DEFECTIONS TO CCM

by Ben Taylor

A series of high-profile defections of opposition figures to CCM has raised questions about the state of politics in Tanzania.

Around 70 opposition members including councillors and MPs have left other parties to join – or rejoin – CCM in recent months. This includes MPs Julius Kalanga (Monduli constituency), Mwita Waitara (Ukonga), Godwin Mollel (Siha), Maulid Mtulia (Kinondoni) and Zubery Kachauka (Liwale). Prominent CUF leader, Julius Mtatiro also left the party to join CCM, and a few months earlier, former Chadema presidential candidate, Dr Wilbroad Slaa joined CCM.

Various reasons are given for the defections. Some, including Mtulia and Mollel, have claimed great satisfaction with President John Magufuli’s performance. Others, including Waitara, say they had lost faith in their former parties after finding themselves criticised for collaborating with the government in development activities in their constituencies.

Accusations have been made that defectors to CCM have been “bought,” though there is no clear-cut evidence to support this claim.

Nevertheless, several public figures have argued that such a high rate of defections is not good for national politics, as it is likely to lead to disillusionment with politics among citizens. Several recent by-elections, including those to replace or re-elect defecting MPs, saw voter turnouts below 50%.

Dr Richard Mbunda of the University of Dar es Salaam argued that “self-disenfranchisement is disastrous both for the electorate and the government. The latter loses legitimacy while the former find themselves governed by policies they haven’t consented to.” He argued that legitimacy, once lost, is hard to regain, and civil disobedience is the likely result of being governed by an illegitimate government.

CCM Ideology and Publicity secretary Humphrey Polepole has said the opposition will continue to lose prominent leaders and members in the ongoing wave of defections. He claimed that many members of Parliament and councillors have requested to join CCM, noting that the decision was primarily caused by Chadema national chairman Freeman Mbowe’s poor leadership. “They complain of lacking coordination from top leaders. I predict that Chadema’s downfall will continue,” he said.

However, Mr Mbowe assured Chadema supporters that the defections would strengthen, not destroy, the party. “Chadema is strengthened by these defections because we are left with true leaders and members who are ready to build a strong opposition in the country,” he said.

CUF deputy secretary general for the Mainland, Ms Magdalena Sakaya, said she was shocked with developments that she said were “bad for democracy”. “Looking at the bigger picture you realise it’s a project to kill the opposition,” she said.

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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.

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BUSINESS & THE ECONOMY

by Ben Taylor

Budget estimates presented and disputed

Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango, presented the government budget for 2018/19 to parliament in June. He told parlia­ment that the TSh 32.5 trillion budget would focus on protecting local industries against competition from imports, and on improving agricul­ture, industries, social services and logistics.

Dr Abel Kinyondo from REPOA, a think-tank, said protecting local industries is good but should not be done in a way that would affect the productivity and competitiveness of local producers. “Protectionism should be temporary. A non-protectionist mechanism should be put forward to encourage local industries to be competitive, otherwise it will encourage smuggling of foreign goods of higher quality,” he noted.

Dr Semboja Haji from Zanzibar University cautioned against the viola­tion of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. “Increasing taxes on imports to protect local industries is all right, but the taxes imposed should not exceed limits put by the WTO,” he noted.

Other highlights of the budget include a removal of VAT on various products including sanitary towels, medicine packing materials and animal food supplements, a tax amnesty proposal (see below), and a marked increase in debt service (see below).

On the expenditure side, the main highlight of the budget is the continued large allocations to large-scale and high-profile mega-projects. This includes TSh 700 billion allocated to the Stiegler’s Gorge hydro-power project, and TSh 4.2 trillion for road and rail infrastructure projects.

In a note of caution, the government said that Tanzania’s economic growth plans could be affected by eight major factors over the coming years, calling upon stakeholders to work with them to come up with mitigation measures. These factors, according to Dr Mpango, include inadequate funds, land ownership conflicts, inadequate participation of the private sector, high rate of population growth, environmental degradation and climate change, regional and global economic and political shocks, natural calamities, and spatial politics that can breed wars and conflicts.

Opposition MP, Zitto Kabwe (ACT Wazalendo, Kigoma Urban), took issue with budget estimates, pointing to repeated failure to meet rev­enue collection targets and related under-release of funds for develop­ment. He asked whether it made sense to keep increasing the size of the budget each year when previous years budgets were never met.

Speaking in an interview with Azam TV, Kabwe said the trend over the past five years was that the government had not met any of their budget estimates. He claimed that for every planned TSh 100, the government had released an average of TSh 65. He added that in the first full financial year of the administration of President Magufuli, the budget increased by 30%, but less than half the funds for development expenditure were ever released.
“The government needs to stop putting up budgets with large numbers when it well knows it has no funds,” he argued.

Another opposition leader, Freeman Mbowe of Chadema, argued that implementation of the budget will be difficult because of the tendency by the government to redirect approved funds to new areas in contra­vention of the law. With most expenditure decisions being made out­side Parliament, said Mr Mbowe, the country finds itself in a situation where very little development funds reach some of the critical sectors while certain ministries receive much more than what was approved by Parliament.

“In 2016/17, for instance, Parliament approved TSh 100.5 billion as development budget for the Ministry of Agriculture, but only TSh 2.5 billion was disbursed,” he said. During the same financial year, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and the Ministry of Water and Irrigation received only 3.25% and 25% of the approved funds, respec­tively, he said.

He added that some other ministries have received more funds con­trary to what was endorsed by Parliament for 2017/18, including the Ministry of Information, Culture, Sports and Arts, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the President’s Office for Regional Administration and Local Government, and the National Electoral Commission. Mr Mbowe claimed that all these Ministries and agencies had spent more than double their budget allocation for the year.

Tax amnesty wins support
The Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango, announced in his 2018/2019 budget speech that he would be introducing a tax amnesty, allowing firms to settle underpaid taxes from previous years without financial penalties or interest charges. The move is designed to encourage companies to comply voluntarily with resolving backlogs of unpaid or underpaid taxes from previous years.

According to the Minister, the 100% amnesty on interest and penalties will last for six months starting from 1st July 2018 up to 31st December 2018. The move is expected to improve tax compliance by 10% and to increase government revenue by TSh 500 billion.

The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) provided further details in July, explaining that the amnesty will cover only taxes administered by TRA on behalf of the central government, including VAT, income tax, with­holding tax, PAYE, excise duty and stamp duty. It is only available to companies that are willing to commit in writing to paying the principal tax amount within the financial year 2018/19 (without penalties or inter­est charges), and that are willing to drop any objections or appeals that are pending either with TRA or with the tax courts.

The move has been praised by both economists and the business com­munity, though with some reservations. Prof Honest Ngowi of the University of Mzumbe, said that if the tax burden on companies is eased, the measure will help promote private investment. “The resulting conducive investment climate will translate into increased invest­ments, production, employment and business transactions that will lead to new sources of revenue to the treasury,” he argued.

However, Shabu Maurus of Auditax International, writing in The Citizen warned that there are several risks or disadvantages to com­panies that decide to tax advantage of the amnesty. For example, the requirement that companies must “conclude their tax liabilities without further grievance or dispute” may prevent some firms from engaging, particularly where the difference between tax liabilities claimed by TRA and those accepted by the firms is substantial.

Debt service reaches 30% of budget
For the first time in recent years, the government will spend over 30% of its annual budget for 2018/19 on debt service. This is up from 18% just five years earlier. The amount budgeted for debt service has increased from TSh 3.3 trillion in 2013/14 to TSh 10 trillion in 2018/19.
According to the Minister, Dr Mpango, by April 2018 the public debt stock had reached TSh 49.7 trillion, up from 43.8 trillion in April 2017. This has therefore now reached over 40% of Tanzania’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Grants and concessional loans which were coming with lower interest rates and long-term yields have declined, forcing the government to rely on external or internal non-concessional loans with high interest rates and short-term yields” said Economics Society of Tanzania chief executive officer Blandina Kilama. “If you are in need and you no longer obtain concessional loan, you must shift to other type of loans which are more expensive. What we are seeing now is that concessional loans have declined and countries are forced to go for non-concessional loans with short terms.”

She said having loans was not a problem but the problem was the rate of growth of loans and where the borrowed was used. “The focus must be on proportionate behaviour between the maturity of loans and maturity of the projects,” Dr Kilama said.

Dr Mpango has in the past defended the growing debt, saying it was within an acceptable limit.

Mpango – Makonda tax dispute
An unusual tax dispute has arisen pitting the Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango, against the influential Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC), Paul Makonda.

Dr Mpango took issue with the efforts of Makonda, long seen as one of President John Magufuli’s closest allies in government, to import 20 containers of tables, chairs and blackboards through Dar es Salaam port without paying import duties. The Finance Minister insisted that the taxes – reportedly around Tshs 1.2 billion – must be paid, or the goods seized and sold at public auction.

Mr Makonda explained that the consignment had been imported at his own initiative to improve schools in Dar es Salaam, and that the furni­ture had been donated by Tanzanians living in the US. The furniture is valued at an estimated TSh 2 billion.

Dr Mpango insisted that the law was categorical that all furniture items imported into Tanzania must be taxed. “I took an oath to enforce tax laws and I will not waver,” declared Dr Mpango in August after inspect­ing the shipping containers being held by customs officials. “The rule of law must prevail. We will not victimise anyone nor will we fear anyone when it comes to enforcement of tax laws … We must uphold our laws – we can’t play around with taxes.”

The containers arrived at the Dar es Salaam port in January this year with Mr Makonda personally listed as owner of the goods in the ship­ping documents. The RC is understood to have written to the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) to ask for a waiver, but his request was rejected. On May 12, this year, TRA gave 90 days for owners of 800 containers, including 20 belonging to Mr Makonda, to pay taxes or otherwise they would be auctioned.

President John Magufuli eventually weighed in on the dispute in August, expressing his disappointment over the saga and coming down in support of the Finance Minister. He said the recent decision by Dr Mpango to order the auctioning of the containers was the right move. “According to the laws of the land…no one has the mandate to borrow, bail out or receive donations on behalf of the government without being authorised by the Finance Minister,” said the President.

Before the public auction began at the end of August, Mr Makonda said he will make sure that all containers are not sold, and that he has asked God to block anyone attempting to buy them as the facilities were meant to be distributed to Dar es Salaam schools. “I will hold special prayers to ensure that those containers will never be sold to anyone because I imported them for poor teachers in our region,” he said. He then threatened buyers of the containers, saying their families will be cursed.

“Allow me to ask my fellow leaders in government to carefully select their words when speaking,” responded Dr Mpango. “How would one dare say that whoever buys these products would be cursed? How do we involve God in issues such as these ones?”

The first two attempts to auction the goods were unsuccessful as no bids met the minimum prices set by TRA.

Members of parliament have previously demanded disciplinary action against the Dar es Salaam RC for some of his remarks against MPs, while some opposition leaders have questioned the origin of his alleged oversized influence in government. (The Guardian, The Citizen)

Diaspora remittances
Remittances from the Tanzanian diaspora around the world averaged over TSh 1 trillion each year between 2013 and 2017 (US$2.3 billion over five years), according to the Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Mr William Ole Nasha. The Minister was speaking in parliament in April on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, in response to a question from Saada Mkuya (CCM, Welezo), herself a former Finance Minister.

The figure remains substantially lower than remittances to other East African countries. The Ugandan diaspora has transmitted over US$ 1 billion each year since 2015, and remittances from the Kenyan diaspora reached US$ 2 billion in 2017, according to figures compiled by The Citizen.

Figures released by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in June showed that the cost of sending funds to Tanzania is higher than the cost of sending funds to Kenya, Uganda or Rwanda. Sending £120 from the UK to Tanzania costs 14% of the amount, com­pared to 13% when sending the same amount to Rwanda, 9% to Uganda and 7% to Kenya.

“It is time the government of Tanzania found ways to encourage more Tanzanians in the diaspora to use formal channels,” said Junior Davis, Chief of the Africa Section at UNCTAD. He suggested the government should do everything in its power to cut the costs for money transfers. (The Citizen)

Foreign Exchange Rate
Helped no doubt by the uncertainty over Brexit, the Tanzanian Shilling has strengthened against the pound and euro in recent months from a low of 3,230 TSh to the pound in April to around 2,950 TSh to the pound in September, which is similar to the rate in September 2017.

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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.

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EDUCATION

by Naomi Rouse

New survey highlights shifting public views on education
Twelve years ago, around half of respondents in a public opinion survey thought that it would be better to have free schooling, even if the qual­ity of education was low. Since the introduction of free basic education, there has been a significant shift in public opinion, and a clear majority (87%) now think it would be “better to raise education standards, even if we have to pay fees”.

For the survey respondents, cost is a much lower concern than quality when choosing schools for their children. Only 6% of respondents said they would consider cost, whereas 72% said they were influenced by exam results and teacher motivation.

More than half of parents (53%) had made contributions of money, materials or labour to school constructions in the past year.

Many parents see themselves as primarily responsible for their chil­dren’s learning (52%) and 46% of parents said that teachers bear the primary responsibility. Almost no parents mentioned anyone in gov­ernment as being responsible for learning. (The Guardian)

Fresh plan to screen teachers
In June, the Ministry of Education tabled the Tanzania Teachers’ Professional Board Bill for a first reading in parliament, to improve regulation of teaching. The new education board will have nine mem­bers appointed by the Minister for Education, Science and Technology, which will include a registrar responsible for registering teachers and keeping records on them.

The penalty proposed in the new bill for working as a teacher without registration is a fine of between TSh 500,000 and TSh 1 million, and imprisonment for up to a year, or both. The new board will have con­trol of both private and public schools, in contrast with the Teachers Service Commission which currently only oversees teachers from public schools. Stakeholders welcomed the move, which has been under dis­cussion for a long time. (The Citizen)

Teacher : student ratio still a concern
Government data shows that primary school teachers in parts of Tanzania attend to as many as 180 pupils in a single classroom, with a huge disparity between urban and rural areas.

Government data shows a shortage of 47,151 teachers in primary schools across the country, with 66% of schools surpassing the 1:40 pupil teacher ratio. Considered regionally, just three regions had a pupil teacher ratio below the national average, which were Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Kilimanjaro.

Kasulu District in Kigoma region had the worst overall district pupil teacher ratio, at an average of 102. Plans were in place to employ 10,140 new primary school teachers in June. (The Citizen)

Number of HESLB loan recipients hits 40,000
The Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) has increased the number of loan beneficiaries by 7,000 this year, to reach 40,000 new students. TSh 427 billion has been allocated for higher education loans, with priority given to those pursuing courses with shortage of experts and those in line with the country’s industrialisation policy. (The Citizen)

No study loans for students from wealthy families, reiterates Magufuli
President John Magufuli has reiterated that the government will not give higher education study loans to children from wealthy families.

“The government is facing a lot of challenges in educating our children, and it’s even sad that a report shows that at least 3,500 ghost students accessed loans, while thousands of others had finished studies but have been elusive in paying back their loans.”

Dr Magufuli made the remarks at Mkwawa University in Iringa Region, highlighting the government is spending over TSh 23.8 billion every month on free education.

Government reacts to uproar over new HESLB loan terms
Education stakeholders are up in arms over the government’s decision to use the business licences of parents or guardians as a condition for granting higher education loans. The move is intended to help in estab­lishing the income of students’ parents or guardians.

The Deputy Minister for Education called up on the public to ignore reports that a student whose parents or guardians have no business licence wouldn’t qualify for a loan. Some MPs had also raised this con­cern, saying that the policy would discriminate against small traders without licences. The Deputy Minister stated that “We want to assure the public that we only use business licences to determine the actual income of students’ parents and not otherwise”. (The Citizen)

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HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

Ebola border alert
The government has established health screening of travellers entering the country from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as the spread of Ebola continues through parts of the DRC. By late August, a total of 90 people in the DRC had been diagnosed with Ebola with 50 people pronounced dead since the outbreak began earlier this year.

Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Children and Elders Ummy Mwalimu, told a press conference in Dar es Salaam that although the World Health Organisation (WHO) had recently in its report placed Tanzania at a higher risk, there was not even a single case reported in the country.

The minister added that the government has deployed 35 medics along with thermal body scanners to key entry points. “Thermal Scanners are devices meant to detect high body temperature as a clue for Ebola dis­ease,” explained the Minister. Ms Mwalimu noted that the government has enhanced its integrated disease surveillance and response system in the country’s border posts that are frequently used by DRC nationals to cross into the country.

Ms Mwalimu noted further that the government will closely work with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international organi­sations responsible for health as per the law to prevent the Ebola preva­lence. “We have also convened an emergence meeting for our National Task Force responsible for the disease,” she said.

Ms Mwalimu assured the public that there was so far no any case of person with Ebola in the country, urging the people to remain watchful against the disease. (Daily News)

New HIV/AIDS Strategy launched
The Minister also launched the fourth national multi-sectoral strategic framework for HIV and AIDS plan, saying the new plan aims to reach out to the entire population in the country.

We want everyone to understand their HIV status. This is the only option that will help end the fight against AIDs,” she said.

The global target set for 2030 is to end HIV and AIDs, while the UN aims by 2020 to have 90% of people living with HIV diagnosed, 90% of diagnosed people on antiretroviral treatment and 90% of people in treatment with fully suppressed viral load. However, Tanzania remains some distance off these targets. The minister said 48% of the population of people living with HIV and AIDs do not know their status.

A key element of the new strategy is to reach out to every place where people gather in large numbers, including football matches and popular music concerts. “We will not force people to test for HIV, but we will make sure there are facilities everywhere for people to understand their status,” said the Minister.

“We’re also looking at the possibility that the law should allow indi­viduals to get HIV test kits and test on their own,” she said, explaining that this will encourage a lot more to seek medical help after knowing their status.

The plan will increase the number of health centres providing Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) services to 2,800. It will also focus on cultural barriers that hinder the fight against Aids, including ending stigma and discrimination which experts say kills and discourages peo­ple especially men seeking medical help.

United Nations agency for HIV and AIDs (UNAIDs) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) representatives praised the government initiatives for fighting HIV/AIDS but called for action to be stepped up in order to meet the global targets. (Daily News)

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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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