HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

Debate on Health Insurance scheme
The government has launched new health insurance schemes, aimed at those not in formal employment, prompting discussion of such a scheme should operate in order to serve citizens best. Known as Najali Afya (I care about health), Wekeza Afya (Invest in health) and Timiza Afya (Achieve health), the new schemes are run by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

At the launch, the director general of NHIF, Dr Bernard Konga, said the newly introduced packages will enable more people to access healthcare products and services. Previously, he said, health insurance scheme mainly covered workers in the formal economy. Under the new packages, membership fees are pegged at between TSh 192,000 and TSh 516,000 for Tanzanians aged from 18 to 39 years.

Earlier, Mr Konga had appealed to the government to make health insurance enrolment mandatory, so the country would achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). According to him, under the current system most people remain uncovered because it is optional to join the health insurance schemes.

“At least 65% of the population doesn’t have access to the quality health services in the country because they have not enrolled on health insurance schemes,” said Dr Konga. “This can be eliminated only if the health insurance enrolment is made mandatory just like it is in some countries.”

The Parliamentary Committee on Social Services and Community Development noted that it was “no walk in the park” for low-income families to afford the annual fees. The committee’s chairman, Mr Peter Serukamba, suggested that the fees be paid on monthly basis during the year. Other committee members pointed to the fact that many health problems are not covered by the schemes, including cancer, hypertension and diabetes.

Further, opposition party ACT-Wazalendo criticised the government over the new schemes, arguing that it sought to exploit people through turning provision of basic services into a business, and that it would create social classes in accessing health care services. They argued that nobody ever chooses to fell sick or suffer from one kind or other of disease.

The Minister for Health, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, responded in a tweet, saying “the packages are entirely voluntary. No one is forced to enrol in one form or the other. Besides, they have not replaced the Community Health Insurance (CHF) arrangement, where the annual contribution rate remains TSh 30,000 for a household consisting of up to six members.”

The NHIF itself was quick to defend the fees for the schemes, arguing that they were reasonable and reflect the high healthcare costs.

Health Insurance has expanded considerably in recent years, with coverage rising to around 30% of citizens in 2018 from 20% just four years earlier. Expansion has been led by two government initiatives, namely NHIF and the CHF. This progress, and the new schemes, will not achieve the government’s previous target of universal insurance coverage by 2020. However, household surveys suggest that those with health insurance are more likely to seek professional help when they fall ill, and that they pay considerably less for their health services when the do so.

Ebola scare flares briefly
Ebola-related panic arose in Dar es Salaam and Mwanza in early September, when two patients showed Ebola-like symptoms. One of the patients, a 34 year old Tanzania doctor studying for a post-graduate course in Kampala, Uganda, died in Dar es Salaam on September 8. She was undergoing treatment at the Temeke Hospital Ebola Treatment Unit and her burial was supervised by the authorities, according to a leaked report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In response, some foreign embassies – including both the UK and the US – issued alerts to their citizens resident or travelling in Tanzania. The UK notice stated that “it appears probable that this is an Ebola-related death.”

The government moved quickly to allay fears. “We took samples of those two cases and I can confirm that the patients were not infected with the Ebola virus,’’ said Health Minister, Ms Ummy Mwalimu at a press conference. She added that she was the only authority mandated to announce an outbreak of diseases such as Ebola and other life-threatening epidemics, and termed reports which say six other people had developed Ebola-like symptoms as rumours.

However, several commentators reacted with some scepticism, pointing to a later WHO report that itself expressed caution: “to date [late September], clinical data, results of the investigations, possible contacts and potential laboratory tests performed for differential diagnosis of those patients have not been communicated to WHO. This information is required for WHO to be able to fully assess of the potential risk posed by this event.”

As no further cases were reported, it seems probably that these cases were not in fact Ebola. However, the government’s defensiveness and lack of transparency led to one observer of global health matters to state that “Tanzania has lost a great deal of credibility” over the matter.

There is heightened vigilance across East Africa over Ebola due to an outbreak of the viral disease in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and a reported case in Western Uganda at the border with the DRC (see TA 124).

DRC is grappling with the world’s second largest Ebola epidemic on record, with more than 2500 lives lost and 3000 confirmed infections since the outbreak was announced on August 1, 2018.

“I urge the public to take precautions. We have enhanced screening for suspected cases at key border areas with Uganda and DRC and ports,” said Ms Mwalimu.

HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

Precautions in place as Ebola outbreak spread in eastern DRC

DRC affected health zones and ebola cases as of July 31, 2019; Uganda cases as of June 21, 2019 – Information from Reuters

Dr Faustine Ndugulile, the Deputy Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, said the government has taken measures to install scanners in all entry points including airports and borders to prevent Ebola from entering the country.

More than 1,800 people have died and more than 2,700 have been infected in the latest outbreak of Ebola in central Africa, which began in August 2018. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the crisis a public health emergency of international concern.

The outbreak is the second-largest in the history of the virus. It follows the 2013-16 epidemic in West Africa that killed more than 11,300 people. It took 224 days for the number of cases to reach 1,000, but just a further 71 days to reach 2,000. About 12 new cases are being reported every day.

“The government has embarked on training to health personnel to pro­vide them expertise on how to attend such patients,” said the Minister. “Surveillance systems have been set at the borders and airports. Motor vehicles from outside the country will be tracked, and isolation centres, laboratory systems and tourist monitoring systems have been put in place to ensure the country is ready for the fight against the disease,” he added.

The current 12-month epidemic began in the eastern region of Kivu in the DR Congo and cases have since been reported in neighbouring Ituri.

A case in late July in the border transport hub of Goma is of particular concern to authorities, as it is the first case in the city to be confirmed as transmission within the city. The two previous cases were patients who travelled to Goma after contracting the disease elsewhere. It is far harder to isolate patients and trace contacts in major cities, where large populations live in close proximity. Goma also adjoins the city of Gisenyi in Rwanda, and people travel between the two places every day.

Rwanda has stepped up border monitoring and has urged its citizens to avoid “unnecessary” travel to DR Congo, while some 2,600 health workers had also been vaccinated. Ugandan health officials are also screening travellers at the border to check their temperature and dis­infect their hands, and some mass gatherings including market days and prayers have been cancelled. Three people died in Uganda in June, though the country has since been declared Ebola-free.

The WHO, however, stressed that no country should close its borders or place any restrictions on travel or trade, adding that the risk of the disease spreading outside the region was not high. WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said “we need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system.”

The fatality rate from Ebola is high – up to 90%, according to the WHO, and there is no proven cure as yet. However, rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids and the treatment of specific symptoms can improve survival – especially if the virus is caught early.

A multiple drug trial is currently under way in DR Congo to fully evaluate effectiveness, according to the WHO. An experimental vaccine, which proved highly protective in a major trial in Guinea in 2015, has now been given to more than 130,000 people in DR Congo, and thou­sands of health workers across the region have also been vaccinated.
(BBC, Al Jazeera, The Citizen)


Dengue fever outbreak

An outbreak of dengue fever, centred on Dar es Salaam, has caused widespread concerns and prompted a concerted government response.

“Dengue fever is here,” confirmed the Deputy Minister, Dr Faustine Ndugulile, in April. “We have started diagnosing some people, who suffered from the disease in Dar and Tanga regions. So I would like to advise health service providers to test patients, who, if diagnosed with the disease, should be provided with proper treatment,” he added.
By mid-May, the Ministry had confirmed 1,901 people had been diag­nosed with the fever since it was first reported in January this year, 95% of whom are in Dar es Salaam.

Chief Medical Officer Prof Muhammad Kambi said the government has also increased surveillance in other regions, which have not been hit by the viral disease. He further said the government has ordered more test kits with capable of diagnosing 30,000 patients.

Dar es Salaam Regional Medical Officer Dr Yudas Ndungile said the regional authorities have taken various measures to fight the disease, citing destruction of mosquito breeding sites and public awareness about the disease particularly in the hardest-hit wards.

By July, the number of cases had dropped significantly, aided by end of the rainy season: 2,759 cases were recorded in May, which fell to 790 in June. Four cases were reported to have resulted in fatalities.

The disease is caused by Aedes Egypt mosquito that bites in daylight and harboured in stagnant water. (The Citizen)

Unsafe abortion: A silent killer of young women
Abortion in Tanzania is illegal. This makes it harder for girls and women to get access to safe abortion. Despite this, women still find their own ways to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Women use various methods including herbs and sharp instruments.

The problem of unsafe induced abortion is reflected in hospital statis­tics, which show significant numbers of alleged miscarriage. Given the legal restrictions associated with abortion, it is difficult to obtain reliable information on its prevalence and to assess the magnitude of the mor­bidity and mortality associated with it.

Nevertheless, according to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, 16 percent of maternal deaths are due to complications from abortion.

Further, in a nationally representative study of the incidence of abor­tion and the provision of post-abortion care in Tanzania, researchers found that clandestine abortion is common and is a major contributor to maternal death and injury. Tanzania’s national abortion rate—36 per 1,000 women of reproductive age—is similar to that in other East African countries.

The Penal code provisions on termination of pregnancy are frequently misunderstood as a total prohibition on abortion. Under section 230, it is stated that termination of pregnancy is lawful where it is done to preserve the life or health of the pregnant woman. Nevertheless, any person who assists in an illegal abortion breaks the law, including the pregnant woman herself, anyone who assists her to procure an illegal abortion, and the supplier who provides drugs or equipment used to induce an illegal abortion.

NJOMBE CHILD MURDERS

by Ben Taylor

Ten children have been reported murdered in Njombe region over the space of a few weeks, with their bodies mutilated. This includes three children, aged five, eight and eleven years, from a single family. A number of arrests have been made.

Regional authorities in Njombe confirmed the killings in late January, saying police had found bodies of children previously reported missing.
Deputy Health Minister, Dr Faustine Ndugulile, spoke to CNN about the case. “We have found ten bodies, and most of their private parts and teeth had been removed,” he said. “It is very sad because they are children and they don’t deserve to be used like this,” Ndugulile added.

He noted that it is believed that the murders are linked to witchcraft practices, “because that is the trend for such crimes, where herbalists ask people to get these human parts for money rituals.”

“We want to identify the perpetrators, but our focus is to educate the traditional practitioners in the area quickly and those in surrounding communities on the need to stop these acts,” said the Deputy Minister.

The United Nations issued a statement expressing its “deepest condolences” to the families and communities. “The UN joins the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania in condemning these heinous acts. As the UN, we stand ready to support the Government in their efforts to address the issue,” said Alvaro Rodriguez, UN Resident Coordinator in Tanzania. “Additionally, we call upon all stakeholders to join hands to ensure that homes, schools and communities are safe spaces for children.”

In at least one case, it has been reported that local residents took the law into their own hands, killing four people they believed to be responsible for the murder of a seven-year-old girl.

When events in Njombe made both national and international headlines at the end of January, the police and political response to the case stepped up sharply. The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Job Ndugai, instructed the government to issue a statement on the situation in Njombe.

The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), General Venance Mabeyo, went to Njombe where he held closed-door talks with members of the defence and security committee in Njombe on how to contain the killings as well as with members of a special police unit that has been deployed to investigate and arrest those responsible for the killings. He called for calm among Njombe residents as authorities drill down to the root cause of the killings and bring the culprits to book. “There is no reason to panic. This is not yet a national issue because it involves individual families and the reasons behind the killings are typical family matters,” he said.

General Mabeyo told journalists shortly after the meeting that though the occurrences were still at family level, they have stained the image of Njombe to the rest of Tanzania and beyond, hence he need to stem them as a matter of urgency.

On February 4, Njombe Regional Police Commander (RPC), Ms Renata Mzinga, confirmed that 28 suspects were being held for questioning by the police. “We have uncovered the network of people who have been involved in these killings. In partnership with a special team from the Police Headquarters in Dar es Salaam, we will hunt them wherever they are. So far, we have arrested 28 people, including businesspeople, traditional healers and other ordinary citizens,” she said.

On February 12, three suspects were brought before the Njombe Resident Magistrate’s Court to face various murder charges. Reading the charge sheet, state attorneys said the accused killed three children from the same family. One of those charged is reportedly a cousin of the murdered children.

In early March, Police announced that they had arrested 65 “witchdoctors”, or traditional healers, in connection with the killings. The inspector general of police, Simon Sirro, has ordered that every traditional healer obtain a licence.

There is a belief among some people in Tanzania, and neighbouring countries, that using human body parts in rituals can bring wealth and good luck. A statement issued by 25 Tanzanian organisations, meanwhile, urged their compatriots to give up dangerous traditional beliefs. “We call upon the government to reinforce control over activities by traditional healers and to punish those behind human rights violations,” the organisations added.

A few weeks later, in early April, President Magufuli made a long-scheduled visit to Njombe, to open a new tea factory. At a public meeting, he spoke about the killings, expressing his deep sadness.
He then fired the Officer Commanding the District (OCD) for Njombe, Sifael Pyuza, accusing him of sleeping on the job end of last year and early this year.

Njombe RPC Renata Mzinga had been relieved of her responsibilities and transferred. The President, therefore, wondered out loud why the OCD of Njombe had not been similarly taken to task. “Is the OCD here? He also must leave. We must reach a point whereby we can be accountable for our actions. You must be held accountable,” said President Magufuli.

President Magufuli told Njombe residents to repent for the sins and asked a pastor to pray. “Njombe is a wonderful place but these killings have tainted the region’s reputation. This habit must stop. If there is a pastor here, come forward and pray so that people can repent,” said President Magufuli.

After the prayers, the President abruptly announced a change in his decision over the OCD. “The OCD is now forgiven. We have all been forgiven by God. All Njombe residents must now go and work hard and stop depending on Satan,” said President Magufuli.

ENERGY & MINERALS

by Ben Taylor

Still waiting on Acacia settlement
The long-running dispute between the government of Tanzania and Acacia Mining continues to drag on, though some parties have expressed optimism that an agreement may be close. The dispute relates to a US$ 190 bn tax bill demanded of Acacia by the government in 2017, citing claims of massively underreported mining output.

Speaking in February, the Minister of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi (who has more recently become Minister of Foreign Affairs), suggested a payment from Acacia and/or its majority shareholder, Barrick Gold, could come as early as March.

Around the same time, Barrick released a statement confirming that it and the government had “arrived at a proposal” that sets out the commercial terms to resolve the dispute. The Barrick statement added that this agreement is consistent with the agreement announced in October 2017, including economic benefits from Acacia’s operations to be shared with the government of Tanzania on a 50/50 basis, and a US $300m payment to the government “to resolve outstanding tax claims, to be paid over time on terms to be settled by the parties.”

Acacia itself has not been part of the negotiation process and issued a statement in response, reiterating that it had not yet seen the suggested deal with Tanzania.

Prof Kabudi’s anticipated March payment did not materialise, and in mid-March, the Tanzanian Attorney General, Adelardus Kilangi, said he anticipated the deal would be agreed with 1-2 months. He added that the appointment of a new CEO of Barrick Gold, Mark Bristow, in January 2019 had aided the negotiation process.

Analysts for RBC Capital Markets think Acacia minority shareholders do not have much choice in this case. If they reject the deal agreed, Acacia would land up facing expensive and lengthy arbitration hearings. Accepting the agreement could open the possibility of securing a better operating environment, one that would almost certainly be more profitable that the current situation, as the companies mining operations have been drastically scaled back. Accepting the agreement could also secure the release of Acacia’s employees from a Tanzanian jail.

At the time of writing (April 20), the situation remains unresolved – with Acacia’s shareholders yet to reach a decision on whether to back to the deal agreed between Barrick and the government.

Uganda-Tanzania oil pipeline construction expected to start in June
Energy Minister, Medard Kalemani, announced at the end of January that construction of an oil pipeline connecting Hoima in Uganda with Tanga on the Tanzanian coast was scheduled to begin in June this year. He was speaking following a meeting between Tanzanian and Ugandan officials in Kampala.

The execution of the 1,445 km long underground crude oil pipeline from Hoima in Uganda to Tanga in Tanzania will cost an estimated US $3.5 billion. It is expected to have the capacity to transport 216,000 barrels of crude oil every day. It will be 24 inches in diameter, and Uganda will pay Tanzania a reported $12.20 for every barrel of oil that flows through the pipeline. It will also be constructed in a way that enables it to heat the crude oil. On completion, it is expected to become the world’s longest heated oil pipeline.

Since the project’s inauguration in August 2017, there have been a series of technical meetings between the governments of the two countries but there were a number of issues that had not yet been addressed. Before the meeting in Kampala, Uganda’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Irene Muloni, explained that the financial arrangements were one of the major reasons for the delay, setting back the goal of transporting oil by 2020.

The three principal companies involved in the project are Total Oil of France, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and Tullow Oil of the UK.

Liganga-Mchuchuma coal and iron project in dispute
In February, the government reignited a controversy surrounding the US $3 bn iron and coal Liganga-Mchuchuma project in Southern Tanzania, by signalling its intent to cancel the licence held by a Chinese company.
Minerals Minister Doto Biteko said the Mchuchuma-Liganga licence was troubling them and should be resolved forthwith. He instructed the National Development Corporation (NDC) to “rectify mistakes” in the mining agreement within 30 days.

The project is jointly implemented by NDC and Sichuan Hongda Group through a local venture called Tanzania China International Mineral Resources Limited (TCIMRL).

Mr Biteko said there were numerous investors ready to invest in the stalled Mchuchuma-Liganga project. The minister declared that he would be ready to shoulder the burden on the licence which has accumulated an unpaid royalty of $375,000 (over TSh 840 million).

TCIMRL responded by appearing to fault the government for not providing the promised tax incentives to ensure the implementation of the project, which it described as “risky”.

The company’s deputy chief executive officer, Eric Mwingira, told The Citizen that the project, whose contract was signed in 2011, would be up and running by now had the government not delayed.

According to Mr Mwingira, the company was asking for a 10-year tax relief for a project whose lifespan stretches between 50 and 100 years. He said the company was seeking tax incentives on import duty on cargo to be imported for the construction work, as well as incentives on spare parts and machinery and tax relief on fuel.

He said the Ministry of Finance and Planning was yet to gazette the investment incentives approved by the National Investment Steering Committee (NISC) and enshrined in the two signed performance contracts to make them legally operational. “We have been following up with the government, in meetings and letters but so far nothing has happened and we can’t drop the incentives because the projects are very risky and we can only hope that matters will open up soon as we have spent about $70 million and continue to lose,” he said.

He added that if the incentives had been endorsed as planned, Mchuchuma coal mine and power plant construction would have been completed more than three years ago, producing electricity, while the Liganga iron ore mine’s four-year construction period would have been almost complete.

Mchuchuma is said to have 428 million tonnes of coal while Liganga has 128 million tonnes of iron. The Chinese company’s plans include both mining and generation of 600MW of electricity. All the minerals will be processed locally to separate titanium and vanadium from iron ore.

The Liganga-Mchuchuma project has for many years been listed as a strategic national development investment but was in 2018 dropped from the list by finance minister Philip Mpango. TCIMRL was expected to invest $1.8 billion to establish an iron ore mine and iron and steel complex. Its power plant would be run by coal, with 250MW used for the industry and 350MW connected to the national grid.

Waste water spill at Mara North
In a development that cannot help in resolving the ongoing dispute between the government and Acacia Mining, a waste water leak occurred in March at the company’s North Mara gold mine. The toxic waste water was leaking from a waste rock storage facility and threatened to pollute local communities and their water supply.

Minerals Minister, Doto Biteko, gave the company three weeks to resolve the situation or face the mine being closed down. “The life of even one Tanzanian is worth more than their gold mining activities,” he told Reuters news agency.

Acacia issued a statement: “The spillage resulted from a security incident in which sections of the pipe used to transport water from the polishing pond to the Tailing Storage Facility (TSF) were either vandalised or stolen. The incident led to the switching off of the pump used to transport water to the TSF, and the water level in the polishing pond subsequently overflowed. Following the Mine’s remedial actions, the temporary overspill from the pond has been stopped.”

“The Mine has welcomed the support of the Government on resolving this issue, and is working closely with the authorities to implement improvements to security measures around the polishing pond in order to help prevent any reoccurrence.”

TRANSPORT

by Ben Taylor

Limits to President Magufuli’s bankrolling of Air Tanzania?
A recent audit report by the Controller Auditor General for 2017/18 shows that Air Tanzania Limited (ATCL) has more than halved its losses over the period of three years since President Magufuli began efforts to revitalise the airline. The airline has domestic flight schedules to Bukoba, Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Mtwara, Mbeya, Mwanza, Songea, Tabora and Zanzibar and six regional routes to the Comoros, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Zambia. It currently has a fleet of eight planes, including six purchased under President Magufuli.

Speaking in January, President John Magufuli ruled out the possibility that the government will protect ATCL even if it makes losses as in the past.

Inaugurating the latest addition to the ATCL fleet, a second Airbus A220-300, the President told the ATCL management to ensure that the national flag carrier does not become a burden on tax payers. “I will not hesitate to transfer ownership of ATCL aircraft and other assets, let us say to Precision Air in case the ATCL management fails to ensure that the public airline maintains high level of efficiency,” he said.

Nevertheless, the President showed no signs of slowing down in its campaign to revamp the national flag carrier. He promised that the government will purchase two more aircraft, including another Dreamliner and another Airbus by next January. “In the next 10 years I want the country to have at least 100 aircraft,” he said, “in order for ATCL to compete with other foreign airlines on relatively equal footing.”

The ATCL Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ladislaus Matindi said at the same occasion that the ATCL-Five Year Plan which kicked off in 2017, was going on well.

In addition to the expanded fleet, he said the airline has recorded a number of achievements in the past three years. This includes an increase in the number of pilots from 10 to 50 with a plan to recruit 10 more by the end of this year and attaining a workforce of 380.

Under the Medium Plan for the next 20 years, ATCL has a vision to expand cargo services within the country and internationally with capacity to compete with international airlines flying to Far East, Europe and Americas. Canadian High Commissioner to Tanzania, Pamela O’Donnell said that the purchase of such modern aircrafts had signalled renewed cooperation between Canada and Tanzania that has lasted for decades since independence in 1961.

New routes
Air Tanzania launched new international routes to Lusaka in Zambia and Harare in Zimbabwe in February. Further, in April the airline announced that a new route to Johannesburg in South Africa was scheduled to begin operations in July 2019. “We will start advertising the route and reveal fares soon after we start selling tickets,” said the company managing director, Mr Ladislaus Matindi.

Mr Matindi added that preparations for flights outside the African continent – specifically to Mumbai in India and Guanzhou in China – had reached an advanced stage. “The Mumbai and Guangzhou flights will be inaugurated when negotiations with authorities in targeted countries to enable us to land are completed.”

FERRY TRAGEDY

by Ben Taylor
Over 200 dead in latest Lake Victoria ferry tragedy

Rescuers on the upturned hull of the MW Nyerere


The MV Nyerere, a ferry operating on Lake Victoria, capsized on September 20th. The Tanzanian government have declared that 228 people died as a result while 41 were rescued.

The ferry was running its route from Bugolora on Ukerewe Island to Bwisya on Ukara Island with passengers and a cargo of maize, bananas, and cement as well as a tractor. It went down in the afternoon, 50 metres from the dock of its intended destination.

Survivors said the man steering the vessel made a sharp turn after realising he was preparing to dock on the wrong side of the ship. With the ship close to docking, many passengers had congregated on one side of the boat, with the result that it was unbalanced and unable to cope with the sudden change of course. It keeled over wildly, righted itself, and capsized on the other side, throwing dozens of passengers – none of whom were wearing life jackets – into the lake. Most of those who drowned were trapped inside the upturned hull.

Originally, officials believed that the ferry may have been carrying more than 400 passengers, approximately four times the reported maximum capacity of the vessel. The precise number of passengers is unknown as the official responsible for dispensing tickets drowned and the machine that recorded the number of passengers was lost in the wreckage. A week after the incident, the government stated that “close to 270” passengers had been on board.

President John Magufuli declared four days of national mourning and ordered the arrest of “all those involved in the management of the ferry”.

The government formed an investigative team led by a former army general to establish the cause of the disaster. Subsequently, President Magufuli dissolved the board of directors of the Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency (TEMESA), which runs ferry services on Tanzania’s mainland, as well as the board of the transport regulator, the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA).

Just one week earlier, on September 14th, the local MP, Joseph Mkundi (Chadema), had complained in parliament that he had repeatedly warned the government that the MV Nyerere was “malfunctioning” and in urgent need of repair. A government spokesperson responded that new engines had been fitted recently.

The day after the disaster, the Minister of Home Affairs, Kangi Lugola, warned people against spreading false information that might cause turmoil. President Magufuli later cautioned politicians not to take advantage of the situation to gain political popularity.

The tragedy has led to renewed calls to address overloading on passenger and cargo boats. Overloading is seen as being largely responsible both for this latest incident as well as previous Tanzanian ferry disasters, notably the sinking of the MV Bukoba on Lake Victoria in 1996 and the MV Spice Islander in the Indian Ocean in 2011, causing the loss of 892 and 1,573 lives respectively.

One commentator argued that “most commentaries miss the point when attributing blame for such disasters. Rather than focus on the culpability of those endangering lives by overloading vessels, they lament the lack of life boats or life jackets, untrained navigators, inadequate maintenance and so on. … The elementary starting point— that government agencies perform all the roles that affect the safety of passengers, and therefore share full responsibility for disasters when they happen—is carefully avoided.”

Pope Francis, the United Nations secretary-general, Russian President Vladimir Putin and a number of African leaders expressed shock and sorrow. “His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing,” the condolence telegram said, according to the Vatican.

“Our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the Lake Victoria ferry accident. Our thoughts are with you. We cannot thank the rescuers enough,” said President Paul Kagame of Rwanda in a tweet.

The ferry did not sink and was righted a week after the disaster.

REBECA GYUMI WINS UN HUMAN RIGHTS PRIZE

by Ben Taylor

Tanzanian gender rights activist, Rebeca Gyumi, has been awarded the prestigious UN Human Rights Prize.

Miss Gyumi is the 31-year-old Founder & Executive Director at Msichana Initiative, a civil society organization which aims to empower girls through education and addresses challenges which limit girls’ right to education. She has worked for over eight years with an organization working on youth, as a TV personality and youth advocate. Ms. Gyumi challenged the constitutionality of section 13 and 17 of The Law of Marriage Act of 1971 that allowed girls to marry at the age of 14 and 15 where there is parental consent or court’s sanction. She won the case before the High Court of Tanzania in 2016.

“I was pretty much shocked. So shocked and caught unaware that I was even considered for such a prestigious prize,” she said.

Rebeca had previous won the UNICEF Global Goal Award in 2016, and was named 2016 Woman of the Year by New Africa Magazine.

The Prize, established by the General Assembly in 1966 (A/RES/21/2217), was awarded for the first time in 1968 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on what is now known as Human Rights Day, 10 December.

This is the tenth award of the prize, coinciding this year with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Previous winners have included Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Denis Mukwege, Malala Yusafzai, Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Gyumi first saw the injustice around her as a 13-year-old, when some of her schoolmates dropped out of school because of pregnancy and were married off.

A few years later, while studying law at University, she learned about the Law of Marriage Act of 1971 and saw the potential in trying to mount a legal challenge against it. “It bothered me that the age for boys to be married was 18 but for girls it was 14,” she said.

In 2016, with just a couple of years’ experience as a lawyer, Gyumi and her colleagues started work on a legal case to petition against the Marriage Act, compiling reports to prove that child marriage for girls was an serious issue nationwide and why it needed to be stopped.

They won their case; the High Court ruled that sections 13 and 17 of the Marriage Act were unconstitutional and that the age for girls to legally marry should be raised to 18.

“I was so happy that day for the fact that a girl child had won. I was overwhelmed with joy,” she says. “I felt duty bound to fight for the girls I had interacted with. They didn’t have enough information to know how to challenge what was happening to them.”

Though her success was celebrated by many around the country, not everyone was happy. She was attacked for promoting a “Western culture”, and the government launched an appeal against the ruling in 2017, arguing that child marriage can actually protect girls who get pregnant out of wedlock.

The case is currently in Tanzania’s high court with a verdict due soon.

“For me I feel like we are at the moment where our country really needs to defend girls’ rights,” said Rebeca. “This appeal does not send a good message of our country’s intention to protect girls generally. It will look really bad on the government if they win. There is no victory in winning a case that allows girls to get married younger. It’s not a victory a country can be proud of.”

Winning the 2018 Human Rights Prize puts Gyumi on the international stage alongside other activists such as Malala Yousafzai, Denis Mukwege and Nelson Mandela, and it’s not something she takes lightly.

“It’s not just a personal honour but my country’s honour, putting our country on the map. It’s a proud moment for me and for the girls I stood up for and for the ongoing global progress that is happening around girls’ and women’s rights.”

Asked by CNN what her message is to other young girls out there, her answer was simple: “I encourage you today to be brave and stand up for your truth.”

TRANSPORT

by Ben Taylor

New ship purchased for Lake Victoria
President John Magufuli attended the signing of a contract to build a new ship, which will ply Lake Victoria between Mwanza and Bukoba, Musoma and ports in Kenya and Uganda. The signing took place two weeks before the tragic sinking of the MV Nyerere (see earlier article in this section.)

The new ship, which will be built at the cost of TSh 88.76 bn, will be 90 metres long, 17 metres wide and 10 metres high, and will have a capacity of carrying 1,200 passengers and 400 tonnes of cargo including 20 cars.

The project is to be implemented by two South Korean companies in collaboration with the National Service-economic wing, Suma JKT.

The construction of a new ship comes four and seven years after MV Victoria and MV Butiama respectively suspended operations because of technical issues, which greatly increased transport costs and times around the Lake Zone. It also comes 22 years since the MV Bukoba sank causing close to 1,000 deaths.

Speaking after witnessing the signing of the contract, President Magufuli said the projects were funded domestically. “There is not a single shilling from South Korea. Their ambassador is here to ensure that we get the value of money from the projects,” the President said. He added that citizens’ participation in the projects – through Suma-JKT – “would ensure that part of the money remains in the country.”

The project is scheduled to be completed within a year.

Welcoming the Head of State, the minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Mr Isack Kamwelwe, said they now have a challenge of increasing cargo to neighbouring countries.

“Together with the minister for Finance and Planning Dr Phillip Mpango and Industries, Trade and Investment minister Charles Mwijage, we will meet Kariakoo traders to understand their challenges in realising this endeavour,” he said.

FastJet and ATCL
The revived national airline, Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), has been reinstated in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Clearing House (ICH) after meeting its obligations. This allows ATCL to resume use of the IATA ticket platform and opens the possibility of flights to Mumbai, India.

The national carrier lost its IATA membership in 2008 due to non­payment of debts, a development that saw the ATCL banned from all international aviation transactions.

Further, in mid-December, ATCL took delivery of another new aircraft, the first of two Airbus A220 aircraft. A sister aircraft is expected in January 2019.

With a range just over 5,000km, the A220 will bring many points in Central and West Africa within range of Dar es Salaam, while giving the carrier a low-risk option to venture into the Middle East or grow frequency on existing domestic and international routes.

This will bring Tanzania’s active fleet to seven aircraft, comprising four propeller-driven Bombardier Q400s, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and now the two A220s. A further Bombardier Q400 is also expected in 2019.

Meanwhile, the continued re-emergence of ATCL has taken place alongside growing difficulties faced by low-cost rival airline, FastJet.

FastJet Tanzania, which as recently as August had been planning to lease several new aircraft for routes within Tanzania, has since met with regulatory and financial difficulties. In September, Fastjet PLC – then the majority shareholder of FastJet Tanzania – disclosed in filings with the London Stock Exchange (LSE) that it was considering closing down its operations in Tanzania, on account of the “continued losses generated in the country.” The statement showed a $14.6 million net loss on $30.1 million in revenues for the six-month period to June 30, 2018.

Laurence Masha, a former Minister of Home Affairs who was on November 6, 2018 appointed as the first executive chairman of the FastJet Tanzania, told The Citizen newspaper in early December that had he bought 47% of the company shares owned by locals and other 17 owned by FastJet PLC, making him the new majority shareholder.

However, the new owners immediately ran into difficulties with the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA), which seized one of the airline’s two aircraft, citing unpaid debts. As the other aircraft was undergoing repairs, the company was forced to cancel all scheduled flights in December and January while it sought a new aircraft. At the time of writing, there are conflicting reports as to whether TCAA will allow this newly leased aircraft to enter the country and to operate flights.

“Fastjet Tanzania has paid some debts and others were paid by Fastjet PLC. We spent the remaining money to lease the plane and pay regulatory charges. They should now allow me to resume operations to get money for paying the remaining debts,” said Mr Masha.

“We really need the wisdom of the regulators and supportive cooperation from the government because we cannot manage to pay the debts while we are not doing business. I have talked to TCAA and the minister and I’m looking forward to getting their support after the festive season,” he added.

“Fastjet PLC thought the company would get cooperation from the government when it had a local investor but I don’t see it happening. There was a time I did not sleep for five days when I was busy looking for strategic investors to put their money into the company. They always ask if we have this supportive cooperation with the government,” he said.

However, TCAA Director General Hamza Johari told reporters that it was not true that they denied the airline the permit but that the applications were submitted late and were yet to be processed because of Christmas holidays.

He said that the authority received three letters from Fastjet Tanzania on December 24th, including one in which the company requested to bring in the Boeing 737-500 plane from South Africa and another on its business and financial plans.

“We will respond to all the letters in accordance with the law,” he said, adding that “if they really want to invest in the aviation sector, they must be more serious.”

The TCAA boss also denied allegations that it was favouring Air Tanzania Limited Company (ATCL) in order to give the state-owned airline a monopoly over the local market. He said such claims were unfounded as the sector was already competitive.

ENERGY & MINERALS

by Roger Nellist

Ministry split, new Ministers appointed
In October 2017 following the mineral sands export saga, enactment of the controversial new mining and petroleum legislation and the dismissal of the former Minister for Energy and Minerals, President Magufuli divided the Ministry of Energy and Minerals into two portfo­lios and appointed new top teams.

Tanzania’s new Minister for Energy is Dr Medard Kalemani, supported by Ms Subira Mgalu as Deputy Minister and by Mr Khamis Mwinyi Mvua as Permanent Secretary. Tanzania’s new Minister for Mining is Ms Angellah Kairuki, supported by Deputy Minister Stanislaus Nyongo and by Mr Simon Samuel Msanjika as Permanent Secretary.

Statoil renamed as Equinor
Meanwhile in May the large Norwegian State oil and gas company Statoil – which has discovered large gas reserves offshore Tanzania and is a key partner in the potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) project – announced it had formally changed its name to Equinor. The new name reflects the company’s values (of equality and equity) as well as its continuing Norwegian presence. The move comes at a time when it is increasing its efforts to develop new and renewable forms of energy.

LNG project in the doldrums
In recent years, large gas discoveries (estimated at about 57 tcf) have been made offshore southern Tanzania and during the last two or three years the government and the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) have been in discussions with the principal discov­erers – Shell, Exxon Mobil, Ophir Energy and Equinor (Statoil) – with a view to building a large LNG export terminal onshore at Lindi. It will be a huge investment, costing an estimated US$30 billion. However, progress on realising the project has slowed recently and various factors are being cited for this.

The investors are blaming government for the bureaucratic procedures they face in acquiring land to build the plant on as well as the uncer­tainty introduced into the overall energy regulatory environment by the tough new legislative provisions. (See articles in earlier TA bulle­tins). Crucially, the Host Government Agreement terms have yet to be agreed, without which the LNG project cannot proceed. Further uncer­tainty arose this summer when Exxon Mobil indicated it was seeking a buyer for its 35% interest in the big gas reserves in Tanzania’s offshore deep water Block 2 (where Equinor, the operator, holds 65%). There have also been worries about the substantial fall (by about one third) in world gas prices since 2015.

Observers suggest that relations between the gas developers and the government are strained and that a final investment decision on the Tanzanian LNG project seems unlikely before the early 2020s. To help move matters along, in April TPDC announced it was recruiting inter­national advisers to assist it to formulate an appropriate commercial framework for the project.

Three critical parliamentary committee reports
In Dodoma in May the Parliamentary Energy and Minerals Committee criticised the Ministry of Energy for its slow progress in implementing the LNG project, and called on the government to fast-track its negotia­tions with the investors – so as not to lose crucial overseas gas markets to competition from other major gas producers. They pointed to neigh­bouring Mozambique, which has gas reserves three times larger than those so far discovered in Tanzania and is also more advanced with its gas commercialisation plans.

In response, Minister Kalemani told Parliament that government was still in discussions with the multinational investors and that conceptual design work and initial project evaluation had been completed. He said government had already budgeted TSh 6 billion to fund pre-front end engineering design of the LNG plant as well as to compensate people affected by the project.

Then on 25 June Dr Kalemani told Parliament that “everything is pro­gressing well” and that actual construction of the LNG plant would start in 2022. He said the multinational investors were currently com­peting among themselves to determine which of them will lead the project execution.

On a related gas matter the same Committee also criticised his Ministry for the slow speed at which it was connecting homes in Dar to the gas supply. Minister Kalemani responded saying that 70 homes were already connected, another 1,000 would be served in the near future and that TPDC would be spending about TSh 21 billion next year putting in place the necessary infrastructure to supply a further 2,000 homes.

Also in June the Parliamentary Budget Committee asked government for an analysis of the reasons for the fall in exploration activity in Tanzania in the last year. No new wells have been drilled and con­cerns were heightened by the unsettling reports in June that Exxon Mobil was seeking to leave Tanzania in favour of a bigger LNG project in Mozambique. Minister Kalemani told Parliament: “It is true that Mozambique is doing well but Tanzanians should also understand that we are not very far from that stage”. TPDC sought to reassure stake­holders and the public about the Exxon Mobil sell-out too, commenting that such a move was normal business practise for the big multination­als, adding: “when it comes to energy investment never be in a hurry. This might just be a change of strategy or change of management”. An Equinor (Statoil) spokesman confirmed that they were proceeding with business as usual, having already invested a very large sum of money in Tanzania drilling 15 wells (and making nine discoveries).

In June too a special Parliamentary Committee that was established at the end of last year to investigate the 11 Production Sharing Agreements so far signed with government reported that gas is being produced under only three of them. Naming the five former Energy Ministers who signed all the agreements with TPDC and various international oil companies, the Committee asserted that what it viewed as shortcomings and loopholes in the terms were resulting in financial losses to govern­ment amounting to hundreds of billions of shillings. In particular, the Committee pointed to the supposed lopsided nature of the provisions in the various agreements with Songas and advised government not to renew the power production and gas drilling contracts with Songas when they expire in 2024. It highlighted the various assets of TANESCO and TPDC that were effectively given free to Songas in return for which the Committee believes those two parastatals were not awarded adequate shareholdings in the project.

The Attorney General responded, telling Parliament that government was now reviewing all the contracts with Songas. But Pan Africa Energy Tanzania – the developer and operator of the producing Songo Songo gas field and Songas – expressed concern at the “inaccurate findings and allegations” made by the special Committee, stating it had com­plied with the terms of its agreements with government and pointed to its impeccable operational record and the significant economic benefit its operations had already brought to Tanzania.

Other petroleum and mining sector problems
In April, Swala Oil and Gas declared ‘force majeure’ under the terms of its Kilosa-Kilombero Production Sharing Agreement with government and TPDC, saying it was “disappointed and frustrated” by the demand for it to undertake a special environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the likely implications for the proposed Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower dam of the company’s use of water during the drilling of its first explo­ration well (Kito-1) next year. The government has already approved an EIA that Swala undertook in 2017 and the amount of water to be con­sumed in the drilling of the well will be a tiny fraction of that pertaining to the dam. Swala has so far spent more than $20 million exploring for oil and gas in Tanzania.

Given the continuing ban on the export of gold and copper concentrates, Acacia Mining Tanzania announced in April that during 2018 it will be producing 40% less gold than it did in 2016 and, with no end then in sight to the ongoing discussions between its parent – Barrick Gold – and the government, the company was being forced to cut costs and unfor­tunately would have to lay off an unspecified number of workers at its Tanzanian mines. Acacia employs about 2,800 workers in the country, 96% of whom are Tanzanian.

In June the Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, told Parliament during the debate on the Ministry of Minerals’ budget that the ongoing discussions between government and Barrick “are in the final stages and things are in good order”; however, the US$300 million good faith payment to Tanzania promised earlier by Barrick/Acacia will only be paid once the discussions are concluded.

In a Canadian (Fraser Institute) global mining survey of 2,700 mining companies operating around the world, Tanzania’s perceived ‘mining investment attractiveness’ dropped 19 places on the world listing, fall­ing from 59th position in 2016 to 78th position last year. The substantial deterioration is blamed on the adverse legislative changes in 2017 (especially their retrospective application) and on what some inves­tors in Tanzania see as excessive and random taxation of their mineral operations. Of the 91 countries surveyed 15 were African and Tanzania ranked only 12th out of the 15 – behind Ghana, Mali, Botswana, South Africa, DRC, Namibia, Zambia, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, and only a little ahead of Ethiopia, Mozambique and Kenya (the worst).

Some good news: Miombo Hewani Wind Farm
In June, Windlab Limited announced that its Tanzanian subsidiary will be constructing a large wind turbine farm with associated electri­cal infrastructure at a location in Southern Central Tanzania close to Makambako (where it will connect with the national grid). The Miombo Hewani wind project will be built in phases and now has approval for a total generating capacity of 300 MW. The first phase (costing US$300 million) will involve the construction of 34 wind turbines that will deliver about 100 MW of electricity, also creating jobs and extra income in Njombe Region. This wind project will therefore add significantly to Tanzania’s current power generation capacity of just over 1,300 MW (comprising 560 MW of hydropower and 750 MW of thermal gas and diesel), importantly also diversifying the generating source.

In making the announcement the CEO of Windlab Limited, said: “We are very pleased to receive the first Environmental and Social Impact Assessment certificate for a wind farm in Tanzania. In developing Miombo Hewani, Windlab has applied the industry best practices and experience it has gained from developing more than 50 wind energy projects across North America, Australia and Southern Africa”. He added that Miombo Hewani enjoys an excellent wind resource, one of the best in the world. Moreover, the wind pattern there is biased towards night time generation and generation during Tanzania’s dry season, making it an ideal addition to Tanzania’s current and planned electricity generation mix. Windlab Tanzania said that the wind farm is expected to operate for at least 25 years and should generate enough power to supply nearly 1 million average Tanzanian homes.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

by Ben Taylor

Controversy over new Tanzania Embassy in Israel
On May 9, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr Augustine Mahiga, commissioned Tanzania’s new Embassy in Israel. The event took place in Tel Aviv, attended by various dignitaries includ­ing Israel’s Minister for Justice, Ms Ayelet Shaked, ambassadors and Tanzanians living in Israel.

In his speech, Dr Mahiga named Israel as a role model country, which, he said, despite facing multiple challenges with some of its neighbour­ing countries, has made major development strides in various sectors. He also urged the government of Israel to follow Tanzania’s lead by opening its embassy in Tanzania.

Dr Mahiga thanked Israel for its two ministers paying recent state visits to Tanzania, namely Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman, who visited Tanzania in March, and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who visited in April.

For her part, Ms Shaked reassured Tanzania that her country was ready to cooperate with Tanzania in various sectors particularly in agriculture, technology and health.

However, the commissioning of the embassy did attract some critical commentary, with some analysts arguing that the move did not fit well with Tanzania’s long-standing support for the Palestinian cause.
Prof Bakari Mohamed of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) said he strongly opposes the government’s move. “I totally disagree with the decision because I believe in the need for Tanzania to uphold principles of human dignity and self-determination. I don’t see any reason to sup­port diplomatic relations with a country violating the two,” he told The Citizen in an interview. He said he was disappointed with the country’s decision to re-establish diplomatic relationship with Israel because the country’s behaviour has changed since the last time Tanzania broke the relations in 1972.

Prof Gaudens Mpangala of Ruaha Catholic University (RUCU) con­curred, suggesting that Tanzania should continue upholding foreign policy sympathizing with the weak and the oppressed. He said Tanzania, under the first president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was right to break relations with Israel because of its treatment of Palestinians. “It is difficult to see why the government should make a U-turn and re-establish relations not only with Israel but also with Morocco before the issues that led to the break up in relations were addressed,” he said.

The government, however, argues that its solidarity with Palestine will not be affected by closer ties with Israel. President John Magufuli has said previously that Tanzania did a good job in supporting liberation movements in Africa and elsewhere and that it was time to focus on the country’s economic development

New Centre for Chinese Studies opened in Dar
Dr Mahiga also spoke at the launch of a new Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS) at the University of Dar es Salaam, describing the centre as an opportunity “for Tanzanians to learn how China advanced from a poor country to an economic powerhouse.”

The Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, Wang Ke, said the centre will play an important role in introducing Tanzanians to the Chinese way of life,” she said. “To better understand China, you need to be objective and independent in thinking. Only in this way you can present the real China to the people of Tanzania and other African countries.”
Wang further explained that the centre will enable Tanzanians to con­duct in-depth research on the relevance of China’s development experi­ence to Tanzania and Africa in general. “Development is the biggest challenge facing the world, and China’s experience in development may be helpful to African countries,” she said.

The CCS in Tanzania is the third such institute in Africa specialising in Chinese studies.

Dr Mahiga used the event to re-state Tanzania’s stance of “non-align­ment” in foreign affairs and “non-interference” in domestic affairs, explaining that this meant Tanzania “shall not forget the Palestinians,” and “shall not drop the issue of the Saharawians,” even while strength­ening ties with both Israel (see previous article) and Morocco (see earlier editions of TA).

Zimbabwe President Emerson Mnangagwa visits Tanzania
The new President of Zimbabwe, Emerson Mnangagwa visited Tanzania in June, his first such visit since taking over from President Mugabe late in 2017.

He was welcomed at the airport by President Magufuli, accompa­nied by other senior government officials including the Minister of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Suzan Kolimba, and the heads of defence and security forces.

The two heads of state also discussed further cooperation in health, security, tradition, education, and sports.

According to President Magufuli, boosting ties especially in trade between the two countries would be a good way of encouraging and stimulating more development pacts. “Last year, trade between our two countries was at TSh 21.1 billion, up from TSh 18.3 bn in 2016. This is not enough… we need to make more efforts on this front,” said President Magufuli.

President Mnangagwa acknowledged the role that Tanzania played in his country’s independence struggle, including by visiting the Kaole Arts College in Bagamoyo, Coast region. The college had previously been a training college for liberation fighters from the southern part of Africa which Mnangagwa himself once attended.