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

advertisement

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.

advertisement

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

advertisement

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

advertisement

Monday, October 23, 2017

Let's invest in nutrition for our own wellbeing

By TheCitizen

A warning by nutrition experts, the Partnership for Nutrition in Tanzania, that the country will continue to lose more than Sh800 billion each year due to malnutrition should be taken seriously.

The citing of malnutrition by experts as the number one killer in the world puts Tanzania in sharp focus as a country that needs to up its game if it wants to overcome the problem. It is worth noting that malnutrition is the biggest underlying cause of non-communicable diseases in the country.

More ironical is the fact that Tanzania is among countries saddled by malnutrition in spite of the fact that it is endowed with more land suitable for agriculture than many African countries. It also has one of the biggest populations of livestock on the continent, making it better placed to deal with this challenge.

Like its rural areas, the country’s urban communities are increasingly being affected by this problem, not because of lack of education on nutrition, but due to poor access to nutrient-rich food that is mostly produced in the countryside. The devastation caused by this problem has been laid bare by the scary numbers of maternal and under-five deaths.

The situation has also been exacerbated by a poor attitude towards some food items such as beans and vegetables that are viewed by many as a reserve of the poor.

The rapid increase in fast food chains, especially in malls, is not helping matters either. More than ever before junk food is becoming an integral part of our diet, adding to the problem of growing obesity among Tanzanians.

However, Tanzania can buck this trend by investing in infrastructure that links urban centres with food-rich rural areas and improving storage of such produce. We must expand the school feeding system to include more children and increase education on nutrition among Tanzanians too.

Also, investing in regulated peri-urban agriculture to ensure easy access to food in urban areas and heavily taxing harmful food items is a must in ensuring a healthy human resource. We have to wake up and act before our country is consigned to its sickbed.

THE SHAME OF PRISONS COLLEGES

Prisons are an important and integral part of the criminal justice system of any country as they play a crucial role in upholding the rule of law by helping to ensure that convicted criminals are reformed and become law-abiding members of society.

From pickpockets to hard-core criminals, prisons officers have to deal with a wide range of characters in their day-to-day management of inmates.

Unfortunately, the training for officers has been eroded and does not therefore meet the needs of the professional work required of them, which is to oversee over 34,000 inmates across the country.

Rehabilitation of prisoners is one of the Prisons Department’s most crucial missions, and it is important that the officers looking after them are trained properly.

However, the state of most prisons colleges in the country is deplorable, to say the least. A case in point is Kiwira Prisons College in Rungwe District, Mbeya Region.

It is time a long-term solution was found with a view to ensuring that the learning environment of this specialised training college and other prisons institutions are improved for the wider benefit of the nation.

advertisement

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mwalimu and the new generation

 

By Erick Mwakibete

Last weekend Tanzanians remembered the passing of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in a London hospital 18 years ago. That is to say, today, there is an entire generation of Tanzanians, who have lived all their lives in a world, where Mwalimu did not get to see and they did not see his world or his time.

At the time of Mwalimu’s passing, most of us heard of the sad news through the radio. Televisions were still very new. That was his world. For the past 18 years, there has been a proliferation of mass media even radios have gone the digital way.

This new generation does not depend or get its news through the radio. All of the famous social media platforms used by this new generation to communicate and get news were not in existence at the time of his passing.

For the past 18 years they have witnessed a country that is increasingly politically polarised. Mwalimu has become a political card used by all sides to get some political mileage. Those in the ruling party have long tried to monopolise his legacy. Evoking his memory to remind Tanzanians that he believed that CCM was the only political party that could give the country the kind of leadership that needed for moving forward.

His political heirs are careful not to pick the pieces, where he pointed fingers at how they had let the country down and lost their way. Those in the opposition have tried to pick holes in that legacy and use it positively, bits and pieces, where it is politically convenient as was the case during the 2015 General Election.

For the past 18 years, they have witnessed national celebrations becoming increasingly boring, one-sided affairs as opposition leaders have continued staying away after each general election. They might have forgotten the time they saw political leaders from opposition parties together at national celebrations. They have grown up in the time, where uniting national symbols, like Uhuru Torch, have become a source of division.

They have seen how political leaders bicker endlessly, engage in shouting matches be it in the National Assembly in Dodoma or on political podiums or media platforms at their disposal. When this happens, their politicians, who bicker all the time bring up the name of Mwalimu to justify their viewpoints.

For the past 18 years they must have wondered as to how they ended up with a country that is immensely rich, but her people are very poor. They have heard Mwalimu protected their natural resources so that to bequeath a better tomorrow for them. Alas!

They live in a country that has allowed most of them to be disillusioned to the point all they can dream about is how to get away from the land they do not see a rosy future for them.

When President Magufuli recently announced a reshuffle of his cabinet, they heard of two ministries, which have come to be synonymous with the decadence and systemic corruption that has corroded this country getting new ministers and one being split into two. In other words, as Mwalimu said, those, who were given food by the villagers so as to go get more food for the rest of the villagers ended up betraying them, leaving them up to their fate.

For the past 18 years they have grown up in a country, where patriotism is nothing more than political brouhaha! They have been told that they are the most unpatriotic generation that ever was. As if those preaching to them about patriotism, while crash-landing the country have led exemplary lives.

For the past 18 years they have grown up to take for granted some things like people from other parts of the country, different religious beliefs becoming their neighbours, marry into their families, go to school with them.

Owning land in their areas on a continent, where the conflicts between the nation and the state are far from coming to an end. It is an era of a lot of information, misinformation and fake news, the epidemic of our times.

They lead fast-paced lives, have little time for details and it is a material world. As President Magufuli spoke of Mwalimu in Zanzibar asking us to reflect on the life of one of Africa’s towering figures of the 20th century, one wonders: what do these “new” adults think of Mwalimu?

advertisement

Sunday, October 22, 2017

CANDID TALK : At life after Rwegoshora will be book-gnawing rat

 

By Peter Muthamia

At the Uswaz Church of Unification of the Last Days (UCULD) led by bible-thumbing, fire-spitting pastor Sadaka Saanane tells me that God will take a dive from his abode above the skies with zillions of trumpet-blowing angles to take the believers “home”.

OK, the idea of going to meet St Peters at the Pearly of heaven and singing hallelujah forever may appeal to the rest of the congregation but not to me. As far as I can see, the fairy tale is boring and far-fetched because the mere thought of leaving behind my-one-and-only Bisho Ntongo, Mzee Shirima’s Bar and other bosom buddies like Hussein the Uswaz wag, Tatu my favourite barmaid and Winchinslauss Rwegoshora (PhD, BA, MA) and others is not my cup of tea.

I am suspicious of the doctrine that the likes of Hussein the wag and I will be transformed into “mbuzi choma” where the malevolent devil will be in charge in the gallows of hell (no pun intended).

Before you consider pelting me with stones till a qualified doctor from Muhimbili confirms me dead for blasphemy, I will explain my religious inclinations. Before you are tempted, consider to keenly look in details animals around – the fish, cows, dogs and others. Tell me if there is no semblance between them and a relative living or dead. That is why in my lifetime, I believe in reincarnation where one is born as an animal after death. I have been praying to the good God that when I finally die, I would be born a free-roaming lion in the plains of Serengeti National Park. I would maul my boss as soon as he steps in the national park.

I am of the opinion that my learned pal Dr Winchinslauss Rwegoshora (PhD, MA, BA), the man said to have “eaten” all books at the University at Mlimani will reincarnate to become a rat. You see, rats have this uncanny ability to eat anything that looks like a book. I say this from experience. Rats eat the most treasured things. Take for example, they will leave other worthless documents and go for your college and high school certificates, tittle deeds, medical records, professional journals and treasured and rare novels that have cost you an arm and a leg. Now, the reason why by drinking buddy will reincarnate into a rat is that he loves books. I wish he is born a rat and grow up in a library!

advertisement

Sunday, October 22, 2017

OBLIQUE ANGLE : On daladala issues, morality

 Deo   Simba is a senior sub-editor with The

 Deo   Simba is a senior sub-editor with The Citizen      

By Deo Simba

Life aboard a daladala can be very interesting at times. Frequent outbursts between passengers and a bus conductor are not uncommon. Sometimes this happens even for no apparent reason. There is this aspect, which you just can’t help avoiding—eavesdropping on phone calls by fellow passengers.

With economic crunch biting, some of us are increasingly using public transport. On a positive note, there are hidden benefits—cost saving and for those, who love reading, then there is plenty of time for that. This is, of course, when you secure a seat and there is enough lighting.

One of the typical conversations goes:

Passenger: Hey, bus conductor! Why do you disturb me? You keep barking orders, ‘move, move, move’, why?

Bus conduct: Can’t you see that open space over there? This is our office, this is our work, you must respect us!

Passenger: No way. You’re disturbing us. Can’t you see some of us are making some serious thinking? We’ve too many things to think about. Now, when you come around making noise and shoving us around, you interfere with our thoughts.

BC: Did I ask you to board this bus? I make orders here. So, cover that space over there, and turn towards that side.

Passenger: Remember, we’re not like any other load. We are human beings!

It can go on and on.

Meanwhile, a passenger is on the phone. He speaks so loudly that someone seated a number of rows from where he is can hear everything!

Passenger: You know what, I had to call that ‘dame’.

His contact: What did you tell her?

Passenger: That she should mind her own business and stop following me! I told her that she is married and I’m also married. As a married man, I know the pain of having your wife having an affair with another man.

His contact: Really? What did she say?

Passenger: What could she say? And, I ordered her to delete my number from her phone. I told her point blank that I didn’t want to have anything to do with her, much less having an affair with her!

His contact: Man, you must be brave!

Passenger: Just wait, I’ll look for you tomorrow and tell you everything!

Sure enough. As a passenger, I just couldn’t stop wondering why this passenger decided to have this sort of conversation in public. After all, he was planning to meet his contact the next day, why couldn’t he wait?

What goes on in our public transport system very much reflects what happening in our society. There are people, who are good at just barking orders. There is no human face to how they relate to others. Questions on moral issues are also abound. Tundu Lissu, praying for you brother!

advertisement

Sunday, October 22, 2017

What can I do to help you?

A Kenyan national,Ms  Withira Wainana,81,is

A Kenyan national,Ms  Withira Wainana,81,is helped after exercising her right to vote during the 2017 General Election in Kiambu County in Thika , Kenya,in August this year.PHOTO|AFP 

By Terry Ramadhani

Martin Luther King Jr once said life’s most urgent and persistent question is “What are you doing for others?” Though this question was posed many decades ago, it is still valid and persistent today.

We go through most of our careers focused on what we can do to better circumstances around ourselves, but the question we should be asking more of is “what can I do for you?”

How many times have we encountered circumstances,where our leaders or colleagues have asked this question? For most of us perhaps the answer is never. The question that we seem to ask most often is ‘what can you do for me?’ Yet, our productivity would benefit and spike if we had more of those around us seeking to help and contribute to making progress easier and faster.

One of the values that I find most attractive in my current service is the network’s commitment to seeking ways in which solutions to problems that are globally troubling us can be found. In essence, the perennial drive revolves around the question how can the network help make lives of people around the world better? This commitment to focusing on “what can I do for you?” has a magnetic like power that draws positive contributions to the various causes. I cannot fail to add my belief that this focus is drawn directly from His Highness The Aga Khan’s enduring commitment to common good and enriching the lives of people around the globe. It is truly admirable and very motivating for those of us, who serve in various institutions that fall in the ambit of His Highness.

Now one may argue that in your circumstances you are too small and too little to make a difference, but I am emboldened and encouraged by Prof Wangari Mathai’s story of the hummingbird and it’s endeavour to repeatedly carry drops of water from a stream to the forest in its little beak to put out the forest fire. The story of the hummingbird is, but a story however it makes a powerful point that, if the hummingbird with it’s little capacity did better than the king of the jungle in the particular story, what stops you from following the same footsteps?

Retired President Barack Obama in a recent forum organised by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation addressing the ‘Goalkeepers’ make a crucial point, when he said we often underrated the value of better. He reminded us that better was good any day because better meant progress.

Theodore Roosevelt said in any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

If we must endeavour to always do our bit however small, the question becomes how comes we find that we still suffer from paralysis of doing nothing? Is it because we are so afraid of doing the wrong thing? Or is it because we are so focused on “me” to have time to think about “other”?

There are multiple reasons that may bring this paralysis, but the undeniable fact is that we are all better, when we focus more on what we can do to help because in so doing we collectively progress and become better!

In so doing, we embody values that necessitate a focus on ‘all’ as opposed to ‘one’ and in the long run sustainable gains.

How can we then break the paralysis and contribute more so, when we feel like we are just a little me, with a little beak, how can we possibly extinguish the forest fire?

Well, I humbly submit a few ideas:

Crucial is a paradigm shift to the belief like Obama that better is good. Little gains accumulate and consolidate to become huge steps. Great initiatives like crowd funding are informed by this principle that numerous small contributions amount to big changes.

Be ready to roll up your sleeves. The progress we desire in and for each other comes from each one of us being willing to step up, get our hands dirty and do our bit. It is true that opportunity always comes dressed in overalls.

A persistent and committed focus on the common good requires evaluating our actions and contributions against the test of what is best for society and the community around us.

Finally, we can practise asking the question ‘what can I do to help you?’ in a genuine manner, where we truly look to contribute and focus on ‘other’.

The author is a senior manager in the Human Resources Department, East Africa Aga Khan University.

advertisement

Sunday, October 22, 2017

STRAIGHT TALK : Outcomes from govt, Barrick negotiations



Ally Saleh

Ally Saleh 

By Ally Saleh

This was certainly Barrick and Acacia week in Tanzania.

The media, especially social media, reported that the government of Tanzania had negotiations with a Canadian company, Barrick, on the fate of cooper concentrate impounded at Dar es Salaam Port.

Government action led to stiff resistance both from Barrick, but also the operating company, Acacia. They defended themselves that the cooper concentrate was being exported legally to Japan, where a final smelting stage was going to be conducted. They said it was within the agreement with the government, but it was not the understanding of President John Magufuli’s government, which said it was not acceptable and it was economic sabotage. While negotiations were just beginning the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) announced a huge backlog of taxes due to be paid by Acacia only to be understood that the latter was not registered by Brella to operate in the country.

The government quickly formed a probe commission and came out with findings that led to full negotiations with Barrick and the two parties locked horns for 80 days until President Magufuli came out to declare victory and from this declaration, a lot has been said.

From the target of $490 trillion Tanzania was gunning to have been duped, the government has accepted $190 million in what was said to be of good will. There was also a list of other things said, like Tanzania has pushed her ownership in the business to 16 per cent, and that it would accrue 50 per cent in dividend.

That was a bombshell that some believe was too soon to be revealed, but also not better presented because the information was very scant to Tanzanians, who blessed the government for passing two pieces of legislation protecting the ownership of national resources.

The issue on how Tanzania would accept only 0.0005 per cent of the total claim was made trivial and did not receive proper explanation and people were only made to believe that the settle off amount of $190 million was good for the country and soon politics was into the very heart of the matter. Before even the dust had settled, Acacia, which is an independent firm listed on the London Stock Exchange, announced that it had not money to pay the agreed amount between Barrick and the Tanzania government.

Experts in this field are saying, the government should have known about that because in 1996 Acacia agreed the same thing on tax payment, but backed out. Similar things were also promised in Bolivia, Ecuador and other places.

So, while many of us were sceptical, but gave the government the benefit of doubt, we are again question the modus operandi. Do we have requisite expertise to deal with these multinationals, which are giants in their field of operation? Was this the best deal that the country would get, when initial presentation does not tend to look so? Was the handling of the information correctly done? Was there a need to release the information right now? Have we learn anything? Was there and has there been the need for our President to speak on the matter, or many others, which could only be handled by his ministers lest he is tainted and contradicted?

The author is a lawyer, journalist, author, political commentator, media consultant and poet. He is also legislator for Malindi in Zanzibar.

advertisement

Sunday, October 22, 2017

CROSS ROADS : Planting more trees for betterment of Tanzania

 

By Saumu Jumanne saumu.j@gmail.com

One of the most notable African women is the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, then Prof Wangari Maathai. She got the coveted prize, thanks to organising women at the grassroots to plant trees so as to counter deforestation.

Her campaign in Kenya, which later spread to other countries, encouraged women to think ecologically and plant trees in their neighbourhoods. According to the Nobel Committee, Prof Maathai’s tree-planting mission had a broad perspective that went a long way to increase democratic space, women’s rights, and international solidarity. I have thought of this noble daughter of Africa, after I came across a study that had been in great public limelight across the world in the last few days.

The study report in the peer-reviewed proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (America), notes that improved “land use could reduce carbon dioxide 37 per cent.” This would be adequate to keen global warming “below two degrees Celsius by 2030, as called for by the 2015 Paris Agreement.”

What would this entail? “Planting more trees, farming more sustainably and conserving wetlands” in the long-run would “significantly slash the amount of carbon emissions that humanity spews into the atmosphere through fossil fuel use.”

The beauty of the thought is that we opt for natural climate solutions. Of course, for ages we have known that we have to check for solutions that will reduce deforestation. We have known planting trees are a solution. But the study, coming in the wake of the head of state of the most powerful nation on earth, being a climate change denier, makes a lot of sense.

In the local setting Prof Wangari proved that women by planting trees, it went a long way, to make farming sustainable, assured them of food security, increased their incomes and helped to assert their rights.

Since independence, in Tanzania there have been many tree planting campaigns, but because of increased population, deforestation has been a way of life. We have seen even some protected areas being occupied, trees being felled and farming practiced illegally.

As much as today, as a nation we enjoy, massive forest coverage compared to many other nations, we should be vigilant. Villages, which had streams and small rivers, their sources of water have now dried up as a result of deforestation.

It is important to support the government, the private sector and civil society in planting trees. In March, this year, a campaign was initiated by a civil society in Dar es Salaam City to mobilise the youth to plant 50 million trees by 2020.

It is a paradox that we cut trees to cultivate or put up buildings and end up not having adequate rainfall and missing the food we were chasing! So, deforestation may seem as a way to development, but it’s not always the case. Sometime it leads to food insecurity and more poverty.

According to FAO, “Rural development is an essential pathway to reduce the number of hungry and those, who are forced to migrate.” Could planting more trees bring about rural development? In a way, it is possible! Recently, we celebrated Nyerere Day.

One of the less known aspects of Mwalimu Nyerere was that he spent most of his holidays at Butiama and he would work on his farm. Sometimes taking care of cattle or even planting trees.

Many educated Africans don’t like to touch the soil (to farm), but for him even after presidency, it was a way of life. No wonder he cared a lot about farmers. Back to our subject, we can emulate Mwalimu Nyerere to plant trees and benefit from them.

The author is an assistant lecturer, Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE)

advertisement

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Why social media is important

 

By Mogens Pedersen

Over the past decade, democracies across the world, have seen the rapid development of social media.

Online newspapers, blogs, tweets and the like have created a new type of journalism and given citizens the opportunity to participate in - and learn from - an open debate at local, national and global level.

There can be no doubt that access to information is an essential element to engage citizens in matters of national development.

It is in this regard worth noting that Uganda, in 2005, was among the first African countries to enact a right to information law, the Access to Information Act, to promote the right to access to information, and hence promote an efficient, effective, transparent and accountable government.

However, despite the enabling law and the clear benefits, we must admit that access to information on several occasions has been hampered in Uganda. In the recent past, we have seen examples of citizens being denied access to timely information on key issues of national importance, for instance, when social media was shut down during and after the general elections of 2016.

We also note with regret that on September 26, the live TV broadcasts of the proceedings in Parliament were disrupted – thus denying citizens access to real time updates of events as they unfolded.

We also note with concern the directive issued by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) on September 26 warning media houses against broadcasting live feeds, which are in the view of UCC, inciting the public and likely to create public insecurity and violence. We, therefore, call upon the responsible state agencies to respect the people’s right to access information in a timely manner as a basis for informed engagement and dialogue on matters of national interest.

On a different note, I fully recognise that social media can be misused, and across the world, we see that social media is used for purposes of propaganda, populism and hate-speech. But I also strongly believe that social media across the world is an important instrument to strengthen confidence between citizens and elected representatives.

It is an open forum to share viewpoints in a non-violent manner, and therefore, a key instrument to enhancing transparent debates on issues of national importance. As citizens and as governments, our role must be to counter the misinformation campaigns on social media by encouraging positive open debates that give voice to the people.

The point I am making is that democracy grows and becomes resilient only once it is truly owned by the citizens. Citizens must participate, they have to raise their voice and they should be encouraged by the environment to do so. In this regard, the inclusion of the voices of the youth is crucial. Not only are they ahead of many of us when it comes to the use of social media. They are also the future of our countries, and a meaningful dialogue between the young people, as well as CSOs, citizen’s movements, academics and, of course, media are powerful drivers for change and a great resource for a democratic country. It is fundamental for a vibrant, dynamic, peaceful and stable society. Today we are focusing the debate on the media and free speech as we celebrate the International Day on Universal Access to Information.

The EU stands committed to defending the values of free expression and free media both online and offline and it stands ready to provide support, including in capacity building and protection of journalists under threat, both in Europe and across the world.

In this regard, the annual EU Human Rights Defenders Award in 2016 was given to a colleague from the Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ) in Uganda. This was in recognition for HRNJ’s determination to bring to the limelight violations against media freedom and to document cases of media practitioners being assaulted by both politicians and security forces.

We are sure that today’s discussions will be enriching mainly thanks to the variety and quality of the speakers, including academics, journalists, Members of Parliament, media organisations and democracy practitioners.

We look forward to the panellists bringing their different experiences and multidimensional insights into issues that require a multidimensional approach. We look forward to the contributions from the high level audience present today.

Thanks to Makerere University for hosting the event.

Mr Pedersen is the Ambassador of Denmark to Uganda. He made the remarks during celebrations to mark the International Day for Universal Access to Information on September 28, 2017 at Makerere University.

advertisement

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Boost healthcare to reduce child deaths

By The Citizen

Reportedly, the world has made considerable progress in reducing child deaths in the last generation or so. But, it’s still seemingly ages away from ending otherwise preventable child deaths.

Indeed, the second target of the UN-backed Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Number-3 is to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under-5 years of age by Year-2030.

That is a mere bakers’ dozen years away – during which period ‘all countries also aim to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 deaths per 1,000 live births – and under-5 mortality to as low as 25 per 1,000 live births! All that can largely be achieved – we are helpfully told –by improving ready access ‘toskilled health professionals during pregnancy and at the time of birth, as well as life-saving interventions at all times.’

Now, that’s a tall order by many standards.

Indeed, statistics revealed in the latest United Nations report titled ‘Levels and Trends in Child Mortality-2017’ show that ‘only’ 5.6 million children died worldwide in the year 2016 before they attained five years of age – down from the 9.9 million who died in year-2000!

And, globally, the neonatal mortality rate fell by 49 per cent, dropping from 37 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 19 in 2016…

Putting that in context at the local level, the infant mortality rate in Tanzania over the last 25 years dropped from 92 deaths per thousand live births in 1991-92, to 43 deaths/1,000 live births in 2015/16. This is according to the country’s National Demographic Survey and Malaria Indicator Survey (TNDS&MIS) for the year 2015/16.

50 million under-fives saved from 2000

In that regard, the UN revealed that ‘the lives of some 50 million children under-five had been saved globally beginning from 2000. But, arguably, more kids could be saved from ‘premature’ death – thereby,hopefully,attaining what’s a clearly ambitious goal of a zero death rate for under-fives who’d otherwise have succumbed to preventable/avoidable causes.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most neonatal deaths occur in sub-Saharan countries (38 per cent) and Southern Asian countries (39 per cent). This is largely because of the abject poverty proliferating in those parts of the world – inevitably resulting in poor nutrition and lack of adequate, readily-accessible and affordable quality healthcare facilities and services.

So, one way of going about surmounting the monster that’s premature neonatal mortality is to eradicate poverty all round. But then again, this is no easy, down-hill task either – and the SDG-3 targets may not be hit by the set date 13 years hence.

However, this should be no cause for alarm. What needs to be done is to strengthen the existing multilateral and bilateral partnerships and cooperation in improving and widening maternal and child healthcare across the board – especially focusing on maladies like pneumonia, diarrhoea, malnutrition, water and sanitation.

In this regard, it’s heartening that Tanzania is already working in close cooperation with the likes of USAID, PEPFAR; UK’s DfID, Unicef’s Global Campaign on Children and Aids; Save the Children-in-Tanzania; Family Care International; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,EngenderHealth, etc… We need more of this; it’s good medicine!

advertisement

Friday, October 20, 2017

A CHAT FRM LONDON: Today’s youth and the long bygone era of sanity



Freddy Macha

Freddy Macha 

By Fredy Macha

Familiar with the typical, generational statement. “The good old days...”

Or, “Things are not the way they used to be...”?

During my youth walking with a small bag on the shoulder would be rebuked by older guys as being “girlie”...

Only women carried handbags.

In 2017 it is normal for men to carry hand bags or small rucksacks.

Throughout history it seems the past is always better than the present. Life is a puzzle!

I really admire African countries that have abolished the youth fashion of hanging trousers or half revealing underwear for males. “Kata kundu” is the Swahili description.

In Uzunguni world, origins of this “new fashion” are said to be heroic. Prisoners in American jails left their trousers loose to facilitate homosexual behaviour and also discourage suicide via waist belts. I get confused when I see so-called macho behaviour equated with showing buttocks.

A contradiction.

But, again, in 50 years, these values might become mainstream and being “girlie” (i.e. showing your backside and underwear in public) might rule the male world. God help us...

That has also blossomed with the tide of women in the West coming out strongly against males who touch them (“groping”) unwillingly and legal suits against sexual harassment are dramatic.

Recent, ongoing case of Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein is an excellent example. By last weekend, over 30 women had alleged Mr Weinstein raped or sexually molested them.

When I was growing up touching women in public was normal. In Africa and Latin America it still happens, albeit not as widespread as 30-40 years ago. Such expression of public sexuality is totally forbidden in the West.

Almost cultural and due to the hot weather, I suppose. We dance and gyrate hips from childhood. In the West dance is considered “effeminate” and most boys are embarrassed to openly dance. This suppressive behaviour creates strange dynamics like people boozing on purpose (binge drinking) to feel freer.

Lately whistling at passing an attractive woman (mostly by the working class, manual labourers) has been listed as sexual harassment. No wonder such repressive tendencies produce the weirdest behaviour like rape, extreme violence, etc. Watching this as an African hailing from a hot, sensual culture I wonder where the gender wagon is heading? At the beginning of the 20th century the British novelist D H Lawrence profiled social frigidity. Fed up he moved overseas with a foreign woman.

There must be a balance between all these things, of course. Otherwise we shall end with no healthy sexual values...

I should end with the third topic. The rise and rise of robotic behaviour.

You would be walking down the road, see a young guy you know. You wave and shout, but he does not hear you. Your lips are moving, which makes him remove the earplugs.

“Sorry?”

Into his music, his silent world.

Everywhere.

Including gyms where speakers are blasting loud music. But still some punters still have headphones on. Or joggers. Listening to their own thing. The tendency to “switch off from surroundings” is one of the biggest rubbish of this generation.

“When you jog, don’t you want to enjoy the natural sounds of life?”

Jogger shakes her head.

“Why not?”

Shrugs.

Words are paralysed. You have to struggle to a gain a credible response.

Finally: “The world is so full of violence and negative energy ... just want to listen to my music...”

She lets you hear it. Oh, J Cole. The hip-hop artist performed in London on Monday. One of the most coherent, articulate hip-hop artists today. So highly regarded that J Cole’s lyrics are considered motivational. Take a bite from Dollar and Dream.

“Cause this life gets hard on the road, yeah its true

I don’t never tell you how much I be stressing, but I do

But I suck it up to who?

My fans and my Mans who probably never had this type of life style in their plans?”

Or, of childhood:

“I grew up in the city and although sometimes we had less

Compared t some of my niggers down the block

Man, we were blessed...”

So!

Such lyrics provide an alternative sound to trees, wind, birds and police sirens?

You can understand. But it is the “switching off” that is disturbing.

Makes the younger colder and less skilled in social interaction and communication.

Why?

Throughout history young males fight. Physically.

When I was growing up fistfights ended up with bruised lips and scratched limbs.

These days the young kill each other. In London it can be a simple reason as just an unwanted bad look. Sad.

We should not dwell too much on the past and the good old days, yes.

But frankly...

advertisement

Friday, October 20, 2017

Editorial: Find alternative ways to finance higher education

Student loans are a form of financial aid to help new and continuing students pay tuition fees and other contingencies. Such schemes are a worldwide feature – from economic powerhouses like the US and China to least developed/developing nation-states like Tanzania. However, the concept is rife with challenges, including acute shortages of funds, compounded by loan repayment woes.

For instance, Sh239.3 billion had not been paid back from 142,470 student beneficiaries in Tanzania as of November 2016, where education-lending is administered by the Higher Education Students Loans Board (HESLB), statutorily established to provide interest-free loans to needy and eligible Tanzanian students in institutions of higher learning.

About 70 per cent of applicants for higher education HESLB loans in the 2016/17 academic year (AY) were unsuccessful, largely for lack of funds in the kitty. Also, it’s lamentable that, for example, the number of Dodoma University beneficiaries dropped from 23,786 in 2015/16 to 16,758 in 2016/17; and that a whole 1,105 students at the University of Dar es Salaam (1,082 of them freshers) postponed studies in 2016/17 for lack of funding.

This leaves no doubt that Tanzania badly needs to find more efficacious ways of funding higher education. That’s especially considering that the government is mulling investing more in diploma students to create a middle class workforce for the industrialisation drive. How can the government boost the HESLB scheme?

Resorting to fiscal measures – including taxes – to raise more revenue mightn’t be the best way under the prevailing socio-economic hardships.

This is why we urge the government to reach out to the private sector. It is high time that serious dialogue with key players in microfinance and banking were held on the possibility of an alternative, equally cheap education financing scheme was held.

The government should consider providing incentives to private sector players who are willing to go the extra mile to support education financing.

advertisement

Thursday, October 19, 2017

THINKING ALOUD: Tanzania acclaimed at UN General Assembly



Professor Zulfiqarali Premji

Professor Zulfiqarali Premji 

By Prof Zulfiqarali Premji

The theme at the 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly (Unga-72) in mid-September was ‘Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable Planet.’ It is very relevant to Africa today, where abject poverty is increasing – and there is massive desertification due to forest depletion.

Indeed, there seemingly is no hope for a decent future for a majority of Africa’s youth.

Much of this is the result of power-hungry, corrupt leaders. For example, Angola President Jose Eduardo dos Santos only relinquished the highest office in the land after 38 years – and after making sure that he and his family maintain control of power by creating a special constitutional title, namely ‘President of the Republic Emeritus Honorary!’

If nothing else, this confers on him and his close family members immunity from prosecution. It’s estimated that the immediate-past president is worth more than $20 billion. This clearly illustrates the leadership crisis – and the cause of poverty – in Africa. Enigmatically, Africa is not poor; but most – if not all – of its leaders are filthy rich, having made the continent poor.

Addressing the Assembly, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda spoke eloquently about UN leadership, and the need for UN transformation. Surprisingly, though, he didn’t mention anything about the poverty in his country . President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda asked questions that had no answers. His were on who would lose if all the people lived a decent life, with 2,500 calories intake per day, immunization, etc. For him, parasitism is the only obstacle to global affluence!

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe mumbled something about lots of issues, mainly reflecting displacement psychology problems in his country, claiming that they are mainly due to the West. He singled out US President Donald Trump for criticism.

This, to me, was pure rhetoric; parody of some sort that did not address the real causes of poverty and other issues in the countries they have been leading for years. It would have been nice to know why all these presidents were clinging to power – as if there was no one to replace them! One delegate from the Ethiopian team, Baye Tadesse Teferi, took the Unga-72 opportunity to secure refugee status in the United States.

Oh! Tanzanians really miss you, ‘Mwalimu’ (Tanzania President Julius Nyerere: 1962-85). When you left us 18 years ago (October 14, 1999), all hope was also lost. After your departure, subsequent governments seemed interested only in a ‘status quo policy.’ They watched as their few trusted cronies got richer by the day, failing to protect our natural resources. The poor majority suffered the most. The gap between the rich and poor grew exponentially.

Now, Mwalimu: things are different – and even the UN is praising Tanzania! Our delegation at Unga-72 numbered only three officials – and they all stayed in a modest hotel.

Other African countries had entourages of 20 or more delegates, who luxuriated in 5-star hotels in posh New York. Did they really come to discuss poverty alleviation or poverty elevation? No one now refers to the ‘Arusha Declaration and TANU Policy on Socialism and Self-Reliance’ as promulgated by the Mwalimu Administration on February 5, 1967! This is most unfortunate.

We are told that Tanzania has sustained a relatively high rate of economic growth over the last decade, averaging 6–7 per cent a year. But, while the nation’s poverty rate has declined from 60 per cent in 2007 to 47 per cent in 2016, the number of poor in absolute terms has not really declined. This is, of course, partly because of its high population growth rate. About 12 million Tanzanians still live in extreme poverty on earnings of less than $0.60 a day; that is below the internationally-acknowledged poverty line. Many of those living barely above the poverty line heavily risk sliding back into poverty in the event of some socio-economic shock or other. Now, Mwalimu: we have President John Magufuli. Dr Magufuli has made significant changes that might perhaps result in some of your dreams finally being realized!

First and foremost, Dodoma now looks like a capital city – and, the person who is behind this, President Magufuli, is slated to move there soon.

His government now pays for primary and secondary education for Tanzanian children – which has drastically increased primary school enrolment. Medicines are now available in public hospitals – and civil servants are more accountable. Also, farmers are relatively better off than they were in the last few decades. All because JPM has reoriented public expenditure toward development spending, cutting recurrent expenditure significantly, and intensifying efforts to mobilise domestic revenues. Measures have been introduced to control tax exemptions.

Importantly, big-time, grand corruption is steadily decreasing, and there is stigmatisation hence there: ‘corruptophobia!’

The ongoing strategy of investing in more infrastructure, improving the business environment, increasing agricultural productivity, beefing-up the tourism industry, efficient services delivery through building up a healthy and skilled workforce, managing urbanization – and many more such initiatives – is bound to result in a better life for more ordinary Tanzanians.

With all these good things happening today, there is a budding tendency to be less tolerant to views from the political opposition. Indeed, there have been somewhat unpleasant responses against those who are claimed to belittle the government. Such unpleasantries should stop – and all Tanzanians must strive to build a much tolerant society, learning to accept and live with a diversity of views.

Zulfiqarali Premji is a retired Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas) professor currently living in Canada. Prof Premji recently visited Dar es Salaam

advertisement

Thursday, October 19, 2017

WHAT OTHERS SAY: A tense Kenya should remember one woman – Wangari Maathai

 

By Charles Onyango-Obbo

A few days ago a conservation with a Kenyan activist took me to a very strange.

With Kenya in the throes of a seemingly endless election cycle, one question was what would be the legacy of President Uhuru Kenyatta (or of his first term if he won a second term).

To explain the strange ways in legacy works, we ended up talking about the Prof Wangari Maathai, partly because the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), had just been announced as the winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

Wangari Maathai, who died in September 2011, won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

Given her larger than life in the environmental and Kenyan democracy movements, there were some who thought than in appointing her as assistant minister for Environment and Natural Resources, president Mwai Kibaki had given Wangari Maathai a “ka small thing”. She deserved to be full minister.

On her part, she carried on with the job with energy and good spirit. Why did she? That is where the story got very interesting.

When Wangari Maathai became minister, she chose a seemingly strange and obscure battle – to change the font size and the spacing of official government documents. Most people wouldn’t think that is how to gain fame.

When the Kibaki government took office, the long-standing tradition had been to write official communication in either size 14 or 16 font (letter type) size, and the gap between the lines were one-and-a-half or two spaces.

A lot of money and bureaucratic fortunes hang on these seemingly mundane things. There is, for example, the old-fashioned and erroneous view that the bigger a report, the more serious and comprehensive it is.

Thus a 50-page report which is printed in size 10 font, and single space, could become a meaty 125-page product printed at 15 size font and double spaced. If your ream of printing paper has 250 sheets, it will give you only two copies of the report printed on one face.

For the small stationery shop that has the contract to supply printing paper to the ministry, the big fonts and double spaces are big business. If just 10 copies of the report were printed, it would sell 5 reams of paper.

But there was another even harder shilling face to it. If the government set up a committee to investigate cattle rustling in Turkana, and it produced a 25-page report because it was in point 10 size font, it would be deemed not to have done its work.

It might be that the committee spent KSh50 million. Burning all that for a 25 pager, would bring howls of protest, and the waste and corruption would become a big story in the media.

However, just increasing the margins, going to font 16 and slapping a huge space between the lines would bring the same report close to 100 pages. Now that would be considered “substantial”. If the committee ate KSh40 million and only used KSh10 million it would get roasted over the small report. But by just increasing the size and space of the letters, it would get praise instead.

Letter size, was therefore a big deal.

Wangari Maathai, being an environmentalist, wanted to save on the amount of paper the government uses, because it would translate into fewer trees somewhere being cut down to make them.

Therefore she chose to reduce the official letter font and spaces in government documents, and also pushed a policy to print on both sides of a paper.

My activist friend tells me many of her colleagues were bemused, and others dismissive. They thought it was another of Wangari Maathai’s quixotic green pursuits. One man, Kibaki, was sufficiently intrigued by the eccentricity of it, and offered the political support that made it possible.

Today, Kenya government documents are printed in sensible 10 or 12 font size, with single spacing. Most people have forgotten, or don’t know that there was a time when the story was different.

“It was easily the most radical thing to happen in the Kenyan government in over a decade, and something that endures today”, he said. “The trees that didn’t die, the savings that were made were enormous. But no one thinks about it and it will never make it into the history books.

“That,” he said, “is legacy”.

The author is publisher of Africa data visualiser Africapedia.com and explainer site Roguechiefs.com. Twitter@cobbo3

advertisement

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Editorial: EPZA promising figures should deliver results

 

On Wednesday, Export Processing Zones Authority’s (EPZA) director general Col Joseph Simbakalia revealed some interesting statistics regarding new investments they have registered recently.

That the EPZA attracted 20 new investment projects worth $300 million (Sh670 billion) between June and September this year, should give Tanzania reason to celebrate. Often, the higher the number of new investment flows is proof of investors’ confidence in that particular economy. Besides, according to him, EPZA had a total of $1.469 billion capital investments by the end of 2016.

These figures look very promising but it is astonishing that they have not helped Tanzania to increase the value of its manufactured goods’ exports. Bank of Tanzania (BoT) figures show that the value of manufactured exports dropped to $811.4 million in the year ending May, 2017 from $1.5 billion in the year ending May 2016.

It must be recalled that the rationale behind EPZ, Special Economic Zones (SEZ) or Free Trade Zones (FTA) is to promote industrial and commercial exports.

It should be noted that firms that operate under the arrangements enjoy various incentives in terms of tax exemptions so that the forgone amount could be recouped through increased foreign exchange earnings, job creation, attraction of foreign direct investment into the host country, introduction of new production technologies and through the generation of backward linkages from the EPZ to the domestic economy among others. Economists show how EPZ systems have significantly benefitted countries like China, South Korea and Indonesia.

Unfortunately, this is not the case in Tanzania and this begs for questions like: Where do Tanzania’s exports – manufactured in EPZs – go? Where did the country get it wrong? Responses to these questions will help the country to start adding up Mr Simbakalia’s numbers.

advertisement

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

TALKING POINT : Lifting of Sudan sanctions is a step in the right direction

 

By Deus Kibamba

The last time I was in Sudan-Khartoum to speak on pan-Africanism and the need for a more stable, just and integrated African continent, I strongly registered my agony over United States and United Nations sanctions against the Sudan Republic.

I expressed the wish that the economic and diplomatic embargo be lifted to relieve Khartoum from the pains of an economy disconnected from the global financial markets. Less than one month after I urged removal of the sanctions, that has partly been done. And, as they say: half-a-loaf is better than no bread.

The sanctions, which were imposed on Sudan by the US in 1997, were abrogated on October 6, 2017, and, for one reason or another, I see much reporting from the West on this than the case should be.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced earlier this month that the US-imposed sanctions were being lifted immediately.

According to the State Department’s spokesperson, Heather Nauert, the decision to rescind the sanctions came after Sudan’s sustained progress and actions on some important global imperatives, two among them being cooperation in the fight against global terrorism, and positive developments in handling internal issues relating to democratic governance – especially in Darfur’s Al-Fashir and South Kordofan.

For over 20 years, the US classified Sudan as a sponsor of terrorism, alongside Iran and, more recently, Syria. I join the rest of mankind in celebrating the lifting of the sanctions – and hope for more such positive action to further free Sudan from the shackles of inhumanity.

Lifting the sanctions was long overdue. It was expected that implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Accord leading to the birth of South Sudan in 2011 would result in “releasing” Sudan from the sanctions. Although Sudan played its part – letting the South secede – the US didn’t, keeping the sanctions firmly in place.

No-doubt Sudan’s economy was severely stressed during two decades of sanctions. Very briefly, the sanctions package included assorted measures, including ones that prevented free inflows of foreign currencies into Khartoum.

Another was a trade embargo that was intended to ensure that Sudan could not export anything to the major US-aligned markets worldwide. This was a major blow, considering that many global markets are part and parcel of the (US) dollar economy.

Furthermore, Sudan’s assets in the US and elsewhere in much of the West were frozen – along with assorted financial restrictions imposed on the former oil giant.

So, the decision to abrogate the sanctions must come as a great relief in Khartoum.

Already, I’m aware that banks have started receiving forex from across the world. According Sudan’s central bank, it was only a matter of days following rescission of the sanctions before banks in Khartoum started receiving dollars, pounds and euros, among other foreign currencies. Before that, Sudan was forex-strapped, and could hardly access foreign currencies.

To access hard currency, Khartoum had to go about it the hard way to get it somehow, somewhere, somewhat – and on whatever terms.

Whenever I visited Khartoum, I sympathized with the administration. I have been to Sudan on various missions, including to observe national elections; to monitor national dialogue processes – and, more recently: to discuss peace and anti-terrorism in Africa. This latter was on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the chiefs and heads of the Intelligence and Security Services in Africa.

Removal of the sanctions affords Africa some lessons. First: sanctions are not a good thing at all. Africa must avoid/reject them at all cost.

Second: Sudan’s relief from sanctions means that it can now readily access global financial markets and tap existing potentials for foreign direct investments.

However, it may be worthy allaying fears that Sudan is yet to be expunged from the blacklists and bad books of the world. After all, the US still retains Sudan on its list of state sponsors of global terrorism.

The country is also under UN sanctions for alleged violations of human rights during the Darfur conflict.

Indeed, Sudan, Iran and Syria are still under an embargo on armaments – in which case they are not eligible for US aid. Sudan is not quite looking up to the US for official development aid (ODA) – which limits its potentials.

Today, the Sudanese require special arrangements to enter the United Kingdom – and must then register with the British police.

I suggest that such restrictions – as well as the outstanding arrest warrants from the Hague-based International Criminal Court against prominent Sudanese, including President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (pictured) – must be addressed and sorted out sooner than later.

Doing so would give Sudan the breathing space and freedom it needs to embark on a recovery path. The country cannot be freed by one actor – and kept captive by others on the same allegations.

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

advertisement

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WORLD VIEW : Cambodia changes gear into reverse



Jonathan Power  jonatpower@aol.com

Jonathan Power  jonatpower@aol.com 

By Jonathan Power jonatpower@aol.com

Cambodia is no longer going forward, it is slipping backwards, as it has many times before. Earlier this month the government asked the Supreme Court to dissolve the main opposition coalition. One opposition leader, Kem Sokha, was sent to prison last month and the other, Sam Rainsy, is in exile.

The English-language newspaper, The Cambodia Daily, has been closed and the relatively free radio stations leant on and a number closed. The decades-long prime minister, Hun Sen, talks about rebels in the capital, Phnom Penh, plotting to overthrow the government.

Good things still happen. The economic growth nearly touches seven per cent year after year. Land reform has worked. The health and education of the poor has markedly improved. In other countries this might be a prelude to political liberalisation. But not in Cambodia. Hun Sen, who before has won many elections, some reasonably honest, some rigged, now fears defeat at the polls next year.

To understand why Cambodia is so we must go back 47 years before the genocidal movement, the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot, took over. In 1970 a pro-American military junta led by Lon Nol deposed King Sihanouk, who had succeeded in keeping his country out of the Vietnam War.

Lon Nol threw his weight behind the US. Cambodia became a pawn in the Vietnam War. While he was in power he encouraged the US to bomb the Khmer Rouge movement which roamed in the interior, hitting targets using eight-engined B-52s, each capable of carrying 25 tons of bombs. Napalm was used unsparingly. In the end the Khmer Rouge overthrew Lon Nol in his bastion in Phnom Penh.

Fast forward to 1979. The Vietnam War ended in 1975 with the US defeated. The Khmer Rouge were in power in Cambodia. Besides continuously provoking Vietnam with military incursions, at home they had deported everyone from the cities and made them work 15 hours a day on the farms. Intellectuals and teachers were tortured and murdered. Two million people were killed.

The North Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1979, repulsing a major attack by the Khmer Rouge, and installed in power ex-Khmer Rouge dissidents. One of them was Hun Sen who became prime minister in 1985 and has keep that position almost ever since.

Because the Cambodian government was installed by the hated North Vietnamese the US persuaded its allies to vote for the Khmer Rouge to keep Cambodia’s seat at the UN. Although from the safety of the Thai border the Khmer Rouge went on slaughtering Cambodians the US did not change its mind until 1990.

To everyone’s surprise the Big Five at the UN decided to make Cambodia a protectorate. They mounted a reasonably fair election. Hun Sen did not win but he refused to step down. A compromise was found with King Sihanouk returning to power and Hun Sen becoming his number three. Before long, after a two-day civil war with the king’s son, he was number one again, and still is.

Despite its U-turn the US (and its allies) have never apologised for their long support of the Khmer Rouge. In Phnom Pen I was told by a senior US diplomat that they were under strict orders by the Obama Administration not even to discuss it.

People from different political perspectives draw different conclusions. I’ve concluded that the long period when the US and the Europeans (except Sweden) supported the Khmer Rouge embittered Hun Sen and most Cambodians. It helped build his popularity. It is that popularity he has drawn upon, together with his skill and ruthlessness in political manoeuvring.

He has made the economy an Asian star. Cambodia attracts a lot of foreign investment. It has decreased the number of people in poverty faster than any other Asian country, apart from China and Bangladesh. Cambodia is reasonably efficient despite high levels of corruption.

Those of us who believe in democracy must criticise his effort to fix next year’s election. But it is easy to understand his motivation.

advertisement

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WANTED: Orderliness in budget implementation

By TheCitizen

President John Magufuli has recently courted controversy by making major public expenditure announcements that are now being questioned by opposition MPs.

The lawmakers are unhappy and concerned that the executive appears to usurp the powers of the National Assembly to debate and approve all the major budgetary allocations for both recurrent and development expenditure.

The bone of contention here is that the President secured funds running into billions of shillings to purchase new aircraft for use by the national carrier, Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), and also last week revealed the government will spend Sh159 billion to pay new salaries to nearly 60,000 civil servants due for promotion or have already been promoted but are owed arrears by the government.

There has also been other instances that the Head of State ordered smaller amounts of money be directed to the projects he thought were vital for his agenda. According to Dr Magufuli’s critics, the President has been reallocating the funds from the consolidated kitty, which they aver requires Parliament approval, at least for significant expenditure running into billions of shillings.

They fear these re-allocations could impact on the overall budget performance and misdirect public expenditure to non-priority areas as envisaged during the budget planning process. But the Minister for Public Service Management and Good Governance, Mr George Mkuchika, has defended the President, arguing that it was the prerogative of the government to spend budget funds as deemed fit to meet its obligations.

The Budget Act 2015 apparently gives the President and Finance minister some leeway in appropriation of public funds. The problem, it would appear, is the recent finance bill amendment that shielded the Minister for Finance from tabling in Parliament quarterly budget execution reports that would enable MPs to stay abreast of how the executive was spending tax payers’ money. Both the government and the MPs may be right in their arguments, but it is clear that what is needed is a more budget transparency.

Enhance preparedness

This week Tanzania was praised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for playing a leading role in setting up national plans to curb global health emergencies such as Ebola.

Government and WHO officials teamed up in Dar es Salaam to discuss ways of controlling diseases that spread from animals to humans (Zoonotic diseases). The commendation, positive as it is towards our health service provision system, still serves as a reminder that health is a critical matter in any society.

To build a strong health system, Tanzania needs to recognise that wellbeing is crucial for development. No development is possible where people are constantly sick.

Prevention is better than cure, so an old saying goes. It means, preparedness for any eventuality is crucial to combating any outbreak.

Statistical evidence shows that as a country, we still have many challenges when it comes to preparedness.

For example, as of 20 April 2016, there were a total of 24,108 cholera (which is relatively easier to handle compared to Ebola) cases, including 378 deaths reported nationwide. Zanzibar had 3,057 cases, including 51 deaths. WHO commendations should be a reminder that Tanzania needs to commit more funds, research and focus in ensuring that it is always prepared to avert the consequences of any outbreak.

advertisement

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

EDITORIAL: Urgently tackle medical waste disposal PROBLEM

 

A special report we ran yesterday detailing how at least 4,000 villagers in Mkuranga District, Coast Region, are exposed to a potentially major health crisis due to a hospital waste incinerator built in their vicinity, and emitting toxic smoke, reveals a sense of desperation in the community. There is frustration in the sprawling Dundani Village that has had to contend with stinking smoke from hundreds of tonnes of burning hospital waste.

What is mind-boggling is the fact that the facility is still operating, burning toxic medical waste and posing a genuine health threat to the village and its environs despite the authorities admitting that it was built before an Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted. That the owner of the project bought the piece of land for the facility before the area was densely-populated is not the issue.

What is now at stake are the lives of the 4,000 villagers and hundreds of students at the nearby Dundani Secondary School, which was already in existence when the facility was built. More so, there are reports of hospital waste being dumped at unauthorised areas posing yet another environmental threat.

This cannot be allowed to continue. And this is why it is critical for local government authorities and political leaders in the area to urgently put their heads together and address this problem before it’s too late.

Beyond establishing how the facility ended up near homes, or how the village was allowed to spread near the facility, authorities need to find ways of averting the looming health hazard.

World Health Organisation guidelines on the location of such incinerators are written in black and white. For example, areas near these facilities should neither be populated nor used for agriculture purposes.

The reason is that toxic waste – solid or in form of ash or smoke – affects water supply and the food chain.     

advertisement

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

OPINION: Tanzanians know how to have their way



President John Magufuli 

President John Magufuli  

By Kasera Nick Oyoo

Will the chickens come home to roost soon – or will Tanzanians have their way as usual?

I have no idea on that, but were the late Prof Ali Mazrui around, he would probably write extensively on what is happening in Tanzania today.

Recent comments made by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote (pictured), come to mind here. A man not known to stoke the fires of controversy, Dangote was quoted saying – rightly or wrongly – that Tanzanian investment policies were scaring investors, extant and prospective.

Perhaps as expected, the media immediately described Dangote’s remarks as criticism of President John Magufuli’s government. And even before the dust had settled on the kerfuffle, it is seemingly becoming routine that any untoward comments on matters to do with investment are countered with the vehemence they deserve.

In this case, the Minister for Trade, Industry and Investment, Charles Mwijage, went live to claim that Dangote does not know fully well our investment laws – firing on all cylinders at persons who give the country’s investment climate a bad name.

Noting that we don’t have any investment problems, the minister conceded that Tanzania – like many other countries – does indeed have challenges which we are able, willing and ready to talk about. “Let Dangote come and see me personally,” Mwijage said, with a view to ironing out any difficulties he may have as an investor of considerable import in Tanzania.

All this reminds me of a piece I wrote months ago about “investment challenges” – and how the approach and tone we have taken in the past may have impacted the country’s investment climate. Prof Mazrui wrote extensively about Africa’s Triple Heritage. In my humble view, Tanzania is today caught in the web of a triple vortex betwixt the Presidency, official policy and legislation and civil service bureaucracy.

Apparently, the view from the government is that we have been losers for a long time in matters-investment. This view, shared by many, is that some of the so-called investors are in fact thieves who have been complicit in robbing Tanzania of its riches.

This school of thought is arguably in conformity with seizures of assets and shares acquisitions through amendments of already existing legal frameworks on mining and telecommunications, for example.

Doing this may sound logical: trying to recover, reclaim, lost ground. What is questionable, though, is the methodology used.

The second part of the web is the combination of policy and legislation – with either or both changed in midstream, thus playing havoc with the playing field.

If nothing else, this puts otherwise sacrosanct long-term title deeds, agreements, contracts, etc., into question – thus tarnishing what are nobble intentions to right past ills.

Finally, the overly-bureaucratic civil service is caught between a rock and a hard place: wanting to serve according to extant statutory frameworks and perforce going along with pronouncements from the relevant top-echelon authorities.

In any case, is grand corruption fighting back here? Forget the presidency – and even any gaps that might be in the existing legislative frameworks. The real threat to investment in Tanzania – if there really is a threat – is the go-slow that borders on sabotage within the behemoth that’s the civil service.

However, what could be seen only as a challenge that is easily surmountable is whether the civil service in its entirety is working diligently, or is on go-slow mode, protesting the manner and style in which the higher ups are implementing socio-economic development programmes.     

advertisement

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

ANALYSIS: What happens in Zimbabwe after Mugabe?



President Robert Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe 

By LOVEMORE NGUVE

At the ripe old age of 93, Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s long-serving president, has offered himself as the candidate to lead his ruling Zanu-PF party in elections next year.

In power since independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe would be 99 should he win the 2018 election and complete a five-year term. He has boasted that he will live – and rule – until he is 100.

His wife Grace, a political power in her own right, has gone even further. Speaking at a rally organised by Zanu-PF’s Youth League last year, the First Lady addressed her husband saying: “We want you to lead this country even from your grave.”

Mugabe has always been respected and feared rather than loved. But his cabinet, stuffed with loyalists, relatives, and praise singers, is now outdoing itself in pushing his cult of personality into overdrive.

Behind the public scenes of loyalty and adulation is an intense power struggle, as Mugabe’s physical frailty becomes evident. Factions are looking for his endorsement in the battle underway over his succession.

His public stumbles (fodder for an irreverent social media) and frequent absences from the country for medical attention, are all the more concerning for party apparatchiks as there is no obvious heir apparent.

“Mugabe wants to die in office and is not interested in seeing his successor,” said Pedzisayi Ruhanya, the director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute. “He is not a student of democratic processes.”

There are no threats to his rule from outside the party. He is accused of stealing elections (although he commands support in the rural areas), brutalising the electorate, and infiltrating the ranks of the opposition to sow confusion. Age is his only real challenger.

But the jockeying for power is dangerous. The military and veterans of the guerrilla war against white minority rule have been the power behind Mugabe’s throne. And they want to pick who will replace him.

Over the last year, influential members of the War Veteran’s Association have been expelled from the party. They publicly declared their support for Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa – heresy while Mugabe still lives. In July, Mugabe accused his commanders (who are all Zanu-PF members) of interfering in the party’s internal politics, which he said was tantamount to a coup. A few days later, soldiers rampaged through central Harare beating up the police.

“We are being threatened day and night that if so-and-so does not succeed Mugabe, we will kill you with guns,” the First Lady said. “The president sleeps with one eye open.”

Mugabe then made his move. He sacked Mnangagwa as justice minister in a cabinet reshuffle that has strengthened the position of Grace – Mnangagwa’s chief rival.

The political tussle is being played out against the backdrop of the hardships faced by the vast majority of Zimbabweans. On the back of a good harvest, Zimbabwe’s economic growth has climbed to 2.8 per cent from 0.7 per cent last year, according to the IMF.

But the economy is not keeping pace with population growth. Zimbabweans face shortages from electricity to water to fuel. Banks ration cash withdrawals. Poor service delivery and unemployment adds to the despair. Economic growth is projected to slip back to 0.8 per cent in 2018 and turn sharply negative by 2022.

The spending habits of the Mugabes, with money seemingly to burn, is a subject of endless public fascination. Last year more than four million Zimbabweans were in need of food aid, and the government was appealing for $1.5 billion in relief support.

The First Lady’s recent splurging has included a $4 million mansion in South Africa’s posh Sandhurst suburb and aRolls Royce. Her son from an earlier marriage, Russell Goreraza, bought two Rollers and air-freighted them to Zimbabwe.

The extravagant lifestyles of two other sons – first in Dubai and now South Africa – has earned them the nickname “Boyz dze smoko” (the terrible boys). When Grace allegedly beat up a model she found in their hotel room in August, it caused a diplomatic incident. A former typist in the office of the president, Grace has not endeared herself to most Zimbabweans. But as a ferocious Mugabe loyalist, she is not to be underestimated.

The plan seems to be that Mugabe will run and win in 2018, and then secure the interests of his family as best he can. The risk is the instability this strategy could cause.

The following is a rough guide to the main protagonists in the succession drama:

Grace Mugabe

When news first filtered out that Mugabe was lining up his wife (and former mistress) as a potential successor, the general reaction was one of derision and dismissal.

A typical example was the casual sexism of former war veteran’s leader Jabulani Sibanda, who scolded party members in 2014 for “plotting a bedroom coup”. He warned that “power is not sexually transmitted”.

Grace, 52, remained in the shadows for many years after the marriage, concentrating on charitable works. Shopping trips abroad earned her the unenviable nicknames “Gucci Grace” and “The First Shopper”.

But in 2014 she emerged to conduct “meet the people” public gatherings, where she sensationally attacked then vice-president Joice Mujuru, alleging she was aiming to overthrow Mugabe.

Mujuru, a powerful former guerrilla leader, had the support of a significant section of the party as Mugabe’s successor. But Grace’s accusations of “treason, corruption, and witchcraft” were enough to sink her.

Grace is secretary of ZANU-PF’s Women’s League and has the active support of the Youth League. Some politicians have coalesced around her to form a faction called Generation 40 – a grouping of younger leaders that deliberately draw a distinction with the party’s old guard.

With Grace as their leader, they have the ear of Mugabe and have begun to set the party’s agenda.

Grace has become so powerful that at public meetings addressed by Mugabe, she has summoned erring party and government officials to the podium for a public dressing down.

Ruhanya believes that in reality Mugabe pulls the strings of G40. “Mugabe is the leader of G40,” he told IRIN. “That explains why no member of that faction has suffered any political setbacks as they enjoy [his] protection.”

Some observers suggest Grace, with the support of her husband and the power of the state, could easily win the succession battle. She once told a public meeting that she was “already ruling”.

But Ruhanya thinks this is premature. “Mugabe knows that his wife is ambitious, but she lacks the capacity and sophistication to handle complex party and state matters,” he said. “Grace can only behave the way she does for as long as Mugabe is alive.”

Emmerson Mnangagwa

Standing in the way of Grace is Mnangagwa, 75, a once-feared former spy chief and one of the few surviving members of the first cabinet in 1980. But his Lacoste team [derived from his “crocodile” nickname] are being purged.

His influence was already on the wane, outflanked by Mujuru in the battle to control ZANU-PF. Now his political problems are turning potentially deadly. He was airlifted to South Africa in August after reacting to food consumed at a political rally.

His supporters said he was poisoned, with the suspect ice cream supplied by the First Lady’s dairy company. The allegation of foul play has been vehemently denied, with Grace reportedly claiming he wasn’t worth poisoning. Chris Mutsvangwa, a war veterans’ leader and former minister expelled from the party over accusations of supporting Mnangagwa, believes the G40 bid for the presidency – using Grace – will collapse.

“Grace does not exist [as First Lady] in the constitution. She is a frantic if hopeless would-be usurper of power,” he told IRIN. “The G40 putchist agenda is bound to fail in the face of popular resistance.”

Sydney Sekeramayi

Until recently, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, 75, was not in the succession mix. He has held several portfolios since independence, but was seen to lack political clout.

He was thrust into the spotlight this year when his “humility” and “consensus-style of leadership” was contrasted with the ambition of Mnangagwa by an acolyte of the First Lady.

Grace then went on to strengthen his hand by describing how Sekeramayi, a Swedish-trained medical doctor as well as guerrilla, had saved Mugabe’s life when he was struck by a severe bout of diarrhoea.

But in 2014 he was out in the cold over his perceived support for Mujuru. It was Mugabe who brought him back into the political fold.

All three men – Mugabe, Mnangagwa, and Sekeramayi – share one thing in common. They were key actors in the ethnic cleansing in southwestern Matabeleland in the early 1980s in which 20,000 Ndebele civilians were killed.

The military distrusts anyone who is not a veteran of the independence struggle. Sekeramayi has the right credentials, and could be an alternative pick by Mugabe should Plan A – handing over to Grace – prove impossible.

As the ruling party continues to implode, along with the country, Ruhanya believes this is all to be expected.

“The chaos happening in Zimbabwe and ZANU-PF is what happens when the end of an authoritarian era approaches,” he said.

The writer filed this analysis for IRIN from Harare     

advertisement