Archive for Miscellany

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 Both the accused were said to have illegally withdrawn large sums of money from the escrow bank account.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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ENERGY & MINERALS

by Roger Nellist

Controversial Presidential actions on mining
In the last few months President Magufuli has issued decrees on a range of mineral matters, which are unsettling some mining investors and causing a big local stir.

Last year he ordered the revocation of a large-scale mining licence in Shinyanga in favour of the award of mineral rights to small-scale miners. In January this year, Magufuli directed the Minister of Energy and Minerals, Professor Sospeter Muhongo, to cancel a nickel mining licence at Dutwa in Simiyu region in favour of a water supply project in the area. The company that holds the Dutwa nickel mining rights (in which the World Bank through its International Finance Corporation is a 10% shareholder) has been prospecting in the area for almost a decade and is at the point of establishing a large open pit nickel mining operation. Referring to water problems in the area, the President said: “There is no way over one million people should be suffering just because one investor is extracting minerals – that does not make sense”. However, the President’s action has been strongly criticised by opposition MP Zitto Kabwe, who highlighted the considerable economic potential of the mine and said “the government is sending all negative messages to investors. These statements will cost the nation dearly in future”. The Tanzanian Chamber of Minerals and Energy called the Presidential decrees “alarming”; another body has called them an extension of violation of the law.

In a separate move, and as had been foreshadowed by President Magufuli in 2016, the Ministry of Energy and Minerals announced on 3 March an immediate ban on the export of mineral concentrates and ores for metallic minerals such as gold, copper, nickel and silver. The ban is intended to ensure that mineral value-addition activities (i.e. the processing, smelting or refining of the mineral ores/concentrates) are carried out in Tanzania, as specified in the 2009 Mineral Policy and the 2010 Mining Act. Local mineral beneficiation activities are expected to create extra jobs, generate additional revenues and transfer technology and skills to Tanzania.

However, the immediate imposition of the export ban has been criticised by several stakeholders (including small-scale miners fearing bankruptcy), who argue that existing producers have been given no time to build the necessary beneficiation facilities and that arbitrary administrative measures create an unpredictable policy environment that will deter new investors. Senior representatives of some foreign mining companies operating in Tanzania have commented that “any government making unilateral decisions is worrying and of concern” and “if the Tanzanians wish to encourage foreign investment, they’re not helping by making these sorts of announcements”. The Australian government said it was “closely monitoring” the new business policies and regulations in Tanzania for any impact those changes may have on Australian investment interests in the country.

Reports indicate that Acacia Mining Plc is the first big mining company to be affected. Although the gold bars it refines can be exported, the company has had to suspend the export of mineral sands and copper concentrate recovered during its gold mining operations. Acacia let it be known that it was losing more than $1 million each day in revenue from two of its three Tanzanian gold mines (Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi) because of the export ban. It said the ban has put unsustainable pressure on its cash flow and required it to implement stringent spending cuts and to freeze new employment.

On 23 March, President Magufuli unexpectedly visited Dar es Salaam port and inspected a number of mineral sand containers that had already been cleared for export. He ordered the stock of almost 300 containers at the port to be impounded until analysis of their contents had been completed. “Based on the information that I have, if I say what is really inside these containers, it could make any patriotic Tanzanian cry…. From now onwards, no mineralised sand will be exported from Tanzania… There is no country being robbed of its mineral wealth like Tanzania”. According to the Tanzanian Ports Authority, more than 50,000 containers holding mineral sands are being exported out of the country every year.

A few days after the President’s visit, the Speaker of the National Assembly and a number of other MPs also went to the Port to inspect the seized containers. The Speaker announced he was establishing a Parliamentary committee to investigate all aspects of the mineral sands exports saga.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Professor Justin Ntalikwa, had joined the Speaker’s visit to the port. But within hours of their visit, in an abrupt move signalling the growing sensitivity of the mineral sands export ban, President Magufuli sacked Prof Ntalikwa. No reasons were given but speculation in the press attributed Ntalikwa’s removal to his remarks about the high cost and time needed to establish local beneficiation facilities.

Then at the end of March, in an attempt to allay investors’ fears over the export ban, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa made a surprise visit to the Buzwagi Gold Mine in Shinyanga and spoke to workers there who were concerned about potential job losses resulting from the export ban. “I want to assure Tanzanians questioning this exercise that we are not doing this to scare away investors,” he said. “We want to satisfy ourselves on what is going on with our mines.” He added that the government had to clear doubts that the country was not being short-changed with regard to the export of copper concentrates. The PM’s team also took samples of mineral sands from sealed containers destined for export from the mine, in order to have them analysed independently for the amounts of copper concentrates.

The ongoing controversy has now led to official calls for some of the mining agreements to be renegotiated. Just before Easter the Controller & Auditor General sent a report to President Magufuli saying that the government must review mining contracts and rethink its tax code (to remove unreasonable provisions including generous tax exemptions and other contractual loopholes) if Tanzania is to benefit from the extractives industry.

Five-year delay for the LNG plant
At the end of 2016, Statoil’s Tanzania country manager, Oystein Michelsen, warned that a final investment decision on the $30 billion onshore liquefied natural gas export terminal will not be made for at least five years, and that it would take another five years after that to actually build the plant. The commercial partners in this mega project (which the Bank of Tanzania estimates would add 2 percentage points to annual economic growth) are Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil, Exxon Mobil, Ophir Energy and the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation. The big hurdles facing the project include the paramount need for a stable contractual framework with the Government, resolution of land issues, identification of funding and clarity over local ownership requirements in some contracts. President Magufuli has ordered officials to accelerate the resolution of these issues so that the project can start.

Tanesco – Power price hikes cancelled
At the end of December 2016, the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority announced an increase in electricity tariffs of 8.5%, to the consternation of many including the Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo, who immediately revoked the order. The increase had been sought by the state utility, Tanesco, which had actually wanted an even bigger hike. After Minister Muhongo also disclosed that Tanesco managers had been paying themselves large bonuses despite the utility’s dire financial position, President Magufuli intervened and on 1 January sacked Tanesco’s Managing Director, Felchesmi Mramba. University of Dar es Salaam senior lecturer Dr Tito Mwinuka was appointed as Mramba’s successor in an acting capacity. Mwinuka said his priorities would be to expand the country’s power production capacity, to pursue those owing the utility money, and to improve the utility’s efficiency by changing its ‘business as usual’ culture and reducing the substantial wastage of both electricity and finances within the company. He would also pursue those who make illegal electrical connections.

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AGRICULTURE

by David Brewin

The prolonged drought
Although Tanzania may have suffered less than several neighbouring countries, the prolonged drought which has hit the East African region has caused serious problems for the agricultural industry.

Most of Tanzania has experienced inadequate rains at the end of last year and irrigation farming has suffered particularly badly. The Tanzania Meteorological Agency in (TMA) blames the situation on the effects of climate change which, have affected weather patterns across the globe.
Particularly affected are coffee and tea farmers. The drought induced by the La Niña weather phenomenon leading into the last quarter of last year delayed the flowering of coffee bushes. Maize and bean harvests are also threatened which have triggered food price increases.

This year’s drought is said to be the worst in the past 34 years. Tanzania is already receiving refugees from neighbouring countries.

Sugar
In what was intended to be a contribution to the planned expansion of the sugar industry in Tanzania from a production of 300,000 tons per annum at present to an eventual total of up to 2 million tons, the government set aside 10,000 hectares in Bagamoyo district for a sugar project to produce ethanol for export. This project attracted substantial investment from Sweden, the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation, the African Development Bank and others. However, many of the population in the area were not happy and organised protests and said that it was an example of “land grabbing”. The latest news is that the scheme has now collapsed following the ending of Swedish support.

Tanneries and leather factories
Following a meeting between presidents Magufuli of Tanzania and Abdel el Sisi of Egypt in Addis Ababa it was learned that the Tanzanian Minister for Trade and Industry, Charles Mwijage, would be turning to Egypt to tap into the technology needed to help revive its tanneries and leather factories. Tanzania is second in Africa, after Ethiopia, in the number of livestock it keeps. There are some 23 million cattle, 16 million goats, 7 million sheep and 2 million pigs. But the country imports large numbers of shoes from China and South-East Asia, some 4% of which are made from pure leather. The Minister said that in Tanzania thousands of tonnes of skins and hides are wasted due to poor handling. Tanzania has eight small and medium-sized leather factories operating below capacity, in collecting and processing raw hides and skins.

High Quality Coffee
A small company of coffee growers in North Yorkshire are in the process of creating a partnership between Britain and Tanzania in producing and selling speciality coffee which is of particularly high quality. The founder of the company, David Beatty was in Tanzania recently on a research trip which is expected to be followed by the importation of high quality coffee beans from Mbeya, Mbozi and Rungwe districts. The company aims to buy premium priced coffee beans through direct negotiation with the farmers. The aim is to ensure a fixed premium price for the farmers instead of leaving them to sell their product via auction into the commodity market. Quality demands a high price, and this is the best way that a farmer can directly benefit from the increasing demand for speciality coffee. “We set our sights on Tanzania in the hopes of finding a coffee which is a true reflection of the country. Visiting the country first-hand meant that we could inspect the crop, the harvesting and processing methods plus the environmental conditions, all of which impact on the quality of the beans. Due to its exclusivity, the new coffee will be distributed to only a select few retailers, one of which is a street coffee house in Middlesbrough. It is hoped to start serving the coffee towards the end of 2017. Thank you for sending this – Editor.

Fish farming
In Tanzania fish farming is still largely a small-scale rural initiative. It is characterised by small pond culture and contributes only 1.4% to GDP. There is very much greater potential.

Inland water covers about 6.5% of the total land area including the great Lakes – Lake Victoria, Tanganyika, and yes Nyasa/Malawi. The lakes are recognised as among 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world because they are home to hundreds of species of secluded Cichlid fish. These include around 30 species of tilapia, 11 of which are not found anywhere else in the world.

The Earlham Institute and Bangor University in the UK, as part of an international consortium of organisations, are working to characterise the genetics of tilapia species. The other institutions also involved are the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, WorldFish, the University of Dar es Salaam, Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro and the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute. The aim is to improve aquaculture and fish production while preserving Tanzania’s natural diversity and resources.

In an article in the East African, the Earlham Institute’s director of science Federica Di Parmer has pointed out that tilapia farming could become a potentially important area. Tilapia are particularly suitable for aquaculture because they can tolerate different environments and conditions. Their growth rates are also relatively fast and they have low input requirements. They are second only to Carp as the world’s most frequently farmed fish.

Digitising the agricultural sector
A strategic partnership agreement has been signed between Tanzania’s national micro-finance bank (NMB) and MasterCard to digitise the agricultural sector in the country. The partnership will see the role of eKilimo, a digital platform designed to introduce efficiency, security and transparency in the agricultural supply chain. This is expected to make transactions faster, safer, and easier for all including the farmer, the buyer and the agent. Farmers will sell produce and receive payments via a smart phone.

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HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

Drone-based deliveries of blood and medical supplies to be trialled

“Zip” drone being tested in Rwanda (flyzipline.com)

The UK government is supporting a trial using drones to deliver blood and other medical supplies to remote health clinics in Tanzania. The idea is to dramatically cut the time spent distributing such supplies. The Ifakara Health Institute will be the local partner.

The drones – known as “Zips” – are small fixed-wing aircraft that are launched from a catapult. They then follow a pre-programmed path using GPS location data. Compared to multi-rotor models, the Zips cope better with windy conditions and stay airborne for longer. In theory, they can fly up to about 180 miles (290km) before running out of power. However, they require open space to land: an area about the size of two car parking slots. These drones will get round this by descending to around 5m when they reach a clinic and then dropping their loads via paper parachutes.

Dfid estimates that flying blood and medical supplies by drone from Dodoma to surrounding clinics could save around £50,000 a year com

pared to using cars or motorcycles. But they add that the time savings are more significant.
“Flights are planned to start in early 2017, and when they do it is estimated that [the] UAVs could support over 50,000 births a year, cutting down the time mothers and new-borns would have to wait for life-saving medicine to 19 minutes – reduced from the 110 minutes traditional transport methods would take,” a spokeswoman explained. “This innovative, modern approach ensures we are achieving the best results for the world’s poorest people and delivering value for money for British taxpayers,” said the International Development Secretary Priti Patel. (BBC)

Kenya turns down Tanzania’s offer of doctors to provide strike cover
The Tanzanian government offered to send 500 medical doctors to Kenya to help overcome the effects of a strike in public hospitals in the neighbouring country. This was despite Tanzania itself facing a serious shortage of medics at its own hospitals.

Kenya’s doctors went on strike in public hospitals on December 5 last year, demanding better pay and working conditions. The strike means that many public hospitals in Kenya have had to turn away some patients, and has reportedly caused the deaths of several patients at public hospitals. It has threatened to undermine Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s bid for a second term in the country’s presidential election in August, according to analysts.

President Magufuli responded positively to a request from Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for more doctors after he was visited by Kenya’s health minister, Cleopas Mailu, in Dar es Salaam. “Tanzania has accepted Kenya’s request for 500 doctors to help the country deal with a shortage of doctors at its medical centres following a doctors’ strike,” said a statement from the President’s Office.

The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu, said Tanzania has “many qualified medical doctors who are currently unemployed.”

However, a section of the medical fraternity in Kenya interpreted the offer as a form of strike-breaking, and responded by strongly hinting that the Tanzanian doctors can expect a hostile reception, triggering fears that the Tanzanian doctors could be thrown into the middle of Kenya’s tense political process and aggressive trade union movement. A court in Kenya then issued an injunction barring the government from recruiting doctors from Tanzania.

The president of the Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT), Dr Obadia Nyongole, reminded the Tanzanian government of the need to address a shortage of doctors in the country’s own medical centres. Tanzania has an estimated 2,250 medical doctors, less than half the number required to meet World Health Organisation minimum standards: the requirement is around 5,000 doctors. (The Guardian, The Citizen)

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KAGERA EARTHQUAKE

An earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale struck on September 10th in Kagera region, in the far north-west of the country. Reports vary on the precise extent of damage caused, but at least 19 people died as a result, and over 500 were injured, the majority in and around the town of Bukoba or in Missenyi District to the north. Over 2,000 buildings were destroyed and thousands more were damaged. Damage and deaths were also reported in neighbouring Uganda, though the effects of the quake there were smaller.

The Kagera regional commissioner, Major General Salum Kijuu, described the quake as a “major disaster. … We have never seen anything like this before … this is the first time in history that an earthquake has caused so much damage and loss of life in Tanzania.”

“Thousands of people who have been left homeless after this earthquake are being sheltered in schools, while we try to mobilise tents to accommodate them,” he added.

The government quickly established a response fund and encouraged public donations, with around TSh 5bn raised within four weeks. This includes contributions both from within and outside the country. Significant donations came were provided by the business and media tycoon, Reginald Mengi, (TSh 110m), the Chinese embassy in Dar es Salaam (TSh 100m), Mohamed Enterprises Limited (TSh 100m), Tanzania Breweries Limited (TSh 100m), and several oil marketing companies.

A particularly generous donation came from the government of India: TSh 545m. The Indian ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Sandeep Arya, read a message to President Magufuli from India’s Prime Minister Mahendra Modi. In the letter, Mr Modi said he and people in India “pray for patience among families which have lost their loved ones. We are assuring them that we are together with our friends in Tanzania especially during this hard time.”

There was criticism later in parliament that some aspects of the government’s response had been slow, with less than 20% of the funds raised having been spent by the end of October.

There were criticisms too of the country’s preparedness for such disasters. “The nation faces a huge problem with regard to disaster management funding and other challenges. Instead, we’re developing a culture of fund-raising even in areas that the government is required to pick the bill,” said Tanzania Human Right Defenders Coalition (THRDC) national coordinator, Mr Onesmo Olegurumwa. “The donated [funds] will help in addressing the immediate problems on the ground, but the government should now start to build its own capacity as well.”

President Magufuli also had to move quickly to prevent some from taking advantage of the quake. According to a statement from his office: “The President has revoked the appointment of Kagera Regional Administrative Secretary and Bukoba Municipal Council Executive Director after he learnt that the two opened a bank account which bears the same name as the one which was opened by the government.” The statement explained that they intended to use the account to collect money for their own benefit. (The Citizen, Daily News, The Guardian)

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MURDERS

Three separate incidents involving brutal murders shocked Tanzania in the second half of 2016.

First, in late August, when tensions were already high due to a verbal standoff between the police and opposition leaders in Dar es Salaam, four police officers were shot dead by gunmen riding motorcycles outside a bank on the outskirts of the city. A shootout took place a few days later in the village of Vikundu in Mkuranga district to the south of Dar es Salaam, in which the police battled with the alleged bandits for 6 hours, according to news reports. Fourteen “bandits” were shot dead, along with one senior police officer, and some members of the group were reportedly captured.

“We started hearing gunshots from 2am on Friday. We thought that armed bandits had raided our village, but the gunshots continued uninterrupted until daybreak,” one Vikundu villager told The Guardian. “Most of the villagers could not dare come out of their houses. Shops and food-stalls remained closed. Everything was at a standstill,” said another.

The reasons for the apparently targeted initial murder of the four police officers remain unclear, and the police have released very little information following the events in Mkuranga.

A few weeks later, on October 1st, two soil scientists and a driver of the Arusha-based Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) were killed while conducting research in Dodoma Rural District. George Mzuri, a local government representative in the area, said the researchers had arrived at the village for their work but did not report to the local government authorities there. “They later lost their way and when they tried to ask, one woman suspected them to be vampires and raised an alarm,” Mr Mzuri explained.

According to reports, the news spread rapidly in the village, fuelled further by a pastor at the Christian Family Church in the village who used the church’s public address system to inform the villagers that there was a raid by ‘vampires.’ A large group of villagers headed to the researchers’ vehicle, attacking the victims with traditional weapons and setting them ablaze. Thirteen people have been charged with murder in connection with the case.

Finally, in early December, seven bodies of unidentified men in their 20s or 30s were discovered floating in the Ruvu river. The bodies were wrapped in polythene bags filled with rocks. Acting Director of Criminal Investigations, Robert Boaz, confirmed that doctors conducted post-mortem examinations on the bodies before they were buried.

There is no suggestion that these three sets of killings are in any way connected.

Opposition leaders questioned whether the police were according sufficient effort to the Ruvu river case, and to another that arose at the same time: the disappearance of Chadema advisor Ben Saanane. Mr Saanane, the policy and research advisor to Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe, was last seen on November 18. Chadema’s chief legal officer Tundu Lissu told journalists that Mr Saanane had received death threats from unknown individuals and reported it to the police.

The Minister of Home Affairs, Mwigulu Nchemba, directed the police in the country to effectively deal with all sorts of crime that pose threat to the peace, security and cultural values of Tanzania. He said terrorism, homosexuality, killings and armed robbery cannot be tolerated.

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