GOVERNMENT DEFENDS STIEGLER’S GORGE DAM PROJECT

by Ben Taylor

Map showing the proposed Stiegler’s Gorge project -background map from www.openstreetmap.org

The government remain undeterred in its plans to construct a large dam in the Rufiji River, at Stiegler’s Gorge in the Selous Game Reserve, [see also TA 120] despite concerns expressed by conservationists and MPs.

Conservation groups including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have raised concerns since the project was mooted in 2009 and have consistently called for the project to be abandoned. The IUCN called the project “fatally flawed.”

The Selous Game Reserve is one of the last major expanses of wilder­ness in Africa. It’s a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site the size of Switzerland. Since 2014, it has been on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger, primarily because of elephant poaching. In less than 40 years, the park lost 90% of its elephants.

However, the planned hydropower dam could have an even more devastating impact. At 130 meters (427 feet) in height and stretching 700 meters across the canyon, the dam will create a lake of 1,500 square kilometres and will generate up to 2,100 MW of power.

“The dam would destroy one of the most important habitats for wildlife and the heart of the game reserve, where most of the animals roam, especially in the dry season. It would open up that whole area for indus­trialization, infrastructure and settlements,” said Johannes Kirchgatter of the Africa Program for WWF Germany. “If you’re standing in the middle of Selous now, it’s a fantastic wilderness, there is wildlife all over, and all of that would be gone… It would be a great loss for us and the generations to come.”

The dam would also have a significant impact on livelihoods further downstream. A WWF report found the dam would trap most of an estimated 16 million tons of sediment and nutrients carried by the river every year, leading to soil erosion and cutting off lakes and farmland downstream. The Rufiji delta, home to fish, shrimp and prawn fisher­ies, as well as the largest mangrove forest in East Africa, would also be starved of water. In all, the construction of the dam could damage the livelihoods of over 200,000 farmers and fishermen, according to the WWF.

The IUCN said that the project is ‘fatally flawed’ because of its ecologi­cal impact. It called on Tanzania to ‘permanently abandon’ it.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, wrote a letter in January expressing her concern about the irreversible damage the pro­ject could have on the Selous. The World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO, which lists the Selous as a World Heritage Site, expressed its “utmost concern,” saying the dam project has a “high likelihood of [causing] serious and irreversible damage.” The WHC added the Stiegler’s Gorge project as a new factor that endangers the Selous eco­system.

The government rejects this criticism. When WWF published its report in 2017, tourism minister Jumanne Maghembe insisted the hydropower was needed to transform Tanzania’s economy.

President John Magufuli has said the dam and resulting reservoir would cover only 3% of the Reserve, adding that he would not listen to detractors who spoke “without facts.”

The government is pushing ahead to fell more than 2.6 million trees from the area that would be flooded by the dam.

Now Tanzania has taken its defence of the project to UNESCO. At the 42nd meeting of the World Heritage Committee, held in June in Bahrain, Tanzania cited sustainable development to push for the project.

Major General (rtd) Gaudence Milanzi, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, said Tanzania has main­tained its position to continue with the project as stated during a meet­ing of the committee in Poland last year. He explained that the dam was primed to play a critical role in the vision of the government to industrialise the economy.

In a separate development, the Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Union Matters and the Environment, January Makamba, stated on Twitter that a new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been completed, such that the previous EIA published in 2009 will no longer be used. The new EIA has been conducted by the Institute of Resource Assessment of the University of Dar es Salaam, he explained. “Its report was submitted last week by Tanesco,” he posted. “A team from [the National Environmental Management Committee] (NEMC) will visit the project this week to verify and talk to the community and stakeholders.”

MPs have also questioned the order of developments, asking why the decision to fell so many trees had been taken before the EIA had been completed. “I wonder why the government wants to move on with the project and yet we know well there will be an impact, especially due to felling of trees. Let us get the EIA n the project,” said Peter Msigwa (Chadema, Iringa Urban). Similar points were made by Zitto Kabwe (ACT Wazalendo, Kigoma Urban) and Nape Nnauye (CCM, Mtama).

Other MPs disagreed. “The tone here is as if all trees around the country will be cleared. Some people are just not patriotic; and I think patriotism should be taught starting from nursery school,” said Mr Omary Mgumba (CCM, Morogoro Rural). “The environment exists to serve human beings and not the opposite.” Dr Raphael Chegeni (CCM, Busega) asked MPs to reduce complaints as projects such as Stiegler’s Gorge were a result of their demand to ensure reliable power genera­tion.”

The Deputy Minister in the Vice President’s Office for Union Affairs and the Environment, Mr Kangi Lugola, told parliament the government would go on with implementation of the project “whether you like it or not.” He added that “those who are resisting the project will be jailed.” Mr Lugola has since been promoted to Home Affairs Minister.

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CONSTITUTION

by Enos Bukuku

More groups request change
The Government has remained silent on the issue of implementing a new constitution despite pressure from various sections of society for the process to continue. One of the most outspoken critics had been Dr Bashiru Ally, a University of Dar es Salaam political scientist, who has been calling for the government to restart the process.

However, Dr Ally was appointed CCM’s new Secretary General in May and has stated that he will have to abide by CCM’s stance on the consti­tution. Some cynics might view this as an attempt to keep a vocal critic on the government’s side.

The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) executive director, Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba, recently stated that a new constitution is one of three items on the LHRC’s agenda. “The government should put an emphasis on the national consensus for the process to be revived and to provide the country with a new constitution, the process should continue regardless of our starting point. All important issues removed from the draft constitution should be included.”

The Tanzania Constitution Forum (TCF) has called for various changes to both the current constitution and also the national election law to ensure that the political environment surrounding the 2020 elections is peaceful. The TCF Chairman, Mr Hebron Mwakagenda, speaking at the LHRC offices said, “We want peace to be maintained before the 2020 general election that is why we ask the government to consider revisiting these areas. The battle for the new constitution will resume immediately after the elections.”

Since President Magufuli came to power we have heard similar requests on a regular basis from different stakeholders. The President’s response so far has been to say that a new constitution is not high on his list of priorities.

It is clear that the voices of key stakeholders in the constitution process will continue to be directed towards the government and towards those with the influence to effect change. At the moment it does seem as though the decision makers are in no hurry to respond and that a new constitution is still not a priority.

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SPORT

by Philip Richards

Football

Tanzania national side “Kilimanjaro Queens”, pictured in Uganda in
2016 (Fufa)


Reflecting the rapid rise of women’s football globally, Tanzania is no exception. Whilst the men of Taifa Stars languish in the lower reaches of the FIFA rankings, the women of Kilimanjaro Queens are making some headlines. The team that represents mainland women’s football has made the news recently after some high-profile tournament wins including the CECAFA Women Challenge cup, a regional five-nation tournament that was played on a round-robin format in Kigali, Rwanda. The win earned the plaudits of President John Magufuli and the team now move onto the inaugural East African Community Games which starts mid-August in Bujumbura, Burundi with the Queens opening their campaign with a fixture against Kenya. (Daily News).

On the men’s front, Dar based Simba FC won the mainland Premier League in May despite losing 0-1 to Kagera Sugar in the final game. The Citizen reported that the trophy was handed over by President Magufuli who was visiting the National Stadium to attend a sporting event for the first time since he became President.

Simba football club with trophy (simbamakini.co.tz

At national level, Taifa Stars have a new head coach in former Nigeria winger Emmanuel Amuneke as the new head coach of the national team. His first competitive game in charge of the senior Taifa Stars will be their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uganda in September. The latest FIFA rankings places them at 140th in the world, with Tunisia the highest ranked African team (24th) and France owning top spot. Amuneke, 47, replaces local coach Salum Mayanga who had been in charge of Tanzania since last year. (BBC Sport website).

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FAKE NEWS

by Ben Taylor

Who is Dr Herman Louise Verhofstadt?
The Economist rarely pays much attention to Tanzania – once or twice a year at best. So when they published not just one but two articles on President Magufuli in a single issue earlier this year, heads turned. The headlines are striking – “Tanzania’s rogue president – Democracy under assault” and “How to save Tanzania” – and the contents even more so. Tanzania is undergoing “a sickening lurch to despotism,” the paper writes, where “opposition politicians are being shot; activists and journalists are disappearing.” This is happening under “an authoritar­ian and erratic” President Magufuli, who is “fast transforming Tanzania … into one of Africa’s more brutal dictatorships”.

Criticism of President Magufuli’s government has been growing in Tanzania, but nobody on the international stage has previously gone nearly so far as the Economist articles. Given the number of people who have been arrested and charged with sedition or various cybercrime offences for expressing criticism of the government, it’s hardly surpris­ing that people are growing more careful what they say. Twaweza’s lat­est Sauti za Wananchi poll found that while 80% say citizens should be allowed to criticise the President, only 36% feel free to do so in practice. So these articles ruffled some feathers.

Including, apparently, the feathers of a Belgian health expert / social worker living and working in Tanzania, by the name of Dr Herman Louise Verhofstadt. He was so upset by the Economist’s writing that he published a response, the beautifully titled: “Facts The Economist Got Them Wrong on Magufuli”:

“Contrary to the fact deprived article, it is my candid observation that to objectively critique Magufuli’s presidency in the circumstances of the transformation he is doing for his people in Tanzania, requires the level of conscious that is unfortunately lacking in the current editorial team at the Economist.”

“In my stay here before and after his presidency, I have witnessed real transformation, his work is exemplary and fascinating one. Everybody here—may be just like what Theresa May is doing in London and what Trump is focusing in Washington, is aware that Tanzania is on the move towards pro-people development; something the Economist is unhappy for.”
It is possible that a Belgian social worker / health expert would feel support for Donald Trump, that his English would be so broken, and that he would express his support both for banning political rallies and preventing pregnant schoolgirls from returning to school after giving birth. But it seems unlikely.

It also seems unlikely that he would choose to do so on a blog that did not exist until that day, published by “a Senegalese journalist”, Sammi Addo, who has apparently no other online presence. Indeed, other that Dr Verhoftsadt’s article, everything else on the site has been copied and pasted from somewhere else – Bloomberg (US), Daily Nation (Kenya), ABC (Australia), etc.

It also seems very unlikely that Dr Herman Louise Verhofstadt would have no previous online presence at all himself, either.

However, despite such strong reasons for doubt, the blogpost was widely promoted and cited, including by the government-owned Daily News and HabariLeo newspapers. The latter translated and published almost the entire blogpost. And the official government spokesperson posted his support for the blog on an official twitter account.

But then, who should appear, from nowhere, but Dr Herman Louise Verhoftstadt himself, with a series of tweets, the first of which made his point clear:

“Greetings @TheEconomist, please ignore this fake news. I have never been to Africa, let alone Tanzania. In my 37 years of medical practice, my work has been around Europe and South East Asia. You need to have a very poorly performing government to come up with a lie like this.”

But something here doesn’t seem quite right either. The new Dr Herman Louise Verhofstadt has no more online presence than the previous one. And more particularly, his profile pic on twitter is a stock image from Getty, freely available to anyone with access to Google. There is no more reason to believe this to be genuine than the original blogpost.

Fake news vs fake news is the new reality, it seems, even in Tanzania.

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TANZANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

by Donovan McGrath

Meet the Chinese ‘tambi’ noodle-makers of Zanzibar
(Al Jazeera (Qatar) – online) The story behind a popular Ramadan dish of fried vermicelli noodles and dark raisins in sweet coconut milk. Extract continues: In Zanzibar, Ramadan is not complete without the sweet promise of tambi (noodles in Swahili) at iftar – the evening meal to break the daily fast… The noodles, made in small batches by Chinese-owned noodle factories on the sister islands of Unguja and Pemba, are a testament to Zanzibar’s long-standing history of trade with China dating back to 1000 AD. Amid the buzz and boil at the Kariakoo Noodles on Unguja, Howingkao explains: “I was born in Zanzibar … I started working at the noodle factory as a young man … Howingkao’s father, Hojofat Howai, was born in southern China in the Cantonese port city of Guangzhou. In the early 1930s, he travelled with his father (Howingkao’s grandfather) by sea to the island of Pemba, where the family found work trading cloves and sea cucumbers… With a grow­ing family of four sons, Hojofat Howai and his wife decided to stay and establish a noodle-making factory in Chake Chake, Pemba. When Zanzibar’s 1964 revolution triggered a mass exodus … [t]hey relocated to Unguja to open Kariakoo Noodles, which Howingkao and his older brother Hing manage today. Five different Chinese family-owned noo­dle factories with generational roots in Zanzibar currently operate on Unguja alone, with a few other noodle shops on Pemba. “The Chinese introduced tambi [noodles] to Zanzibar,” Howingkao explains, “but Zanzibaris made it their own.” … Mrs Chen, Howingkao’s cousin in her late 60s, believes it was her father, Chen Nang, also from Guangzhou, who first popularised the flour-based noodle in Zanzibar. In the 1920s, Chen Nang travelled by sea to Zanzibar to make a living in the sea cucumber export business. He moved around Unguja a lot and noticed Swahili villagers labouring to make small batches of rice flour noodles by hand… In the 1930s, Chen Nang returned to Guangzhou, got mar­ried and returned to Unguja with his wife and a hand-cranked noodle machine… “Everyone started asking for this tambi. And the rest is his­tory!” says Mrs Chen… (12 June 2018)

The crop that put women on top in Zanzibar

Seaweed farmers in Paje (BBC online)


(BBC World Service (UK) -online) Seaweed has been hailed as the new superfood, and it’s also found in toothpaste, medicine and shampoo. In Zanzibar, it’s become big business – and as it has been farmed prin­cipally by women, it has altered the sexual balance of power. Extract continues: When seaweed farming was first introduced in the early 1990s, men thought it wasn’t worth their while. They preferred fishing or jobs in tourism. But some didn’t want their wives to farm either. Mohamed Mzale, a community leader in the east coast village of Paje puts it bluntly: “I thought this seaweed business was a kind of family planning because after hours on the beach and work in the house our women were very tired – they had no time – you know… to make babies.” Mohamed initially refused to let his wife go with the others… Seaweed farming has proved a liberating force on the overwhelmingly Muslim island. Until recently most women in the villages only left their houses to go to a funeral, a wedding or to visit a sick relative. Their isolation was even reflected in the architecture – many houses have stone benches along the outside wall to allow men to receive visitors at home without compromising the privacy of their women indoors. “At the beginning some husbands threatened divorce if their wives went out to farm seaweed,” says marine biologist Flower Msuya. “But when they saw the money women were making, they slowly began to accept it.” … Safia Mohamed, a seaweed farmer from the village of Bweleo on the south-west coast, has done exceptionally well for herself. She has a shop where she sells seaweed soap, jam and chutney. With the proceeds she bought her sons a fishing boat, a scooter and built a big family house… [However the] women have … [a] problem to deal with – climate change… [I]n Paje seaweed stopped growing for three years from 2011. It gradually returned, but only the low-value spinosum vari­ety which contains less of the substance – carrageenan – which is used as a thickening agent in foods, cosmetics and medicines. As a result, the business is less lucrative. To make matters worse, for a while the warmer sea temperatures encouraged a form of blue-green algae that gave the women painful rashes and blisters. Many in Paje gave up the business – out of 450 seaweed farmers working in the town 20 years ago, only 150 are left… [W]omen who used to farm seaweed on the beach are now making [fried samosas and] handicrafts which they sell to sunbath­ing tourists. Still, the fact that they are at work outside the house is one of seaweed’s legacies… (3 July 2018)

Karate biker nun takes the fight to HIV

Sister Kate Costigan with Maasai pillion passenger – Telegraph online


(The Guardian Weekly -UK) New campaign of mass checks aims to tackle disease in Tanzania. Extract continues: … [I]n a field in Tanzania, a meeting about HIV has turned into an impromptu karate lesson. Families laugh as people take turns to practice with Sister Kate. This is not how most nuns do community outreach. It’s more than 30 years since Kate Costigan—a motorbike-riding, karate black belt—left her home in Tipperary, Ireland. At 19 she entered the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles, travelling first to Nigeria and later Tanzania… Today, Costigan is at the forefront of an HIV campaign that could be a template for other low-income countries. The programme—run jointly by pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences and the Vatican—is pro­moting mass checks, with treatment offered to anyone who tests posi­tive, regardless of their clinical stage. The World Health Organisation believes this approach, offered alongside other prevention methods, could prevent 21 million deaths globally … Costigan rides a motorbike to deliver HIV care to local villages quickly, while churches invite health experts to give seminars on getting tested… In Tanzania, two-thirds of the population are Christian, and the church has the power to shape attitudes. Thirty years ago, in the Mwanza region in the north­west, Pope John Paul II gave a speech that made the Vatican’s fierce and controversial opposition to condom use clear. Since then, its stance on prevention has been widely criticised by HIV experts, including the WHO. On the ground in Tanzania, people take a pragmatic approach. Costigan follows church teachings but says: “We don’t give out con­doms but they know where they can get them and they’re always given proper information.” … Elsewhere others are more outspoken. “Even the priest himself advised I use condoms,” says one woman, who is now an HIV counsellor and advises everyone to use protection. Across Tanzania, there are still more than 30,000 Aids-related deaths a year… (27 July 2018)—Thanks to Roger Bowen for this item—Editor

Twitter now speaks Swahili. Poa sana!
(CNN (USA) – online) Extract: After years of hashtags and outcries, Twitter now recognizes Swahili, one of East Africa’s most common languages. And that’s poa sana – or as Twitter would tell you, pretty awesome. The social media platform now offers translation for the language spoken by tens of millions in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and some parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s unclear when Twitter started recognizing Swahili. Before that, it described Swahili tweets as Indonesian and translated them into a mumbo jumbo of inco­herent words… The recognition comes after a campaign by Kenyans on social media, who regularly used hashtags #SwahiliIsNotIndonesia and #TwitterRecognizesSwahili on the social media platform to demand recognition… (15 May 2018)

Joseph Mbilinyi takes Tanzania to court over rap song ban
(BBC (UK) – online) Tanzanian MP Joseph Mbilinyi says he will sue the government for banning his rap song about state prisons. Extract contin­ues: Basata, the country’s arts council, banned the song for using words that “incite public violence.” The song was leaked after the opposition MP, popularly known as MC Sugu, was jailed for allegedly defaming President John Magufuli. The ban comes amid complaints about restric­tions to freedom of expression. Basata said in a press statement that the song, which it dubbed #219, had generated numerous complaints from the public and “brings into jeopardy the reputation of the arts industry in composing songs”… The opposition Chadema party MP has asked lawyers to begin the process of taking Basata to court “to ensure that the agency desists from interfering, censuring and destroying the works of artists,” Mr Mbilinyi said. Tanzanian authorities banned 13 local songs deemed obscene in March after receiving a list from Basata… (22 June 2018)

Kenya, Tanzania mark 20 years since US embassy bombings
(AP (USA) – online) Extract: Kenyans and Tanzanians … marked the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaida bombings of the U.S. embassies in their countries that killed more than 250 people, with hundreds of local sur­vivors calling on the U.S. government for compensation. The explosions on Aug. 7, 1998, were the first major al-Qaida attack on U.S. targets… “There immediate purpose was to kill and destroy, but they had more in mind. They sought to divide us, to divide friends … to undermine the values we hold dear, to destroy civilization itself and replace it with a nightmare of oppression,” [U.S. ambassador Robert] Godec said… The embassy bombings brought al-Qaida to the attention of the U.S. public and the world three years before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000. (7 August 2018)

Tanzania Wants to Build Pipeline to Pump Gas to Uganda
(Reuters (UK) – online) Extract: … State-run Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) said … that the pipeline would start from its capital Dar es Salaam, then pass through Tanga port on the Indian Ocean and to Mwanza, a port on Lake Victoria before crossing the border to Uganda… Tanzania boasts estimated recoverable natural gas reserves of over 57 trillion cubic feet (tcf), mostly in offshore fields in the south of the country… (6 August 2018)

Prisons crackdown launched
(The Guardian Weekly – UK) Extract: The Tanzanian president John Magufuli, has ordered that prisoners be made to work “day and night”, that conjugal visits be ended, and that lazy inmates should be “kicked”. The leader, who has come under fire from human rights groups over his authoritarian leadership style and a crackdown on freedoms, was speaking at the inauguration of the new prisons chief, Faustine Martin Kasike. He said underemployment of prisoners encouraged drug use and homosexuality in prisons… (27 July 2018)—Thanks to Roger Bowen for this item—Editor

George Jonas: Tanzanian who contributed in producing Air Tanzania’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
(BBC Swahili (UK) – online) When the new ACTL corporation Boeing 787-8 plane landed at Julius Nyerere airport … few people would have thought that a Tanzanian is among those who manufactured the plane. Extract continues: Even so, the fact is George Jonas, who comes from the Mbeya region, is among the technical officials involved in the pro­duction of the 262-seater aircraft named Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. The aircraft’s engines have been built by special methods in order to reduce the sound inside and outside the plane by 60 per cent while its windows are 30 per cent larger than those on other aircraft of the same size. Jonas, whose father was a Tanzanian soldier, told The Citizen in Tanzania that he has been involved in the construction of the plane since 2015 as a worker for the American Boeing company, which constructs, manu­factures and sells aircraft, rockets, Satelites and missiles… [At] Ilboru secondary school in Arusha … “I studied science and participated in the studies of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics”, said [Jonas]. He was chosen by a group of American citizens who were looking for a young Tanzanian who had credentials in order to work in Amercia for three months. “I felt fortunate. I didn’t know anyone at this time, and my parents didn’t have the money to send me to study overseas.”, said Jonas … In America, he sent out applications to study at univer­sity and was successful in being enrolled at the University of Wichita where he studied for a degree in electrical installations engineering along with mathematics. These studies were expected to send him on to the Bombardier firm, a Canadian aircraft transportation company in Montreal, Quebec. He did his training at the Bombardier Wichita branch in 2005 while involved in the manufacture of private and mili­tary aircraft. He worked in the company for four years before joining Boeing in 2011 as an aircraft electronic installations engineer. He was involved in all the systems of flying this plane. At one time when he was on the internet, he came across a Boeing advert and decided to send an application. “One day, when I was at work, I received a phone call from Boeing telling me that I was among 50 people who were listed for a job interview. They sent me the plane fare. I went to the interview without worry because I had been employed by Bombardier”, he said. Later, he received the good news that he got the job and that it would be good for him to move to Seatle state to work at Boeing. (11 July 2018) – This item was published in Swahili, which I have rendered into English. Any errors in the translation are entirely my own – Donovan McGrath

Tanzania Plans to Suspend Naspers’ Multichoice Telecoms License
(Reuters (UK) – online) Extract: Tanzania’s telecommunications regulator intends to suspend the license of Multichoice, owned by South Africa’s Naspers, for continuing to carry free-to-air channels. A notice issued by Tanzania’s Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) said Multichoice had been instructed in June not to carry the channels on its platform, but the de facto Africa pay-TV monopoly had persisted in doing so. It did not say when it would suspend Multichoice’s license. The authority also issued an intention to suspend notice to Simbanet Tanzania Limited, another pay-TV channel, Philip Filikunjombe, TCRA’s acting Head of Enforcement and Compliance Affairs, told Reuters … The announcement follows the suspension of Chinese multinational media company StarTimes’ subsidiary in Tanzania which the regulator said had not met its license obligation to provide access to free to air content services (8 August 2018)

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REVIEWS

by Martin Walsh

IN AND OUT OF THE MAASAI STEPPE. Joy Stephens. BestRed, Cape
Town, 2016. x + 266 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-1-928246-12-1. £24.50.

I was swept back to my days working in villages in Tanzania by Joy Stephens’ beautiful book about the Maasai, a Nilotic ethnic group, famously colourful, living in northern and central Tanzania. At various times I had the chance to talk to Maasai and found their perspectives refreshingly direct and their sense of humour engaging.

Stephens spent much time over a period of 14 years first setting up, and then visiting Maasai women’s groups, and latterly the women’s families. She helped the women use their traditional skills of beading to earn income for their families, and in this way got to know them. She writes passionately about their wisdom, their deep knowledge of their homeland and the skills they possess to thrive in a hostile environment.

The setting up of the women’s groups is described, and through this we become acquainted with several characters who appear throughout the book. She follows the development of the groups, recording the pitfalls, the unexpected outcomes, the frustrations and successes, with respect and humour but never patronising, understanding that with their very different outlooks, there will inevitably be difficulties as the women tackle the puzzles of modern capitalism. As well as this, interwoven in the text, she provides us with accounts of the history of the Maasai in Tanzania, through colonial times until now, their survival of repeated assaults on their way of life, and how colonialism negatively affected the role of women in Maasai society. There is a brief history of beadwork, and a description of the heart-breaking effects of the long drought of 2006.

Stephens finishes by wondering whether the Maasai will survive the tremendous changes and pressures that are encroaching upon their unique lifestyle, whether they can adapt, and worries that even people like her, trying to promote women’s rights, are part of the onslaught. It is a thoughtful, uplifting book full of insights, and made me want to return to Tanzania and spend more time with Maasai people before it is too late.
Kate Forrester Kibuga

Kate Forrester Kibuga lived in Tanzania for 15 years, working as a freelance consultant chiefly in social development. She carried out research assignments throughout the country and encountered Maasai on many occasions. She now lives in Dorchester, where she is active in community and environmental work.

SHIPWRECKS AND SALVAGE ON THE EAST AFRICAN COAST (Second edition). Kevin Patience. Short Run Press, Exeter, 2018. 300 pp. (hardback). ISBN 978-1-5272-1430-9. £15 (UK price including postage and packing, available from the author at saburi@hotmail.com)

This book – an updated second edition from the initial 2006 publication – offers a fascinating catalogue of shipwrecks, strandings and salvages along the East African coastline and interior Great Lakes. The ships in question are almost entirely major Western-constructed vessels, with no attention given to Arab, Indian or local Swahili craft. Excepting a brief survey of early modern Portuguese shipwrecks, most are British, German or Scandinavian commercial sea craft built in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The author, who has produced several shorter East African maritime histories, is himself a former salvage diver who worked in East Africa and the Persian Gulf since the 1970s. This expertise informs the author’s confident explanations of how each vessel came to be wrecked, damaged or stranded, and in particular what operations were necessary to repair, salvage or scuttle each recoverable ship. This makes for surprisingly interesting reading. Nearly every ship entry includes vital data on its construction and casualty location, a picture of the vessel, and a long paragraph – sometimes several paragraphs for the more interesting cases – that explains the ship’s history, service, damage, and ultimate fate. This includes 32 shipwrecks and 69 strandings and salvages off the Kenyan coast; 44 shipwrecks and 41 strandings and salvages off the Tanzanian coast; and 18 total cases in the Great Lakes. Organised alphabetically by vessel name, the book is best read as an encyclopaedia to be dipped into, although a few major themes do emerge across the entire book.

First, the two events that produced the most shipwrecks in East Africa were the Zanzibar hurricane of 1872, in which over 150 vessels were lost, and the maritime military engagements of the First World War. The latter provides the most dramatic material of the book. Much the best known of these historical shipwrecks is the SMS Königsberg, the German cruiser which, after leading one of the most dramatic naval hide-and-seek missions of the First World War, was scuttled in the Rufiji Delta in July 1915 after British bombardment, becoming an odd tourist destination before finally disappearing into the Rufiji riverbed in 1966. Even more curious are the First World War’s maritime casualties on Lakes Tanganyika and Victoria – Lake Nyasa (Malawi), puzzlingly, is not covered in the book. In all cases, the material legacies of these conflicts shape the maritime aftermath of this region – from Dar es Salaam’s long-congested colonial harbour to the repurposed commercial vessels of the Great Lakes.

Second, more recent wrecks have come at greater expense of human life. The most famous of these by far is the MV Bukoba, which sank in Lake Victoria in 1996 costing 869 lives. Other commercial ferries, often ill-suited for heavy commercial work, have produced similarly grisly results – the Kilindi-Mombasa ferry MV Mtongwe, which sank in 1994 leaving some 276 dead, and more recently the oceanic tragedies of the MV Spice Islander (2011) plying between Unguja and Pemba, and the MV Skagit (2012), plying between Zanzibar Town and Dar es Salaam, which left over 200 and 146 dead, respectively. The catalogue-entry nature of this book prevents any developed analysis of these trends, but it is fairly easy to discern the deadly combination of older, ill-maintained craft and inadequate regulation in these tragedies.

Finally, this book is effective in showing the more quotidian ways in which most ships come to be wrecked, stranded, and salvaged. Most ships in East Africa came into trouble not through violent weather or warfare, but rather through bungled steering, poor ship-to-shore communication, engine failure, fire, and internal explosions. Their repairs and salvages were unsentimental business decisions, though their remains survive as local landmarks and sites of underwater pilgrimages for intrepid divers. To behold the long line of container ships idling on the waters near Dar es Salaam has become a regular sight over the past decade, a reminder of the region’s rapidly growing global commerce and struggling infrastructure, and the irreplaceable role played by transoceanic commercial shipping. For those with more than a passing interest in history of commercial and military ships in the region, this book is a rewarding resource.
James R. Brennan

James R. Brennan is Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois, and is author of the book Taifa: Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania (Ohio University Press, 2012).

THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THE INDIAN OCEAN: THE ANCIENT WORLD ECONOMY AND THE KINGDOMS OF AFRICA, ARABIA AND INDIA. Raoul McLaughlin. Pen & Sword Maritime, Barnsley and Havertown, PA, 2014 (reprinted 2018). xix + 276 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978­1-52673-807-3. £14.99.

How might a book with the title The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean be relevant to the 21st Century? Roaul McLaughlin, a classicist from Northern Ireland, barely studies this question directly until the very final pages of his book but then again, he hardly needs to because in reading about Rome’s trade with Africa, Asia and the Far East, the parallels with our supposedly modern world spring out from every page.

Described as “a wonderful book” by the Black and Asian Studies Association, McLaughlin makes a persuasive case that the Roman empire’s trading interactions, whilst they built upon already extensive contacts between Egyptian, Greek and Hebrew traders and their counterparts in Africa and Asia, were on a sufficiently greater scale as to create the world’s first wave of globalisation.

Rome’s seizure of Egypt opened up the empire’s route to Africa and Asia via the Red Sea. A Roman attempt to conquer what is now Yemen failed, but Roman navies controlled the Red Sea from their base in the Farasan islands, opposite what is now Eritrea. By the middle of the first century A.D. fleets of Roman ships were moving to and fro across the Indian Ocean using the seasonal monsoon winds. It is likely that some 120 ships made these annual voyages, some of them with 500 tons cargo capacity – the container vessels of their day. These ships traded as far south in Africa as what is now Tanzania; around the coasts of Arabia and across the Indian Ocean to the kingdoms of what are now Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. By the middle of the second century A.D. Roman ships were trading in the Ganges Delta of what is now Bangladesh and even around to the tip of the Malay peninsula. Merchant citizens of the empire – Italians, Greeks, Egyptians, Jews – lived and worked in probably all the great ports of India and Sri Lanka. Products from inner Africa which were exported either via the coast or along the Nile included leopard and lion cubs, elephants and ivory, exotic animals and hides, tortoise and turtle shell. Roman ships sailing down the east coast of Africa – Azania – stopped at several trading stations, a large island called Menuthias which was probably Pemba or Unguja (Zanzibar) and finally a port called Rhapta about 100 miles further south. It took vessels at least 60 days to reach this location which was nearly 3,000 miles from the Empire and which marked the limit of Roman trading voyages. Roman records say that Rhapta was managed by Arab traders and exported great quantities of ivory and turtle shell.

McLaughlin presents a huge amount of evidence that the wealth of the Roman empire was based on this trade. Import taxes on eastern goods provided as much as one-third of the empire’s wealth, and he argues that this was what paid for the Roman war effort, with the legions at their peak estimated to number 300,000 soldiers. In fact, it is humbling to read that Gaul, Britain and other provinces of the empire in northern Europe, about which we read so much in history books, were pretty much a drain on the empire’s finances throughout the period. In contrast, the empire obtained astonishing amounts of income and goods from Indian Ocean trade. Every year the empire imported 16,000 tons of pepper and cotton, 10,000 tons of spices, 360 tons of turtle shells and 560 tons of ivory (over 14,000 tusks). Rome became the first and pre-eminent consumerist society. Incense from Arabia perfumed Roman homes and temples, pearls from Sri Lanka and gem stones from India glittered on every wealthy citizen’s tiaras, rings, robes and even sandals (the original diamonds on the soles of their shoes). (Silk was another important commodity but this mainly came overland, and McLaughlin has examined this trade in another book, The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes).

The Roman empire had less in the way of products that the kingdoms of Arabia and Asia wanted, although there were considerable exports of such things as glass and wine. However, Rome did have minerals in fabulous amounts, especially silver, which came from mines in Spain, the Balkans and Egypt. Every year Roman merchant vessels exported vast amounts of bullion and coinage (which was minted with a guaranteed high silver content) to pay for eastern imports.

The other great empire of the day was the Han empire in China which was also at its peak at the same time. These two great powers knew of each other, although only at second hand. The Parthian empire stood between them and jealously guarded its position as middle-man on the silk roads. But in 165 A.D. Rome made direct contact with the Chinese empire by sending a delegation via what is now Vietnam. Trade was undoubtedly a major motive. An alliance to squeeze the Parthians between the two empires may also have played a part. And worries about the military capability of the mysterious Chinese had also begun to concern the Romans; Juvenal in his satires describes Roman women ambushing generals at fashionable dinner parties and demanding to know “what are the intentions of the Chinese?”.

This represents one of the great “what if?” moments of history; what if the Roman and Chinese empires had formed a direct trading relationship and even a political and military alliance?

We shall never know, because it went horribly wrong for both empires at the very moment of meeting. Global trade and contacts brought many benefits; it also spread one of the world’s most devastating pandemics, known in the West as the Antonine Plague. Whatever this disease was – possibly smallpox, possibly measles, possibly an unknown virus – it originated somewhere in East Asia and first spread north through Indo-China to devastate the Han empire. Chinese sources recorded how three in every 10 soldiers died and more were permanently incapacitated. The Romans, meantime, had moved against Parthia and had conquered what is now Iraq when suddenly their troops began to die in great numbers. The legions were recalled to Europe, and brought the plague with them. German peoples took advantage of the chaos and moved across the northern frontiers and the Roman empire began its long and agonised decline.

In a globalised world, all economies were in contact. The plague and chaos killed the miners who produced the silver and gold which Rome used to buy imports. Over the coming decades Roman currency was progressively debased until it was almost worthless. The decline of the mines, debasement of the currency, the death toll among merchants and mariners and decline in consumer demand dried up the trade with Asia. In turn, the regimes and dynasties with which Rome had established long-term relations in China, India, Persia and elsewhere, also began to collapse. McLaughlin describes how “by the second century A.D. the main regimes of the ancient world were so economically interdependent that the fate of one major economy was capable of providing the trigger for world-wide financial collapse and decline”.

At the very end of his book McLaughlin concludes that whilst international trade brought wealth and prosperity, “the forces that destabilised the ancient world economy are still in effect, including the reliance on finite resources for trade wealth and essential revenues. Mass population movements, natural disasters, wars and the threat of global pandemics still have the potential to diminish human progress. Ultimately, this is the significance of distant trade and the ancient world economy”.

John Magrath
John Magrath is a writer and researcher who has worked for Oxfam for over 30 years. In 1994 he worked in refugee camps in the Ngara District in northwest Tanzania. He has a particular interest in climate change and its impacts and implications, especially in East Africa.

A FIELD GUIDE TO EAST AFRICAN REPTILES (2nd edition). Stephen Spawls, Kim Howell, Harold Hinkel and Michele Menegon. Bloomsbury Wildlife, London and New York, 2018. 624 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-1-4729­3561-8. £35.00.

This is the fully revised and updated edition of the comprehensive field guide that was originally published by Academic Press in 2002 as a hardback with a slightly different title and line-up of authors (Stephen Spawls, Kim Howell, Robert Drewes and James Ashe, A Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa).

As the new Introduction explains: “Since that date there have been many changes in the East African herpetological field. New species have been found in East Africa and described. Existing species have been split, animals have been recorded in East Africa for the first time, range extensions for existing species have been recorded. As a result of systematic studies, particularly those based on DNA and other biological molecules, many species have been reclassified, regrouped and their scientific names changed; new relationships have been discovered.”
Like the first edition, this is an excellent guide: the update includes more than 500 species and is illustrated with 600 new photographs. Those of us who struggled with the incomplete guides that were available before Spawls et al. got to work, will be forever grateful. As a regular visitor to Zanzibar, my main gripe is that the islands are so small on the distribution maps that it’s often difficult to see whether particular species are present there or not – a bolder colour and/or arrows indicating presence would help. In some cases, the colour has been mistakenly omitted on these maps. The Flap-necked chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis), for example, is shown as absent from the archipelago, whereas it is present on both large islands.

I also wish that lists of local names were included, as they are in some other field guides, like Roberts’ Birds of South Africa, and Henk Beentje’s Kenya Trees, Shrubs and Lianas. Something to consider, maybe, for future editions.
Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is the Book Reviews Editor of Tanzanian Affairs.

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OBITUARIES

by Ben Taylor

Derek Ingram

Derek with the other founders of the Britain-Tanzania Society in 1975

Derek Ingram (20 June 1925 – 17 June 2018) was one of the founders of the Britain Tanzania Society. The official picture shows him with Bishop Trevor Huddleston, Roger Carter, the indefatigable first Secretary of the Society, and John Malecela and Amon Nsekala, both of whom were Tanzanian High Commissioners in London (John left the post to become Prime Minister in 1990).

Derek was a tall man – gaunt, serious, loveable, a little other-worldly, but entirely reliable and utterly frank. By 1975, when BTS was founded, he had known Julius Nyerere for at least 15 years. He described a journey to Nigeria, and on to Nkrumah’s Ghana, in 1960, which makes it clear how much he valued Nyerere’s judgements, even before Independence the following year.

Derek left school early to become a journalist – he made a good living as a sub-editor when he was only 17. After service in the navy, he worked on the Daily Express, then the Daily Mail where he was repeatedly promoted till he became Deputy Editor, before falling out with the proprietor Lord Rothermere over what he saw as his racist attitudes to Rhodesia. At this point, in 1967, he and a friend set up Gemini News Service, a network of journalists across the Commonwealth. Six stories were printed on gestetner machines, stuffed into enveloped and mailed out to its loyal subscribers twice a week. It was never a financial suc­cess but launched many careers, including Lindsay Hilsum and Trevor MacDonald, and enabled those living and working in one part of the Commonwealth to know a little about what was happening elsewhere. Derek insisted on accuracy, clarity, clear simple English, and the impor­tance of contacts built up over many years. It made him one of the most respected journalists in the Commonwealth, an expert on all its coun­tries. Derek himself lived quietly in London, never married, devoted to his life’s work.

Gemini carried on till 2002. Derek never lost his interest, and continued reading the newspapers every day and writing and talking to his huge circle of friends. He died peacefully just short of his 93rd birthday. The Britain Tanzania Society was just one of his interests, but we would be very different without him.

Andrew Coulson

Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti

Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti


Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti (1996-2018) were conjoined twins whose positive outlook and determination to survive against the odds had captured the hearts of Tanzanians. They died in June at the age 21 after suffering respiratory complications at Iringa Regional Hospital.

The women, who were joined from the navel downwards and shared organs like the liver and lungs, had two hearts and separate heads and arms, and were against the idea of being surgically separated. The twins were very well known in Tanzania and the news of their deaths caused sadness nationwide.

President John Magufuli tweeted that he was “saddened” by their deaths, adding that Consolata and Maria had “dreamed of serving the nation”.
Health Minister, Ummy Mwalimu, said the twins “have fought a war to an end. Rest in peace, Maria and Consolata.”

Maria and Consolata were born in Makete, Njombe Region, in 1996. With care and support provided by Maria Consolata, a Catholic charity that adopted and named them, they were able to complete secondary education. Last year they enrolled with the Ruaha Catholic University (RUCU) with the goal of becoming teachers.

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TA ISSUE 120

TA 120 cover features Tanesco officials viewing progress on the Kinyerezi II power plant in Dar-es-Salaam

Political tensions continue to rise
Agriculture
Obituaries
Reviews

A pdf of the issue can be downloaded here

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POLITICAL TENSIONS CONTINUE TO RISE

by Ben Taylor

President Magufuli has continued to press forward with his agenda of anti-corruption, resource nationalism, industrialisation and infrastructure development. Meanwhile, the chorus of voices who are critical of his presidency continues to grow.

President Magufuli and PM Kassim Majaliwa in Ihumwa to launch the second phase of works to update the rail network

Pressing ahead
In the first four months of 2018, the government of Tanzania has inaugurated a major new power plant on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam [see energy and minerals section]; pressed ahead with extending, electrifying and upgrading the central line railway to standard gauge [see transport]; celebrated the arrival of a new aircraft for Air Tanzania [see transport]; and continues to talk up other “mega projects” including a new port at Bagamoyo, the Stieglers’ Gorge hydroelectric dam [see energy and minerals], and a possible Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) processing plant in Lindi [see energy and minerals in previous issues].

Further, it has completed construction of a 25 km “fort” – a wall – around the Tanzanite mine at Mererani, Arusha, in an effort to prevent the gemstones from being stolen or smuggled out without following proper procedures and paying proper revenues. It has long been stated that more Tanzanite is exported from Kenya and India than from Tanzania, though the gemstone’s only source is in Tanzania. The wall was constructed by the national service arm (JKT) of the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF), taking less than 4 months, at a cost of TSh 5.65 billion (USD 2.5m). The President promised government employment to all the JKT volunteers – over 2,000 in number – who participated in the work. Further security measures have been put in place including security cameras and ID cards for personnel permitted within the wall.

The government has also reinstated over 7,000 previously fired or suspended employees who did not possess form four (O-level) certificates, and who were employed before May 20, 2004. This followed calls to do so from MPs, and recognises that form four qualifications were not a requirement for government employment before this date. The reinstatement does not include civil servants who had used fake certificates to secure their employment or who were employed after 2004 without proper qualifications. The government announced that the reinstated employees will be given their full accrued salaries since the time of their dismissal, and will be entitled to full retirement benefits.

Kassim Majaliwa addresses parliament (http://mrokim.blogspot.co.uk)

Some of these developments were among the six issues highlighted by the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, when he outlined government plans contained in the 2018/19 budget. Specifically, the upgrade and expansion of transport networks – including roads as well as rail – and investment in electricity generation were both mentioned. Beyond this, the Prime Minister also pointed to new spending on water supply services, e-governance for revenue collection, relocation of government business to Dodoma, and maintaining economic growth through implementation of strategic development plans.

Chadema leadership arrested

Chadema leadership attend court in Dar es Salaam

Shortly before Easter eight senior figures within the largest opposition party, Chadema, were arrested and charged with several counts including sedition and incitement. The charge sheet initially named six individuals, including the national party chairman, Freeman Mbowe, and secretary general, Vincent Mashinji, as well as John Mnyika, Salum Mwalimu, Rev Peter Msigwa, and John Heche. Two further names were later added, including the chair of the party’s women’s wing, Halima Mdee, and Ester Bulaya.

The charges stem from mid-February, during the parliamentary by-election campaign in Kinondoni constituency in Dar es Salaam. The Chadema leaders are accused of staging unlawful demonstrations – the same occasion that tragically resulted in the death of Akwilina Akwilini (see below).

Among the charges are several accusations that Mbowe and others made seditious statements, defined in Tanzanian law as “statements that are likely to raise discontent and promote feelings of ill-will among inhabitants of the United Republic of Tanzania” or “statements made with intent to bring hatred and contempt to the citizens of the United Republic of Tanzania against the lawful authority of the government.”
All eight of the accused deny the charges.

Professor Abdallah Safari, the party’s deputy chairman, spoke on behalf of the party while Mbowe and the others remained in police custody. “This situation is terrifying and it is the right time to seek for international support in advocating for democracy in the country. Our voices alone cannot be heard; this is the time for everyone to join forces in calling for democratic space and the rule of law.”

Administrative delays meant that although bail had been agreed by the court, it proved impossible to release the suspects before the long Easter weekend. They were therefore released on the Tuesday after Easter, having been held for seven days, subject to a condition that they must report weekly to the court in Dar es Salaam.

Meanwhile, another Chadema MP, Joseph Mbilinyi, was sentenced in February to five months imprisonment. The Mbeya Resident Magistrate Court found him guilty of delivering “hate speech” against President Magufuli in December 2017. A party official, Emmanuel Masonga, was also found guilty on the same charge. Both Mr Mbilinyi and Mr Masonga deny the charges.

Policing concerns
Concerns about police strategies and attitudes have grown, after a number of incidents where policing tactics appeared either to be highly politicised or overly aggressive, including three separate incidents in which the actions of the police appeared to cause the death of civilians.

The first such case was Akwilina Akwiline, a 21-year-old student at the National Institute of Transport. She was killed by a stray bullet while passing the site of a confrontation between police and Chadema supporters in Dar es Salaam. Shots were fired by the police in order to break up the march. This took place in February. No arrests have been made.

The second case followed a month later, in Mbeya. Allen Mapunda, a 20-year-old fruit seller at a local market, was arrested while playing pool with friends one evening, as part of “normal patrols” around the city. He was released on police bail the following day to his family, who say he had cuts and bruises on his arms and head and complained of pain in his abdomen. They took him to hospital where he died later that evening, from what doctors described as “internal injuries”. The police denied any responsibility, saying he was fine when released on bail.

Third, at the end of April, Suguta Chacha, the younger brother of Chadema MP for Tarime, John Heche, was arrested along with others at a bar that was open past its permitted hours, close to the Kenya-Tanzania border. He was stabbed while in custody at the police station, and died on the scene. A police officer has been charged in association with the incident.

These incidents followed concerns raised about policing during local government by-election campaigns in late 2017. The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) reported evidence that police had arrested opposition leaders and agents. LHRC called for the roll of security organs in supervising elections to be reviewed.

Further, the case of Abdul Nondo also attracted wide public attention. Nondo, a student at the University of Dar es Salaam and outspoken chair of the Tanzania Students Networking Programme (TSNP), was reported missing in early March. He re-emerged a day later in Mafinga in Iringa region, where the police arrested him for allegedly faking his own abduction. He was held in police custody for close to three weeks before being charged with any offence. When finally charges were brought, police (unsuccessfully) argued that Nondo should be denied bail for his own safety.

Finally, a journalist with Mwananchi newspaper, Azory Gwanda, has disappeared and the police have reported no progress with investigating his disappearance. Azory had been covering a series of violent incidents against the police, local government and CCM leaders in and around Kibiti, south of Dar es Salaam, and police responses to these attacks.

Growing criticisms
The list of those who have expressed concern at rising political tensions and President Magufuli’s approach to democracy continues to grow.

The US Embassy issued a statement in mid-February that referred to the recent murder – by unknown assailants – of Daniel John and attempted murder of his friend Reginald Mallya, both Chadema members, and called for “a transparent investigation to hold all perpetrators of violence accountable in accordance with Tanzanian law.”

A week later, the European Union delegation in Tanzania issued a more widely ranging statement jointly with the Heads of Mission of the Member States of the European Union in Tanzania and supported by the High Commissioner of Canada and the Ambassadors of Norway and Switzerland:

“We note with concern the recent developments which threaten democratic values and the rights of Tanzanians in a country which is widely respected in the world for its stability, peacefulness and freedoms. We are worried by the rising number of reports of violence in the last months including: the attempt on the life of MP Tundu Lissu; the disappearance of people such as journalist Azory Gwanda; and the lethal assaults upon government representatives, the authorities and citizens which occurred in the Coast Region in the past two years. We join Tanzania’s people in calling upon those responsible, to safeguard the peace and security of democratic process, the country, its citizens and respect for the due process of law without impunity.”

Lent and Easter presented an opportunity for Christian leaders in Tanzania to express their concerns. The Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) of the Roman Catholic church issued a pastoral letter in Dar es Salaam lamenting the deteriorating governance situation in Tanzania, including the restrictions imposed on opposition parties, the repression of mass media and suppression of the freedom of expression. It was signed by all the 36 bishops making up the TEC.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) issued a proclamation, signed by 27 bishops, calling for security organs to ensure that Tanzanians’ lives are properly protected. Leaders of the Anglican and Moravian churches also called for peace, security and justice in their Easter sermons.

In February, more than 100 civil society organisations issued a statement condemning what they called “unprecedented” cases of human rights violations in Tanzania’s history, including “attacks, torture and forced disappearances of rights activists, journalists and even ordinary citizens.”

The government responded to some of these statements, arguing that religion and politics should not be allowed to mix. Further, a statement issued by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Augustine Mahiga, responded directly to the US and EU. This highlighted “the previous conspicuous silence by the envoys on the unprecedented security threats and challenges which Tanzania has been facing in the Kibiti-Mkuranga-Rufiji triangle,” and “the uncompromising bold actions taken by President Magufuli to stump out (sic) corruption, drug trafficking, tax evasion, poaching and enforce accountability in the public and private sectors”.

“The measures by the 5th phase government have evidently enraged powerful elements from within and outside the country with vested interests in laxity that prevailed before. These forces are resisting and fighting the change through insidious means and malicious intent to discredit the government and tarnish its image by aggravated violent criminal actions in a politically manipulated manner.”

“Our guest partners should make an effort to understand these complex scenarios in the country before issuing unverified sensational and what can be inciting statements to the public.”

Perhaps the most stinging criticism, however, came in mid-March from The Economist newspaper, in a rare leader article on Tanzanian politics. The article, headlined “Tanzania’s sickening lurch”, was accompanied by a longer news article in the same issue headlined “Falling into dictatorship: Tanzania’s rogue President.”

“Until recently Tanzania’s political stability drew investors and donors, spurring one of the fastest sustained streaks of economic growth in Africa,” wrote the paper. But “… progress is imperilled by Mr Magufuli, who is transforming a stable, if flawed, democracy into a brutal dictatorship” it continued. “For Western donors to look away as Tanzania descends into oppression would be to discard much of its progress in recent decades. Most of all, Tanzania’s neighbours need to act.”

Fake news, media and social media restraints
The Economist articles kicked up a minor political storm in Tanzania, with online debate raging particularly fiercely. Within days, a rebuttal appeared on a newly established website from a previously unknown “Belgian doctor,” Dr Herman Louise Verhofstadt. The article, which defended President Magufuli’s record, was widely circulated by supporters of the President, including an approving tweet from the Director of Information Services and chief government spokesman, Dr Hassan Abbas, and extended excerpts were published in the two government-owned newspapers, Daily News and Habari Leo.

The rebuttal was then itself rebutted by someone on social media, also claiming to be Dr Herman Louise Verhofstadt, stating that he had never visited Tanzania and adding that “you need a really poorly performing government to come up with a lie like this.”

Commentators quickly concluded that both the article and the twitter rebuttal were a fabrication – neither were backed up by any other evidence or presence, online or otherwise, to give credence. Instead, they appear to be evidence of the politicised nature of the media, including social media, and indeed a prime example of fake news.
Into this context, the government introduced new regulations under the Electronic and Postal Communications Act, to regulate online activities in Tanzania. Among other things, the Online Content regulations, require bloggers and operators of online forums and online TV and radio to register and pay fees to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority. Anyone writing a blog within Tanzania or any Tanzanian citizens doing so from abroad, for example, will be required to pay an annual fee of TSh 1,000,000 (USD 450) to operate their blog. The regulations also prohibit a long list of different types of online content, including anyone posting “disparaging or abusive words, calculated to offend”, “false content” unless accompanied by a statement that the content is satire and not factual, and “content that causes annoyance”.

Critics have pointed out that although fake news is a genuine problem, these regulations go a lot further. One international newspaper described the regulations as “vaguely worded” and pointed out that “no one imagines that political speech will be spared.”

The regulations come on top of existing laws introduced under Presidents Kikwete and Magufuli that have attracted widespread criticism for undermining freedom of expression, including the Statistics Act, Media Services Act and Cybercrimes Act. All three have been used against critics of the government.

Demonstrations that didn’t happen

Mange Kimambi in a youtube video

A US-based Tanzanian socialite and social media activist, Mange Kimambi, attempted to mobilise nationwide peaceful protests on Union Day, April 26. The protests were to be against what she called “suppression of political freedom and human rights abuses” by the Tanzanian government. Opposition parties denied any connection to Kimambi, while the police and national government leaders restated an existing ban on political rallies of any kind, emphasising instead the need to protect the nation’s peace and security “at any cost”.

President Magufuli warned of a crackdown on any protests. “Let them demonstrate and they will see who I am,” he said. Gilles Muroto, police chief in Dodoma, told journalists the police would make protesters suffer: “they will be beaten like stray dogs.”

In the event, the show of force by police on the streets of major Tanzanian towns and cities was far more visible than any protesters. Police marched and showed off their vehicles and other equipment in highly public displays on April 25 in particular, and maintained a heavy presence on the streets on April 26.

“All we can say is that the California girl managed to bring the toughest of our boys down to the streets, in much ado about nothing,” wrote Jenerali Ulimwengu in the East African.

Small protests took place in Washington DC and Sweden, with a few dozen protesters holding placards outside the respective Tanzanian Embassies. Seven protesters in Dar es Salaam were arrested outside the Central Post Office, and a few other suspected “organisers” were arrested in the days before April 26.

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CONSTITUTION

by Enos Bukuku

The list of organisations calling for a new constitution grows longer
At the end of last year, the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Tanzania Constitution Forum and representatives of over 80 civil society organisations raised concerns about respect for democracy and human rights in Tanzania, arguing that a key part of the solution would be for the constitutional review process to resume. Added to this list are various religious groups who feel obligated to speak up for the people. One such group is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). Shortly before Easter, 27 ELCT bishops put their signatures to a document which, amongst other matters, requested that the constitution making process be revived. The ELCT made the following statement:

“Most Tanzanians believe that there is a need for a new constitution, which will address the many challenges that the country is facing…… When someone dies or disappears under mysterious circumstances, security organs should make sure that independent investigations into the matter are conducted so that the culprits can be brought to justice.”

The opposition party Chadema has been consistent in demanding a new constitution over the last couple of years. It has been joined by another opposition party, the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo), led by Zitto Kabwe, which proclaimed it would promote this issue as its main political agenda. One of its secretaries, Mr Ado Shaibu, said, “Our main focus is to make sure that democratic principles are protected – and this will be through enacting a new constitution”. ACT-Wazalendo and Chadema are also aiming to work together on this big push for a long-awaited new Katiba. This potential alliance has similarities with UKAWA. Whilst the alliance may not result in a formal coalition, once again the government’s stance on the constitution is giving opposition parties a strong platform for change.

On 6th February, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, the Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, responded to questions regarding a conflict between the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Constitution of Zanzibar by saying that he sees no reason to amend the constitution. Since his appointment approximately one year ago Prof Kabudi has not offered any signs of support for the growing list of Tanzanians who want to see some progress. As far as the government is concerned, it is not a priority.

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