Wednesday, November 30, 2016

WORLD VIEW : Donald Trump’s beefed up economics



US president elect Donald Trump.

US president elect Donald Trump. 

By Jonathan Power jonatpower@aol.com

Donald Trump is changing the right wing’s economic spots. He is doing what Franklin Roosevelt did at the time of the Great Depression by increasing government spending- although it was the rearmament brought on by entering World War II that was an even more important factor in lifting America out of the doldrums.

He is following what Hitler did so successfully before World War II when he rebuilt Germany’s economic strength with autobahns and industrial subsidies (not rearmament in the beginning, as is often said). He is walking in the footsteps of President Richard Nixon who when he changed course with a new economic policy said, “We are all Keynesians now”.

John Maynard Keynes was the greatest economist who ever lived. For reasons that were shameful politicians have not listened to his advice as often as they should. The Germans, with their urge to austerity, have gone the other way, carrying ( or pushing) nearly every European state with them, apart from Poland and Sweden which did not follow the herd and now have the best economic growth record of the last few years.

But Obama has certainly been Keynesian. Inheriting an economy totally messed up by President George W. Bush and the collapse of the big bank, Lehman Brothers, he set about being a hands-on Keynesian. He has achieved a lot although he would have achieved a lot more if his ambitious spending plans hadn’t been constantly opposed and thwarted by the Republicans in Congress. The US in recent years has by the year outshone the Europeans in economic development, apart from Sweden and Poland.

It is ironic that Trump wants to follow in the footsteps of Obama rather than the Congressional Republicans. He wants to prime the pump even more with a massive investment in infrastructure. Even building his “wall” (now to be a fence) on the border with Mexico will produce plenty of jobs! The Republicans will be compelled to support him.

What will the Europeans now do- refute him or emulate him? Mrs Angela Merkel is holding firm, even as I write chiding Greece to continue with its debilitating austerity program. Germany with its amazing successfully exports can afford to make big mistakes by imposing austerity at home. Other, less successful, economies can’t. Most economists agree on this. Most politicians including the top echelon of the European Commission have ignored their advice. Why the politicians in power all over Europe did this no one seems to have a satisfactory explanation. But, like lemmings, they took Europe over the cliff. Not even Obama could persuade them to turn back.

Austerity, a profoundly false concept, argues the Nobel Prize winner for economics in the New Statesman magazine, “has been pushed by politicians who have frightened people- orchestrated fear- with the idea that the economy could not but collapse under the burden of public debt…..Austerity in the days of the Great Depression could do little, since a reduction of public expenditure adds to the inadequacy of private incomes and market demands, thereby tending to put even more people out of work. Keynes in 1936 with his book “General Theory” ushered in the basic understanding that demand is important as a determinant of economic activity, and that expanding rather than cutting public expenditure may do a much better job of expanding employment and activity in an economy with unused capacity and idle labour.”

In Europe over the last few years the austerity policy did not help in the announced objective of reducing the ratio of debt to GDP (national income), indeed, sometimes quite the contrary. Neither was it necessary in order to get necessary reforms such as longer working hours in some countries, raising the retirement age in all and the elimination of institutional rigidities such as labour markets in order to impose austerity.

These are quite separate things from the policies of austerity but politicians have mixed them up. Hence, for example, they have pushed in Greece and a number of other countries for pensions to be reduced rather than encouraging people to work more years. (Indeed that would help in other ways- by reducing the demand for immigrants.)

Mr Power is a columnist on international affairs,human rights and peace


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Let’s keep politics out of Dar-Lusaka economic ties

By Citizen

Tanzania and Zambia have agreed on strategies that would make the two country’s joint projects work for the benefit of their people. Agreements signed during the three-day state visit by Zambian President Edgar Lungu aimed at revitalising Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) as well as Tanzania Zambia Mafuta (Tazama) projects.

In his speech at the State House President, John Magufuli noted the sorry state of the two companies, saying to a large extent, they were failed by politics. It is encouraging that at last, our top leaders have seen the reason why such projects, which used to be vibrant, failed when similar projects elsewhere were prospering.

It is hard to understand why, at a time when the transportation sector has become a vibrant and key component to economic development, Tazara be on the verge of total collapse. It is incredible why Tazama should be struggling while oil is deemed a key ingredient in economic development.

This experience serves as a warning to us that in future, we shouldn’t allow politics to mess us up.

The truth of the matter is that politicians had been allowed to reign supreme in the running of economic projects. Now instead of treating them as they are–economic blueprints–politicians used the opportunity to make decisions which benefits them or their political hangers-on at the expense of the projects.

We fully support the plans to revitalise these projects and establish more similar plans. If Tanzania believes that building a standard gauge railway will stimulate its economy, then we expect Tazara, which is of the standard gauge variety, should do wonders.

And then, Zambia’s assertion that it needs a gas pipeline connecting it to Tanzania, is a testimony that Tazama’s relevance will continue.

Our assertion there is: Zambia and Tanzania should continue with their economic partnerships but the concerned should ensure politics isn’t allowed the two entities again.

IT’S RAINING, BEWARE CHOLERA!

The rain season is here and before us is the start of another farming season. Since some 70 per cent of Tanzania’s working population engages in agriculture, many households will be out farming. Agriculture requires practitioners to be of sound health. When a household member falls ill, it affects family’s agricultural productivity.

Often, the rain season comes with its challenges, one of which is the outbreak of waterborne diseases like cholera. This is an infection of the small intestine by some strains of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

The chief symptoms include vomiting, muscle cramps and diarrhoea. The disease leads to severe dehydration with loss of energy. The attack may last for a few hours up to five days after exposure.

Prevention of cholera involves improved sanitation and access to clean water. Efforts to control and prevent the disease should be hinged on these two conditions.

It is unbecoming for leaders and key players to take action only after people have been killed by the disease. That is a clear sign of slackness in leadership.

There is a need to have in place proactive measures to prevent the disease from messing up people and economic productivity. That should include campaigns to educate the people on how to check the scourge.

With proper plans, we can stop cholera outbreaks.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

TALKING POINT : Not enough being done to address urban squalor in Africa

Deus Kibamba is trained in Political Science,

Deus Kibamba is trained in Political Science, International Politics and International Law. 

By Deus Kibamba dkibamba1@gmail.com

As 2016 draws to a close, I am looking back at my travels across Africa during the course of the year. In total, I was able to visit about 30 countries this year.

Wherever I went, I witnessed problems related to the widespread problem of “informal settlements”, especially in urban areas. Statistics point to a looming crisis if appropriate measures are not taken as a matter of urgency to address the situation. Accordingly, figures show that more than 70 per cent of Africa’s urban residents are slum dwellers.

While in Zambia in January, I saw how the poorly planned Chawama suburb in Lusaka was a headache to President Edgar Lungu’s newly elected government. Having been a resident of Chawama for years himself, the situation must have bothered Mr Lungu. Hopefully, something will be done now that he is president.

In Chibolya, another unplanned, slum-like settlement in Lusaka, the situation was even worse. Services such as power and water supply, garbage collection and health care were hardly available.

It was the same story in Misisi, another locality in the Zambian capital. I was told that safe and clean water and sanitation have been virtually non-existent in the area for many years. It is estimated that about half of Lusaka’s population lives in areas such as Chawama, Chibolya and Misisi.

It was more of the same when I visited Uganda in March. My visits to Kabalagala, Bukasa and Ggaba in Kampala were both eye-opening and unsettling. On a positive note, goods sell at rock-bottom prices in these areas. Also, the people are warm and welcoming, at least during the day. Kabalagala is particularly known for its vibrant nightlife, pubs, shops and moneychangers, but is also notorious for its disproportionate number of prostitutes – both female and male.

On my way back home, I made a stopover in Kenya, where I visited a number of places in Nairobi, including the sprawling slum of Kibera, which is home to anywhere between 500,000 and 1 million people, depending on which source you trust. Despite being only a couple of kilometres from Nairobi’s central business district, Kibera has neither running water nor electricity.

Also on my itinerary was River Road in Nairobi city centre. This is one of the areas in the Kenyan capital that never sleep. Bustling River Road probably has the highest concentration of bars packed on a one-kilometre street in East and Central Africa. The common thing about these bars is that music is played at ear-splitting volume, making River Road easily the noisiest street in East Africa. I wondered how people could spend a few hours in the bars and still retain their sanity.

As Easter beckoned, I joined two colleagues in visiting Blantyre and Lilongwe in Malawi. Lilongwe’s Area 47 is tranquil during the day, but is completely transformed after dark, and we were lucky enough to savour the city’s nightlife in this corner of the city. It is in this area that one finds places where popular Congolese and Malawian music is played. One of the city’s most popular joints is the Chez Ntemba International Night Club. I have to admit that you can have a bit of fun even in an extremely poorly planned suburb!

But the fact remains that we must strive to plan our cities to make them livable.

In Tanzania we also have our fair share of slums and unplanned settlements, particularly in Dar es Salaam where there are over 20 such areas. In fact, unplanned development can be seen all over the city.

Most of Africa needs to address the problem of unplanned settlements. Even South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy, has not been spared, what with townships, nay slums, such as Old Soweto, Deepsloot, Alexandra and Hillbrow. Ethiopia and Ghana have Gondar and Jamestown, respectively. Where in African can one not find an unplanned settlement? I bet nowhere.

Tanzania must institute measures to address challenges posed by informal and unplanned settlements in urban areas. The way out of unplanned housing is for the government to increase the pace of surveying undeveloped land on the outskirts of cities and major towns.

Consequently, people wishing to build houses will have to acquire title deeds and develop their plots in accordance with urban development regulations. Short of this, slums will continue to be part and parcel of Tanzanian cities and towns in the foreseeable future.

Deus Kibamba is trained in Political Science,International,Politics and InternationalLaw


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why Donald Trump deserves to be congratulated for his win

Donald Trump won the US presidential election

Donald Trump won the US presidential election after a bitterly fought and divisive campaign. PHOTO | FILE 

By Benji Ndolo

It was quite a campaign. One-and-a-half years of utter madness.

It was a terrible journey for those who followed the presidential election in the US.

Unlike 2008, it was not about optimism and possibility. It was about fear, anger, and revolt.

Barack Obama broke records and expectations, becoming the first black man to win the White House.

His message and demeanour were full of hope, enthusiasm, and decency. America was a better place and a world of possibility was born.

But after the talk must come the walk. While Obama saved the country, and the world, from economic collapse in 2008, the expectations about him were super high and went largely unmet.

From Obamacare to global affairs, health premiums went up as Isis roamed the globe wreaking havoc.

It is my feeling that the president was too diplomatic and his political party, including the Hillary Clinton election machinery, a bit out of touch.

It seemed Mr Obama could only give a good speech and shed a tear as police became unruly and rioted, leading to the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.

Health insurance premiums soared on an initiative that gave cover to 40 million people.

His record has been decent, not golden, even though his personal conduct has been exceptional.

Like Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders connected with the electorate, especially the rural folk.

He sensed their despair, their frustration with the Washington talk and gridlock.

People everywhere are increasingly insecure, populations are growing, resources are dwindling, suspicions, hate, and terrorism seem to be on the rise and politicians are walking around in suits and ties, talking a lot and doing little to change things.

Sanders began what looked like a sure political revolution.

Although he seemed angry and old, he effortlessly connected with young people and inspired hope and optimism for change against the establishment.

He railed against the status quo. But he was knocked out during the primaries.

One thing about politics and public life is the importance of favourability.

And, unfortunately, women are held up to a higher standard than men.

As the campaigns progressed, it became clear that the two frontrunners — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — were the two most unlikely picks of both party formations.

The Republican Party openly revolted against its candidate.

And in the Democratic corner the pressure continued to mount on Clinton.

The anger against her grew, as did the attacks. But the media loved her and were openly biased against her adversary.

So it was that as the Americans went into voting on November 8, it was a most poisoned atmosphere, full of anger, despair, and disillusionment.

But even the complex electoral college mathematics could not stop Donald Trump.

The world was stunned and there were demonstrations on the streets.

They say every cloud has a silver lining. Well, for me the lesson is that it is possible to come from outside the political establishment and win — as long as you can persuade people and connect with their needs and problems.

So, Donald Trump deserves to be congratulated for winning after a hard-fought campaign.

We should wish him well as he begins the tough task of leading his country and the world.

The writer is a commentator and strategist and the founder/director of ON, based in Nairobi.benji@onekenyagroup.org


Monday, January 16, 2017

TOUGH JUSTICE : In politics of firing, therein lies the risk of misfiring



President elect Donald Trump

President elect Donald Trump 

By Justice Novati Rutenge justice@idev.co.tz

Recently, the world seems to have been getting more hard-liners in top leadership positions.
As Manu Bhagavan, Professor of History and Human Rights at Hunter College in the US remarked in an article published in March 2016, global authoritarianism is rising at a chilling scale.
Prof Bhagavan cites heavy-handedness, disdain for opposition and critical press in Turkey, Japan, India, Israel, Russia and Myanmar among other places, as activities pointing to the fact that the world is getting more authoritarian leaders. The professor’s argument cannot be stressed further than looking at the election of Donald Trump almost half a year after he (Prof Bhagavan) made his observations.
The newly elected president is famous for a catch phrase he used as host of a reality TV series, The Apprentice. The no-nonsense Trump eliminated people from the show with a dramatic phrase: “You are fired!”
In a famous video produced in 2012 but aired only a few months leading up to the November US election, Trump plays a boss who has summoned Obama to go through his performance as President. Mr Trump lists all of Obama’s shortfalls as President and eventually fires him.
Will Mr Trump run the country in similar fashion? Well, we have a few days or months to find out. But what we can clearly see now is that the proverbial “leader of the free world” is a man with a strong obsession for dismissing or firing subordinates.
Elsewhere also, the act of ‘firing’ seems to have crept its way into politics as the world gets more and more hard-liner leaders.
In Philippines, the new president, Rodrigo Duterte is firing guns at suspected drug dealers. This move has made him highly unpopular among the international community due to concerns over human rights abuses.
Back home in Tanzania, President Magufuli is famous for firing top level government officials—thankfully not in the style of his Philippine counterpart.
Reasons for dismissals are not always openly stated, but are thought to range from gross inefficiencies or insubordination to more serious cases misconduct.
Different commentators have split opinions about this style of governing, but it seems highly favoured by the masses who are never hesitant to shout resounding yeses when they’re asked in public meetings if a government officer should be ‘shown the door’.
But even without the full knowledge of the ins and outs of the dismissals, why do we celebrate them? Are there any positives for the country in this style of governance?
One of the advantages that quickly come to mind is the potential to enforce accountability within government. Things that were often taken for granted will no longer be taken for granted because inefficiency finally has strong repercussions. Most people have reported noticing fewer empty public service chairs and a general improvement in the quality of service.
Also, these dismissals could have the effect of getting government institutions in sync. Although there have been cases where government officials have issued conflicting statements in public, on a bigger scale, it does feel like the leadership is marching together, following the directions of an able ‘parade commander’.
This, compared to the laissez-faire approach that characterized the previous regime, is likely to yield better results.
However, there could be also be a few risks of ‘misfiring’.
Governance by firing could have the effect of cultivating fear and indecisiveness, and this may end up stifling creativity in government.
Experts need not have their hands tied by politics. They need the autonomy to do what will take their institutions forward even if it is in stark contrast with what is politically correct.
Also, what the dismissals translate to is a high turnover rate for the top offices in public and civil service. This could have the effect of making key government positions unattractive to some of the best qualified people.
Finally, there is obviously a certain amount of time that has to pass before a new appointee can effect change in an institution. A high turnover rate often translates into poor continuity in government plans and programs.
Is there a need for a new approach?
Maybe stern warnings and other professional disciplinary actions would achieve better results than dismissals would in some cases.
Our leaders need to find that delicate balance in dealing with public and civil servants that will allow them to institutionalize accountability while ensuring sustained optimal efficiency.
Said simply, leaders should be watchful that they are not falling into risks of ‘misfiring’ by firing needlessly.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Why China’s ivory trade ban shouldn’t wait till year-end

Elephants roam freely in Tanzanian wilderness.

Elephants roam freely in Tanzanian wilderness. A hastened ban on ivory trade by China will go a long in saving the elephants who are threatened with extinction thanks to commercial poaching. PHOTO | FILE 

By Attilio Tagalile

A few days before the world celebrated the end of 2016, the Chinese government announced its decision to ban ivory trade by the end of 2017.

This announcement was well received by many countries in the world much as its decision to ban ivory trade in China was not immediate.

But as a country long known to be one of leading markets for ivory in the world, countries like Tanzania, which have for many years been heavily affected by poaching had reason to heave a sigh of relief.

Tanzania which should today should be boasting a population of at least 300,000, elephants, has only 45,000, the most affected area being the Selous Game Reserve which is the biggest reserve in the world.

Indeed, the 55,000sqkm game reserve is bigger than Rwanda (26,000sq) and Burundi (27,000sqkm) which together bring a total of 53,000sqkm.

It is instructive to note that in 1976, the Selous Game Reserve had 110,000 elephants. However, thanks to industrial poaching, by 2014 the elephant population dropped to 15,000!

It was due to the pristine nature of the Selous Game Reserve, which was teeming with all kinds of wild animals, that included the Selous’ main characteristic that set it apart from other reserves and national parks in the country: massive herds of elephants, rhino and wild dogs, that gave Tanzania the confidence build its case before Unesco’s World Heritage Committee, that the Selous earns the status of World Heritage Site.

Tanzania government’s request was granted in 1982. However, after the unleashing of industrial poaching on the Selous that led to the decimation of the elephant population from 110,000 to 15,000, in 2014 the Unesco put the reserve into the list of endangered World Heritage Sites.

The significance of the Chinese government’s decision to ban ivory trade by the end of this year lies in the fact that, much as there are other far east Asian countries known to be very much involved in ivory trade, China has the largest number of ivory carving factories.

In fact, available statistics indicate that the biggest factory in the world churning out various products made from ivory is in China.

What has for many years made China’s involvement in ivory business extremely bad for the continued survival of African elephants has been the presence of the country’s big internal market for ivory products.

Products made in Chinese factories using ivory as raw material are consumed by China’s growing middle class who are in their millions.

Given the existing huge market for ivory products in China, nothing would have helped in making the Chinese government’s decision more meaningful to the world, and Tanzania in particular, than immediate ban on ivory trade in China.

The Chinese government’s decision to effect the ban by the end of this year is likely to lead to two, ugly developments:

One, it would fuel, quite considerably, poaching as those involved would want to make a kill before the ban comes to effect. Secondly, the delay in the ban of ivory trade inside China by one year, would fuel demand for ivory that would in turn lead to increased prices for ivory.

Increase in ivory prices would be such that it would be extremely difficult for countries like Tanzania to protect its remaining herds.

To understand why China government’s decision to delay the ban in ivory trade until the end of this year would be catastrophic to elephant range countries like Tanzania, consider the following:

We feel that continued existence of China’s ivory market until the end of this year would lure poachers into hunting the jumbo with greater enthusiasm.

In a nutshell, if China really wants to protect the continued existence of elephants in the world, then it must immediately ban ivory trade inside China now rather than delay the ban until the end of this year.

Mr Tagalile is an author and media consultant based in Dar es Salaam.

reachable through email atagalile@hotmail.com


Monday, January 16, 2017

FROM THE PUBLIC EDITOR'S DESK : Maybe TZ could do with another media law

Ndimara Tegambwage is Public Editor with

Ndimara Tegambwage is Public Editor with Mwananchi Communications Limited. 

By Ndimara Tegambwage ntegambwage@tz .nationmedia.com

Those who thought there were enough or too many laws on media in Tanzania are wrong. There is at least one more urgent law required: Prevention of Banning of Media Outlets by President Act, 2017.

One may say this is being funny. It is not. This country is replete with laws on media. The most recent is the litigious Media Services Act, 2016. Records have it that we have fought “bad laws” from the 1980’s to now – closer to our exit age; but all in vain.

Indeed, there is specific legislation on media; but there are others that are not specific to media which, through phrases, sentences and sections bite, hit and hurt media outlets and practitioners.

The law to stop the President from banning media outlets is of utmost urgency. Why? Because experience has shown, Presidents’ suggestions are actually, orders. But this time we don’t talk of suggestions. Before us is a warning and a promise to close down two newspapers. Addressing a rally in Shinyanga last Friday, President John Magufuli accused two unnamed newspapers of publishing what he called “seditious” stories and said their days “were numbered.”

He specifically threatened to ban “two” newspapers for alleged publication of material that incites and borders on “endangering peace.” Let us try to go by deduction. If the President can ban newspapers; he can also ban other outlets such as magazines, videos, radio, and TVs; and possibly plays.

What could this mean? It could mean banning editors, reporters, managers, producers, programmers, presenters and all along the line.

What else? It could mean depriving citizens, who all along had access to these specific media outlets, the opportunity and right of access to information, news, educational material and entertainment.

Next? It could be starving ex-employees of the banned media outlets. It could spell total disaster to their families and dependants. It could steer fear among owners and managers of the remaining media outlets—implanting in them perpetual lack of confidence; and rendering them beggars, at most.

When media outlets, which carried information and news to the people; and stirred discussion and debates among them are banned; citizens’ contact lines collapse; exchange of ideas cease as they can no longer draw from the fountains of wide range opinion; and eventually fall back into feeble and backward whispers and gossips. A generation back.

Couldn’t this be the situation we are driving into; especially when the threat is announced by the President? Who doesn’t detest any attempts at silencing media and its practitioners; a situation that would render practitioners jobless, hopeless and helpless?

What makes the matter worse is that the President does not seem to apply any law on media. He simply says he would ban “two newspapers.” He doesn’t say he would order an arraignment of the concerned. But almost all laws in the country have come from Bills tabled by government. All laws on media have come from the government; which means the government has all along got satisfied about the laws faithfully representing its spirit – the intention, the purpose.

If that is the case, why doesn’t the President use the laws, passed by Parliament and assented to by the President?

There is no doubt the President respects laws made by the Parliament; and respects courts to which he appoints judges. Why then should he jump the laws and courts and decide to determine the “wrong” and “illegal” and met punishment?

Frankly speaking, there may not be any need for the Prevention of Banning of Media Outlets by President Act, 2017 if the president appreciates the existence of courts of law, magistrates and judges.

Media practitioners and the entire media fraternity have it that media laws are draconian; but being what they are, let them be put to practice instead of presidential orders which would be more personal than legal.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Boost fisheries sector to up economy, health

 

By Citizen

A country’s economic wellbeing is not just the abundance of resources; it is also, and mainly, about the capacity of the people to harness what is available for their advantage.

Tanzania, for instance, has an abundance of fish in its waters, yet, as researches show, our people eat on average 8kg of fish per year, which is less than half the international average of 17kg. Given that fish is more efficient in providing nutrients than other sources of animal protein, there should be more push for its production and consumption.

Surveys show that a third of our children aged under five are deficient in in iron and vitamin A, which leads to stunting, while a third of women aged between 15 and 49 are deficient in iron, vitamin A and iodine. Improved consumption of fish can greatly change this.

The country is blessed with many water bodies including rivers, lakes and a huge share of the Indian Ocean. Which is to say, the potential for having more fish for people’s dietary needs as well as economic wellbeing of our fishermen is very high.

There is therefore a need to push for improved modes of fishing in order to boost our fishermen’s catches.

Tanzania is reputed to have around half of the world’s tilapia species, yet more than 90 per cent of commercial production of this protein source is in China!

It means, our failure to reap ample benefits from fish is not borne out of lack of this resource; it is, rather, a consequence of our failure to exploit our abundant stocks of fish Tanzanian waters. By encouraging modern fishing methods at sea, rivers and at lakes, as well as fish rearing, the fisheries sub-sector can easily raise its contribution to the national gross domestic product (GDP), which currently stands at 4.5 per cent.

IMPROVE EXTENSION SERVICES

Agriculture is Tanzania’s economic mainstay, contributing 25 per cent of its gross domestic product and employs nearly 70 per cent of the country’s workforce.

Which is to say, it is agriculture that drives the Tanzania’s economy. Various efforts have been initiated to develop the sector. One of the main methods has been the use of extension officers.

However, the country continues to face numerous challenges in the provision of extension services.

The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) points out in his 2015 report on the performance of provision of extension services that one officer serves two to three villages.

He also says that the extension officers are mostly poorly trained and equipped. The report further shows that there is always a delay in the disbursement of funds to extension officers from the relevant offices. This year, the country is facing famine due to lack of rainfall. Now, had the country utilised well the services of extension officers, the situation could have been different. Why, such officers would have educated the farmers on the importance of planting drought-resistant crops.

The government must therefore increase the number of extension officers, provide them with the required equipment and sufficient funds and training.

At the same time, it must provide them with means of transport, housing and guidance on best farming practices.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

ETHICS : Moral route critical for move to Dodoma



Alfred Sebahene

Alfred Sebahene 

By Alfred Sebahene email: arsebahene2@yahoo.co.uk

After dreaming of the relocation of our country’s capital from the lovely coastal city of Dar es Salaam to centrally-located Dodoma, we have suddenly woken up. It has now become a reality. Other countries that moved their capitals and for some, a long time ago include India the seat of power from Calcutta to New Delhi in 1911.

We are joining the ranks of those who moved their capitals in the not too distant past. Brazil shifted its capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia, Nigeria, from Lagos to Abuja, Cote d’Ivoire from Yamoussoukro to Abidjan the list goes on.

But what does it take to relocate a country’s capital city? Why has it taken nearly half a century for Tanzania? Didn’t Mwinyi, Mkapa and Kikwete feel that the move was one of the more innovative tools for national identification?

Didn’t former Heads of State see the connection between the relocation, and nation-building benefits? Were they afraid that moving to Dodoma was a large undertaking and in turn they were not ready to take on the financial, logistical, and political costs?

Why has the moved delayed? Was it profoundly ill-timed, bizarre, extravagant, and misguided? Anyway, whatever the reasons, at last we are on our way. Yes, I know some say the rationale for moving a capital is to bolster economic performance and enhance administrative functions. While I am aware of the fact that relocating to Dodoma is not as easy as it sounds and a number of considerations have to be made, let’s forget about the delay and concentrate on the moral implications of the move.

Let’s discuss ethics. It is important to remember that as people move to Dodoma they carry with them, their human complexities. This automatically calls for honest conversations between the locals in Dodoma and the newcomers.

Others would say the capital should be more secures as its economy would grow rapidly and would require efficient systems.

All this is true and important but ethics as a key component of the relocation agenda may have been forgotten, because it is not being discussed at all and unfortunately there seems to be no strategy in place where the interests and concerns of the host communities are being addressed.

The current discussions seem to be characterised by leadership discourses and traditional rooted assumptions about powers of the State. I think it would be much healthier if the moral state of the city could be acknowledged as relevant and critical.

I think we need ethically analyse what should be expected once the population of Dodoma starts growing. Will the moral status of the city change? And what exactly is the city’s actual state of ethics?

I think it is high time the residents of Dodoma were empowered with a platform that regulates the migration of fellow citizens to Dodoma. This is important as they need to protect their freedoms, welfare and culture.

There is a moral dimension to the relocation of our capital. In our case, Dodoma being at the centre of Tanzania should signify the ‘centre of unity’. Let us therefore make it real so as to enable Dodoma represent the best face of our country both symbolically and in concrete terms.

As JPM and his team build Dodoma let them remember that it should be a national, collective, and unifying space. Let the moral route be shaped by our identities as Tanzanians. The main question is by the time the relocation is over would it be integral to the long awaited new constitution of Tanzania?

We await!


Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Zanzibar revolution and the contradictions in our democracy



President Ali Mohammed Shein

President Ali Mohammed Shein 

By Erick Mwakibete

Zanzibar and Tanzania celebrated 53 years of the Revolution which toppled the Sultan, and placed the Isles in the hands of the commoners; the people.

There is a familiar; depressing script in these national celebrations. It has been the same thing since the return of multiparty politics, especially after contested elections be it in Zanzibar or the Mainland. Political leaders from major opposition parties are constantly a no show. Colourful military parades. Traditional dances. Perhaps a speech from the man of the hour (they have always been men in charge).

One would be tempted to think that since after the contested elections of 2015 and the disputed rerun of 2016, and CUF’s participation in the Dimani constituency by-election, then they would show up to celebrate the Revolution. Why would they be bothered to participate in an electoral process which is organized by an agency they constantly accuse of lacking autonomy? They have consistently called for reforms to ensure the political field is more diverse and inclusive.

The answers are complicated. CUF is going through a destructive “civil war” and participating in the by-election is vital in titling the scales in one direction of the warring factions. The by-election provides a perfect public forum for opposition political parties to vent up their frustrations and more promise of what they could do if given the opportunity to lead the country. No such forum is available to them now. It allows Ukawa to present a united front. They desperately need it.

So, Revolution celebrations and the by-election are two different matters.

From the outset, the Revolution and its legacy are contested, with heroes and villains debatable depending on which side of the fence you are standing on. Subsequent governments in Zanzibar have done little to heal the divisions which run deep. The return of multiparty politics aggravated the differences.

President Ali Mohamed Shein speaking to a local TV station in a wide ranging interview, he acknowledged the historical fact of contested elections in Zanzibar going back to 1957, and these contested elections played part in the occurrence of the Revolution of 1964.

President Magufuli was not in Zanzibar, he was in Shinyanga leading the Revolution celebrations which coincided with his tour there. The rest of who’s who in the government past and present were present at the Amaan stadium in Unguja. He is on record to have said that it is not a must that all leaders have to be at the same place during national celebrations. This is very important because one of the reasons these celebrations lack relevance is the fact that they are held at the same place every year and the drill is the same every year.

Those who are not in Dar es Salaam or Unguja remain spectators. The venues need to change on a yearly basis and the celebrations have to be countrywide by holding events in different parts of the country that way it makes it easier for the common man and woman to feel part of these national celebrations; to have sense of belonging, feel proud of our past.

Our political leaders do not even see the way these national celebrations are held as excluding so many people. This exclusion manifests itself in other ways too: the people who receive different state honours are belong to the same political side, as if those who are on a different side have not contributed (for better or for worse) to make this country the way it is now. We honour only those we feel like are on our side. It makes light of our collective efforts as a society, as a country to strive to be better.

There is little that we know of our heroes and villains of our past. Any meaningful conversation aimed at inclusion must start here; understanding our heroes, villains and the forces they represented is vital to ensuring we continue to be a country that is at peace with itself.

When the country celebrates 54 years of the Revolution of Zanzibar next year, hopefully things will be done differently that time around.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

To the President- Elect Donald Trump



US president elect Donald Trump.

US president elect Donald Trump. 

By Marie Shaba

Congratulations to the people of the USA who have elected you as their president according to the agreed electoral process and procedures!
As you know we are not the United States of Afrika yet and many of us hardly understand your kind of democracy especially this Electoral College; and even if we did, so what, it works for you people.
Mr President Elect militarily speaking you are now the most powerful man on earth because your country proclaimed itself as the Chief of Police and Guardian of the Global Village.
It’s your obligation to listen seriously to the global villagers. If you feel we are insignificant then it’s important that you step down from that post when you are being sworn in. By the way there are several candidates lined up for that post. There is Russia, North Korea, China, India, Iran, South Afrika and why not!
We the residents of the global village know that for Americans, its AMERICA FIRST, it does not matter whether it’s the Democrats or Republicans that are in power. We also know you have no permanent friends or enemies, but you have permanent interests! Therefore when you say you are suspending almost everything that was achieved by the Democrats, that is strange! It only happens in weak democracies.
I always thought it happened only  in  Afrikan, when there is a change of regime then national/ government  agreements done by the previous government are revoked by the new one! It doesn’t matter they were done in the interest of the people it’s a battle of the muscles!
I need to ask you Mr President El
ect, why are you going to ban all aliens especially Afrikans, Muslims, Latinos, Asians, Arabs but not the Jews or Euro-Americans! What will happen if these aliens decide to unite and reciprocate? In fact we can also choose who should be in our countries; all Americans of Afrikan origin and the aborigines meaning the original people of the Americas can come to Afrika without a visa.
Other non European Americans can pay $500 but Euro-Americans will not be allowed. Historians tell us when Christopher Columbus first landed on the shores of America in the 1492 during that phase of globalisation he was met by the natives and Afrikan traders from as far as Egypt! The natives and these “buffalo soldiers” later on joined forces to fight against the European invaders!
Today one of the golden rules of corporate globalisation is free movement of goods and services not people! Its time aliens suspended and reviewed their membership in the UN, WTO and so forth, so that we can discuss what is in our best interest. For example some American goods and services can cross into Afrika but not the Euro- Americans.
Those Euro-Americans who have been living or investing in Afrika will have to pack and go; even my friend Sister Jean Pruitt will have to go back. This is going to be the exodus of the millennium when everyone has to find and go back to their roots! Since most Euro-Americans are by origin immigrants then Mr President-Elect you will have to lead the exodus across the Atlantic.
The Global Village needs to have a new global culture that will benefit the majority, a culture which will operate in the interest of everyone, a culture that will be designed to nurture and advance 90 per cent of the world population.
Once we have values we will be guided by those values. The global   village needs leaders who understand as Mahatma Gandhi said “the world has so many resources for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed”
Am not sure you know Bob Marley the Jamaican Reggae Star who sang about “how a big tree was cut down by some small ants”. Therefore never undermine anyone even when your head is above the clouds. 90 pe cent of the global citizens love life, they are civilized and humane and they respect Mother Nature.
So the 10 per cent filthy greedy rich, shouldn’t change our nurturing nature. Mr President –Elect, even when you are surrounded by people with no conscious or values, remember we are people and we deserve the best the world can offer.  

I submit.
Global citizen
11.01.2017

Marie Memouna Shaba is a Tanzanian socio-economic analyst in the context of Cultural Heritage 11.01.2017


Sunday, January 15, 2017

OBLIQUE ANGLE : Review law on night bus travels

 Deo   Simba is a senior sub-editor with The

 Deo   Simba is a senior sub-editor with The Citizen      

By Deo Simba @kakasimba Email: dsimba@nationmedia.com

Let’s talk about transport—long safari public buses, to be precise. Most of us know how important the transport sector is to an economy. And, as years pass, we realise how much our economy is quickly turning into a 24-hour business. Speed is of utmost importance in this matter.

But, it’s not only business persons who want to save time. There are social needs for which too time is of essence. Imagine a sick person travelling from the Kigoma Referral Hospital to the Muhimbili National Hospital. Think of a farmer sending his daughter to a college in Dar es Salaam and at the same time wants to get back to his farm soon.

Some of us recall the grisly accident that occurred on Christmas Eve in 1994. Tens of people were butchered. There was blood everywhere. The whole country trembled. This was a huge loss to the nation.

The accident marked the end of an era for long night-safari public buses. A decision was passed that up-country buses should only travel during the day.

In the past quarter of a century, road accidents have continued to claim thousands of lives. Most of these are lost due to road accidents involving public buses. The most vivid accidents involved Majinjah Bus in Mafinga and City Boys buses in Singida Region.

Recently, a colleague was travelling from up-country. By the time they reached Morogoro, it was already 10pm. They had to put up there for the night. Traffic regulations did not allow them to cover the remaining 200 kilometres to Dar es Salaam. He pointed out that aboard the bus; there were the sick, children, the elderly and businesspersons, just to mention a few. Had it been their decision, they would have chosen to proceed to Dar es Salaam.

So, some passengers went to night clubs to while away the time, a few went to pass the night in guest houses, but the majority spent the night aboard the stationary bus.

Imagine, you’re tired after travelling hundreds of kilometres only to end up sleeping on a bus seat. If you’re healthy, that may not be such a big problem, but what if you’re sick? And, of course, there are no mosquito nets in our buses. So, every night thousands of passengers feed the millions of mosquitoes at Msamvu Bus Terminal with their blood. This raises a number of health questions.

What is my call to Transport Minister Prof Makame Mbarawa and Traffic Chief Mohammed Mpinga? It’s time to revisit this road regulation. Let experts evaluate and weigh whether the night travel ban for public buses has helped the country cut number of accidents. Let them weigh the pros and cons comparing matters with neighbouring Kenya where long safari buses do travel even at night.

Let’s scrutinise all angles – socially, economically, psychologically and even politically.

Cheers


Sunday, January 15, 2017

CANDID TALK : Wetting your throat? Just keep your trap shut

 

By Peter Muthamia

Mouths in this rat and cockroach-infested Uswaz can never stay shut! Even when there is no genuine reason for anyone to keep talking, gravity does its best to keep them open at all times.

If Uswahilinite’s mouth is not chewing something, it will certainly be blabbering something about how my favourite team Yanga got a beating from Azam FC. Our women are worse but that is a story for another boring Sunday.

I now understand why Americans, even diplomats keep chewing gum! My drinking chum Winchinslauss Rwegoshora (BA, MA Dip UDSM), the man said to have ‘swallowed’ more books at the hallowed university at the Hill than the entire Uswaz put together recently quipped that if one has nothing to say in front real men (with real serious wallets), he should keep his trap shut.

My wallet that had prior to that been suffering from financial Kwashiorkor was not badly off and for that reason, Rwegoshora, Hussein the wag, Tatu the barmaid and another lassie I really don’t remember had all gathered at Mzee Shirima’s beer hole to enjoy my new found wealth. Hussein is a loud-mouthed know-it-all bloke, who assumes the chairmanship of any unofficial drinking meeting and won’t let anyone else speak at that table. He is a retired army serviceman (though he calls himself a retired officer) of dubious reputation.

He ekes out his living driving a taxi as a deiwaka (casual worker). He is conversant with Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Kampala and all the cities on the eastern side of this continent. Having been a soldier, he boasts of a high capacity to accommodate hard clear liquor like Konyagi, whiskeys, rums, scotches, gins and other devil’s inventions.

He considers the likes of and Winch some sort of sissy creeps because we prefer to irrigate our Kalahari-like throats with frothy brands in cockroach coloured bottles from hallowed Ilala Breweries – bottled stuff.

We had just been into our fifth drink when Hussein’s mouth went into full gear. This must have been provoked by Winch’s learned discourse about computer viruses that had crept into his second hand laptop junk.

“I have tried all kinds of anti-virus software. Worms and viruses seem to be having an uncanny way of getting into my computer and damaging my files and folders,” Winch said with a tinge of importance written all over his face. Around the same time, my own junk had also been infected causing me to format the entire hard disk, thus giving me something to talk about.

It is then that Hussein’s mouth went gaga. In his boring monotone, he kept shouting at the top of his voice as if to outdo the radio speakers that were behind us. “These viruses I know, have way of infecting human beings too. Keep your daughter Jenny away from the computer.

Have tried using anti-retroviral (ARVs) on your computers?” You can even try antibiotics such as penicillin,” Hussein went on. I stole a glance at Winch whose face had telltale signs of boredom. I also wanted to tell Hussein to just shut up and drink – to tell him that computer viruses are not organisms but obliterated programmes that screw up other programmes in your computer.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Report 2017: ‘Demagogues’ threaten human rights

This handout photo taken by the Presidential

This handout photo taken by the Presidential Photographers’ Division on December 2, 2016 and released December 3, 2016 shows Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte gesturing as he talks to US President-elect Donald Trump on the phone at Legaspi Suites in Davao City. PHOTO |FILE 

By Human Rights Watch

Washington, DC. The rise of populist leaders in the United States and Europe poses a dangerous threat to basic rights protections while encouraging abuse by autocrats around the world, Human Rights Watch said today in launching its World Report 2017.

Donald Trump’s election as US president after a campaign fomenting hatred and intolerance, and the rising influence of political parties in Europe that reject universal rights, have put the postwar human rights system at risk.

Meanwhile, strongman leaders in Russia, Turkey, the Philippines, and China have substituted their own authority, rather than accountable government and the rule of law, as a guarantor of prosperity and security. These converging trends, bolstered by propaganda operations that denigrate legal standards and disdain factual analysis, directly challenge the laws and institutions that promote dignity, tolerance, and equality, Human Rights Watch said.

In the 687-page World Report, its 27th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that a new generation of authoritarian populists seeks to overturn the concept of human rights protections, treating rights not as an essential check on official power but as an impediment to the majority will.

“The rise of populism poses a profound threat to human rights,” Roth said. “Trump and various politicians in Europe seek power through appeals to racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and nativism. They all claim that the public accepts violations of human rights as supposedly necessary to secure jobs, avoid cultural change, or prevent terrorist attacks. In fact, disregard for human rights offers the likeliest route to tyranny.”

Roth cited Trump’s presidential campaign in the US as a vivid illustration of the politics of intolerance. He said that Trump responded to those discontented with their economic situation and an increasingly multicultural society with rhetoric that rejected basic principles of dignity and equality. His campaign floated proposals that would harm millions of people, including plans to engage in massive deportations of immigrants, to curtail women’s rights and media freedoms, and to use torture.

Unless Trump repudiates these proposals, his administration risks committing massive rights violations in the US and shirking a longstanding, bipartisan belief, however imperfectly applied, in a rights-based foreign policy agenda.

The rise of populist leaders in the United States and Europe poses a dangerous threat to basic rights protections while encouraging abuse by autocrats around the world.

In Europe, a similar populism sought to blame economic dislocation on migration. The campaign for Brexit was perhaps the most prominent illustration, Roth said.

Instead of scapegoating those fleeing persecution, torture, and war, governments should invest to help immigrant communities integrate and fully participate in society, Roth said. Public officials also have a duty to reject the hatred and intolerance of the populists while supporting independent and impartial courts as a bulwark against the targeting of vulnerable minorities, Roth said.

The populist-fueled passions of the moment tend to obscure the longer-term dangers to a society of strongman rule, Roth said. In Russia, Vladimir Putin responded to popular discontent in 2011 with a repressive agenda, including draconian restrictions on free speech and assembly, unprecedented sanctions for online dissent, and laws severely restricting independent groups. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, concerned about the slowdown in economic growth, has embarked on the most intense crackdown on dissent since the Tiananmen era.

In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, has honed a war-crime strategy of targeting civilians in opposition areas, flouting the most fundamental requirements of the laws of war. Forces of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, also known as ISIS, have also routinely attacked civilians and executed people in custody while encouraging and carrying out attacks on civilian populations around the globe.

More than 5 million Syrians fleeing the conflict have faced daunting obstacles in finding safety. Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon are hosting millions of Syrian refugees but have largely closed their borders to new arrivals. European Union leaders have failed to share responsibility fairly for asylum seekers or to create safe routes for refugees. Despite years of US leadership on refugee resettlement, the US resettled only 12,000 Syrian refugees last year, and Trump has threatened to end the program.

2016 in Numbers

In Africa, a disconcerting number of leaders have removed or extended term limits – the “constitutional coup” – to stay in office, while others have used violent crackdowns to suppress protests over unfair elections or corrupt or predatory rule. Several African leaders, feeling vulnerable to prosecution, harshly criticized the International Criminal Court and three countries announced their withdrawal.

This global attack needs a vigorous reaffirmation and defence of the human rights values underpinning the system, Roth said. Yet too many public officials seem to have their heads in the sand, hoping the winds of populism will blow over. Others emulate the populists, hoping to pre-empt their message but instead reinforcing it, Roth said. Governments ostensibly committed to human rights should defend these principles far more vigorously and consistently, Roth said, including democracies in Latin America, Africa, and Asia that support broad initiatives at the United Nations but rarely take the lead in responding to particular countries in crisis.

Ultimately, responsibility lies with the public, Roth said. Demagogues build popular support by proffering false explanations and cheap solutions to genuine ills. The antidote is for voters to demand a politics based on truth and the values on which rights-respecting democracy is built. A strong popular reaction, using every means available – civic groups, political parties, traditional and social media – is the best defence of the values that so many still cherish.

“We forget at our peril the demagogues of the past: the fascists, communists, and their ilk who claimed privileged insight into the majority’s interest but ended up crushing the individual,” Roth said. “When populists treat rights as obstacles to their vision of the majority will, it is only a matter of time before they turn on those who disagree with their agenda.”


Sunday, January 15, 2017

CROSS ROADS : Making politics on food as the poor stare at hunger

 

By Saumu Jumanne Saumu.j@gmail.com

Should the current food crisis be declared a national disaster? The leader of the opposition party, Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo), Zitto Kabwe, thinks so.

According to media reports, some citizens in the country are facing hunger. This has pushed the government to react. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa visited the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) warehouses in Dar es Salaam and Songea. In the latter he directed the authority not to sell the current stock until the next harvest.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries on Wednesday through a State-run newspaper assured that the country had enough food, and added that there was a surplus of 3 million metric tonnes in 2015/16 production.

The ministry explained that national food sufficiency ratio was 123 per cent for 2015/16, and the only problem was some deficit in 43 districts in 15 regions. From the statement, one would think that to stem the crisis, it is a question of logistics -- moving food from the places that had abundant harvests, to those that had little.

How I wish it were as simple as that. That the food, especially grain, prices were very high in many parts of the country, and increasingly becoming unaffordable for the poor, is an open secret.

For instance, in Dar es Salaam maize flour is retailing at an average price of Sh1,600.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has indicated that price increases in food and non-alcoholic beverages pushed inflation to 7 per cent last month. This is a clear indication that the cost of living has gone up. So, what would happen if the rain fails in the current season? The answer is obvious--worsening inflation.

The fourth phase government had projected that agriculture growth in 2017 would climb to 7.5 per cent. Had the projection turned right, then millions of small scale farmers would be positively impacted. But for now, let’s just keep our fingers crossed.

The Citizen newspaper recently reported that there were concerns that over 21 million livestock were in danger due to shortage of pasture and water. Earlier it had been reported that over 3,800 livestock in Kilosa District, Morogoro Region had died due to drought. The net result of the current situation is that prices of livestock in many areas across the country have really gone down. The joke in some areas is that now a hen is worth more than a mature goat.

While on one hand the government has assured there is enough food, but on the other hand, the citizens are suffering shortages, there is a need for soul-searching at the national level. Should anyone in Tanzania suffer hunger? Should our livestock die due to drought? When you consider that we have some of the best farming lands in Africa, and plenty of water -- rivers, oceans, lakes and even underground water, it is a pity, that our people should suffer hunger, just because there has been no enough rain for a season or two.

It is a great pity that over 50 years after independence poor crop yields have consequently caused our motherland experience interlinked impacts such as food insecurity, malnutrition and abject poverty.

Are our policy, plans and programmes for agriculture feasible? If so then, why have they failed to uplift our poor majority Tanzanians, who remain as peasant farmers? Clearly, as we are rich with almost all factors that support food crop production, as a nation we are supposed to be a net exporter of food across Africa and even beyond. For our nation to move forward in people-centred development, sustainable agriculture and agribusiness must remain one of our national priorities.

Saumu Jumanne is an assistant lecturer, Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE)


Sunday, January 15, 2017

STRAIGHT TALK : A million dollar question: Is there famine in TZ?



Ally Saleh

Ally Saleh 

By Ally Salehe

It is the big question now and certainly the buzz of the day. It is a million dollar question that is sending shock waves all across the country--there is no open and straight answer as every side is assuming it holds the truth.

But also the approach of the question is enigmatic as is the philosophical question of to be or not to be. And who is right and who is wrong is also another big question which is making all Tanzanians look like they are merely doing a guess work.

And the question is -- is there draught or not and if there is, is there famine or not and if is there, is there a duty for the government to provide food relief to the affected population or not, and if not who has the duty to cover the stop gap period?

There has been out cries from all corners of Tanzania giving information to the effect that there is a danger of starvation encroaching many districts and hundreds of villages and hence thousands of Tanzanians.

However, due to internal public discipline, most regional and district commissioners are afraid or not willing to come forward to openly state that the areas under their jurisdiction are facing famine. They’re hesitant because they might lose their jobs given the fact that they have been warned before.

So, while this is reported widely all over the country, President John Magufuli has vehemently denied that there is famine and starvation. He says he is the one to know that and he is the one to declare such a state and naturally so the state of emergency and top gear steps to tackle it.

But since he denies its presence, Dr Magufuli has shockingly told Tanzanians that he will not entertain any idea of providing food assistance and instead he made a call to all those who are facing the plight to take advantage of the rain for planting.

Well to me that is strange. First, if it was true that the President was adequately informed of the state of the situation.

Secondly, if the President was really aware that there was a long period from planting and harvesting which means some of the farmers would not be able to enjoy their labour because they would have perished in between.

Thirdly, I am not sure if Mr President knows that the people he told he would not provide food aid to are subsistence farmers and they do not have any backing to support them.

But fourthly if I were the farmer I would have felt insulted this was told to be as if I wanted to be a beggar or lazy and pretended that my crops did not make it.

This is on top of the fact that the bulk of the votes that propelled President Magufuli to power came from those farmers he is now trying to alienate and deny them the needful state support at their dire times. This is wrong, and the right thing is for the government to look again seriously into the problem.

The government should firstly provide the needed food aid hence that is why there is a stock of reserve food in government hands, it must support and provide seeds because this country has failed to provide insurance in the form of security net.

We do not want to witness the horror of people dying or suffering because it would defeat the spirit of country caring all the citizenry.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Can Trump’s Cabinet save him?



President-elect Donald Trump

President-elect Donald Trump 

By Ruth Marcus

The Trump administration’s first Cabinet meeting should be an interesting affair. On issue after issue — Russia, the border wall, the Iran nuclear deal, climate change, torture, NATO — President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees have diverged from his stated positions.

So whose views will prevail? Could Trump’s secretaries help save Trump from himself — and the country from Trump? Will they offer a sobering dose-of-reality therapy for the reality TV president?

There are strong arguments for either outcome. I am tending ever so cautiously — clinging perhaps — to the optimistic one.

The official position of the Trump transition is no. “At the end of the day, each one of them is going to pursue a Trump agenda and a Trump vision,” incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Thursday.

Spicer dismissed the nominees’ divergence from Trump at their confirmation hearings as answers when “they’re being asked their personal views here and there.” Wait.

A personal view is if you prefer opera to hip-hop. The nominees’ testimony reflects their policy positions and assessments, in some cases deeply held convictions at the core of future responsibilities.

So it is a significant expression of policy — not a personal view — when Defense Secretary nominee James N. Mattis says about Russia and Vladimir Putin, “I’m all for engagement, but we also have to recognize reality and what Russia is up to. And there’s a decreasing number of areas where we can engage cooperatively and an increasing number of areas where we’re going to have to confront Russia.”

Or when CIA Director nominee Mike Pompeo, similarly, says, “Russia has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe and doing nothing to aid in the destruction and defeat of ISIS.”

Contrast that with Trump, throughout the course of the campaign and as recently as the day before: “If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia. Russia can help us fight ISIS.”

Trump himself, in an early-morning tweet Friday, purported to be just fine with his team of dissidents. “I want them to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine!” he wrote. Right. Everyone who’s watched Trump over the last stretch knows how well he deals with what he perceives as challenges to his authority.

The argument for Trump being tempered, to some extent, by some of his Cabinet (overall, certainly, this is no moderate bunch) is a bet on a combination of Trump’s intellectual laziness and susceptibility to manipulation by deference and flattery.

Trump has few deeply held policy views and seems disinclined, to put it mildly, to put in the work needed to prepare for the presidency, no less inhabit the office. He has never suffered the ordinary politician’s political embarrassment over accusations of flip-flopping.

As a result, he is attached to many of these stances by the thinnest of filaments. He arrived at them by gut, not intensive study. He is more inclined to delegate than to delve into a briefing book. So when approached in the right way, with deference rather than disdain, by a person he considers an ally rather than an enemy, he is susceptible to convincing.

Thus Trump, who had proclaimed that “torture works,” told the New York Times, after meeting with Mattis, that he was “surprised” and “impressed” by the retired Marine general’s rejection of waterboarding, even as he noted, “I’m not saying it changed my mind.”

The strongest argument against this sunny outlook has to do with others in Trump’s orbit, and closer to its center. For every Mattis and Pompeo, for every John F. Kelly (the retired Marine general tapped to head the Department of Homeland Security, who testified that a border wall with Mexico “in and of itself will not do the job’’) and even Rex Tillerson (the former ExxonMobil chief executive nominated to be secretary of state, who testified that “the risk of climate change does exist”), there will be, in the West Wing, a Stephen K. Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor and Michael T. Flynn as national security adviser. Their records suggest they will inflame Trump’s worst instincts, not restrain them.

Bannon and Flynn have been politically closer to Trump longer; they will be physically closer to him at the White House. Trump could continue to be swayed by the last person whispering in his ear. Or the stature, knowledge and experience at bureaucratic maneuvering of some Cabinet secretaries could, at least at times, avert bad decisions. How all this plays out will shape the course of the Trump presidency.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Prepare strong policy to bolster education

Prof Joyce Ndalichako is Minister of Education,

Prof Joyce Ndalichako is Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training. 

By Citizen

What is wrong with Tanzania’s education edifice? Why have employers been complaining that many of college and university graduates are unskilled, yet we have done nothing to improve the situation?

Do we gloss over the fact that quality education is the driver of all sectors? It seems we are simply contented with going to school unmindful of whether what we learn is useful.

Reports that the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training has ordered heads of private schools to let pupils or students, who failed to reach certain pass marks to continue with their studies are debatable.

The ministry insists such children should be taught to master subjects instead of forcing them to repeat classes. But that is easier said than done. They may need more time to catch up than what the ministry thinks.

It is a pity that some education ministers, on different occasions, have unilaterally made controversial announcements, scrapped subjects or merged them with others or changed grading systems, without improving value. It has been an endless experimentation, with the education system going down the drain.

Complaints have been swirling that some children in public secondary schools are unable to write, read or do simple arithmetic. With more than a decade of independence, Tanzania is supposed to have come of age and use its citizens’ knowledge adequately to fight its sworn enemies: illiteracy, disease and poverty. Sadly even the purpose of education is lost unlike the era of Ujamaa, when self-reliance was a clear policy. In fact, many Tanzanians nowadays only learn to pass examinations. Even some of educated Tanzanians are involved in looting public wealth. Corruption is ingrained in society. It has become one of our biggest enemies.

Youth who see nothing wrong with soliciting bribes

A survey commissioned by the East African Institute last year showed that 60 per cent of the Tanzanian youth believe it did not matter how one made money provided one did not end up behind bars. The study also revealed that 44 per cent of young people could easily take or give a bribe. Still, we seem to trivialise matters. Much as we acknowledge the government initiatives of providing primary and secondary education free of charge, a clear, predictable and friendly education is needed for private schools also to operate well.

We are aware that mass pupil enrolment has strained government resources. In some regions, enrolments of Standard One pupils have doubled compared to last year’s, putting considerable pressure on local governments to construct new classrooms. Arusha Region faces a shortage of 1,321 classrooms for public primary schools and 118 classrooms for public secondary schools. Dodoma Region is short of 950 classrooms for public primary schools and 50 classrooms for secondary schools this year.

In Mwanza, not all 43,536 secondary school students selected to join Form One this year may begin their education due to a shortage of 923 classrooms.

Dar es Salaam Region has a shortage of 400 classrooms to accommodate 51,488 pupils. Let’s draw up a strong policy and invest heavily to get out of education quagmire.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

EDITORIAL: Let us be serious to play at Afcon finals

 

By The Citizen

Gabon is agog with the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals. The football tournament features 16 teams which fought hard to qualify for the event which is staged after every two years as per regulations of the African football governing body (Caf).

The continent’s soccer fans will enjoy watching the matches that will also involve African stars featuring in global football leagues.

Uganda is the only country in East and Central Africa in the tournament which will also attract famous football talent scouts, agents and coaches who look for the best players to feature in European leagues.

The only thing that Tanzania will be proud of in the event is  the inclusion of Bongo flava artist Naseeb Abdul Juma  a.k.a.  Diamond Platnumz who will perform at opening ceremony. Tanzania has been struggling to qualify for Afcon finals for 37 years now.

It is understood that Afcon is the main international association football competition in Africa.

Tanzania last time qualified for the competition in 1980 and since then,  football lovers have been turned to other countries.

However, the inclusion of Diamond in the opening ceremony of the Afcon finals will impress Tanzanians.

This should be taken as a challenge for Tanzania’s football governing body and its stakeholders to prepare good soccer development plans to enable their team to compete in the finals.

Tanzania can perform well in the qualifying tournament if a strong foundation in football is built.

A case in point is the recent National U-17 soccer team, Serengeti Boys, which featured in the finals of the qualifying matches and was eliminated by Congo Brazzaville which is alleged to field overaged players. Let’s be serious in football to excel in the field just  like Diamond  has done in music.


Friday, January 13, 2017

A CHAT FROM LONDON: Standing on the corner with a fag and guitar



Freddy Macha

Freddy Macha 

By Freddy Macha

I must admit that when I was a young twenty something old, I used to hold a piece of cigarette in my hand, just to look cool. I never liked the damn thing, but I just found it appealing and what is the word? Chic. Chic is “smart” in French. It is also “elegant”, “stylish”... “dapper”, “debonair”.

Oui. The French might say, “Alors, c’est tres chic!”

The Kiswahili equivalent is utanashati. Sharobaro. In my younger days it was bitozi. Alluding to the best band of all time, The Beatles.  Made in Britain. Chic. Mmmh. 

Chic was the name of a 1970s African American band, which we loved to pieces. I still do, I should confess. Recently, the Chic co-founder, Nile Rodgers, released an autobiography. Really funny, sad and very tough reading.

Le Freak’s worldwide hit song, blasted our radios in 1978. I remember us shouting “Ah, freak out!” and thinking this  main repeating line was “Ah, Africa!”

We thought:  “How cool! These black American brothers are singing about the Motherland Continent.”

It was not Africa, but  Ah  freak out! Which rhymes or sounds similar to a recent incident with one my London Kiswahili students. I was teaching some of the famous Kiswahili idioms like “mambo bado”, “mambo kwa soksi”, etc. When I came to the recent political trending word (remember “trending” from last week’s column?) the very eager Kiswahili learner kept saying “safari curse”, which I had to correct. The President’s  motto: “Sasa kazi!” (We’re here to work!), reminded me of my 1978 thing with Le Freak tune.

So I held this cigarette in my hand every now and then.

 Nineteen seventy something.

A musician friend of mine from those days, a political refugee from Malawi, simply called Joji, and I, used to amble down Oyster Bay Beach (Coco Beach 2017) strum our guitars and sing. Here were mostly Asian and expatriates. Plus a few rich Tanzanian kids. We did not mind. We had trekked all the way from Mwananyamala to play. In the thick of it, a cigarette dangled on my lips. Know what?  I would not smoke it. This really annoyed cigarette smokers. Ha! Ha!  They would want to light it and I would say, “No! No! No!”

One of them was an English lady.  A teacher at International School of Tanganyika. I don’t know how it is called these days. She was a smoker. She wanted the fag. I liked her and offered her the cigarette. You should have seen her eyes. They shone brightly. She wasn’t that bad with the guitar, either.  We sang  Sunny the Boney M, version. Eventually we trekked not to Mwananyamala but to her compound, Joji and I,  and her excited, equally smoking female friend. We sat and watched them lighting more cigarettes and you know what? I took one and pretended I was smoking happily, coughing. Joji just shook his head.  That is what you do when you are young.  Play games.

 Months later, when Miss Teacher returned from England she brought me a packet of Embassy cigarettes which those days was like a  motorbike present  or something in that category. We are speaking about the late 1970s recession. Ujamaa policies restricted importation of Western goods. Embassy Cigarettes were special. Dar es Salaam had Embassy Hotel too. You did not just drop in there. You needed good, good, good reasons.

But what this whole story entails is more than deluxe hotels.

Young people like to join things and matches and groups and campaigns and fashion trends. Being young without children or responsibilities is time for filling up empty, but evolving skulls. Last week this column warned about copying negative, useless stuff from rich, Wazungu world. Things that have no rewards other than image. Cigarette smoking, king amongst those.

I was talking to a certain “smart” young twenty something Londoner.

“Why are so many of you, youths, smoke cigarette and so called weed?”

He smiled and puffed. I smelt the marijuana. Rastas call it herb.

“Most of us just do it for fun.” Reader did you hear the word fun?

It reminded me of Chic, 1978.  “Fun that blows your lungs, gives you cancer?”

Young Londoner chuckled. “Cars also pollute and give cancer.”

I smirked. “Cars have a meaning. Means of transport. They are also being improved so that their carbon emissions become lower.”

Young Londoner, inhaled, puffed, grey curls. I waved away smoke clouds hovering around our eyes.

“I think the cigarette is the most useless thing ever invented. And this marijuana smoking causes schizophrenia and other serious mental health problems.”

He threw his “fun” on the floor, and then stamped on it.

“Why don’t you non-smokers let us enjoy the simple things of life? This is my only vice. I don’t drink alcohol. I will never be a terrorist. I don’t do gambling. Never steal.”

Simple things of life.

How about that dear reader?

Simple things of life.

Mr Macha is a writer and musician based in London. Blog: www.freddymacha.blogspot.com


Friday, January 13, 2017

LOVE LETTERS TO TANZANIA: English for oppression or opportunities?



SABINE BARBARA_ sabinebarbara@yahoo.co.au

SABINE BARBARA_ sabinebarbara@yahoo.co.au 

By Sabine Barbara

At dinner, Tanzanian friends are discussing whether English should remain part of their children’s school curricula. “Of course!” I think, remaining silent though because I would seem somewhat biased as an English teacher who struggles with Kiswahili.

This time of year, mimi ni mwanafunzi. The expert teacher becomes a student —and not exactly a top student. It is humbling when my Kiswahili is corrected by everyone, from the cattle farmer to the Grade 3 pupil. Naturally, Tanzanians are proud of their Kiswahili.

Even though Kiswahili kindly adopted some English and German words, my progress is embarrassingly slow. I improve while in Tanzania, but regress when overseas, where opportunities to practise are few, and I become poor again.

Leaving personal bias aside, for the sake of young Tanzanians’ future, I hope English will continue to be emphasised. Understandably, the language still signifies imperialism to some, as a remnant of Tanzania’s colonial past. Nevertheless, today as much as in colonial times, developing proficiency in an occupier’s language can empower. Not to please or emulate oppressors, but to understand every word they say and every game they play.

I also agree with elders who frown at youngsters speaking English condescendingly, arrogantly rejecting their roots. Kiswahili carries their culture, holding the key to understanding their elders’ viewpoints and traditions. However, sensible national curriculum decisions cannot be based on history, political beliefs, tradition or cultural pride. The core question is what kind of future Tanzania’s youth deserves and how to best educate them for this.

Young Tanzanians inevitably face globalisation - its curses and its opportunities. Over a life-time, they will be required to communicate with people of many countries to build a satisfying future for themselves and their nation. The rest of the planet is not studying Kiswahili, so using English as a link to the world makes sense. English, as a first or additional language, is spoken in more countries than any other language – nowadays by choice. From Sweden to Korea, global citizens learn English as a shared language to trade, travel and study - in other words: to empower themselves on a world stage. Most business negotiations world-wide take place in English, between non-native speakers.

Europeans predominantly speak English with one another. Spaniards do not bow to the British when speaking English to order a beer in Germany. Germans use their previous occupiers’ language doing business in Norway, and Swedes speak English when holidaying in Spain. Almost all tourists use some English when spending money in Tanzania. Why would Tanzania opt out of what has become the most wide-spread language globally?

English remains the preferred language for storing and sharing information, especially on the Internet. It gives Tanzanians access to intellectual resources in higher education and is essential in diplomacy, aviation, science, information technology and tourism. Proficient English speakers have better job prospects at home and abroad. Why limit the next generation’s opportunities and experiences to East Africa?

Many Tanzanian teachers are working hard to develop their language proficiency, thus less overseas born English teachers will be needed in the future, which contributes to Tanzania’s long-term goal of complete independence - without students losing access to the international body of literature for their further studies.

Abandoning English would mean to either dismiss tourism’s major contributions to the economy or to accept foreign operators’ requests to import employees because Tanzanians will be unable to communicate with international tourists.

Some students will rarely use English after leaving school, if choosing not to venture beyond East Africa or even their local community. But should English therefore be reserved for elite private schools, perpertuating inequality?

Or should capable boys and girls with visions beyond their current circumstances be taught skills which open doors to global opportunities? I see them excited by the way English allows them to communicate with the world. They are keen learners. Please do not clip their wings. Let them fly!


Friday, January 13, 2017

EDITORIAL: Only pre-emptive checks will curb marine deaths

A boat accident survivor, Yassir Msafiri, in

A boat accident survivor, Yassir Msafiri, in pain and shock at Bombo Referral Hospital in Tanga Region after a dhow heading from Tanga to Pemba capsized off Tanga shores yesterday. At least 12 people were confirmed dead and 34 rescued. PHOTO | SALIM MOHAMMED 

By The Citizen

The people of Tanga and Zanzibar, Pemba in particular, have been using the Indian Ocean to connect and communicate for centuries. Over time these people’s political, socio-economic links have so much been tied to the dhow—the only reliable and affordable means of transport at sea.

Over the years, the dhow has remained the main mode for transporting people and goods—including the very basic ones such as food—between these communities which are separated by sea waters.

We have been greatly shocked by the incident early this week in which 12 people died, with 34 others survived narrowly in the tragedy involving a Pemba-bound dhow sailing from Tanga. The dhow capsized not long after its departure at Sahare where it started the ill-fated journey.

The regional police boss says the accident occurred near Jambe Island not far from  Tanga coastline.

The vessel had at least 50 passengers on board, not to mention of the substantial amount of cargo whose weight was, however, not verified.

Inadequate supervision

While we join hands with President John Magufuli and other individuals and institutions in sending condolences to the affected families and friends of the victims, we would like to express our grave concern in the way that the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) has been supervising the operation of marine vessels.

Shortly after news about the accident came to light, Dr Walukani Luhamba, a Sumatra official in-charge of the watchdog based in Tanga, accused some boat operators of violating rules and regulations that guide sea travel.

Addressing a news conference, Dr Luhamba announced the commencement of a massive and “sustainable” operation against owners and captains sailing unregistered and substandard vessels. He said, the crackdown would involve members of the defence and security forces.

According to the official, the operation would particularly target unauthorised small ports such as that of Sahare, where the capsized dhow had sailed from, to keep away from the sea unserviceable vessels.

We are not against the operation. However, we are against the reactive nature of Sumatra operations. Why should they wait for a disaster strikes to launch inspection operations?

This, in our view, should have been one of their primary routine duties? We strongly believe that stepping up inspection of all vessels, including dhows plying between Tanga and Pemba, can help a great deal in reducing marine accidents.

As we said, dhows are the main transport connecting the people of Tanga and Pemba. This is history and no one can change that under prevailing circumstances where reliable and affordable transport between the two locations is lacking. Likewise, accidents will never go away completely.

 That is why we remind authorities, particularly Sumatra, to play a more proactive role if Tanzania is to curb accidents.

We need to have inspections which pre-empt mishaps instead of this situation in which relevant authorities wait for accidents to happen, then swing to action.

Published and printed by: Mwananchi Communications Limited

P.O. Box 19754, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

FRANCIS NANAI, Managing Director

BAKARI MACHUMU, Executive Editor

THOMAS MOSOBA, Managing Editor

Off Mandela Expressway, Tabata

Telephones: 022 2450875/6, 0754 780647

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why leaders need to respect budgetary control structures

Bunge session in progress. Most of our

Bunge session in progress. Most of our supplementary budgets aren’t borne out of appraisal of the approved budget but a list of expenditures already incurred and paid without approval of Parliament. PHOTO | FILE 

By Steven Turyahikayo

In 1986 I attended an interview contesting to become the chief accountant of Lint Marketing Board (LMB). I was the fourth candidate but was skipped when I stepped out to collect my children from the kindergarten.

On return, I was informed about the disaster but was advised to wait in case the panel accepted to interview me as the last candidate. We had been called to report at 8.30am and having missed my slot at 1pm, I waited until 5.30pm. That I emerged the best candidate and became the LMB chief for seven plus years is now history.

During the interview, I was asked what I would do if the budget for the year ran out before the year ended. My answer was that I would inform the management before it happened so that they could institute saving measures to make the budget last its period.

One of the panelists thought I had not fully addressed the question and asked whether I had heard of supplementary budgets. I explained that I knew what it is but stressed that once there is no money, drawing a supplementary budget is of no use. I convinced them that my approach was more prudent and perhaps that’s why I emerged the winner.

Fast forward to our national budgets and the specter of supplementary budgets. Our budgets are made following a bottom-up approach whereby accounting officers present their wish-list presumably based on the anticipated activities or plans. Lengthy consultations and possibly some concessions follow. They are presented with fanfare with an infusion of past budget performance which is really not correct given the immediate supplementary budgets that are soon presented to Parliament.

In the recent past we have witnessed supplementary budgets as high as 10 per cent plus of the original budget.

My understanding is that a supplementary budget should cover incidental operational costs which were not foreseen when the budget was drawn. They could include cost of services related to unpredictable occurrences such as floods, famine, etc. Best practice standards require that supplementary budgets be drawn following an appraisal of the approved budget and documenting proof of need for additional funds. It should be presented for approval before the expenditure is incurred.

However, the bulk of our supplementary budgets are not actually budgets borne out of appraisal of the approved budget but a list of expenditures already incurred and paid without approval of Parliament.

As I advised the LMB panel, supplementary budgets do not create money. They are actually the drivers of the perpetually overdrawn position of the Consolidated Fund, increased government borrowing from the banking sector, increased money in circulation and subsequently the instability in price levels.

It is not incidental that the bulk of our supplementary budgets originate from institutions that lead in corruption and wasteful expenditure in this country.

These institutions command the leverage that make budgetary management and control a futility. The recent bailout of Crane Bank of Ush200 billion, payment of Ush6 billion as a presidential handshake and many to come are consistent with past payments to Habo Group and others. It is a practice that shows a budgetary control system largely abused, compromised and dysfunctional.

It is high time the citizens called our leaders to order by demanding respect for the budgetary control structures. Remodeling of governance structures, elimination of corruption and cost management is more prudent than supplementary budgeting.

The author is an auditor and a former banker


Thursday, January 12, 2017

THINKING ALOUD : Let’s face it, HESLB hasn’t lived up to its vision

 

By Zulfiqarali Premji

I went to the university during the good old Nyerere’s era, I recall vividly that February was the boom time; in essence I was paid by the government to go to the university.

Times have changed and indeed something like the loans board (HESLB) was needed however what was expected of HESLB has not happened. It was established by Act No 9 of 2004, inaugurated by the Higher Education minister the March 30, 2005 and became operational in July 2005.

In 2015-2016 there were 2,192 ghost students, thus since it became operational some 10 years back by simple arithmetic it has funded about (2,192*10) 21,920 (maybe more) ghost students and how much is this in monies I leave it to the reader to calculate. My business friend brings this up always-why should I pay the prescribed taxes, as a worker I have partly funded this scam since I did not have the option my business friend had.

When I was teaching at Muhas I saw in my class students whose parents were ministers, doctors, engineers etc. These were children of rich parents—they were not needy but were still given loans. What a paradox!

In addition many parents spend a lot of money for kindergarten, extra tuition and private primary schools but for university they become recipient of loans.

Mission. to put in place a well managed and sustained revolving students’ loan fund to enhance access to higher education by needy and eligible Tanzanian students’

Outstanding loans (unpaid loans) are now in trillions of shillings-where is the revolving fund reflected in their mission. Again HESLB has not lived up to its mission and has totally failed.

Core Values. The core values, which will guide HESLB in achieving its objectives, are; team work, transparency, accountability, commitment, integrity, and equity.

None of these core values have been up held, this is a mockery and parody. Even the twelve enlisted functions have not been realized. It is only in this motherland and wonderland that HESLB is tolerated and is in existence, thanks to the Presidents of 3th and 4th phase of governments since HESLB is their creation

President Magufuli inherited this white elephant-HESLB. He has given his directions and wants strict loan issuance. As head of state he has clearly pin pointed the problems viz improper allocations of students in universities, loans being issued with favouritism, failure to meet criteria when issuing loans, ghost students and opening universities before the government has reimbursed the loans to students accounts.

Moreover, he said, education stakeholders should meet and foster the best way to reduce the mushrooming of universities in the country. Importantly responsible authorities should come up with best mechanisms to recover loans from higher learning institutions loan beneficiaries. Out sourcing to debt collecting agents may not be the best solution. It is timely for HESLB to bring together the financial gurus and relevant stakeholders to come up with proper management and mechanisms that will assist the HESLB to collect its money from loan defaulters.

A student loan is a type of loan designed to help students pay for post-secondary education and the associated fees, such as tuition, books and supplies, and living expenses. It may differ from other types of loans in that the interest rate may be substantially lower and the repayment schedule may be deferred while the student is still in school. It also differs in many countries.

There is widespread agreement that loans should not impose excessive burdens of debt. There is no agreement about what represents a “reasonable” level of debt, but Sweden and the Federal Republic of Germany have recently increased grants to avoid excessive debt burdens. Evidence in the USA suggests that most students do not believe that current debt levels are too high, but there must be special provisions for those with very low incomes, or the unemployed.

Most loan schemes allow for postponement of repayment if graduates’ incomes are very low, and with this provision loan burdens at present do not seem excessive — graduates usually pay about 4 to 5 per cent of earnings to repay loans. Thus HESLB has to pull up its socks and improve in the near future.

Experience in industrialized countries shows that student loans do work, but that a mix of grants and loans seems desirable.

Conditions in industrialised and in developing countries are very different: in particular labour market conditions and the capacity of banks and other financial institutions to organize loans and ensure repayment.

Zulfiqarali Premji is a retired MUHAS professor currently living in

Canada 

premjizulfiqarali@gmail.com