit applications by foreigners coming to live or work in the country. “The system is simple, and offers the opportunity for employers and foreigners already with resident permits to verify their documents and confirm that they have been issued by relevant authorities,” said the department’s Commissioner General, Dr Anna Makalala.

This follows the publication in late 2016 of new regulations governing the employment of non-citizens in Tanzania. The regulations, provide some clarifications on the procedures, timelines and document checklists for processing each type of work permit, including grounds for exemptions.
(Further detail on the new regulations is available from FB Attorneys: http:// fbattorneys.com/legal-update-15-march-2017/) (The Citizen, The Guardian)

Power struggle at Tanganyika Law Society

Tundu Lissu, a senior MP for the opposition party, Chadema, was elected as President of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS). This followed a power struggle in which senior government ministers threatened to deregister the society if it elected a politician to a leadership role. In the week before his election, Mr Lissu was arrested twice and charged with sedition at a Dar es Salaam court before being released on bail.

According to some TLS members, the government threats against TLS backfired, motivating the society’s members to back Lissu in order to protect their professional independence. Mr Lissu said his victory had nothing to do with his political party, Chadema, and promised to serve all lawyers impartially. (The Guardian)

Ban on alcohol sold in sachets
A ban on selling alcohol in small plastic sachets – known as “viroba”
– came into force in March. Many shops were left with large stocks that they are unable to sell, and customers were forced either to stop drinking or to shift to comparatively more expensive bottled liquor. The cheapest viroba drinks retailed at TSh 500, the cheapest bottles cost around TSh 3,500. Manufacturers asked for more time to adjust to bottling technology.

The Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, said the fondness for viroba was killing large numbers of young Tanzanians, including students, since different brands were available in plastic sachets at virtually every street corner, even close to primary schools.

Banditry in Coast Region
There is widespread concern at a recent wave of killings of local government leaders and police officers in Coast Region. In the most deadly incident, eight officers were shot dead by an armed gang in mid-April.

Commissioner of Police for Training and Operation, Nsato Mssanzya told journalists that the police had launched a manhunt in response, had discovered the criminals’ temporary hideout and in an exchange of gunfire had killed four bandits. He added that there was no evidence to link the ongoing incidents with terrorism, but rather that it seemed a small group of criminals was causing fear in the area.

Home Affairs Minister, Mwigulu Nchemba, said the government has increased the number of police officers and facilities in Kibiti District in Coast Region as part of establishing a special police zone.

It was also reported that political parties were having difficulty persuading qualified candidates to stand for village leadership roles in the region, as several village leaders have also been killed in recent months. (Daily News, The Citizen)

Call for Maji-Maji compensation
The Minister of Defence and National Service, Hussein Mwinyi, said the government is preparing to ask the German government to compensate those who were affected by the Maji Maji war. He was initially responding to questions in parliament, and followed this up in an interview with German media outlet, Deutsche Welle. German soldiers are accused of crimes including forced starvation following the tribal revolt known as Maji Maji between 1905 and 1907.

“Compensation is what we are looking for and there are a few other examples in the African region of countries who have asked for this,” said the Minister. He added that the idea was “to compensate those who lost their lives and of course there are some surviving victims of the war. But those who lost their lives, they have people who could benefit from it.” (Deutsche Welle)

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3.6 MILLION YEAR OLD FOOTPRINTS

Preliminary digging and cleaning operations at Laetoli Site S. Photo Sofia Menconero http://www.paleoantropologia.it

Additional footprints belonging to a group of early humans have been uncovered in Laetoli, Tanzania, dating from 3.6 million years ago. The prints were made when five of our ancient ancestors walked across wet volcanic ash.

The 13 footprints were discovered by an international group of researchers, led by Sapienza University in Rome. The researchers believe that they belong to five members of Australopithecus afarensis – the pre-human species best known for the fossil skeleton, nicknamed ‘Lucy.’ Professor Giorgio Manzi, lead author of the study, said: “This novel evidence, taken as a whole with the previous findings, portrays several early hominins moving as a group through the landscape following a volcanic eruption and subsequent rainfall.”

“The footprints of one of the new individuals are astonishingly larger than anyone else’s in the group, suggesting that he was a large male member of the species,” he added.

Based on measurements of the length and width of the footprints, stride length and the angle of the gait, the male weighed around 48kg (100lbs) and measured about 5 foot 5 (165cm), while the lightest of the group only weighed 28.5kg.

Researchers say the footprints suggest that members of Australopithecus afarensis may have had a social arrangement of one dominant male mating with several females.

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