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

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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.

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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

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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

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

THINKING ALOUD: Do we need international healthcare accreditation?



Professor Zulfiqarali Premji

Professor Zulfiqarali Premji 

By Prof Zulfiqarali Premji

Providing healthcare, especially quality healthcare of an adequate and acceptable standard, is a complex and challenging process. Healthcare services can be provided either by the public sector or private sector, or by a combination of both.

Fundamentally, healthcare and hospital accreditation is about improving how care is delivered to patients and the quality of the care they receive. Accreditation has been defined as “A self-assessment and external peer assessment process used by healthcare organisations to accurately assess their level of performance in relation to established standards and to implement ways to continuously improve”.

Accreditation is one important component in patient safety. However, there is limited and contested evidence supporting the effectiveness of accreditation programmes. We need accreditation mainly to improve patient safety, improve the pathways that provide comprehensive care and also to put a stop to some doctors acting as demigods who are beyond reproach. Accreditation is thus important and needed in all our health facilities, public and private alike. 

In Tanzania, international accreditation has mainly been sought by the private health subsector, but this type of accreditation is not cheap.  It comes at a huge cost, which is quietly passed on to patients. This makes such hospitals extremely expensive, with a vast majority of Tanzanians being unable to afford treatment at these facilities.

Debate is raging about the effectiveness of international accreditation. It seems there is a hidden motive to get international accreditation, which is to use it as a marketing strategy. Thus some hospitals go for international healthcare accreditation as a de facto form of advertising and marketing. The moment they receive certification, big posters and banners are placed along corridors and other strategic places to attract the attention of clients. In a way, this is contrary to medical ethics.

International accreditation has become big business involving millions of dollars and involves people who fraudulently and deceitfully masquerade as inspectors of these international agencies. This accreditation is nothing but a big time profit-making venture, and in the process makes healthcare provision very expensive in poor countries like Tanzania.

International agencies that are involved in the business of accreditation profess that accreditation should ideally be independent of governmental control, but they do not give any explanation as to why this should be the case. I think that accreditation can be independent, but it can also be under governmental supervision.

Another important issue is that accreditation groups should assess hospitals “holistically”, and not just some isolated facets of activities or services such as laboratories, pharmacy services, infection control, financial health or information technology.

Many a time, outreach or satellite clinics of main hospitals are very conveniently excluded because the quality at these clinics is sometimes pathetic and there is no monetary incentive. This should not be the case.

The best accreditation schemes should also assess academic and intellectual activity such as teaching and research and also look into adherence of research ethics.

I know of countries that do not allow these international agencies and instead have their own local agencies that provide such services. For example, Accreditation Canada’s Qmentum accreditation programme provides a comprehensive range of services under one governing structure. Canada does not allow agencies from the US or anywhere else to do their healthcare facility accreditation.

Similarly, Tanzania should have its own local accreditation agency, preferably under the Ministry of Health (MoH). The accreditation procedure can be better streamlined, considering the prevailing local conditions. Let interested health personnel get appropriate training before such an agency is established. This is a challenge for the MoH. Global agencies like WHO should be able to lend support for such an initiative.

However, healthcare can never be truly “free”. Someone somewhere will always have to pay, and the payer will always want the best value for money. “Affordability” of healthcare can be an insurmountable hurdle for some human beings.

No one healthcare system has a monopoly of excellence and no one provider country or scheme can claim to be the total arbiter of quality. The same is true of healthcare accreditation schemes.

As we move towards universal access of healthcare, we should be mindful of quality of care that will be given to our citizens. Quality should be for all and there should be no compromise.

Also, the provision of healthcare should not be prohibitively expensive and a preserve of the wealthy. This should not be the direction of the current government.

The MoH is without doubt doing a good job, but it is failing in monitoring and regulating the private health subsector. Perhaps someone within the ministry has a vested interest.

Zulfiqarali Premji is a retired Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas) professor currently living in Canada

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

EDITORIAL: New NBS report can help increase govt revenue

By The Citizen

 The Tax Statistics Report 2015/16 has come at the right time. The report compiled by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that since 2004/05, alcoholic beverages were the largest contributor of revenue from excise duty, but things changed in 2013/14 when mobile phone services took the lead.

It shows that revenue from telecommunications has increased 25-fold from Sh9.7 billion in 2004/05 to Sh246.6 billion in 2015/16, while, on the other hand, revenue from excise duty on alcoholic beverages has risen from Sh52.1 billion to Sh216.6 billion in 2015/16.

Obviously, such a report should inform the government that as it promotes the setting up of factories in line with the goal of turning Tanzania into an industrialised economy, it also has to remember that nurturing the growth of various sectors is the best approach to developing the economy and ultimately helping it (the government) to collect more revenue.

In fact, that was the spirit the country had when the Tanzania Investment Act was enacted 20 years ago. The government needs money to run itself, but taxes are not collected from nothing.

It is the duty of the government to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive so that in return it can pay more in taxes.

At some point, nurturing the growth of a certain sector may require some incentives in terms of tax holidays or even improvement of physical infrastructure.

Policymakers must not always believe the assumption that investors are only here to steal from the government. As a country, we need to understand that tax forgone today could help us to collect much more from the same business tomorrow.

Weaknesses on how companies handle the incentives must need to be dealt with appropriately. After all, the government has all the relevant machinery on its disposal.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

WHAT OTHERS SAY: The problem with Kenya’s elections

 

By Charles Onyango-Obbo

Another Kenyan election came went, and we had another round of bitterness and rejection of the results.

Raila Odinga’s Nasa coalition says their candidate was robbed of victory. Several foreign election observers and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) say President Uhuru Kenyatta won fair and square.

Having closely watched three elections in Kenya now, it seems the time is right to ask another question; barring the exceptional circumstances of 2002 is it possible to have an election, however fair, that is credible enough with all Kenyans? Unlikely.

The reason is that Kenya seems to have entered a phase where even if it held the most transparent vote in the world, the political outcome will be bad for considerable parts of the country.

I was doing some research on Kenya Central Bank governors and security chiefs since independence. Barring two or three cases, nearly all of them have been from the Rift Valley-Central Kenya strip.

That, to a great part, has to be tied to the fact that since independence Kenya’s presidents – Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta – have all come from that belt.

I compared that to the situation in Uganda, whose politics is quite messy too. My own community is small and thus electorally insignificant. If you are a presidential candidate, you can afford to not even stop there to campaign – and indeed presidential candidates only make whistle stops at best. Despite that historically, presidents in Kampala have appointed people from there to very juicy jobs, including Police, Prisons, and other chieftainships.

That doesn’t seem to be possible in Kenya. In Uganda’s case, this is possible, first, as an accident of history. The counter to British colonial Protestantism was French and Italian-led Catholicism, the same formations around which the Second World War were to be fought be, not tribe.

Secondly, because Uganda had several autonomous kingdoms, apart from their own differences with the colonial administration, there was an early development of a conservative vs republican cleavage defined by defence or opposition to monarchical and court privileges. This divide, again, transcended tribe and region.

Finally, when President Yoweri Museveni took power in 1986, his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) became a state party. In other words, unlike Kenya where parties are really distinct from government, in Uganda they are one.

The NRM brought the same grassroots and cell structure it used as a rebel movement to government. To compete against it, when Uganda returned to multiparty politics in 2005, the most successful opposition parties had to mimic its structures. These principles were later enshrined in a political party law that requires a party to have a footprint in two-thirds of the country.

None of these things were a result of deliberate design. The Kenya constitution of 2010, progressive as it is, was overdesigned.  While aiming to limit presidential power and to end the curse of marginalisation through devolution, from the latest election we can see that it reinforced the power of regional political forces in electoral alliances.

Almost all analyses of Uhuru and Jubilee’s electoral fortunes in this election put it down to their ability to eat into Nasa “strongholds”. From Japan, Mexico, the US, to Nigeria, we have seen that once you have “strongholds” that are impervious to the merits of the side, and will vote their own if they are a bad option, it’s a recipe for dangerous politics.

Look at it this way. The freest election in the world will not win the presidency for someone from the Kenyan Coast. But the right kind of regional and ethnic alliance will. The problem is that if your community is not big, it is largely useless to an alliance so it will get the last invitation to join, if at all.

With the rolling system on which Kenyan election alliances are structured – William Ruto supports Uhuru, then Uhuru supports him after his turn; Kalonzo Musyoka backs Raila, then Raila backs him next time round – these blocks could be locked in for a long time to come.

When an alliance wins, in government it will water the roots of the ethnic architecture that brought it power, deepening the sense of exclusion of those outside it.

Here is something blasphemous. The only way Kenya’s smaller groups can ever hope to smell power is through stealing an election. 

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

El-Sisi’s visit to TZ heralds new era in bilateral cooperation

resident John Magufuli and his Egyptian

resident John Magufuli and his Egyptian counterpart at Ikulu in Dar es Salaam on Monday.PHOTO|FILE 

By Paul Kibuuka @isidoralaw paul.kibuuka@isidoralaw.co.tz

The first state visit of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to Tanzania from Monday to Tuesday of this week, at the invitation of his Tanzanian counterpart President John Pombe Magufuli, has come at a time when the geopolitical-economic landscape of the River Nile basin and Africa at large is briskly changing.

The visit not only confirms the continuation of a partnership dating back to the Nyerere–Nasser epoch, but also presents an opportunity to boost trade and investments in the two African brother countries and indicates that Tanzania is open for business and tourism.

High-level visits from Dar es Salaam and Cairo that picked up under previous Tanzanian and Egyptian presidents set out a comprehensive set of mutual interests, expectations and challenges in the two countries and in the wider Nile River basin, which spreads over 10 countries, including Tanzania and Egypt.

Previous visits also accentuated concerns about issues that limit the space of the Tanzania-Egypt bilateral relations.

Apart from decoding the contemporary undercurrents of the bilateral relations, these common interests, expectations and challenges dominated the joint press conference of Presidents Magufuli and El-Sisi held at the State House in Dar es Salaam on Monday.

President El-Sisi’s visit offers a critical avenue for Tanzania and Egypt to reiterate their commitment to strengthening regional order and stability in the view of the rapidly changing political and economic winds in the Nile River basin and the priorities of President Magufuli’s Tanzania.

For instance, Tanzania’s maritime boundaries in the Indian Ocean – a vital geopolitical hub that stretches north to the Suez Canal in Egypt and connects trade routes in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, and Australia – has shifted the focus to defense and security agendas.

Indeed, both sides announced they will remain committed to having an ongoing dialogue with the other countries, over issues such as the Nile transboundary waters and counter-terrorism, as the best way of ensuring peace and security in the region and the continent at large.

The sojourn of Egypt’s President in Tanzania has taken place in the background of a deal on tariff offers with Egypt and the South African Customs Union that would allow the East African Community partner states to ratify the SADC-EAC-COMESA Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) treaty by December 2017.

Egypt already ratified the TFTA treaty in May this year and is reportedly reviewing its offer of 100 per cent tariff liberalisation to the EAC, of which Tanzania is a member, on the basis of reciprocity. It might be prudent to find a common ground on the unresolved issues of rules of origin and tariff offers.

What’s more is that the visit signals the need to reactivate and revitalize the Tanzania-Egypt Joint Commission after about 20 years of inactivity, and it’s good that both sides have agreed to this. This shows that Tanzania and Egypt are ready to adopt a more practical attitude towards the relationship that aims to improve bilateral trade and investments between the two countries.

Egypt has reportedly registered projects worth $887.02 million (Sh1.95 billion) in Tanzania so far. Carbon Holdings, Egypt’s largest developer and operator of mid-to-downstream oil and gas projects, has shown interest in constructing an Ammonia gas plant in southern Tanzania while other Egyptian companies from key sectors like agriculture, mining, healthcare and the service industry have already established operations in Tanzania.

It’s not that Tanzania’s Magufuli government is ignorant of Egypt’s economic afflictions like mounting debts, negligible economic growth and dwindling foreign reserves, it’s just that confidence in Egypt’s financial future is strong because of President El-Sisi’s sweeping growth-oriented reforms, pledge of Gulf aid to Egypt, and ongoing negotiations with the IMF and World Bank for loans. All of this is expected to ensure robust economic growth for Egypt.

This matters to Tanzania’s industrialisation goal and the country’s need for foreign investment amidst a tough domestic economic climate. And Egypt is seen as having a key role to play in Tanzania’s future through, for instance, positive joint ventures with the Tanzanian private sector. President Magufuli is looking at a subterranean engagement with Egypt and, actually, talks have generated a consensus to buttress bilateral cooperation in trade.

President El-Sisi’s visit is likely to increase cooperation in the energy sector, which has so much unexploited potential. Tanzania and Egypt can collaborate in oil and gas with a view to forming strategic partnerships in upstream, midstream and downstream joint ventures; refineries; and petro-chemical plants. Egyptian companies need to seize emerging opportunities in the Tanzanian energy sector that seeks foreign capital inflows.

Egyptian companies can invest in worthwhile hydro, wind, solar and other forms of renewal energy projects and roads, bridges, railways, seaport and airport infrastructure projects as well as in the economic zones in Tanzania. Setting up transshipment activities and logistics and technology hubs would be of interest to Tanzania and portends a win-win situation for both countries.

Ultimately, however, President Magufuli’s equation for a lasting engagement with the Egyptian government must unavoidably factor in the growing interest of China and its multinational enterprises in the infrastructure and industrialization drive that Tanzania has embarked on. These enterprises are seeking for space in Magufuli’s new Tanzania which needs foreign investment capital. Here, Egypt can play a vital role and it should find its due space.

Paul Kibuuka is the Managing Partner of Isidora & Company Advocates.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

TALKING POINT : Political tolerance subjected to another test in Kenya

 

By Deus Kibamba

I was in Kenya in the last three weeks to monitor the country’s elections. It turned out that the taking of positions by Tanzanian politicians in the elections had made it dangerous to openly identify observers from Jukwaa la Katiba Tanzania like we normally do in our missions.

The ruling Jubilee coalition did not take kindly to the perceived support of opposition candidate Raila Odinga (pictured) by President John Magufuli. It has to be stated, however, that at no time has Dr Magufuli publicly endorsed Mr Odinga since he was sworn in as President of the United Republic of Tanzania on November 5, 2015.

On the other hand, the decision by Tanzania’s opposition Chadema’s to openly come out in support of Jubilee candidate Uhuru Kenyatta led to some confusion in two respects. Firstly, many Kenyans had known former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa as a CCM stalwart. Secondly, Chadema had openly supported Mr Odinga in the previous elections in Kenya. Why this sudden change of heart?

Traditionally, ruling parties and coalitions in one EAC member state have tended to support their ruling “comrades” in another country. Similarly, opposition figures from one country would cross borders in their dozens to show support and solidarity for the opposition in the neighbourhood. This was not the case ahead of last week’s elections in Kenya.

Now that Kenya has decided, we should dwell on the aftermath. What does the future hold for friendship and cooperation between Tanzanian and Kenyan political parties? To what extent will Ukawa and Chadema celebrate with Jubilee? Is Mr Odinga getting any advice or support from CCM as he protests the election results that handed Mr Kenyatta a comfortable victory?

Looked at a bit differently, can CCM lend Mr Odinga’s Nasa some wisdom to get the coalition to resort to peaceful means of contesting the results? My take is that Nasa should be advised to go to court to challenge the results.

My own reading of the Nasa coalition is that it was too preoccupied with winning the elections and forgot to invest in the building of a party network to penetrate the more remote areas of the Kenyan countryside. This is what Jubilee did and it paid off after the coalition garnered a substantial number of votes in opposition strongholds such as Kisumu, which also happens to be Mr Odinga’s birthplace.

Also, Nasa’s decision to field people like Dr Evans Kidero and Mr Isaac Ruto for the Nairobi and Bomet governorship backfired spectacularly after they both lost badly to Jubilee candidates. In Nairobi, Dr Kidero was defeated by the colourful populist politician Mike Sonko, while Ms Joyce Laboso, a former deputy speaker of the National Assembly, defeated Mr Ruto in Bomet. Even in the presidential ballot in Bomet, Mr Ruto was not a factor after Mr Odinga lost badly to Mr Kenyatta in the county.

Going forward, tribalism in Kenya seems to be waning. If it was a big factor, Mr Ruto would not have lost so badly after garnering only 85,963 votes against Ms Laboso’s 175,932.

Gender balance also came into focus during the elections. While all five Nasa co-principals, all of them men, lost in the elections, Jubilee had several female candidates elected to senatorial and governorship positions for the first time in Kenya’s history. Ms Margaret Kamar, Ms Susan Kijika and Ms Fatuma Dullo have been elected senators, while Ms Joyce Laboso, Ms Charity Ngilu and Ms Anne have landed governorship seats.

Regarding political tolerance, it came as a surprise to me that Mr Odinga decided not to concede defeat despite confirmation by Nasa, local and international observers and many others that the elections were free, fair, credible and very transparent. From the domestic monitoring group ELOG to regional organisations such as the EAC or the African Union and international election observer outfits such as the Carter Center, it has been confirmed in no uncertain terms that this time around the elections were well organised and conducted.

For people like Mr Odinga, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, Mr Moses Wetangula and Mr Isaac Ruto to claim that Nasa has been robbed of victory in the presidential election is intolerance of the highest order. To mobilise Kenyans to hold street protests is tantamount to inciting hatred and violence in a country that is already deeply polarised.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

WORLD VIEW : Nuclear sabre-rattling with North Korea



President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump 

By Jonathan Power

Does President Donald Trump (aka Fire and Fury) know what a nuclear war would be like? I ask the question because President Roland Reagan confessed he did not until he decided to look at some movies (once an actor, he was a cinema man), like On the Beach that depicted a nuclear war.

The exercise changed his thinking and he became an anti-nuclear weapons militant. Together with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev they cut their nuclear stockpiles sharply. They also came near an agreement to destroy all their nuclear weapons.

The blasts at the end of the Second World War in Hiroshima and Nagasaki can now be repeated hundreds of thousand times. The remains would not just be the broken arches of the Caesars, the abandoned viaducts and moss-covered temples of the Incas, the desolation of one of the pulsating hearts of Europe, Dresden, but millions of square miles of uninhabitable desolation and a suffering which would incorporate more agony than the sum of past history. It would be a time when the living would envy the dead.

The mayor of Nagasaki recalled his memory of the American nuclear attack: “Nagasaki became a city of death where not even the insects could be heard. After a while, countless men, women and children began to gather for a drink of water at the river. Their hair and clothing scorched and their burnt skin hanging in sheets like rags. Begging for help they died one after the other in the water or in heaps on the banks”.

The chief of the Manhattan project that developed the first American nuclear test, Robert Oppenheimer, wrote, “At that moment there flashed through my mind a passage from the Bhagavad-Gita, the holy book of Hindus, I am become Death, the Shatterer of Worlds. Arundhati Roy, the Booker prize-winning Indian novelist, wrote after the first Indian nuclear test in 1968, “If there is a nuclear war our foes will not be Pakistan, China nor America nor even each other. Our foes will be the earth itself. Our cities and forests, our fields and villages will burn for days. Rivers will turn to poison. The air will become fire. The wind will spread the flames. When everything there is to burn has burnt and the fires die, smoke will rise and shut out the sun.”

General George Lee Butler summed up his view of deterrence as head of the US Strategic Command (the man who is responsible for putting into effect a president’s order to begin a nuclear attack): “Here was an intellectual riddle of the most intricate kind – a puzzle to which there seemed to be no solutions. The wonderful title of Herman Khan’s book, Thinking the Unthinkable, captured the dilemma perfectly: that it is unthinkable to imagine the wholesale slaughter of societies, yet at the same time it appears necessary to do so, in the hope that you hit upon some formulation that will preclude the act; but in the process you may wind up amassing forces that engender the very outcome you hope to avoid.”

What Butler has demonstrated is that although deterrence in the Cold War days was the aim, the competitive nuclear arms race effectively turned the doctrine of deterrence on its head. It became a circle that could never be squared. By conveying to the enemy the ability to retaliate massively when attacked your forces are in a state of alert that from the enemy’s point of view looks like you are preparing for a pre-emptive first strike. So he had better get his strike in first.

North Korea at the moment does not have enough nuclear warheads – around 60 at present – to make a first strike successful. But over the years it can build enough to make one and to obliterate a good part of the US.

Threatening North Korea is counterproductive. It will just drive it to step on the gas.

Negotiating a freeze is the only way out. North Korea must freeze its nuclear programme. But that means the US has to do its part: no more military exercises, no more overflights and a withdrawal of its anti-missile batteries. In fact they don’t work very well and are just a provocation both to North Korea and China. Without China’s help there will be no settlement.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Economic empowerment is still a long way is still long way off

By TheCitizen

Vodacom Tanzania Limited debuted at the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange yesterday following one of the biggest IPOs in Tanzania’s history. The listing is expected to further stimulate trading at the bourse.

With Sh476 billion worth of shares, Vodacom’s was an IPO that any investor would want a piece of.

It was out of public empowerment concerns that the government enacted a law requiring all telecoms and mining companies to offload 25 per cent stakes and enable the public to buy shares and be part of the country’s economic success. Companies as Tigo, Airtel, Zantel and Halotel and at least a dozen others are expected to follow suit.

But even as we toast Vodacom’s listing, there is a troubling development worth noting.

It has emerged that individual investors have bought a paltry six per cent of Vodacom shares. A whopping 94 per cent has been snapped up by institutions with deep pockets.

In other words, 150 institutions bought shares worth Sh446.95 billion, leaving 41,065 retail investors to buy stock worth just Sh29.04 billion. This would have been even lower, considering that only 60 per cent of the shares were set aside for sale in Tanzania.

The other 40 per cent was meant for foreign participants. While trading for the few retail investors is likely to return positive results on account of the few shares expected to be offered for sale at the DSE (institutional investors tend to hold on their shares longer), the much bigger percentage held by institutions means that the intended goal of empowering more individual investors has not been attained.

Authorities still need to do much more to educate the public on the benefits of trading at the stock market. Secondly, low individual participation indicates low levels of liquidity among citizens, who have little disposable income to invest.

The Vodacom IPO should serve as food for thought for us all.

KENYATTA SHOULD BE EMULATED

Kenya’s president-elect, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, on Monday delivered a gesture that is extremely rare in Africa. It was a move that showed respect for his country’s constitution. The 2010 Kenyan Constitution under the Bill of Rights in Article 37 states, “Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities”.

The opposition led by Mr Raila Odinga has chosen to use this right. It has called for peaceful demonstrations to express its dissatisfaction with the results of last week’s elections, which it claims was rigged.

The opposition continues to deliberate on its next course of action, which includes organising demonstrations.

But contrary to what would be expected of a typical African head of state, Mr Kenyatta has not issued threats against the opposition. He has instead urged the opposition to “use whatever legal mechanisms that have been created via our wonderful constitution to express their dissatisfaction”.

Now, this is a rare gesture by an African leader. In Africa, opposition-organised demonstrations are usually violently broken up by heavily armed security personnel.

It is time African governments learnt to respect the constitutions of their countries. Albert Einstein had this advice: “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

EDITORIAL: MAKE VETTING OF NGOS TRANSPARENT AND FAIR

 

The government will soon embark on a nationwide audit of all non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in a move it says is meant to ensure the organisations operate within the law and adhere to the purpose for which they were registered. According to the NGO Registrar in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Children and the Elderly, the exercise will run from August 21 to 31.

Among other things, NGOs have been told to produce their original registration certificates, receipts of annual fee payments and other documents pertaining to their work in the country.

The government has warned that organisations that will fail to produce the said documents risk deregistration, which means they will be expected to close shop. The order is not entirely surprising. President John Magufuli and the relevant minister have publicly spoken about the need to check NGOs. In fact, the government has since gone ahead to remove some of the tax benefits enjoyed by NGOs and abolished the boards of trustees of hundreds of charitable bodies and self-help associations over alleged breach of registration rules.

The latest audit order by the registrar has understandably set alarm bells ringing. The National Council of NGOs, a body that brings together these organisations from across the country, has subsequently expressed fear over the real intention of the NGO audit.

Its officials are of the view that the government may be out to target groups and organisations it was unconformable with, either due to the kind of work they were doing or the fact that they were rubbing the government the wrong way. They have sought assurance that they are not the target of a government crackdown or censorship.

Right or wrong

It may not be easy at this juncture to know who is right or wrong, but it is an undeniable fact that both the government and NGOs, or related community groups, need each other to function well. The NGOs or community-based organisations (CBOs) play a crucial role in national development, and this is manifest in the fact that they operate throughout the country and have in place numerous empowerment programmes. Their void will thus be a terrible blow to the overall emancipation of the Tanzanian citizenry from disease, ignorance and poverty, which are focal areas for most of these groups.

The government, on the other hand, has a point in wanting to take an inventory of NGOs and CBOs. That is why a law to govern these organisations was enacted in the fist place so that their operations are within the law. It is important therefore that to create confidence in the audit exercise, the government must assure the public that this was not an excuse to start a clampdown on civil society.

After all, very senior voices in government have been heard jeering at the work of some NGOs. It will be an unfortunate state of affairs to use the exercise to roll back advancement seen in the last few decades.

But that is not to say there has not been concerns that some people have used NGOs and CBOs to enrich themselves at the expense of the public. These kind of people are a blot and should not be tolerated. We thus hope that goodwill and transparency will ultimately be the guide for a smooth audit.     

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

OPINION: Don’t punish business for state failings



Kasera Nick Oyoo

Kasera Nick Oyoo 

By Kasera Nick Oyoo

Morogoro Urban MP Abdulaziz Abood has been in the news lately following the stated goal of the government of President John Magufuli to repossess privatised factories that are no longer operating.

Our sympathies are with such businesspeople (and there are a number of them. Abood gets the end of the stick as he is smack in the centre of Morogoro Municipality and is relatively more well known than the others).

We all know that if there is one thing governments do badly it is business. When a government dares to enter the business fray, the fray enters the scene too. There are many brands whose names are similar but that has not prevented the competing brands from doing well in the market.

One of the major hurdles to industries in this country is the multiplicity of laws, regulators, agencies and tax regimes. Not long ago, Forrestal Topsoe, a prominent fertiliser manufacturer, was forced to withdraw from a proposed multi-billion-shilling investment because of the challenge of dealing with a multiplicity of agencies from the national government all the way down to local government.

We have no business making the East African region a haven for international investors if we do not support local investors. As leading businessman Mo Dewji says, “We are happy to compete, and not to be shielded by government authorities from competition.”

The trouble that faces the Fifth Phase government’s industrialisation agenda remains the same. Businesses like the edible oil firm that Mr Abood bought and is reviving were grossly affected not by their inability to sustain themselves but by the failings of the government.

There is absolutely no way a sunflower oil manufacturer in Morogoro can produce oil, meet costs of production, including wages, and remit all taxes and still be able to compete in a market dominated by importers who pay no taxes and sell their merchandise for a song.

The result is that firms such as Moproco of Morogoro could hardly sell the oil they manufacture while importers made a kill. In other words, government action or inaction could have caused the failure of Moproco. To therefore blame the businessman of failing to continue operating the firm is to be grossly unfair.

In the wider scheme of things, the various arms of government have been increasingly rabid in the manner of implementing their various mandates just as the duplicity of laws has made Tanzania a businessman’s nightmare.

If you include the verbal tirades against both local and international investors, you have a veritable mix of an environment in which doing business becomes a real challenge. Despite the good intentions of Industry, Trade and Investment Permanent Secretary Adolf Mkenda, environmental impact assessments continue to be a major barrier in that they are egged against the overall cost of projects.

In a recent social media post, Prof Andrew Temu, an economist, debated the challenges that face Tanzania and said what made Mauritius an attractive investment environment was nothing more than incentives.

The Acacia Mining case, of course, reminds us that yesterday’s incentives can come back to bite you. Here is where it becomes imperative to have rigorous and progressive policies to guide not just small and medium enterprises, but also large manufacturing concerns so that their robustness overrides the interests of individual regulators or tax collection agencies.

Mr Adolf Olomi, who runs Banana Investments Ltd in Arusha, has had several run-ins with the taxman despite at least 17 compliance certificates decorating the firm’s reception area. With an employee base of over 380, Banana Investments is among the leading indigenous taxpayers. These are the kind of investors that need incentives, given that they are home-grown, repatriate no funds and contribute greatly to reducing unemployment.

The time to sit with, not circle over Abood Oil Industries like a vulture waiting to strike, is now. It is not just Abood. Industry, Trade and Investment minister Charles Mwijage needs to hold a roundtable with business to hear its side of the story.     

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ANALYSIS: Trump a ‘paper tiger’ roaring fire and fury at North Korea

A combination photo of North Korean leader Kim

A combination photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump. PHOTO | AFP 

By Chege Mbitiru

At the height of the Cold War then Chinese leader Chairman Mao Zedong described the United States as a “Paper Tiger”.

President Donald Trump’s bellicosity on North Korea risks actualizing that.

The “Paper Tiger” phrase comes from an old Chinese idiom and loosely translates into a “blustering, harmless fellow”.

Nuclear

Washington, obviously, reminded Mao this “paper tiger” had nuclear teeth.

In some ways, Mao in 1956 should have been grateful to then US President Harry Truman.

He fired General Douglas McArthur who wanted to nuke the Chinese.

That’s because they had, in droves, fought on North Koreans’ side in a war that ended in armistice.

Allies

Plausibly, the US settled to focus on Soviet Union’s salivation for Europe’s domination.

Whatever! Considering Trump’s oscillating pronouncements, his presiding over a nearly eight months of an administration whose policies, domestically and globally, are everywhere and nowhere, Trump risks going the “paper tiger” way; similarly taking the US along. That’s saying nothing about allies, notably South Korea and Japan.

The Chinese will not be sipping rice wine. That means fire and brimstone in northeast Asia. The spillover is obvious.

North Korea

The issue is North Korea’s ambitions to acquire nuclear bombs and missiles to deliver them, as they say, anywhere in the world, a long shot.

There’s nothing wrong with any nation wishing to acquire most lethal weapons, defensive and offensive.

However, it’s illogical to assume some leaders are “mad” and others Jesus Christ riding a donkey in Judea and half naked Gandhi-types meditating. It isn’t necessarily so. Just compare Trump and North Korea’s kiddy leader, Kim Jong-un — age gap explains — bellicosities.

Weapons

The rest is obvious: same. The issue is proliferation of nuclear weapons doctrine.

North Korea wants and some nations who have them oppose.

The non-proliferation, unfortunately, is based on good and bad leaders, wrongly.

It should be based on “the weapons aren’t necessary”.

They become so however because nations perpetually prey on each other, forgetting “scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” — a hard sale — works better.

Threat

Back to Trump and Kim bellicosities: Since February North Korea has test-fired 18 missiles of different ranges.

After each test, Mr Trump has issued a threat, beginning with saying if China, the biggest trading partner constrained by increasing U.N. sanctions North Korea, doesn’t force an end to the tests the US will go alone.

Everyone who cares remembers Trump’s Armanda in the Korean Peninsula that he couldn’t — most likely — or pretended not to know where it was, making admirals look stupid.

At best, Kim yawned and ordered another missile test.

Missile attack

On Wednesday, North Korea said it was considering plans for a missile strike on the US Pacific territory of Guam, an island and vital post for US forces.

That was hours after the president said another North Korea threat against the US would be met with “fire and fury”.

Trump responded, saying his earlier warning wasn’t strong enough. Think of a self-caged “paper tiger” roaring ethereal “fire and fury”.

cmbitiru@hotmail.com     

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

MARKET DATA REVIEW: How to achieve ‘frontier market status’ in four years

 

By Moremi Marwa

This is the first of two articles that I intend to pen in the endeavour to achieve a frontier market status for the DSE in four years. Read on…..

The Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange Plc (DSE) has undertaken a study on the enhancement of its existing products as well as the introduction of new ones in the stock market. If this comes to pass, we will have migrated our local capital market from where we are into a ‘frontier market’ category in a period of five years. Currently, we are not a rated market.

Should we move into the next level as envisaged, we will then stand a chance of achieving “an emerging market status” within the next 15 years.

Currently, the DSE has 13 licensed dealing members (LDMs), five government securities LDMs, three custodian banks, 25 listed equities, four outstanding corporate bonds and a number of government securities listed on the exchange valued at Sh6.5 trillion.

Our annual equity turnover averages Sh500 billion while our equity market cap is about Sh18 trillion (less than 20 per cent of Tanzania’s GDP – the ratio far lower to many measures). However, 2017 is poised to be more vibrant in terms of depth and liquidity especially with the listing of telecom firms and possibly mining companies IPOs as required by law.

In the economy at large, the government is doing an excellent job to industrialise and enhance the infrastructure of the country and is simultaneously managing to lower interest rates from the highs we have seen in the recent past of 15 to 18 per cent.

In this context, the DSE felt that it was important to expand the range of products and services that are available to issuers, intermediaries and investors whilst also taking a critical look at its existing products and services to ascertain how to make the existing markets more efficient, with fewer friction costs.

Today, the DSE offers nine billable products and services while the CSD has 5 products. The DSE also provides a number of services for free to the market in the interest of supporting its growth.

In the study that we have just conducted, we have taken a close look at 28 products and services in total which collectively will enable the Government and Private Sector issuers to raise capital on a more focused basis.

Therefore, in the primary markets instead of the DSE being a type of “delicatessen”, offering a few focused products for raising capital, it is proposed to significantly extend the types of listings to become like a “supermarket”.

Our plans are extensive and we plan to explain them over the course of the day but if I may summarise some of the key points; we now have concrete plans to develop the following products:

• Listing of Treasury Bills if the government, CMSA and BoT decide to go ahead with its extremely innovative ideas for financial inclusion with the M-Akiba Micro-Savings Bills and Bonds. The DSE is truly supportive of this initiative as it will achieve financial inclusion and enhance financial literacy, attracting more capital from the informal economy into the formal economy through a relatively safe investment product across the mobile network infrastructure. The DSE has already attracted an extra 250,000 investors into the market through its limited forays with mobile – we expect that a government backed product will achieve success on a much grander scale, increasing the overall liquidity of the economy.

• Infrastructure and industrialization products (bonds and equity); these will provide the platform for the Government and the private sector to raise capital through the public markets. Many of these initiatives have strong economic propositions and lend themselves to being listed on the market, sharing the investment risk with the private sector.

• Real estate investment trusts: with these, we envisage to support the significant property development, rental and social housing needs of the country. Whilst we have the framework for this product, international experience shows that this is critically dependent upon tax efficiency and the DSE plans to discuss the benefits of such proposals with the Ministry of Finance and Planning.

• Municipal Bonds enabling cities or municipalities to take advantage of their legal ability to borrow and to ring fence certain developments into listed products that local and national investors would be willing to support

• Depository Receipts: for those companies that have operations in Tanzania but are – the DPs are expected to create a secondary placement for such companies in our local market. But as you are aware, there are seven companies listed on the exchange, whose primary listing is in London and Nairobi.

This facility will enable these and others to cross list and trade their securities without necessarily having to issue more shares but with the added advantage of developing their brand and capital base locally. This may be particularly valuable for mining and natural resources based companies.

• Then, there is a special and innovative product targeted at banks; given we already have 7 banks listed on the exchange -- negotiable certificates of deposits (NCDs), will enable these banks, if they so wish and others to lower their cost of capital while also extending their depositor base.

• On the Pre-Enterprise Growth Market (EGM) listings -- with a crowd funding solution becoming relatively common in other markets – we see the introduction of this platform targeting capital raising from high net worth individuals, will help fill a gap in the venture capital space for young SMEs and start-ups.

• We also propose a range of fund types products – exchange-traded funds and closed-ended funds as well as derivatives.

All of the above will initially be available in Tanzanian Shillings, but the DSE recognises the economic needs to support the Government’s plans to steadily achieve capital account liberalisation which will facilitate the possibility to offer these products in multiple currency, thereby recognising that Tanzania is operating in a cross-border truly global world.

This will in itself enable further extensions of the market, by, for instance, allowing Government to extend its M-Akiba savings bills and bonds to a “diaspora bond” thereby helping citizens to repatriate capital from abroad.

The secondary market will also see some transformations. As it is, Tanzania needs to adopt many international standards especially given the fact that currently, foreign investors account for over 70 per cent of the DSE’s market activities.

Our current market structure has served its purpose of getting us off the ground, but now we need to catch up with modern methods; our goal being to make the price formation process on the market very much a “public good”, whereby we maximise liquidity at the lowest cost per transaction.

In the next episode, we will look at the regulatory reforms that will be required for the DSE’s flagship products to move ahead. Don’t miss!

Mr Marwa the chief executive officer of Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange Plc     

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Stock exchange down 20pc as bank profits fall

 

By Alex Malanga @ChiefMalanga amalanga@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. The week-on-week turnover on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) dropped by 20 per cent last week as investors employed the wait-and-see approach amid a drop in profits for commercial banks.

Sh3.2 billion was realised from 1.4 million shares transacted last week, from Sh4 billion that was registered after some 600,000 shares exchanged hands during the week ending August 4, market data show.

The price for CRDB Bank – which was one of the active counters last week – fell by Sh15 just to reach Sh195 in just days after commercial banks released their financial results for the second quarter of the current calendar year.

CRDB Bank and NMB Bank - which together account for over 50 per cent of the banking industry profits – saw their profits dropping during the quarter ending June 2017 in what analysts believe is a result of liquidity tightening which might have affected lending and loan repayments.

NMB’s net profit dropped to Sh35.293 billion during the second quarter of the current calendar year from Sh45 billion during a similar period last year.

Similarly, CRDB’s net profit dropped by more than a half to Sh13.3 billion during the second half of 2017 from Sh27.473 billion during a similar period last year. “The stock market does not operate in isolation…..last week’s performance was a reflection of a drop in profits of commercial banks as reported in their recent financial statements,” said Zan Securities Limited chief officer, Mr Raphael Masumbuko.

The fall in CRDB’s share price also sent the DSE’s local capitalization slightly down to Sh7.6 trillion from Sh7.71 trillion.

The DSEI – which tracks the market value of both locally-listed and cross-listed firms – also fell to Sh17.7 trillion from Sh18.3 trillion, largely due to a drop in share prices for KA, USL, EABL and CRDB by 22 per cent, 14 per cent, eight per cent and 7.1 per cent respectively.     

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ANALYSIS: Climate change and mass migration: A growing threat

 

By Jared Perrie

When international leaders met in the Bangladeshi capital last month for ongoing discussions about a new global migration policy, they glossed over what experts say will soon become a massive driver of migration: climate change.

“The international system is in a state of denial,” said A.N.M. Muniruzzaman, a retired major-general who now heads the Bangladesh Institute for Peace and Security Studies.

The Global Forum on Migration and Development in Dhaka came less than two months after UN nation states committed to developing within two years a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Climate change figured only as a sub-theme during one roundtable at the conference, which Muniruzzaman said was typical of similar events.

“If we want an orderly management of the coming crisis, we need to sit down now – we should have sat down yesterday – to talk about how the management will take place,” he said in an interview in his office in Bangladesh’s crowded capital.

Groups like the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration, are well aware of the risks, and say they are working to bring climate change to the forefront of policy discussions. During the roundtable in Dhaka, Michele Cavinato, head of UNHCR’s Asylum and Migration Unit, called climate change “the defining challenge of our times”.

It’s difficult to say exactly how many people around the world will be forced to move as the effects of climate change grow starker in the coming decades. But mass displacement is already happening as climate change contributes to natural disasters such as desertification, droughts, floods, and powerful storms.

About 203 million people around the world were displaced by natural disasters between 2008 and 2015, and the risk has doubled since the 1970s, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council’s 2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement.

Most of the displacement takes place within countries, but those driven across borders are not considered refugees, because the 1951 Refugee Convention recognises only people fleeing war or persecution.

“There is a legal gap to assist and protect people who cross borders in the context of disasters and climate change,” Marine Franck, a UNHCR climate change and disaster displacement officer, told IRIN.

Another aspect of climate change, which makes it hard to quantify the exact number of people displaced by the phenomenon, is that it is a “threat multiplier”. This means it exacerbates the potential for other drivers of forced migration such as conflict; so refugees fleeing war may also be fleeing climate change. It also often triggers slow-onset disasters like droughts, which gradually erode people’s livelihoods.

How many people will be displaced by climate change depends to a great degree on what countries do now to mitigate the future effects.

It’s hard to think of a country that encompasses more of the risks of climate change than Bangladesh.

The impoverished nation’s approximately 160 million people are squeezed into an area slightly smaller than Tunisia, which has 11 million people, making it one of the most densely-populated countries on earth. Its coastline hugs the Bay of Bengal, putting it in the path of cyclones that are increasing in frequency and intensity.

Bangladesh is also one of the world’s flattest countries, with a river delta comprising much of its territory, making it especially vulnerable to land erosion. Himalayan glaciers will continue to melt, swelling the rivers, while rising sea levels engulf coastal areas and cause salinisation further inland, contaminating drinking water and rendering agriculture impossible.

By 2050, Bangladesh could see more than 20 million people displaced, according to the government’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. Many of those will migrate to the capital, which the government predicts will swell from 14 to 40 million people. But Bangladesh’s cities will not be able to absorb the influx of people driven from their homes by climate change.

“The settlement of these environmental refugees will pose a serious problem for… densely populated Bangladesh and migration [abroad] must be considered as a valid option for the country,” says the government’s plan. “Preparations in the meantime will be made to convert this population into trained and useful citizens for any country.”

Yet many countries will be dealing with crises of their own and Bangladesh will find it hard to convince them to welcome its “climate change refugees”. Massive displacement within the country could further undermine a fragile political system and contribute to militancy, which is already on the rise.

“It could destabilise the country and it could also go to the point of state collapse,” said Muniruzzaman.

Officials at Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry failed to reply to repeated requests for comment

The writer filed this article for IRIN from Dhaka     

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Three deadly viruses that could spawn the next pandemic

 

By Annie Slemrod

Bird flu is back. Chinese authorities are closing live poultry markets as H7N9 courses through the country, infecting 192 and killing 79 in January alone.

So far, this strain of avian flu appears to have been transmitted only through contact with live poultry, but there’s always a fear it will mutate and start passing between humans. That’s what really scares experts: the possibility of a sudden change that triggers faster spread between humans and leads to a pandemic.

A disease doesn’t count as a pandemic until it spreads worldwide – Ebola killed more than 11,000 people across West Africa before it was brought under control, and that was just an epidemic. The most modern pandemics include the Spanish influenza, circa 1918 (as many as 50 million killed), and HIV/AIDS (35 million dead).

As Chinese officials attempt to stem the latest bird flu outbreak, global public health officials are racing to get ahead of what they call the next “big one”: a disease that will kill tens of millions. It’s all about preparedness, and a large part of that is spotting outbreaks early, so action can be taken to contain any situation before it spirals out of control.

It’s anyone’s guess when and where the next major epidemic – or pandemic – might emerge. It could be a mutated version of avian flu, or perhaps something completely unseen before, like the mysterious illness with Ebola-like symptoms that struck out of the blue in South Sudan last year.

Here are a few more possibilities worth keeping an eye on:

Crimea-Congo

haemorrhagic fever

When a patient in Madrid died last September of a disease called Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, there was no shortage of headlines about the “new” deadly virus. But the disease has actually been around for years – it got the first part of its name when first reported in Crimea in 1944, and the second thanks to a 1969 spotting in Congo.

The last two words of the disease, abbreviated as CCHF, speak to the symptoms: fever, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhoea, bruising and bleeding (the list goes on), and eventually death in the second week of illness – about 30 per cent of patients (sometimes more) succumb to the virus.

CCHF is found pretty much everywhere south of the 50th parallel north: Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Asia. Humans tend to contract the virus through contact with the blood of an infected animal (itself having been bitten by infected ticks) – vets, people working in slaughterhouses, and farmers are typically most at risk.

Once in humans, the virus can be spread through contact with blood, secretions, bodily fluids, and the like. It has been contracted in hospitals thanks to poor sterilisation of equipment and reuse of needles.

The virus bothers researchers and doctors for a number of reasons, one of them cultural: it’s endemic in some Muslim countries where large-scale animal slaughter is part of celebrating (and feasting) for the holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Nipah virus

This one’s got a Hollywood hook: The 2011 film Stephen Soderbergh film Contagionis reportedly based on it. Spoiler alert. In the movie, Nipah causes a global pandemic. In reality, we’re far from that.

But the way Nipah got going in real life is paralleled in the film: Thanks to drought,deforestation and wildfire, large fruit bats that carry the virus found their natural habitats in Malaysia destroyed. So they moved to fruit trees that happened to be in fairly close proximity to pig farms.

The pigs ate fruit contaminated by bat urine and saliva, the virus spread quickly among livestock, and again farm workers were the first hit. This first outbreak in Malaysia in the late 1990s saw the country cull more than one million pigs: a major hit to the economy.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Bandied about as the next pandemic possibility for a while, MERS was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, although looking back researchers believe there were cases the same year in Jordan.

It’s deadly – a reported 36 per cent of patients die – and looks to have come to humans via bats, again. There’s a pattern here: Bats carry a long list of killer viruses and likely triggered the Ebola outbreak as well as SARS and others.

MERS causes fever, cough, shortness of breath, and in more than one third of patients, death. A 2015 outbreak in South Korea killed 36, and caused serious panic. Thousands of schools were closed, and many businesses were hit hard as people were wary even of going outside, and many others were quarantined.

While MERS is deadlier than its cousin SARS, it is also less contagious. It is spread through close contact with an infected person, and most transmissions have been in healthcare settings. There’s no real evidence that it’s gone airborne – that’s always a major fear – but the possibility hasn’t been completely ruled out.

The writer is IRIN’s Middle East Editor

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Monday, August 14, 2017

No shortage of work for incoming TFF leadership



Wallace Karia

Wallace Karia 

By TheCitizen

Wallace Karia is the new man at the helm of Tanzanian football after succeeding Jamal Malinzi as president of the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) on Saturday. Karia won by a landslide against five other aspirants in elections held in Dodoma.

He garnered 95 out of the 128 votes cast to take over as president for the next four years. Michael Wambura will be the vice president after polling 85 votes.

All winners, including executive committee members, promised to lead Tanzania to new heights. However, we remind them to walk the talk. The new leaders face the daunting task of transforming Tanzanian football, which has for many years been in the doldrums.

With a backlog of assignments waiting to be cleared, they need to settle down fast and begin tackling the challenges that have been denying us success. Tanzania is marking time as reflected by Fifa world rankings. International success has also been eluding our clubs year in, year out.

Despite the well-documented weaknesses of Malinzi’s administration, the previous leadership did well to promote youth football, and the national under-17 team even qualified for the 2017 championship.

The new TFF leadership should build on this achievement. It should consider investing heavily in youth football because it is the surest way of enabling Tanzania to catch up with Africa’s footballing giants.

Women’s football is another neglected area. It has the potential to do us proud, but little has been done to lift its standard. Tanzania is blessed with talented young women who, however, have a limited platform to further their skills.

There is no doubt that the new leaders are visionary and we cannot wait to see women strutting their stuff in their national league.

Corruption and match-fixing cases have been on the rise, but we are optimistic that Karia and his team will deal with the rot effectively and decisively.

CURB LAKE VICTORIA MADNESS

At least 4 million people directly depend on Lake Victoria for their livelihoods, and any activity which threatens to disrupt the lake’s delicate ecosystem must be dealt with accordingly.

The urge to take shortcuts is alluring, but the consequences can be devastating and long-lasting. Businesspeople, fishermen and even practitioners of respected professions end up paying the price for seeking the shorter alternative route for personal gain.

In recent years, the authorities have warned that some fishermen are using illegal means to improve their catches on Lake Victoria. This includes the use of the so-called gill nets, which trap mature and immature fish alike.

This illegal method depletes fish stocks, which are an important source of food and income for millions of people, and poses a grave threat to high-value exports.

Although it is outlawed, the practice is continuing unabated on Lake Victoria and other freshwater bodies. This is not surprising given the sheer size of the Tanzanian portion of Lake Victoria and other factors such as corruption.

It is common knowledge that natural resources officials receive handsome sums of money from unscrupulous fishermen and traders to look the other way.

A crackdown on the masterminds is called for. Whatever the challenges, this menace must not be allowed to continue.

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

SA’s economy simply cannot afford the destructive ANC for two more years

A woman holds a photo of late anti-apartheid

A woman holds a photo of late anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada as she takes part in a protest in Johannesburg calling call for President Jacob Zuma to resign.  PHOTO |FILE 

By Dawie Roodt

President Jacob Zuma has survived yet another vote of no confidence, but don’t despair, they say, because we may just be able to get rid of him some other way.

There are a few looming court cases that may start the process, or maybe some political developments can eventually result in Zuma getting the boot.

Maybe, and this is a very BIG maybe, the ANC suddenly realises what good governance means and puts the country first at their electoral conference. So, don’t despair, they say, there’s still a chance of getting rid of Zuma and then all will be ok. Well, they are wrong!

For even if we somehow do get rid of the embodiment of incompetence, corruption and mismanagement, the fabric of the ANC has been polluted and no new leader, no matter how competent, can prevent a further deterioration in the lives of most South Africans.

This government has simply caused enormous damage to our economy and has lost most of its legitimacy. No leader from the ranks of the current political elite can replace Zuma and be strong enough to implement the required changes.

Only an extremely strong leader will be able to dislodge the evil grip of the established rent seekers.

Nearly all levels of “government”, local, provincial, national, many other state-related institutions and state-owned enterprises have been compromised. Nearly all important indexes, rankings and ratings are pointing to a country in anguish.

Even the state’s own watchdog, the auditor general, has become a hoarse barking. We are in deep, deep trouble. What needs to be done is easy to understand, but politically it is only possible with a very strong electoral mandate. Additionally, doing what is right is likely to lead to even more suffering before things get better. No Zuma replacement will have the power to do it.

What needs to happen is to get rid of incompetent [and often corrupt] civil servants, everywhere! And only an extremely strong leader will be able to dislodge the evil grip of the established rent seekers. As soon as it becomes clear that a cleanup has started, massive resistance from the ineptocracy will halt the process.

The next leadership will be faced with the tremendous task of rebuilding the South African economy. Or imagine this new leader starts selling state assets, or actually reducing the army of civil servants, or liberalising labour legislation, or expects good quality education and health services. Just imagine how the ANC’s alliance partners will react.

Just imagine how senior politicians and bureaucrats will react when they realise we do not need a department of tiny businesses, or a department of children, the weak and women, or two education departments or even a department of sport. What on earth is the function of the department of sport?

Does anybody really believe a new president will be able to do these things? Of course not, which means we will have at least two more years of ANC destruction ahead of us before a general election gives a new mandate to new leadership.

And even with a new mandate, the next leadership will be faced with the tremendous task of rebuilding the South African economy. This task is likely to take at least 10 years before the economy is back on the growth trajectory it was on before the great destruction.

South Africans should expect further increases in unemployment and poverty.

And during the first few years of the new [hopefully competent] administration, the economy will go through a very painful adjustment phase as state spending is cut, state-owned enterprises’ balance sheets are fixed and useless civil servants forced on to the streets. For that, you need a strong political mandate.

In the meantime, expect the economy to remain on a growth trajectory of around one percent -– if we are lucky. Expect further increases in unemployment and poverty. Expect more social tension and protests and little investor confidence. Also, expect those with assets to be rational and to diversify their portfolios abroad, expect a weaker currency, higher inflation and even more social tension.

Getting rid of Zuma will be a great start but the difficulties this economy faces can only be dealt with by a new political mandate.

That is why we need an election. (The Huffington Post, SA)

Dawie Roodt is chief economist of The Efficient Group

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

CANDID TALK : A ride in Cessna, I almost wet my pants

 

By Peter Muthamia

In Uswaz, we die having never boarded a Mercedes let alone a plane. We live hoping that one day, fate would hand us an opportunity to take a real flight that more often than not never comes to pass.

Of course, some poor Uswahilinites from the shores of Lake Victoria like my one-and-only woman Bisho Ntongo, whose brothers have their wallets and bank accounts lined with real msimbazis (Tanzanian currency) and fat bank accounts, take a once-for-all air flights, but in their coffins in luggage hull.

I was lucky recently to take a flight while conscious of it. If by any chance a poor Uswahilinite gets an opportunity to take a flight, they will take selfies of themselves at the Julius Nyerere International Airport precincts standing almost hugging those huge aircraft. You can tell that a particular passenger is a villager-turned-Uswahilinite by the frequency with which he or she does selfie – at the lounge, at stairs with aircraft in the vicinity and on the seat. To add to it, they will keep the air ticket for eons to show the children, their children’s children that they once took a flight.

The company that I wear my fingers writing such third-rate columns decided that it was not a bad idea if I took a flight to Zanzibar to run an errand for them. I can swear by all the crocodiles in River Ruaha that I had never been on a plane before. As I gawped open-mouthed those huge tubes that ostensibly ferry human beings and goods to various destinations, I kept wondering how they do it.

I also toyed with the idea of my little spoilt daughter taking a pilot’s career. I however reasoned that firstly, I cannot afford the course and secondly, the only things she had learnt in the entire two years of secondary education include the Bunsen burner and male reproductive system.

As I brooded over that, the intercom announced that passengers taking that particular route should proceed to the flight. My heart was doing acrobatics inside my rib cage in anticipation. I was so disappointed however when I realised that contrary to my expectations, we were taking a Cessna 172 – those dagaa aircraft the size of Volkswagen beetles of the yore.

Usually, they have a wing span bigger than themselves. As the engine gathered speed, I was lost in thought of what would happen if it did one fatal dive. Seated at the window, the thing started taxiing slowly, then gathered speed. The terminal buildings were moving at blurry speed.

Then in a few minutes, the junk was banking and the entire ocean was below us. I have never before loud prayers but on that day, I almost peed on my self!

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

OBLIQUE ANGLE : Of sham polls, fake democracy

 Deo   Simba is a senior sub-editor with The

 Deo   Simba is a senior sub-editor with The Citizen      

By Deo Simba

Democracy—that system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives—is presently facing a real test in Africa.

What with the just ended elections in Rwanda, where incumbent President Paul Kagame got a landslide victory? As for Kenya, their General Election was more interesting and grabbed global attention.

Uhuru Kenyatta won the elections by obtaining 54 per cent of the votes against nearly 45 per cent of his rival Raila Odinga, according to results beamed by the electoral body, IEBC.

Raila’s camp, though, has cried foul claiming election rigging. It even asked the IEBC to declare its candidate, Raila, new president. As such, tension remains high in the East African nation.

What with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni now that he has just ‘discovered’ that he will turn 74 in 2021 meaning he that he won’t be 77 years old, an age above the set age limit for contesting for presidency?

And, what with the situation back home (Tanzania) where political parties have been banned from undertaking rallies—their key business as per the constitution?

In South Africa, President Jacob Zuma faced a no confidence vote in Parliament. He had survived seven similar votes before, but they were open. This time around, MPs did cast secret ballots. He escaped again!

Look at the DRC. President Joseph Kabila continues to cling to power even beyond the term limit as stipulated in their constitution, the very one he swore to protect!

I’m confused. What is this thing called ‘democracy’ really? Is it the same in every country? How much has ‘democracy’ helped the common man in Africa see the value of his vote?

If some leaders take matters into their own hands and do whatever they want regardless of what the constitutions say … what is this thing called democracy? Do our votes mean anything at all?

Abraham Lincoln says: “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

But, I don’t see this insight being respected in Africa. The examples above elaborate that elections in Africa don’t belong to the people. And, when leaders violate articles and clauses stipulated in their countries’ constitutions, they are oppressing their own people. It does not matter whether these people raise protesting voices or not.

And as such, it might be wise to listen to Malcom X’s words: “The only way we’ll get freedom for ourselves is to identify ourselves with every oppressed people in the world. We are blood brothers to the people of Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba -- yes Cuba too.”

My question to leaders in Africa: why do you find it so hard to learn from Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela and Kenneth Kaunda?

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Rwanda, Kenya: A tale of two polls

Kenya’s main political rivals Raila Odinga of

Kenya’s main political rivals Raila Odinga of Nasa coalition faces Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee coalition at a recent event. The latter just won the presidential election as per results announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. PHOTO |FILE 

By Asuman Bisiika

On August 4, Rwanda held presidential elections, which returned incumbent president Paul Kagame with a 98.63 per cent victory. The other candidates in the race were Dr Frank Habineza and Mr Philipe Mpayimana. This is the background of Rwanda’s elections.

President Kagame was constitutionally barred from contesting in this election, but a constitutional amendment was procured for the benefaction of his candidature. The particulars of the procurement of this constitutional amendment are that over 99 per cent of the population demanded that Kagame be enabled to seek re-election (or to be precise, to continue ruling Rwanda).

They petitioned parliament demanding for a constitutional amendment. Parliament was overwhelmed by petitions from over 99 per cent of the population. Since the voice of the people is the voice of God, parliament had no choice but to initiate a process that led to a constitutional amendment. A referendum held to validate the constitutional amendment returned 99 per cent of the voters as supporting the said constitutional amendment. Why then do our experts say president Kagame’s 99 per cent victory was eye-brow rising?

The people who ‘forced’ Kagame to continue ruling them are the same people who voted in the referendum to ‘legalise’ their ‘force’. And these are the same people who voted in the presidential elections to actualise their ‘force’. Consistency!

Rwandans don’t do things in half measures. In fact, experts on Rwanda say Kagame has not even reached the level of electoral victory enjoyed by former president Gregoire Kayibanda and military ruler Maj Gen Juvenale Habyarimana. Which is why my request to know the percentage of the spoilt or invalid votes was understandably dismissed by a Kagame aide thus: Must there be spoilt or invalid votes?

Voting versus vote counting

Kenyans went to the polls on August 8. But as is the wont in these things, it is one thing for one to vote and quite another for one’s vote to count (or be counted). As opposed to Rwanda, the number of spoilt votes in the Kenyan poll is annoyingly high that it may take a bronze medal.

In spite of all else, the most important thing in the last three Kenyan elections is that a two-party system has been established. The significance of an established two-party system is that it offers the country the best chance for power to change hands from one political group to another.

Kenya’s ‘two-party system’ is not a de jure, but a de facto situation where political parties have formed grand coalitions that effectively control more than 80 per cent of the votes (or parliamentary seats).

In Rwanda, all political parties (except one) supported Kagame’s candidature. Some parties offered to support Kagame even before RPF (his party) declared him as their candidate. That’s not a grand coalition, but a grand co-option.

Presidential terms in Rwanda

The length of the term of office for which Kagame was re-elected on August 4 is seven years (ending in 2024). After 2024, presidential terms of office will be reduced to five years each.

And after 2024, one can only be a president of Rwanda for only two terms of office.

So, the new term of office (for which Kagame was elected is like a personal gift to him. However, he is eligible to run for office in 2024 and 2029.

I have heard some whispers that president Kagame has said this will be his last term. I have nothing to comment on those whispers because leaving power at that level is a personal matter and calls for depth of character.

In the first place, there will be no constitutional requirement to stop him to seek re-election in the next two elections (2024 and 2029).

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

It’s a good time to be an incumbent: the case of Kenya, Rwanda and DRC

 

By Erick Mwakibete

This week all eyes were in Kenya which went to the polls in a tightly contested election which sparked “exodus” and stocking of basic supplies as Kenyans worried of the possible post-election violence, and far south, in South Africa where the much anticipated vote of no confidence against the Teflon man that is President Jacob Zuma was the best chance yet for those opposed to him to remove him from power through parliament.

Let’s start from the beginning.

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame comfortably won his third term in office with his detractors and critics arguing that there was no point of holding an election because the winner was already known before the votes were cast. That is entirely missing the point and reduces the issue of democracy in Africa to a question of scheduled elections. Much of what happens prior to such “unnecessary” elections is important as well. One need not look far than the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where the incumbent is hanging onto to power courtesy of among other reasons claiming that his country is “unprepared” to hold elections.

Then came a story from Uganda about yet another twist in the actual age of President Yoweri Museveni. Amidst efforts of changing the constitution and scrap the age limit for the person eligible to hold the office of the president, President Museveni and the rest of us were presented with a baptism document which shows the president is much younger than previously thought, young enough to make efforts in parliament to scrap the age limit unnecessary for now.

Even in faraway Mauritania, its president Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz achieved electoral success through a referendum which abolished the senate after that body had rejected proposals to change the constitution in which opponents of the former army general who first came to power through a coup, accuse him of trying to extend his mandate in office.

In South Africa, President Zuma survived a vote of no confidence in parliament. Even though the final results suggest that more than 20 ANC MPs crossed the political divide to cast their votes with opposition MPs, the ANC majority held the day for now. Ironically, Zuma’s many political lives partly owe to the deep divisions within the party he leads for now. With a party conference to choose another leader to replace him scheduled for December, there are no shortages of those who are betting against Africa’s biggest political survivor and his future after he is replaced as party leader.

ANC MPs calculated that the political price was too much in removing Zuma with the help of the opposition. In choosing to keep him in office for now, ANC MPs in particular and the ANC in general decided that the fate of one of their own was firmly in their hands and not those of the political opponents. Had Zuma lost the vote of no confidence, ANC would have lost the narrative as well in which the opposition would have claimed to have unseated Zuma, a huge political victory.

For now though, he has a lot to celebrate as he felt vindicated with the outcome which he had denounced as an attempted coup through parliament for the opposition to try and take power even though they did not have the numbers.

And finally in Kenya where by as you are reading this piece, a winner has already been declared--it is Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee coalition.

This is something the opposition candidate Raila Odinga from the Nasa coalition disputed saying according to their figures they had the lead. The electoral body called for calm until it announces the official results.

Regardless of what happens in Kenya, for now though the stars are aligned in favour of incumbents in Africa. It is a good time to be one.

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