Monday, February 26, 2018

Of textbooks, teacher guides in TZ schools



School books on display. PHOTO | FILE

School books on display. PHOTO | FILE 

By Abdullah Saiwaad

Mr Ajaib Singh was our class and mathematics teacher. In those days, we had to do some mental arithmetic. Mr Ajaib would call up a student and throw a question from the textbook. What surprised me then was that whenever anybody answered, the teacher would look into his book, then shout, “Correct” or “Wrong”. I was surprised because I thought that since he was a trained maths teacher; shouldn’t he be able to do the calculations mentally? Why had he to refer to another book? I never asked. Unfortunately, I never met Mr Ajaib after finishing school.

Ten years later, I became a teacher. I taught physics and mathematics. There were a lot of problems to be solved. When I instructed a student to solve a question, I would later look for the answer in the teacher’s guidebook. This is the book that Mr Ajaib used.

A couple of years later, I was employed as an editor in a publishing house. Editing textbooks was an arduous task, still is. Again as an editor it was my duty to make sure that all the problems in the learner’s book had their correct answers in the teacher’s guide. This meant cross checking the answers in the teacher’s guide.

Editing textbooks was also tedious because at the page proof stage one had to make sure that all the references in the teacher’s guide corresponded to the exact page in the learner’s book.

The teachers’ guide provides answers, and is almost a minute-by-minute manual for teachers. The guides identify the aim of the lesson and gives advice on the teaching methodology. It recommends tours and visits. The teacher’s guide was something that no teacher would be without if he wanted to make sure learning takes place.

In the past, the government set aside funds for purchasing each published textbook and teacher’s guide book. The later were distributed to teacher training colleges (TTCs). Every teacher would know before graduation what she or he would teach and which books will be used in the teaching process.

Then one day the government decided not to buy textbooks and guides. This was a blunder.

Before the formation of the Eductional Materials Committee (Emac) in 1999, the Publishers Association of Tanzania (Pata) suggested that every Emac approval should be accompanied by a commitment to purchase. There were three advantages: First, TTCs would have all the textbooks used in schools. Secondly teacher resource centres would be supplied with all new approved textbooks and guides. Thus in-service teachers would get information of new books. Thirdly, the commitment to purchase would mean that Emac would work within a budget. They would not be able to approve too many books for the same subject and for the same class. Emac would have also profited from the criticism of the books from tutors and teachers before the books reached the classrooms. Unfortunately this request was not accepted.

In 2013, the open-ended approval system was tabled in Parliament. Politicians condemned Emac. The truth of the matter is that less than 5 per cent of books approved by Emac that contained errors were used to condemn Emac, leading to its scrapping. Three years later, an Emac was quietly born again in the Tanzania Institute of Education (TIE).

The Commissioner of Education produced Circular No 4 of August 2014, which gave responsibility to produce textbooks to TIE. It took TIE three years to produce poor quality textbooks unfit for human consumption. In May, 2017 Parliament was in uproar over the books. They were withdrawn. But TIE, did not produce even one teacher’s guide for all the textbooks!

We were told this February, that the textbooks have been revised and are being printed and will be delivered to schools. What will the teachers be teaching during the waiting period?

The new books also do not have the teacher’s guides, how will the teachers cope? I fear for my fellow mathematics teachers, as they will have to do the questions in the pupil’s books to obtain the answers, so that they can shout “Correct” of “Wrong” as my teacher Mr Ajaib Singh and myself used to do.


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Monday, February 26, 2018

TOUGH JUSTICE : Surveillance capitalism: one more reason to frown at tech



Justice Novati Rutenge



justice@idev.co.tz

Justice Novati Rutenge justice@idev.co.tz 

By Justice Novati Rutenge

It was captivated by a speech by a Zimbabwean-cum-South African friend named Fikile Magadlela, who is well versed in the ‘big concepts’ that govern our existence on the planet. Invited to speak about equality, ethics and opportunity in business and entrepreneurship to a group of young African leaders, the very eloquent comrade enunciated the below words, which I found very profound:

“When I was young, I wanted to change the world, but I didn’t know what the world is. The Earth is the planet that we live in, but the world is a man-made collection of systems… and these systems govern how we exist on this Earth. To change the world is to have your own ideas influencing these systems.”

There is a lot of talk about how technology is changing the world, and this is an undeniable fact. But when we think of it, we often think about the ubiquity of technology, and the impact this has had on the manner in which we access and exchange information and carry out day to day tasks.

In doing this, what we often forget to account for is the nature in which the broader system within which we operate, capitalism, seems to be evolving side by side with technology. To anyone with a mind as curious and conscious on the bigger questions about life as my friend Fikile’s, the intersection of technology and capitalism is one to be extremely engrossed in.

For instance, have the millions who enjoy free Facebook through our local telecoms thought about the catch inherent in this magnanimous giveaway? They, and the rest of us see such moves as charity, which we often take at face value.

Of course, someone may ask, for instance, about the clothes we wear; the soap, toothpaste, cars and everything else that characterizes the modern life.  Aren’t capitalist forces at play in those things as well? So why should technology be any different?

My answer is that, unlike other ‘commodities’, technology promised to save us all from capitalism. Case in point, what in the name of Mike happened to the “open source” movement and the bigger “public interest” ideas behind it? Few years ago I was completely sold on the idea that technology is bringing about the democratization of (basically) everything. I am now well cognizant of the naiveté in my earlier assumption.

I had placed my confidence in the fact that, unlike in ‘traditional’ consumer capitalism, new technology confers upon us the power of choice. However, the debate is never about choice, but about informed choice. And since most of us hardly go through the terms of service when joining popular online platforms, we unknowingly give these platforms the right to surveil us online (and offline, as I came to learn) and make our data available to whoever is willing to pay an arm and a leg for it.

By relying on advertising, new technology has failed to disentangle itself and its users from the dark side of capitalism. Tech giants collect and exploit ‘big data’ in the guise of value creation to consumers, which in itself is a classic capitalist pretext. We need to question whether the tech giants are really learning about us to serve us better, or simply surveilling us to control our behavior and consumer patterns. Recognizing the dangers that come with surveillance which are more than I have space to explain here, we must draw a line between capitalism and greed, and refuse to let the profit-goaded tech giants cross it.

I must not be misconstrued to be technophobic and techno-paranoiac. Even with stern warnings such as those offered in Netflix’ magnus opus, Black Mirror, I’m not about to discard any devices I have that can connect to a data network, for that’ll be shooting myself in the foot. What I am instead advocating for is a debate about surveillance aimed at keeping ourselves as consumers safe as we enjoy the multitudinous benefits technology has to offer.


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Monday, February 26, 2018

National dialogue needed to end violence

By TheCitizen

The term ‘dialogue’ means “an exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue – especially a political or religious issue – with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement…” And a ‘national dialogue’ describes “an increasingly-popular tool for conflict-resolution and political transformation. A national dialogue can broaden debate regarding a country’s trajectory beyond the ‘usual elite decision-makers…’”!

Having noted that, we at The Citizen call for a national dialogue on issues of safety and security as they’re already adversely impinging upon the rights, freedoms and lives of Tanzanians.

The latest such reverberating calls was made in Arusha on February 24 this year by the ‘Strong Leader’ of the political opposition party ‘ACT-Wazalendo,’ Zitto Kabwe.

Speaking for some 105-strong group of political, religious and other civil-society-based leaders, Mr Kabwe stressed a national dialogue to thrash out a lasting solution to what’s a seemingly endless spate of deadly violence in Tanzania, including beatings and torture leading in some cases to maiming and death.

The dialogue route’s being orchestrated by the Tanzania Centre for Democracy, chaired by James Mbatia, national chairman of the opposition political party NCCR-Mageuzi.

The idea is to corner the government into seriously addressing and surmounting Tanzanians’ concerns about their security and other freedoms and rights – doing so even as it investigates past incidents, identify the culprits, and judicially act by way of penalisation and deterrence.

It’s indeed of little or no consequence to claim – as some government officials and partisan politicians are already claiming – that the abductions, maiming and murders AREN’T politically-motivated.

What Tanzanians – and their development partners, as exemplified by the EU in its noble statement of Feb. 23 – sorely need is for the deadly violence to end soonest, and Tanzania’s traditional status and reputation as a ‘haven of peace’ restored.

This, we believe, is within the government’s capacity, capability and ability to do.

LINK  DIPLOMACY TO GROWTH

Tanzania has had a long history of cultivating good international relations. As such, it opened a number of diplomatic missions across the globe. Such relations are crucial for the attainment of socio, economic and political development. Often times, it is good ties that result in increased foreign direct investments. Last week, newly appointed and sworn Tanzania’s envoys Dr Willibrod Slaa and Muhidin Mboweto, met Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa at his Dar residence. During the meeting the latter instructed the duo to work hard, diligently and smartly. Most importantly, he instructed them to woo investors from the countries they would be working in—Sweden and Nigeria respectively.

By issuing this directive, the PM was not only addressing Dr Slaa and Mr Mboweto, but all envoys representing Tanzania out there.

However, it is equally important for the government to ensure that it simplifies the job of its envoys. To attract substantive investors, the government must put in place good business environment.

The government only needs to address shortcomings pointed out in the ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’ and similar research reports. Fixing these challenges will not only attract investors but simplify the job of the country’s envoys overseas.

Back home, the government must improve safety and security of people and their property. Improving civil liberties is also an important component for the country to develop. Tanzania can do better.


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Sunday, February 25, 2018

STRAIGHT TALK: Towards a just society: a step forward, two backwards ...



Ally Saleh

Ally Saleh 

A series of unpleasant events have continued to engulf our beloved land in the past couple of months. This does not augur well with government efforts to build a democratic and just society. Furthermore, it paints a bad image for Tanzania.

The unfortunate incidents mostly target opposition members, but from time to time, people not linked to politics, like Akwilina Akwiline, end up paying the ultimate price. Akwilina was shot dead by the police as the latter were dispersing members of the Opoposition Chadema. She was not part to the peaceful demos. She was a passenger in a commuter bus.

At the centre of matters were the by-elections for constituency and ward levels. And, again delays by the National Electoral Commission to issue relevant documents ahead of the polls caused the opposition party to go to the demonstrations.

The developments only show that there is a huge deterioration of the state of security in the country--leading to deaths and people getting maimed.

A lot of Tanzanians both in their private capacity as well as politicians have talked about this threatening state which stifles democratic growth and prosperity as Tanzania moves to build an industrial-based economy.

Evil incidents started in Kibiti. The public was confident that the state would clean up the challenge soon. But, it took too long to contain. Some elements involved in acts that threatened the security of the people.

Later, it emerged that there were bodies being found along the Indian Ocean. These were being placed in bags. Some linked the deaths with political animosity. This became especially evident after an assassination attempt on firebrand politician and lawyer Tundu Lissu.

Unbeknownst to most Tanzania is the fact that such incidents have been happening in Zanzibar for a long time. But, for some unknown reasons, nothing much has been done to try and end the problem.

It was raised in Parliament. Nothing tangible was done. And, the trend in Zanzibar has almost been the same--killings and attacks happening in weeks towards and election.

For over five decades, Tanzania has been a peaceful land. With these happenings, more efforts and commitment would be required to foster peace and tranquillity. We all pray that all these bad incidents of people being killed, others maimed would be ended so that we will live in a stable country, fearing nothing. There are calls from all quarters including the clerics--like Sheikh Mussa Kundecha--, civic bodies, human rights advocates, analysts, and commentators who opined that the country was heading towards anarchy.

Local human rights organisations including the Tanzania Legal and Human Rights Centre and Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition which made a detailed presentation on the issue, have raised their voices, and we hope it has been heard by the powers that be. Recently, United States embassy in Tanzania showed its concern on what has been happening and advised the Tanzania government to address the issue for the good of the country. And only over the weekend the European Union has also raised the same concerns.

This means our friends and as well as development partners would like to work with us when we are at the best of peace and understanding as a nation. They would like to see their money goes down to help the entire population where a government of the day can reach out to the whole population regardless of their political affiliation.

But even without the call by our development partners, we as the citizens of this country are calling for our government, which we believe listens to its people, to act and act fast on this. We would like to live in one, strong society and that can assure peaceful process all the time and for the whole country.

We believe the government in power is able to take care and control the situation so that people can continue to have confidence in the organs of the state. People must enjoy the freedom of movement and expression as well as that of assembly.

Our social, cultural and political differences should never be the source of our division. Ultimately, we’re all entitled to the basic rights. No one should take them away just like that.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lessons for our politicians

By Erick Mwakibete

In a week, Africa witnessed resignations, a coronation and a death. At the face of it, these developments are separate but are tied by the same forces and offer some lessons to our politicians especially those in the opposition who accuse the government of being “dictatorial” in the way it handles political opposition.

After a rambling interview in which he refused to resign until he was told why they wanted him to go, Jacob Zuma’s presidency came to an ignominous end when it became clear that his party, the ANC was willing to work with their political nemesis to end his presidency.

Zuma had pretty much followed Robert Mugabe’s playbook who resigned under the cover of darkness after failing to do so in a televised speech.

South Africans were elated, as the presidency that had been described by the media as a long nightmare had come to an end after nearly a decade in a frustrating process. No one could be bothered to remember the few things Zuma got right like the HIV/Aids programme which was a total departure from his predecessor in office.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane pointed out that South Africa’s problem was not Zuma but the ANC which had protected him through all the motion of no confidence brought against him over the years as his presidency was mired by mismanagement, allegations of corruption and systemic weakening some critical state institutions.

The ANC’s logic in stubbornly refusing to cooperate with opposition parties in ousting Zuma is a familiar one to liberation parties in Africa, and when they do change their minds, the end game is the same.

The voices which pointed out that ousting Zuma was not the end of South Africa’s troubles drowned in the celebrations of his political demise and the legal troubles waiting for him and his allies, some of whom are on the run.

As Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn into office, they pointed out that he too, is part of the problem and that he has flaws of his own as a businessman and as a politician. As in Zimbabwe following the ouster of Robert Mugabe, where there were those who dared to dream the impossible of power being shared in a unity government.

Few cared about the flaws of the messenger. It was not the right time for uncomfortable questions.

In Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, the longtime opposition leader was praised in death by those who had mistreated him, tortured him in life while those he stood with to fight against Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF’s grip on power are falling apart at the seams and their differences played out in the open during his burial in his home village as opposing factions vie to succeed him.

Despite his flaws both as a man and a politician, he inspired a country that there was a credible alternative to Zanu-PF’s rule.

In Ethiopia, following continuous unrest in some parts of the country, the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned in a move that surprised many. However, with tensions rising among allies within the ruling party, and a realization that their grip on the country might be slipping through their fingers, he offered his resignation to allow his party to find a more assertive leader and one who will be seen as addressing the major fault line through which the anger of underrepresentation of some regions, demands for more autonomy and human and political rights have come to the surface and even the recently declared state of emergency for half a year is unlikely to faze protesters.

In all these developments, some things are clear.

There has to be a messenger who can be inspirational enough despite their personal flaws and appeal to a wider, diverge group of people and not what is currently witnessed in our politics where each political side is doing very little to cross over the political divide. Most of those at the forefront of our politics today lack the charisma of the likes of Dr Wilbrod Slaa or Zitto Kabwe’s yesteryear version.

One has to know when it is time for the curtain to come down. There are lifetime serving opposition leaders with their parties lacking properly groomed individuals to take up the mantle of these veteran leaders.

Some completely do not bother with succession plans as most of these political parties are one-man affairs or dominated by a small clique of politicians.

In a continent where power is monopolised even when shared, our politicians can use all the lessons they can get to better themselves in difficult political circumstances.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Graft war: no resting on laurels for Tanzania yet

The ‘Corruption Perception Index’ for last year (CPI-2017) by Transparency International (TI)ranks Tanzania at Number 36 out of 100 on the global corruption scale.

TI corruption surveys annually rank countries by “their levels of public sector corruptions as perceived’ by businesses and experts.”The Index uses a scale of 0-to-100, whereby a zero-rating indicates a “highly-corrupt” country, while a 100 rating is accorded to “very clean countries” in the corruption stakes.

For Tanzania to be ranked at 36 in 2017 – compared with 32 in 2016 – implies thatit jumped four rankings upwithin a year rising from being among highly-corrupt countries like Somalia (ranked at number-9); South Sudan (12); Syria (14); Afghanistan (15), and Yemen (16).

In other words: Tanzania is gallantly nosing its way towards highly-performing countries the likes of New Zealand (ranked at 89, the highest in 2017); Denmark (88);Finland, Norway and Switzerland – all three ranked at 85!

Incidentally, New Zealand, Denmark and Finland were better-ranked in year-2012: at 90. Norway and Switzerland were also higher-ranked, at 86, in 2014. Thus, all did worse in 2017!

If nothing else, this means there’s no such thing as a 100 per cent corruption-free country on Planet Earth this side of Heaven! TI defines ‘corruption’ as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can be classified as grand, petty or political – depending on the amounts of money lost, and the sector where it occurs!”

Absolute power corrupts absolutely

Hence the adage that power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely! We’re told that the 2017 CP Index“highlights that the majority of countries are making little or no progress in ending corruption, while journalists and activists in heavily-corrupt countries risk their lives in effortsto speak out” against the malady.

In the event, more than two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed by TI were ranked below 50!

In the East African Community bloc, Tanzania was assessed as “the second least-corrupt country, after Rwanda. Kenya was ranked the third least corrupt – followed by Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan!”

In sub-Saharan Africa,Tanzania was ranked at number 17, while Botswana was assessed as the least corrupt country in this part of the African continent.

Going by TI’s latest survey,it means that the 5th phase government of President John Magufuli – inaugurated only on November 5, 2015, and which is manifestly against corruption – is squarely behind Tanzania’s leap four stages up the rankings, from 32 in 2016 to 36 in 2017.

Whatever is the case, Tanzanians mustn’t rest on these laurels, as they still aren’t quite dark-green and glossy as they should be! Instead, we must double and redouble our efforts at surmounting the hydra-headed corruption monster, consigning it to the dustbin of History once and for all.

As TI notes, “this is an important moment for Africa (and Tanzania in particular) to take stock of the current situation whereby many countries are still making little progress against corruption.”

We all should adopt and act on AU’s theme for Year-2018: ‘Winning the Fight against Corruption: a Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation

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Friday, February 23, 2018

A CHAT FROM LONDON : Prostate cancer, Oxfam, phone zombies and London’s latest...

Fredy Macha is a writer and musician  based in

Fredy Macha is a writer and musician  based in London.Blog,www.fredymachablogspot. 

By Freddy Macha

Last week a group of us males sat in a pub chatting about regular health checkups. Most repeated topic was the current number one man killer – prostate cancer. A recent theme - the best way to avoid fatality is to identify symptoms and dealing with ailment. We kept laughing about one lingering question...

How do you feel when a doctor inserts a gloved finger up your backside to deduce the size of your prostate gland? Apart from a blood test – this tends to be best option to ensure early, correct diagnosis.

And thus we conversed.

Heatedly.

“I do it ...once a year.”

Several nods.

“Me, too. I used to feel embarrassed, but I don’t mind, anymore.”

More nods.

“I have become used to it. Safety, brav. Safety.”

A loud laughter, crass, contemptuous, disagreed: “I am a black man. There is no way I would let someone stick a finger up my...”

Silence. Laughter. Silence.

Uncomfortable shuffling.

We looked at the guy. In his mid 50s...an age when signs and indications of prostate problems begin. Frequent urination, painful ejaculation, erectile dysfunction...

Prostate--is alongside lung and breast--considered the top three cancers.

An article by respected BBC presenter, 83 year old Michael Parkinson last Saturday’s Mail, cautioned:

“There is still a taboo about discussing our genitals: no man feels comfortable admitting ... he’s had difficulties down there. That doesn’t apply to women. Thanks to the good sense and courage of many female stars, discussion of all sorts of breast treatment, beginning with a regular self examination for lumps, is open and normal. That has saved countless lives...”

Statistically female deaths from breast cancer have shrunk since 2015- while men’s continue to soar, explode and rise. Every now and then we hear someone famous, left us, due to the prostate menace. In January, we lost South African jazz musician, Hugh Masekela to what? Prostate. That word.

Ongoing campaigns in the UK insist that while we are happy with the slowing down of female fatalities (from breast cancer), something need be done for guys. One of this is awareness and regular examinations.

Item two is also about men....

During the 1970s till mid-1990s, a known football coach is alleged to have sexually abused young boys under his care. These youngsters were entrusted into his filthy paws by parents keen to have sons become future sporting stars. Barry Bennell (pictured) is currently in prison serving several life sentences. At least 43 counts of indecent assault were mentioned in court. Lately.

The surfacing of Bennell’s behaviour exploded after 86 men (majority in their 50s onwards, now), reported to the police. And it is not only Bennell – legal plans against the Premier League and Manchester United club have been reported. Allegedly because complaints against the then charismatic trainer were pulled under the carpet by these organisations...

We are living in intense times. Not a week passes without some major revelation of past evilly committed acts. Both victims and perpetrator are Wazee. Meaning justice eventually, wins. Crime does not pay.

Third item is of a sexual nature too.

The much respected international aid charity, OXFAM, has been beset with a scandal resulting in UK ministries and international companies vowing to cut off funding that helps poor countries. This is a result of revelations that underage women were allegedly used as prostitutes in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake. 123 incidents of sexual misconduct were investigated. Among those involved are senior and junior stuff including the boss himself, Belgian born, Roland Van Hauwermeiren. This gentleman worked in Liberia, Bangladesh and Chad. It was also revealed that the normal procedure of doing criminal police checks to Oxfam staff was not followed. A whistleblower made several serious allegations that keep on rumbling.

It made me question how NGOs operate in developing countries. How are local vulnerable personnel treated? If a jobless, ill educated young African is looking for employment and faces corruption who will help? Can those in power be trusted?

Last are phone zombies.

On several occasions I have highlighted how the mobile phone generation is so attached to 21st century gadgets. To the older guard there is a mixture of traditional (speaking, shaking hands, etc) and up to date ways (social media and computers), while the younger ones just adore online communication. Phone zombies describes those walking while texting and not being aware of immediate surroundings.

As a warning, police issued clips showing how thieves on mopeds (small motorbikes), blitz and grab phones from unsuspecting victims. Figures issued through BBC indicated 291 offences during October 2016 to November 2017 in highly commercial area of Oxford Circus, only. Usually phone zombies get angry when they bump into someone or other objects. No “sorries” said. The “out of control” attitude is still growing, blossoming and mushrooming.


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Friday, February 23, 2018

Tackle social barriers in oil pipeline project

 

By TheCitizen

Some reported misunderstandings in villages where the 1,445 km Hoima-Tanga oil pipeline is earmarked to pass through should be fully addressed. Granted, complaints coming from these areas should not strike as a big surprise considering the magnitude of the project. It’s only a proactive approach that will prevent the hard-won multimillion dollar project from degenerating into a source of conflict.

The move by Total to dispatch an independent team of experts recently to investigate complaints over the $3.55 oil pipeline project is, therefore, commendable. This is an important step towards stemming some of the social problems associated with mega projects in the bud. A report by the team is expected to play a crucial role in how the project is going to be rolled out, vis-à-vis its social and environmental impact.

Total has said once the team is done with looking into all possible barriers that may stand in the way of smooth operations, a meeting will be scheduled with Tanzanian and Ugandan authorities. Already, the experts are said to have held meetings with some villagers, local government officials, the district commissioner and representatives of non-governmental organisations.

One of the most critical issues to be discussed is land – in itself a sensitive matter that the government needs to fully address. Total said it would be looking into how the country’s land policy influenced the process to compensate those affected. More so, to be investigated are the challenges that might have arose during the relocation and compensation processes. This is commendable – hopefully all the pending issues will be sorted out in time to allow the project’s speedy implementation.

At the laying of the foundation stone last year, President John Magufuli reiterated his commitment to seeing the project to an early completion. Targets can be met with minimal stumbling blocks.

Invest in voter education

Several political pundits have attempted in the past few days to explain the poor turnout in last weekend’s by-elections for the Kinondoni and Siha constituencies. There seems to be consensus among many observers that the apparent voter apathy is normal for a by-election – and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has also partly attributed the problem to the decision to field defectors.

However, commentators have urged the electoral body to consider investing more in voter education as a continuous process, as opposed to a once-off programme ahead of a general election. Concerns that this trend could go on and on are not misplaced. Tanzania is not the first, let alone only, country in the world to increasingly face the threat of voter apathy. It’s happening all over the continent, in the US and across Europe. Apparently, it’s a global trend. This is why NEC should think outside the box, and do things differently to ensure that all eligible Tanzanians exercise their constitutional right to choose their leaders, even at the ward level. This is important for stability in any country. Poor funding has been a major factor hindering voter education. The need to ensure that the electoral body is properly funded cannot be overstated.


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Friday, February 23, 2018

LOVE LETTERS TO TANZANIA : Did you buy any poison lately?



SABINE BARBARA_ sabinebarbara@yahoo.co.au

SABINE BARBARA_ sabinebarbara@yahoo.co.au 

By Sabine Barbara

We warn children to be wary of venomous creatures like snakes, but do we see our modern homes as places where they might encounter deadly poisons? We should. As our standard of living grows, so does the number of toxic substances to which families are exposed.

As humanity’s understanding of the toxicity of widely used chemicals improved, many hazardous substances were removed from workplaces. A number of pesticides found to be harmful were also banned. We discovered that even though insecticides and chemical fertilisers increase yields, excessive use can lead to water pollution and harm to consumers of agricultural products.

In general, we trust legislation to protect us from excessive use of harmful agricultural chemicals and other toxins in our environment. However, to assume that current regulations are failsafe would be naïve – and it is not always insufficient legislation which allows toxic or even banned chemicals to pollute our environment, homes and bodies.

Initially, paints used privately and commercially in Europe and the US contained toxic metals like lead, mercury and arsenic to ensure colours would not fade over time. Some famous artists suffered the consequences: poisoning which caused physical and mental illness or even death. Today, such paints are banned in some countries but still widespread in others where manufacturers and importers rely on the public being unaware of health risks. Naturally, producers of potentially harmful products are unlikely to spoil their profits by conducting research or education campaigns which could ruin their business.

But even studies conducted by reliable government and non-profit organisations rarely measure how chemicals in homes, workplaces and our environment interact with one another to damage our health long-term. Trustworthy organisations may determine safe levels of exposure to common chemicals, but individual citizens may still be at risk of serious harm if exposed to higher levels due to personal lifestyle circumstances or if regular contact with other toxins increases their health risks when toxic substances combine.

Even some glazes and paints on coffee mugs, ceramic cookware and items used to serve food contain lead which can leach into the food and become a health hazard, especially for small children and pregnant women. Because lead accumulates in the body, frequent exposure to small amounts can lead to lead poisoning later.

Our own initiative may be the most important strategy to protect ourselves. We should seek information about harmful substances and avoid them via everyday shopping and lifestyle choices. Becoming informed, critical consumers can reduce our families’ exposure to poisons – at least in our own households.

Many toxic chemicals in cleaning products, air fresheners, cosmetics and personal care products like fragrant shampoos and conditioners have been linked to allergies, infertility, asthma, cancer and other serious illnesses. Do we really need such products - or could we revert to old-fashioned, harmless alternatives?

Ladies, our pursuit of unattainable standards of beauty may increase our risk further, especially if we buy cosmetics laden with harmful substances. Surprisingly resilient is the bizarre and dangerous practice of skin-whitening, which has been causing lead poisoning over centuries and is believed to have killed Queen Elizabeth I. Many hold onto the misconception that “whiter” is generally considered more attractive. It clearly is not, or Europeans would not roast themselves in the sun or even spray fake tans onto their skin to appear darker.

We should view all chemicals which dramatically change our appearance with suspicion and prioritise our health. Modern skin lightening-creams still contain toxins like mercury, titanium dioxide, and steroids which cause serious health problems after prolonged use – especially to unborn children. Fake tan ingredients are thought to cause DNA damage. While laws and policing have not stopped the supply of toxic, sub-standard products, a lack of demand due to smarter consumer choices certainly could.


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Thursday, February 22, 2018

WHAT OTHERS SAY: Death of Tsvangirai and strange world of opposition politics

 

By Charles Onyango-Obbo

Zimbabwe opposition stalwart Morgan Tsvangirai died on February 14, after a battle with cancer. What followed, was not exactly expected.

Described as “a man of immense personal courage”, Tsvangirai, who formed the influential Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999, took on now ousted Robert Mugabe when the fellow was at his most dangerous.

It’s unsettling reading how many times Tsvangirai was arrested, beaten, tortured, and humiliated in the most egregious ways. He never gave up or gave in. In 2008 Tsvangirai won the presidential election, but was robbed of victory by Mugabe and his goons. In the end, he settled for what Kenyans famously call nusu mkate (half a loaf) in an unhappy national unity government marriage.

As happens with many high-flying opposition parties in Africa, it all ended in heartbreak. MDC in the last 12 years split in four little things, with Tsvangirai leading the biggest, but still ineffectual, rump. Tsvangirai endured criticism and ridicule, partly because his own highhandedness contributed to the opposition split.

By the time he took ill, he had fallen from grace – or so it seemed. However, the scenes in the capital Harare this week, were awe-inspiring. Hundreds of thousands, most in the MDC’s red, turned out to honour him.

Zimbabweans, clearly, recognise that Tsvangirai sacrificed a lot, and he took blows for democracy that few men and women can. Looking at the crowds, one couldn’t help but wonder how come, even if the Mugabe machinery unleashed violence and stole the vote, Tsvangirai didn’t overcome it all to triumph.

My own reading that there are some peculiar things about opposition politics in Africa for which we still do not have the tools to analyse properly. One of them, is that many people support the opposition parties not primarily so they can unseat and replace incumbents. They do so because they want them to only be an irritant; to give the governments hell; and to exact some form of political revenge on rulers whom they hate.

But most of all, the people who benefit most from a strong opposition, are constituencies allied to the ruling parties.

Let’s illustrate. In Uganda in the 1990s, though president Yoweri Museveni’s ruling National Resistance Movement was deeply entrenched and popular in the eastern, southern and western parts of the country, it was battling a long-running rebellion in the north.

The intelligence services, however, kept running into indications that financial and logistic support for the northern rebellion was coming from the south, from sources that had done well from Museveni’s rule and supported him.

They considered this illogical and a betrayal. It wasn’t. To keep the rest of the country united behind it in the face of a rebellion in the north, the Museveni government made it worthwhile for them by giving elites in their strongholds more patronage, and being generally nicer to them. Demonstrations in these regions were, for example, handled gently by anti-riot police.

The moment the northern rebellion was defeated at the start of the 2000s, all these goodies ended. All these areas now face brutal suppression when they challenge Kampala. Now that it could compensate vote loss in the south, with new sources of support in the north bought by reconstruction expenditure, the government had fewer incentives to shower old strongholds with patronage.

A strong opposition, allows supporters of the government to extract a higher premium for their loyalty. As Kenya has historically proved, opposition politics creates its own currency.

Where political divisions are deep, and electoral margins wafer thin, betrayal is lucrative business. A high profile cross-over from the opposition in Kenya during the KANU days, for example, to the government side, would invariably result in a juicy appointment or a lot of money.

In Uganda, cross-overs from the old independence party Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) to the ruling NRM became so prized, that a commentator in the weekly newsmagazine, The Independent, wrote that the Museveni government had been “taken over by the UPC” because an unusually high number of them had been rewarded with plum government jobs.

In many of these polities where crossing over from the opposition to the government side is very profitable, standing up to the state can be very costly. Only a few can take the heat. Tsvangirai was one of them. He will be heartened from his grave, to see that it was not in vain.

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

THINKING ALOUD: Tanzania’s status of the law on dual citizenship



Professor Zulfiqarali Premji

Professor Zulfiqarali Premji 

By Prof Zulfiqarali Premji

It was very good and welcoming news, early February 2018 when President John Magufuli launched the e-passport.

The Department of Immigration should be congratulated and I give credit for this initiative. The e-passport will tremendously improve security and misuse with evil intention of this important document.

Another long-standing issue within the department that needs to be resolved is about dual citizenship. There is a need to close this matter. When you are outside the country there is a tendency to informally meet with your fellow Tanzanians and East Africans. In most of these gathering the Kenyans always ask us why Tanzanians are not granted dual citizenship, and we have no substantive answer. The Tanzanian Diaspora in America is huge and there is a lot of potential of development but I think it becomes very difficult psychologically to invest in your birth country as a foreigner.

The issue of dual citizenship has been thoroughly researched thus enacting a law on dual citizenship is accompanied by evidence from the study done since 2004.

The Law Reform Commission undertook an in-depth study and it is almost 10 years since the report and recommendations were submitted to the government. The big question is: are the ten years which have elapsed since the government received the Law Commission recommendations on this matter, not enough time for that purpose?

This comprehensive study was undertaken because the World Commission on the Social dimension of Globalisation recommended that dual citizenship by countries of the South, as one of the ways through which the nations of the South could equitably share the benefits of globalization.

The Law reform commissions recommended that dual citizenship should be accorded only to Tanzanians who are citizens by birth, and not to those citizens belonging to other categories.

They contended that most Tanzanian citizens who acquired foreign citizenship did so primarily because it was necessitated by the need to improve their economic well being by working in the relevant foreign countries, while their allegiance to Tanzania remained intact. This trend of Tanzanians to go to foreign countries will continue and whenever our youths are given such opportunity they will relocate.

Perhaps till today the report has not been discussed in Parliament. The annual meeting of members of the Tanzania Diaspora, which was being held in Zanzibar in 2016 this issue was raised but till to date there is no outcome.

Today, globalisation has given rise to a significant increase in the Diaspora. Dual citizenship does not mean having conflicting loyalties or does not reflects any less patriotism. Dual citizenship is now less about excluding foreigners and more about including your own people who now live abroad and are part of the highly skilled international workforce.

Some 24 countries in Africa now have allowed dual citizenship including our neighbour Kenya.

In the wave of independence in Africa, many African countries decided not to allow dual citizenship. The primary reason for this was because the newly independent African nations wanted to ensure loyalty to their countries as part of a nation building activity. They also wanted to control the demographic composition of their countries.

Post independence laws were passed to targeted those within the country that were not of “African” origin. Many of these laws, which specified “race”, gender or ethnicity as a qualifier for citizenship were also discriminatory and have become out dated. There is a fear that dual citizenship will amount to increased immigration of outsiders, high crime rates, less employment opportunities for their citizens, and a general socio-cultural imbalance in the society hence the hesitancy.

On the other hand, countries that promotes dual citizenship feel it increases the competency level of their citizens, opens the doors for free and liberal trade, thereby increasing job opportunities and helping the country to make a global impact.

The government perhaps lacks the political will and is dragging its feet but it is undeniable that many countries in Africa and many successful countries, especially the liberalized economies have agreed to dual citizenship. Its time the Tanzanian Diaspora is seen as equal partners in the development of this country and should be given an opportunity. Individual or personal rigidity and obstinacy should not be entertained and the interest of the country should come first.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

EAC should change Tact to end refugee crisis

 

By TheCitizen

For decades, the East African region has been hit by wave after wave of refugees. This has been mainly due to unending political crises bedeviling nations across the region.

Presently, Tanzania hosts nearly 350,000 refugees from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo alone. This is no small number by any standards. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) early in the week said it needs over Sh600 billion to help take care of the refugee population in Tanzania.

The money will be spent on health and nutrition, food, education, security, energy, shelter, legal assistance and protection. Meanwhile, more refugees keep entering Tanzania because of the sad realities back in their home countries.

Humanitarian assistance during crises is crucial for the protection of human life and dignity. However, as the world mobilises money to assist, it’s also high time the bloc itself took more sincere steps towards addressing the root cause of the refugee problem.

And interventions by the international community should not only focus on providing refugees with basic needs, but also finding a more permanent solution to the crises in troubled countries. This is where regional diplomatic and economic bodies like the East African Community (EAC) come in. As the EAC heads of state meet in Kampala later this week, it is time for them to put the question of refugees high on their agenda.

The bloc has every reason to try and put a stop to the political turmoil in the DR Congo, Burundi, South Sudan and Somalia. The excuse often given, that condemning political violence is equivalent to meddling in the internal affairs of a state, is lame.

Governments of member states that are in conflict must be told openly and in no uncertain terms to put their houses in order. Otherwise the refugee crisis will remain a vicious circle.

The EAC and African Union should break this misplaced culture of silence on the political crises in the DRC, Burundi, South Sudan and Somalia. They have to act. It’s the only viable solution that will put a stop to the problem of refugees. Money only will not work.

Waste management crucial

Some civil society organisations (CSOs) have raised concerns over potential environmental hazards associated with mismanagement of waste. This is waste produced from oil and natural gas activities. It not only poses a serious health threat to humankind, but also to wildlife and aquatic species.

The CSOs are spot on. The need for relevant guidelines and regulations on the management of waste is long overdue. Needless to say, if the government turns a blind eye to the repercussions of mismanaging waste from extraction activities, some species will certainly be extinct before long.

This is why the Parliamentary Friends of Environment who met with the CSOs in Morogoro recently should take the advice seriously and act on it. The meeting came at the right time because Tanzania is currently implementing multimillion dollar projects, yet whose side effects may be fatal for both human beings and wildlife.

We must mine uranium and we need the Stiegler’s Gorge yydroelectricity as well as the oil pipeline project from Hoima in Uganda to Tanga. These are some of the major projects the country is banking its economic development on.

Nonetheless, in the absence of proper waste management regulations, these projects will come with huge environmental and human costs. The government should, therefore, come up with newer regulations and guidelines that will ensure Tanzanians stay safe and healthy.



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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

WORLD VIEW : All change in southern Africa



 

  

By Jonathan Power

It’s been an odd couple of months for southern Africa. No one predicted last year that in almost the same breath the long-serving dictator of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, and the super-corrupt president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, would be soon overthrown- and non-violently to boot.

In Zimbabwe the army did trigger Mugabe’s demise, but it was a sort of passive coup, a non-violent withdrawal of support. In South Africa Zuma was compelled to stand down as leader of the African National Congress because of a majority vote against him in an assembly of the ANC, the party of black protest against former minority white-led rule. Again, all done non-violently.

What is more, in South Africa, although violence had played some part in black liberation, the negotiations that took place in the closing years of the apartheid regime were accomplished without violence. There were peaceful negotiations between the black and white leadership that led to a new constitution that allowed free elections and thus the accession to the presidency of the ANC leader, Nelson Mandela.

Compare this with the violence and intimidation that has plagued the recent Kenyan elections, the imposition of dictatorial rule in Ethiopia and the ongoing mayhem in the Congo and Somalia. It is as if there are two different worlds in sub-Saharan Africa.

Of course, there are other countries in black Africa that are increasingly democratic and have regular non-violent elections- Tanzania, Botswana, Senegal, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Liberia and Nigeria among others.

No sub-Saharan African countries, apart from Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya, achieved their independence by use of the sword. It was done by negotiations with the metropolitan power in Europe. (Ethiopia and Liberia were not colonized.) Apart from Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire, there were not large numbers of white settlers to complicate matters, as in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Both Zimbabwe and South Africa have frittered away a good part of their inheritance. In Zimbabwe, the Marxist president created massive inflation, impoverishment of the masses and a silver platter for his associates.

In South Africa it has been more complex. White South Africa, dominated by the Afrikaners, Dutch settlers, was exceedingly corrupt, as well as rich. The new black elite stepped into their shoes, despite the leadership of Mandela, a leader of probity and integrity.

Mandela, and his successor, Thabo Mbeki, seemed unable to stem its tide. Zuma made it far worse. He and his associates creamed off hundreds of millions of dollars. It is this corruption that finally undid Zuma. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the $650,000 he paid out of state funds for a swimming pool and other delights on his magnificent homestead.

A majority of the ANC, albeit a slim one, could not abide this. Indeed such was their agitation that he was compelled to pay it back.

Zuma might well face prosecution for alleged bribes he was supposed to have taken some years ago, paid out for a defence contract. During his presidency he managed to undermine the independence of the police, the public prosecutor and the tax authorities. Now they can move against him.

Cyril Ramaphosa has taken over. He started life in politics as a student. Then he helped establish a powerful union of miners. He was Mandela’s favourite for successor but lost out to Mbeki. He left politics and went into business and became rich without apparently becoming corrupt. Next he became Zuma’s deputy.

His intelligence and negotiating skills are legendary. It has been said that in a negotiation he removes his opponent’s trousers but the man only finds this out once he leaves the room. Meanwhile, Ramaphosa has walked away with the agreement he wanted.

He is charismatic and exceedingly popular among the black masses. Yet while deputy president he kept his mouth shut about his boss’s excesses.

He now has to restore the authority of the police and prosecutors. (Senior judges, mainly black, have done a sterling job of keeping the courts independent. The printed press has kept itself almost free.) He has to reverse plans to take away the independence of the central bank.


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Monday, February 19, 2018

New health initiative good for EAC citizenry

 

By TheCitizen

Meeting recently in Kampala, Uganda, the 15th East African Community (EAC) Sectoral Council of Health Ministers approved the setting up of a facility for young health researchers. Titled Year’s Forum, this is a virtual platform to empower young health experts from all EAC states.

In that regard, the facility promises significant transformation in the health sector for it is meant to improve health research and the wellbeing of people in the region.

Indeed, we at The Citizen consider the establishment of such a programme long overdue. The health sector has for far too long been grappling with many challenges, most of them caused by little or lack of appropriate research.

Fortunately, there is now a ray of hope that some of the challenges – if not all – will soon be consigned to the dustbin of history when the initiative becomes operational. It is up to the East African Health Research Commission (EAHRC) to enroll young researchers with the potential to undertake research that will impact positively through their findings and innovations.

Our countries almost invariably come up with good initiatives intended to improve their people’s welfare, but not many of them lead to the intended outcomes – mostly due to poor implementation of the initiatives.

If implemented well, Year’s Forum should produce competent researchers, and help build a research culture that would identify solutions to health problems across the region.

Young health researchers earmarked for this programme include those pursuing PhD studies as well as those in academic or related institutions in East Africa. The EAHRC is among new EAC institutions which, we sincerely believe, will perform well in the best interests of the community’s 150 million citizenry

Much as we already envision a better healthcare system within the regional socio-econo-political bloc, it is still important that EAC governments provide support for the envisaged young up-and-coming experts.

WHY THIS EXCESSIVE FORCE?

Police are once again in the news for all the wrong reasons after a student was shot dead in Dar es Salaam on Friday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Akwilina Akwiline at this difficult moment after the life of the 21-year-old National Institute of Transport student was cut shot by a stray bullet fired by police, who were ostensibly trying to break up an illegal demonstration by opposition supporters in the city’s Kinondoni area.

It is just as well that President John Magufuli has ordered an inquiry into the incident and appropriate action be taken against those responsible for Akwilina’s death. Now that the President himself has spoken, we hope that the matter will be accorded the weight and seriousness it deserves.

While it could take time to establish who exactly fired the fatal shot, one thing is crystal clear – the Kinondoni incident was the latest in a series of cases where police have used excessive force in situations that do not warrant the use of live ammunition.




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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Give functional answer on ‘mitumba’ imports

What has for long been seen as a proposed ban on imports of secondhand clothing by three of the six member-nations of the East African Community is said to be a complete misunderstanding of the real situation.

Hitherto, it’d been generally ‘understood’ that Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda plan to ban outright secondhand clothing imports. This was ostensibly considered “essential to efforts at developing domestic industries for clothes production.”

To that end, four EAC states – Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – reportedly agreed in 2015 to ban used clothing imports over a three-year period beginning in 2019.

Apparently, the US has been disputing this, arguing that the proposed ‘ban’ would stifle free trade – and is against the May 18, 2000 ‘US Africa Growth and Opportunity Act’ (Agoa).

Extended to year-2025, Agoa significantly enhances access to the vast US market for eligible sub-Sahara African (s-SA) countries.

To so-qualify – and remain ‘Agoa-eligible’ – an s-SA country “must (among other criteria) be working to improve its rule of law, human rights, respect for core labor standards” – and “eliminate barriers to trade with the US!”

So, when the four EAC states first raised the issue of ‘banning’ used clothing imports in 2015, Kenya – which benefits the most under the Agoa arrangements, including relatively substantial exports of Kenya-made textiles to the US – just as soon withdrew from the agreed proposal.

Virtually left in the lurch by Kenya

Virtually left in the lurch by Kenya, the other three EAC proponents of the used clothing imports ‘ban’ apparently nursed the proposal – and were reportedly planning to finally decide whether or not to proclaim it at the ‘EAC Heads of State Retreat on Infrastructure and Health Financing and Development’ in Kampala next week.

But, speaking in an interview with Business Daily – The Citizen’s sister paper in Nairobi – the acting head of Economic and Regional Affairs Unit in the US State Department’s Africa Bureau, Mr Harry Sullivan, reportedly said Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda have until next week’s meeting in Kampala to reverse the banning proposal – or face the consequences.

Fortunately, much of the misunderstanding has now been cleared up by the Tanzania Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Augustine Mahiga – who said on Friday that there’s no question of banning imports of secondhand clothing.

Instead, the countries involved will simply “phase in and phase out importation of used clothes and shoes, while building domestic manufacturing capacities…” he stressed.

By ‘phasing in’ – the minister explained –the countries involved would build the domestic capacity to make clothes to be used in place of imported secondhand clothing… And, imports would be phased out gradually, as “the local market still demands the product.”

That said – and the air having finally been cleared by the Tanzania government regarding the virtual antipodes that are ‘banning mitumba imports’ and ‘phasing them in and out’ – we all expectantly look forward to the decision in Kampala next week.

This should hopefully set the stage and pave the way to EAC countries that are self-sufficient in locally-manufactured, affordable clothing – and, by parity of reasoning, free of used clothing imports.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Being EA’s top tourist hot spot is an attainable goal

 

By TheCitizen

For quite some time now, neighbouring Kenya has been the biggest economy in East Africa – and the region’s leading tourist destination. If by “tourism” we mean “the commercial organisation and operation of holidays/pleasure, business and other visits to places of interest”, then Tanzania is finally turning the tables on Kenya, heavily breathing down its neck in the economic and tourism growth stakes.

Take tourism, for starters. While Kenya had 1,342,899 international tourist arrivals in 2016 (up from 954,335 in 2006), Tanzania hosted 1,284,279 tourists in 2016, up from 622,000 in 2006,

Clearly, then, Tanzania is on the heels of Kenya, and is about to overtake that country in tourist arrival numbers and related earnings.

So, when Kenya’s Tourism minister Najib Balala publicly admitted as much, he wasn’t far off the mark. Mr Balala says lack of adequate world-class hotels in Kenya has made Tanzania a better proposition for tourists in East Africa.

In any case, Tanzania’s redoubled efforts at growing its economy via such potential sectors as tourism must not be overlooked.

It must be said that a lot has been done in the past decade or so. Tanzania has for many decades been viewed as a sleeping giant as far as tourism potential is concerned.

But the country must not rest on its laurels because of the ongoing positive developments. Encouraged as we are by the progress – and taking into account that tourism is Tanzania’s leading foreign exchange earner ($2.3 billion last year) and contributes 17 per cent of GDP – we must strive even harder to become the top tourist destination – and cling to the top.

COMMENDABLE MOVE, BUT...

Measures announced this week by the Police Force aimed at curbing accidents on a notorious section of the busy Chalinze-Segera highway in Tanga Region were long overdue. Unfortunately, it took the loss of the lives of five people killed earlier in the week when a bus collided with a minibus in Kabuku, Handeni District, for police to be jolted into action.

Traffic police chief Fortunatus Musilimu said officers equipped with speed guns would be stationed at one-kilometre intervals along the 10-kilometre stretch, where motorists, particularly bus drivers, tend to speed despite the winding and hilly nature of the road.

This decision is commendable, but the inevitable question is: what will happen at night when traffic police are usually not on duty to check speeding on major roads? It is not a secret that buses travel at insanely high speeds after dark as drivers seek to make up for time “lost” observing speed limits during the day. They do this safe in the knowledge that there are no speed gun-totting traffic police officers lurking among the bushes by the roadside at night.

Traffic police and other road safety stakeholders need to come up with ideas that will ensure that road safety rules are strictly adhered to around the clock, and not just during the day.


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Friday, February 16, 2018

LOVE LETTERS TO TANZANIA : Can we afford to fall asleep at the wheel?



SABINE BARBARA_ sabinebarbara@yahoo.co.au

SABINE BARBARA_ sabinebarbara@yahoo.co.au 

By Sabine Barbara

Most of us know people who brag about how little sleep they get. Often, they present themselves as active, energetic people who succeed despite very little rest, like purportedly some highly successful entrepreneurs and political leaders – past and present.

If their undertone makes you feel inadequate or lazy for seeking a solid eight hours’ sleep per night, if you now wonder whether you are genetically inferior to those who claim to never sleep more than four hours a night, ignore them! Instead you should be proud of yourself if taking your quest for enough sleep seriously.

Very few people tell the truth about needing very little sleep – less than three per cent of the population, according to scientists. Many self-proclaimed “short sleepers” actually force themselves to stay awake because of societal pressures and the misconception that surviving on four hours sleep per night denotes supremacy. For many, voluntary sleep deprivation is simply a desperate attempt to stay ahead of the competition.

Boasting about being sleep deprived has become a badge of honour for modern executives who glorify long working hours. Politicians too, brag about sacrificing sleep, expecting us to be impressed. However, sleep deprived leaders should not be celebrated as exemplary citizens. They are setting a bad example for the rest of society and one wonders if some of their decisions would be more measured and judicious if made after a good night’s sleep.

Becoming competitive about sleep can be dangerous and is therefore not the hallmark of a good leader, efficient executive or top surgeon. Research into the effect of inadequate sleep on the human brain shows that sleep deprived people are at increased risk of physical and psychological illness and may pose a risk for others, in particular in occupations where human error or poor judgement could kill someone. Who wants an overtired air traffic controller, emergency room doctor or truck driver?

Fatigue is often a contributing factor in airplane and train crashes. US researchers say up to 40 per cent of accidents involving heavy trucks are caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel. The rising popularity of dash cam’s (small video recorders which motorists attach to their windscreen to continuously record traffic while the vehicle is in motion) delivers a shocking truth: a frighteningly common cause of fatal accidents is drivers of passenger cars nodding off.

Even in low risk occupations sleep deprivation leads to workplace accidents, some of which result in loss of life. Sacrificing sleep to add a few hours to the working day may be unavoidable during times of crisis, but can have devastating effects if practised long-term.

Lack of sleep undermines rational decision-making and adversely affects our health, memory, ability to learn and emotional stability. It causes mood swings and poor impulse control. The chronically sleep deprived age more quickly and are more prone to disability and premature death. Apparently even short-term sleep deprivation results in some brain tissue loss.

The existence of entire organisations with the sole purpose to educate us about sleep, like the non-profit National Sleep Foundation in Washington DC, highlights its importance. In 2017, Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation estimated the cost of inadequate sleep to the national economy to be A$66.3 annually, including health system costs, productivity losses, tax losses and welfare payments to people debilitated by regular lack of sleep.

We should thank anyone trying to get sufficient sleep every night, making our roads, workplaces and hospitals safer. Every insomniac who reduces lifestyle factors which interfere with healthy sleep, such as smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and excessive alcohol consumption, should be applauded.

Sadly, not everyone can afford the luxury of eight hours sleep per night. Life circumstances may demand more waking hours to feed the family or to work while completing formal studies. But those who can sleep, should.


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Friday, February 16, 2018

A CHAT FROM LONDON : Brilliant Africans and the struggle against injustice

Fredy Macha is a writer and musician  based in

Fredy Macha is a writer and musician  based in London.Blog,www.fredymachablogspot. 

By Freddy Macha

Online description says Anele Mdoda is “effervescent”. I had to look it up. Bubbly, jovial, lively, charming, buoyant is what the South African TV presenter for Real Talk is. In November 2016 she was interviewing another effervescent personality, a brilliant comic.

Trevor Noah.

Ladies and gentlemen.

Effervescent.

For those who have seen his lively shows on TV or YouTube, Noah makes us all proud. He is not just funny, he is intelligent and, at last, we have an African entertainer of a high calibre.

Effervescent.

Apart from media skills, Trevor Noah is multilingual (Khosa, Zulu, Tswana, Sotho, German, etc) - another skill we Africans tend to possess effortlessly. Hey! Watch out! We are the most polyglot speakers on earth. Whenever I tell people overseas that on average an African speaks three languages (tribal, national – e.g. Wolof, Swahili, Somali or Lingala, plus European) they go “Woow!” – So Kudos to the 33-year-old Noah.

To continue...

Effervescent Anele Mdoda wanted to know what the effervescent comedian misses being away from home in South Africa. According to Wikipedia, the funny man had to move to the USA after being threatened by his stepfather, Ngisaveni Shingange, who allegedly shot his mother in 2009.

“What do you miss being away?”

No.

Noah did not mention the sunshine, food, smells and certain physical things that most of us are expected to lay bare about missing Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, Khanga and Matoke.

“It is the ability to grow... “

I was surprised.

This is typical positive thinking. An overseas African looking at the brighter side of developing Africa. Growth.

Now. Compare that to this.

Years ago when I was growing up we used to be very proud of Mwalimu Nyerere’s foreign policies. In 1967 Biafra pulled away from Nigeria. Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu led an uprising against the Nigerian federal government. I do not recall African Presidents supporting Ojukwu. But Nyerere did so openly. To this day I meet old Igbos (Biafrans) who on realising I am Tanzanian, clap hands, and admit adoring Mwalimu.

“Nyerere had guts to stand up for others,” one always declares loudly.

Meantime, Tanzania supported liberation movements in Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, morally and materially. Those were, nevertheless, colonial problems.

Nyerere equally supported civil groups fighting against injustice. Biafra was one. Eritrea and Western Sahara another. The best, though, was Uganda. We know what happened in 1979. Tanzania helped rid Amin’s genocide that left a quarter of a million dead. Guts, yes.

Moral courage.

Who else on the continent?

Whenever an African dictator has trounced his own people, other leaders have either remained silent or pretended it is not happening. Non-interference. Protocol. But this protocol was sidelined by Nyerere.

It has become acceptable – so much that when leaders break the silence, it is news. Like recently.

African Leaders Great Inspirational Speeches. A channel on YouTube is dedicated to memorable talks. The new “disco” is dedicated to Africa and among its special documentaries is a four minute footage of oldest, ten independent African nations.

Cameroon (1960), Guinea (1958), Ghana (1957), Tunisia (1956), Morocco (1956), Sudan (1956), Libya (1951), Egypt (1922), Liberia (1847) and Ethiopia - most ancient on the motherland.

Peaceful nations are named as Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania – (ranked 55 worldwide – with pictures of mostly Dar es Salaam’s buildings and skyscrapers), Namibia, Ghana, Sierra Leone ( surprisingly ranked 43 – despite having civil disorder not so long ago), Zambia – level 40 globally, Madagascar no 38, Botswana no 28- and finally-Mauritius – which is 23 on the planet. There is a bit of bias on Mauritius. Tourist and major, attractions beamed. Not just skyscrapers in the capital city of Port Louis.

A speech by Ghana President, Nana Akufo- Addo alleges that despite all these years, Africans continue to beg, beg, beg and depend on aid.

Next is Rwanda’s Paul Kagame.

He is addressing an African Development Bank forum.

Posted December 2017. The speech criticises fellow leaders for not sitting down and discussing troubles. They “wait until they are invited overseas.” They are made to sit down and address our problems. That the image we give is “we are not there to solve problems but for a photo opportunity...”

He exemplifies north and south Sudan.

South Sudan wanted independence. They fought to achieve that. And then another war after the feat, occurred.

These issues could have been resolved – by fellow African leaders. But it was not the case.

“...We must take responsibility and accept our failures in dealing with these matters. We should invite each other to tell each other the truth...”

This, he claims, would avoid the catastrophe that has happened in Sudan. And those who suffer in this are mainly poor innocent children, women; even men, he says.


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Thursday, February 15, 2018

WHAT OTHERS SAY: How Somali and Zimbabwe social media revealed Africa’s secrets

 

By Charles Onyango-Obbo

While we tend to focus on the ugly side of social media - the hate speech, bullying, fake news – a silent but exciting revolution has happened in it.

Type “African history” in Twitter search and Google, and you will be surprised at which offers the more user-friendly, though not richer, experience. If you are researching the popular art movements in Africa, especially hyperrealism, the best two places to find it are Twitter and Facebook.

Interesting things also happens if you just stare hard at social media, and ask “what is the big story here?” You will see a fascinating social laboratory.

For those interested in the shifts in Africa, two very good cases are what happened with the Somalia legislative elections of October and November 2016, and its presidential election in February 2017.

And then last November, when the Zimbabwe army and ruling ZANU-PF choreographed a velvet coup, and ousted strongman Robert Mugabe, after he had been in power for 37 years, long enough to bring a once prosperous country to its knees.

Mugabe’s 94th birthday, by the way, is coming up on February 21, and this time, there will probably will be no national cutting of a giant birthday cake, and hundreds of cows, goats, chicken, and wildlife will get to live because the days of feasting that accompanied the ticking of the clock on Uncle Bob’s long-life are gone.

Social media can be a very good indicator of the state of mind of a country’s people. The people of Botswana are rich, don’t endure police beatings every day, and don’t worry that a president will change constitution and cling to power.

They are generally laid back, satisfied, and not shrill on social media.

Somalia has been blighted by war, famines, and fanatic militia for decades, though it has seen considerable since the African Union peacekeeping force, AMISOM, set up shop there from late 2007. The Somali elections, went off remarkably well, and served up Africa’s most unique legislature.

A third of its 275 members of Parliament hold foreign passports. But most dramatically, nearly 60 per cent were between the ages of 25 and 50, the youngest on the continent.

Then the number of women in Parliament rose to 24 per cent, putting it ahead of countries like Kenya, and above the sub-Sahara of 22 per cent. That made Somalia the Muslim country with the highest number of elected in a legislature, if my additions are not shaky.

Then, the Somalia Parliament elected a dual American-Somali citizen, Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed, as president, and Hassan Ali Khaire, a Somali-Norwegian as prime minister. It’s the only country on the continent where both the president and PM are dual citizens.

Somalis seem to see themselves as a window into what a young, diaspora-shaped African society, might look like, and to hold of the possibilities for women in politics in poor Muslim countries.

That sense of euphoria is still clear in the tone of Somalis on social media. Many men changed their profile photos to ones where they appear in sharp suits, and a lot of women took off the chadors, the al-amiras, and in came with the shaylas – and, oh yes, brighter makeup.

The change in post-Mugabe has been even more dramatic. First, Zimbabwe tweeps are less angry. They are prouder. But the most noticeable shift is the sheer number of them who took down photos of footballers, models, movie stars, Nelson Mandela, Thomas Sankara for their profiles and put up their real selves. There are many obvious insights we can glean from this. But the less obvious one is what it says about the architecture of national pride.

It seems that it harder, and more humiliating, to see your country go down the drains through the incompetence and corruption of its leaders and officials and you are helpless to stop it – or even able enable through tribal voting.

It is easier if it goes down because of civil war, prolonged drought, or a massive invasion of locusts, anything but the folly of your fellow citizens. At least that way, you have a good excuse, and can rely on the sympathy, compassion, and understanding of strangers.

Economist Robert Coase famously said, “if you torture data long enough it will confess”. It seems if you stare at social media long enough, it will confess its secrets.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Divorce rate alarming

 

The family, as an institution, remains the single most important building block of society. When families are strong, society is most likely to be stable.

The opposite is also true. This is why it is both saddening and alarming that this key institution is in jeopardy in Tanzania.

This can be deduced from what is reportedly happening in Zanzibar.

Zanzibar, for years, has been considered a conservative society, especially when it comes to upholding moral and family values. Yet a story published in yesterday’s edition of The Citizen revealing rising cases of divorce leaves one with a different impression.

Zanzibar’s House of Representatives heard that last year alone there were a total of 1,218 such cases. The causes range from financial stress, infidelity to domestic violence.

This trend should serve as a wakeup call. It is a tip of the iceberg. And it shows that the building block of our society is weakening, hence, more people seeking divorce.

We should be concerned because the weakening of the family will affect the upbringing of the children and how they are prepared to become responsible citizens.

While there cannot be simple answers to this situation, it is high time religious leaders stepped in and help rescue the family institution.

Relevant authorities in government should also work with religious leaders in addressing the problem.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

More initiatives needed to boost agriculture

Agriculture remains the mainstay of Tanzania’s economy. The sector contributes close to 30 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is also the source of livelihoods for more than three-quarters of the population.

However, the sector still faces a number of challenges, including low productivity, post-harvest losses, low investment and climate-related risks like droughts.

Tanzania’s agriculture is dominated by smallholder farmers, most of who unfortunately depend on seasonal rains. Thus, they are easily affected by climate changes. However, the news that Tanzania is among the four eastern Africa states set to benefit from the global programme on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), through partnership with research and donor agencies, is refreshing.

The Climate Smart Agriculture is an approach for transforming and reorienting agricultural systems to support food security under the new realities of climate change. Threats can be reduced by increasing the adaptive capacity of farmers, as well as increasing resilience and resource use efficiency in agricultural productive systems.

These are the kinds of initiatives that will help sustain agriculture and ensure not only food security, but also economic development. But more needs to be done. For example, it is high time the issue of insurance was taken seriously to help, especially smallholder farmers.

Most of them do not have access to insurance services because they are normally themselves considered a huge risk.

Tanzania can borrow a leaf from other African countries where farmers are covered against poor yields resulting from adverse climatic conditions, disease and damage by insects.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

WORLD VIEW : Donald Trump’s beefed up economics



US president elect Donald Trump.

US president elect Donald Trump. 

By Jonathan Power jonatpower@aol.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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

By Citizen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IT’S RAINING, BEWARE CHOLERA!

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

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

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

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

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

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

With proper plans, we can stop cholera outbreaks.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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

Deus Kibamba is trained in Political Science,

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

By Deus Kibamba dkibamba1@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why Donald Trump deserves to be congratulated for his win

Donald Trump won the US presidential election

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

By Benji Ndolo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanders began what looked like a sure political revolution.

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

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

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

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

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

The Republican Party openly revolted against its candidate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, April 23, 2018

TOUGH JUSTICE : Why online content regulation is a blow to youth enterprise



Justice Novati Rutenge



justice@idev.co.tz

Justice Novati Rutenge justice@idev.co.tz 

By Justice Novati Rutenge

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent two days at Capitol Hill earlier this month being grilled by US senators on his company’s role in the Cambridge Analytica saga, and the alleged elections interference that continues to dog US President Donald Trump.

If this hearing proved anything, it was that the internet is no longer that harmless, if it ever was.
It’s the reason many countries the world over appear challenged in coming up with cybercrime laws to protect the masses from the danger that the internet poses. By far, the most challenging situation the internet has offered, and partly because of its heavy repercussion, is the mining of data by political consulting firms or marketing firms, among others. It’s what got the young billionaire into trouble and booked him on Capitol Hill.
So it is understandable when the government takes interest in attempting to create some sort of order online, however futile. And on that note, I want to express that I am all in support of some level of internet regulation, but not to the extent reached in the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations.
Gagging government critics
Many (rightly) see the regulations are part of a coordinated attempt at gagging government critics, but I will not dwell on this today.  Instead I will focus on the massive opportunity that millions of young people are being denied to access knowledge (not just information) and earn a living.
Let me begin with a story. About three years ago when my firm received funding to do the country’s first 3D-animated TV show, I needed to hire a few animators and illustrators. I started by publishing a job advert and quickly realised that it was the wrong approach.
The applications I received convinced me that the skill sets required to pull off our very ambitious project were lacking internally. So I started contacting animators from Kenya and Nigeria whose superb work was published online. In the course of this I was made aware that a few animators who had very little online presence, and this is how I was able to recruit locally.
The point here is that the regulations are creating unnecessary obstacles in publishing, which will only serve to deny our young people the visibility they need to not only earn their living from their skills, but also compete with their counterparts across the world who offer the same services.
Secondly, for a long time, there’s been a debate about the need to increase local content in our mainstream media channels. It’s fair to say the government has largely failed to regulate towards this end. But what’s more concerning is that digital media which somewhat fills the gap in local content is being rendered useless.
The number of bloggers who conveniently name themselves “TV” is very large in this day and time, and these are spread throughout the country. A quick look at YouTube data for Tanzania shows me that out of the top 30 channels in terms of views, representing slightly above 2 billion views, 16 are “entertainment news” channels.
These channels most likely draw their inspiration from Millard Ayo, a young radio presenter who runs arguably the most successful online media business in the country. He too began by disseminating entertainment news, but has grown to the point of beating mainstream media in gathering and reporting local news and events.
Massive blow
The new regulations are a massive blow to thousands of aspiring internet entrepreneurs who, like their role model, could have grown to have a valuable contribution to the media sector and the economy.
The new regulations are threatening to cut off a large number of young producers who are not just out there to earn a living, but are also helping us tell our stories. Without them, we continue to be a nation without its own narrative.
In the grand scheme of things, the goal of regulation should be to safeguard net neutrality and ensure all users are ripping maximum benefits from their online activities.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Games flop not suprising

By TheCitizen

The 21st Commonwealth Games ended last weekend in Gold Coast, Australia, and, not surprisingly, Tanzania did not win any medal.

Tanzania has a relatively good record at the Commonwealth Games, having won 21 medals since making its debut back in 1966 in Kingston, Jamaica.

However, it was difficult for even the most optimistic and patriotic of Tanzanians to expect our representatives to win anything at the Gold Coast games, and there was a concrete reason for this.

Tanzania competed in athletics, boxing, swimming and table tennis, but preparations for the games, which involved some of the world’s top sporting nations, were inadequate, to say the least. You don’t make half-hearted preparations and expect to win a medal at the world’s second biggest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.

Tanzania’s team travelled to Australia as mere participants, and not serious contenders for honours. Tanzania’s results in Gold Coast reminded us probably for the umpteenth time that in sports, you reap what you sow.

The next Olympic Games are only two years away, and we can only hope that the Gold Coast games have offered vital lessons, if any were needed, on what should be done if Tanzania hopes to win its first Olympic medal since 1980.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

CAG audit: Barking up the wrong tree

Prof. Mussa Juma Assad Controller and Auditor

Prof. Mussa Juma Assad Controller and Auditor General 

By Peter Nyanje

A few days after this year’s Mwenge wa Uhuru (Freedom Torch) race was inaugurated by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa in Geita Region early this month, the race leader, Mr Charles Kabeho, refused to launch four projects in Nyang’wale District.

This was because he smelt a rat over the cost of the projects, claiming that they did not quite reflect the value of the money spent in constructing them. This is just one of a myriad public projects whose costs don’t represent value for money.

And that is where we need to focus as we debate the Controller and Auditor General’s report for the 2016/17 financial year.

Right now, focus is on the furore started by the Kigoma Urban MP Zitto Kabwe on the whereabouts of Sh1.5 trillion in the consolidated account. Arguably, that’s a lot of money for a struggling economy like Tanzania’s.

Traditionally, audits by CAG dwell on the processes and procedures used in public expenditures. But the Nyang’wale example should make us look behind the processes and procedures – and seek to establish whether or not national budgets are fully accounted for, especially in the expenditures stakes.

We are told that expenditure during the 2016/17 financial year amounted to around Sh24 trillion. We need to see value for money in terms of results from the expenditure side regarding that fiscal year.

Otherwise, we could be barking up the wrong tree, fighting over Sh1.5 trillion while we are not quite sure whether the Sh24 trillion was spent wisely, and as appropriate.

Arguments over whether what some government ministers are saying in response to the 2016/17 CAG report is legal or illegal have left us perplexed – partly because what the ministers are saying is out of convexity. While the CAG report covers 2016/17, some ministers speak of issues which happened well after that timeline.

It is amazing that people are focusing on only few aspects, notably questionable expenditure. But, the CAG has released reports on a number of different areas – some of which have not been questioned although they also contain contentious issues on misappropriations and ill expenditures.

For instance, no one is talking about the call in the report for improvement in accountability and performance by public entities.

The report also provides an objective and constructive assessment of the extent to which the audited institutions have used public resources in carrying out their responsibilities with due regard to the economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

These are issues which make an economy vibrant or stagnate. But we do not give them much thought. We dwell on results of shortcomings instead of focusing on the root cause(s) of the shortcomings.

While we bemoan road and marine accidents, we have failed to look into this CAG report which has established inadequate enforcement of road and maritime transport safety laws and standards.

If you look into this report, you will stop wondering why our roads have become a bloodbath because CAG has established that the ministry responsible for transport did not monitor and evaluate the performance of safety in the transport sector.

CAG states that substandard road signs, markings and guardrails, as well as failure to repair worn-out road safety structures by Tanroads is a reflection of inadequate enforcement of safety laws and standards.

Likewise, non-compliance with the safety laws and standards of marine vessels was caused by inadequate enforcement of safety rules. CAG notes in his report that only 1.85 per cent of defaulters of marine regulations were penalised in 2011/2012 and 2015/2016.

In addition, Sumatra did not issue stop orders to non-compliant marine vessels; instead, they certified the vessels as fit for operation. This resulted in a level of noncompliance ranging from 52 per cent in 2011/2012 to 68 per cent in 2013/2014.

CAG also established that enforcement food safety was not carried out effectively, and the registration of food processing plants and related facilities was not carried out in an efficient and effective way.

Furthermore, there was low enforcement of safety measures in public buildings - and the implementation of development projects is not friendly to human settlements safety,

In general, CAG found that the government has not effectively managed enforcement of safety measures and controls in transportation and human settlements, as well as food processing and importation.

These are areas in which the Sh24 trillion which has been adjudicated as having been “accounted” for was spent. But the result of this expenditure was not necessarily effective.

This means that, while we question the whereabouts of Sh1.5 trillion which ostensibly has not been accounted for, we should also question if the money which was “accounted for” was justifiably spent accordingly.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Let's play our part during African vaccination week

 

By Janet Otieno Prosper

Parents would usually do their best to ensure that their children stay healthy. One way of doing that is by vaccinating them against common diseases. It so happens that the African Vaccination Week (AVW) is upon us.

The week is themed “Vaccines Work. Do Your Part”, and this year’s slogan is “Vaccinated Communities, Healthy Communities”.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the theme highlights the collective action needed to ensure that people are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. It urges enhanced immunisation across Africa, with particular focus on the roles that all and sundry can play in this. After AVW was launched in April 2011, many African countries have conducted health-related campaigns promoting immunisation and other child survival interventions. The results have been most encouraging.

According to WHO data, nearly 14 million vaccine doses were administered in 19 African countries in 2017, and about 10 million deworming tablets were distributed in Angola, Central African Republic (CAR), Comoros, Madagascar and Rwanda.

Also, some 6.3 million vitamin A tablets were distributed in Angola, CAR, Comoros, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sao Tomé, and Zimbabwe, while 7.7 million children were screened for malnutrition in Angola, Madagascar and Rwanda. Furthermore, there were malaria and HIV testing activities in Angola and Madagascar, as well as distribution of family planning devices in Rwanda.

African Vaccination Week is marked during the last week of April – along with World Immunisation Week – to strengthen immunisation programmes and increase awareness of the importance, the need and the right of everyone to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. That is why Tanzania must within the comity of nations keep immunisation high on the agenda to promote delivery of big-impact lifesaving interventions.

We should also go out of our way to educate parents on the importance of timely vaccination, if only because vaccine-preventable diseases can be costly in terms of medical expenses, loss of productive labour/time and even death.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

CAG report debate that refuses to die away



Ally Saleh

Ally Saleh 

By Ally Saleh

The debate on the Control and Auditor General (CAG) report is raging on. It has spreading in media and mainstream media.

The document is about government accounts for 2016/2017.

I have never seen such kind of a debate, hot as it is, but also very passionate with opposing views being aired with all the energy and being defended vigorously, depending on which side of the fence on the report one is standing.

The report is a constitutional and legal requirement being submitted to the government every April timing it to coincide with the Annual Budget Session being discussed in the National Assembly as a condition to check and consider previous accounts as means of accountability.

Why such huge interest in the CAG report this year? While CAG pointed out a lot of shortcomings in the way government accounting was being run, with overspending here and there, wastage here and there, spending without proper procedures and with no valid documentation to support the same, it was Sh1.5 trillion that sparked off curiosity.

What is about Sh1.5 trillion? The CAG did not categorically state anywhere in his report that that colossal amount of money was missing, but he indicated there was no correlation between the amount admitted by the government to have been collected and that was spent.

He said he could not trace the balance from the amount that was collected to match with what was spent.

This brought hot discussion in the public domain mainly triggered by Honourable Zitto Kabwe, an ACT Wazalando member of Parliament, who said not only should the government take responsibility for the missing amount but it should also offer public explanation on the where the taxpayers’ money went to.

In what has never happened before the government unleashed its huge machinery to defend itself from other parts of misuse, misallocation and spending out budgetary allocation by asking line ministers to answer CAG allegations.

When it came to the Sh1.5 trillion a statement was issued in Parliament and read by deputy Finance minister Ashatu Kijazi, who said it was all about false alarm being raised on the issue and saying the government collection and spending was in proper order.

It was something unusual, with CCM Publicity Secretary Humphrey Polepole, from the ruling party headquarters at Lumumba Street, Dar es Salaam, adding to the frantic defence of the government, which came to power on the banner of anti-corruption and thrift spending.

Many theories about the money have emerged, but we do not have time for them here, but suffice to say that this has been a shock much to the government and the general public. Some wanted to think probably the said missing amount would have been associated the out-of-budget spending by the government in many projects such as the standard-gauge railway, Stieigler’s Gorge power project, the Bombadier buying as well dishing out of huge amount of monies to a number of projects.

This is a wake-up call. It has come at a right time when members of the Parliament have been lamenting on the spending style by the government not associated with the finance culture in Tanzania in quest for development.

We also hope it will be a wake-up call as well that the national debt is reaching dangerous stages though once again the government denies saying it is still manageable, but with no firm control it will soon strangle Tanzanians.

Now as the dust slowly settles, but solution on the said missing Sh1.5 trillion not found and each side sticking to its stand, it will be the duty of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee to comb the government accounts to find the said amount – and probably only then Tanzanians can relax. Otherwise, the doubts will continue to roil, sending tongues wagging.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Letter to Lissu: please, don’t go back home

Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian writer based in

Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian writer based in Canada 

By Nkwazi Mhango

Dear Tundu,

I am happy to note that you are improving after some betes noires wanted to kill you. I am writing this open letter not to teach you the right thing to do. Although our media, and possibly people, seem to have forgotten you, I still remember you though with pangs and twangs due to what befell you. This is because, it seems, the attempt on your life has been treated as a normal criminal act while it actually is more than that. You once said: “This was a political assassination which isn’t new in our country”.

To me, condoning any form of injustice is as good as committing it. It is indescribable cowardice, mainly when this textbook cowardice is collective and systemic. The full-on attack on you seems to have been condoned or ignored for the peril of others to follow. Since the attempt on your life was made, four people have already lost their lives in mysterious circumstances.

Today, I want to advise you not to go back to Tanzania after recovering.

For, if you do, those who wanted you dead and those they used will ruthlessly assassinate you as long as the motive[s] behind the horrid attempt on your life is still raw and real so to speak. After you are done, they’ll purr and congratulate themselves. Their attempt on your life wasn’t a mere goof off or just an accident.

Thank Lord you survived. However, it is naturally a few and far between for a normal mortal to survive the hail of bullets like the one you survived.

Those who wanted you dead are still at large and watching from the sidelines. We live and die once. The life God bequeathed you must not be squandered or underestimated.

These ruffians mean business, dirty and serious business. Aren’t they really people or beasts that are supposed to be in hellfire burning for their sins? Unknown people are now a force within another. They recently killed Daniel John and Godfrey Luena, members of the Chadema not to mention Aquiline Akwilina who’s allegedly killed by a stray bullet. Looking at and into such macabre assassinations and the status of the victims, Tundu, believe me or not; hate or love me my brother; they’ll finish you off.

If the trio is the fish of normal sizes, then you’re a whale not a shark. If the victims were a danger to those who killed them, then you’re a disaster to these ruthless cowards.

Believe you me. Chinese proverb has it that “a wise man makes his own decisions; an ignorant man follows public opinion.” It is very sad when one follows the opinion of the public that seems to have ignored him not to mention its willingness to become the part and parcel of crimes against others.

I know; many would want you to go back home in one piece to continue with what you love most, politics.

You once avowed that you’d go back home and continue with the struggle. This is noble. However, your life is the noblest comparably.

Mr Mhango is a Tanzanian author based in Canada

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

America’s petty policy on used clothes for Africa

 

By Garth Frazer

Fostering international development has long been viewed as central to the moral, humanitarian, strategic and security interests of the United States.

In particular, there is one area where the US has been a leader in development assistance — providing trade preferences to African countries, most of which are low-income countries.

This has been achieved through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which was initially passed by US Congress in 2000 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The legislation was deliberately renewed by both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Agoa demonstrates the power of U.S. trade policy to bring about significant change in Africa through measures that, while trivial from the American perspective, can have a sizeable impact in Africa.

Specifically, Agoa allows for eligible African countries to export a long list of goods to the US without paying the import tariffs that most countries must pay and without being subject to import quota restrictions.

The beauty of Agoa lies in the fact that it costs the U.S. very little to implement in terms of lost tariff revenue and lost market share.

In fact, it’s fair to say that the implementation of Agoa has had zero impact on the US economy, and close to zero in terms of American tariff revenues.

At the same time, however, Agoa has resulted in an increase in exports in some key products that have been massive when measured by African standards.

For example, apparel exports, which have historically been an important stepping stone in the process of development for virtually all countries, increased on average by 42 per cent under Agoa.

As soon as one considers the short-term and long-term good will, as well as trading relationships, that Agoa has nurtured between the US and Africa, it has undoubtedly been an example of a win-win scenario for both the US and Africa.

Shift away from human rights concerns

Importantly, not all African countries have been eligible for Agoa trade preferences. Practically speaking, countries found lacking in basic protection of human rights and countries that have moved away from democracy have either not been granted Agoa eligibility or have been removed from Agoa eligibility. Specifically, five countries have been removed, either temporarily or as of now, after military coups or coups d’état: Mauritania, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali and Guinea-Bissau.

Côte d’Ivoire was once removed following the failure to reach a peace agreement and the failure to hold elections. Other countries, none of which are paragons of good government, have been removed for different periods related to human rights abuses of varying kinds (Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Gambia, South Sudan, Swaziland and Burundi).

These actions have been consistent with the promotion of US values of human rights and democracy worldwide, and consistent with historic aspirations of American foreign policy. In a single exception to the above pattern, suspension of agricultural benefits — not removal — was threatened for South Africa in 2015 in a dispute over chickens, but this suspension wasn’t implemented.

Under the current US administration of President Donald Trump, however, this philosophy and approach has shifted.

The United States is currently in the process of suspending Rwanda from its current status under Agoa not because of military coups, but because Rwanda wants to restrict the importation of second-hand clothes that come from the US.

Cheap clothes for African consumers

Currently, a significant fraction of the used clothing disposed of by Americans through their donations to thrift shops and parking lot boxes are not sold in the US, but are shipped to Africa. Since these clothes are sourced for free, they serve as incredibly cheap sources of clothing in these countries.

This serves to benefit African consumers, although it historically had a negative impact on African apparel production that was serving the domestic market.

Some countries, such as South Africa, have implemented near bans on used-clothing imports as a result. Whether restriction of used-clothing imports is a good policy for African countries, therefore, is open to debate. The reduced used-clothing imports may well be replaced in the future by new clothing imports from Asia.

However, what is deeply concerning is that when the members of the East African Community (EAC), a regional trade agreement similar to NAFTA, decided to increase the restrictions on used-clothing imports, the current US administration responded by threatening to remove Agoa access for them.

As a result of this threat, Kenya quickly reversed its decision. Then, in February, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania decided to end their proposed ban on used-clothing imports too. However, because Rwanda is maintaining significant tariffs on used-clothing imports, the US has decided to suspend Rwanda’s Agoa access for apparel exports.

Used-clothing exports from the U.S. to all EAC countries combined had an all-time peak of US$43 million in 2012, which is 0.003 per cent of American exports.

This is a truly negligible industry from the American perspective. Its trifling economic value is not surprising as this industry essentially takes items that might otherwise go to the garbage and ships them to Africa. However, the US is indicating that a major foreign policy goal on the African continent is the defence of its ability to dispose of second-hand clothing there.

The top US foreign policy goals in Africa apparently no longer relate to human rights or democratic freedoms, but to protecting tiny, marginal American industries. In contrast, China is building its influence on the African continent. While the Chinese are not promoting human rights or democratic freedoms, they’re also not punishing African countries for their trade policies for the purpose of defending tiny Chinese industries. It is absolutely clear which superpower is willing to allow African countries to make their own policy decisions. It will be interesting to see which superpower is dominant in Africa in the long term. (The Conversation)

The author is Associate Professor of Economic Analysis and Public Policy, University of Toronto

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Apps: What the law says

 

By Paul Kibuuka

The flourishing smart device technologies market has created an incredible platform for entrepreneurs in Tanzania to develop mobile applications (apps).

Apps such as Smart Code’s M-Paper, Tigo’s Twende and Bank of Africa’s Swahiba Mobile are providing Tanzanians with special services which were impossible prior to the arrival of smart devices.

Mobile app developers who create successful apps make money through a variety of strategies.

One of the most common monetization strategies, especially for free apps with limited features, is the deployment of in-app purchases, which enable a user to make an in-app purchase to access more features thereby generating revenue for the app owner.

Examples of popular apps with in-app purchases include Evernote, DocuSign, Quickbooks Online, Adobe Acrobat, Citrix Convoi, Microsoft Office, TinyFax and LinkedIn.

LinkedIn, for example, allows users to upgrade their experience by signing up for an all-purpose business plan account ($59.99/month), sales navigator account ($79.99), or a hiring/recruiter account ($199.99/month), thereby helping users to meet their individual needs.

The big question

The big question, which this article seeks to answer is: can a developer legally protect the exceptional functionality of his/her mobile app to prevent it from being copied? Stated differently, can a developer prevent others from reverse engineering his/her app?

Section 4 (see, definition of computer programme) and section 5(1) and (2) of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, Cap, 218 (R.E.2002) inevitably protect mobile apps against unauthorized copying from the moment they are created. But this protection does not cover the actual functionality of the mobile app.

Hence, copyright will not prevent others from reverse engineering a developer’s app and then encode their own app to work in a similar manner.

Patenting mobile apps

Developers who wish to protect the special functionality of their mobile apps need to register a patent with the registrar of patents at the Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA) by submitting a completed form No.P2 accompanied by a patent document in triplicate.

The patenting of software-related inventions is a contentious matter.

Proponents of free and open-source software believe that such patenting should not be permitted.

They believe so because it curtails creativity and innovation instead of encouraging it.

Nevertheless, in jurisdictions like Australia and the U.S, there is greater attention on patentability of mobile apps.

Criteria for patent protection

According to Tanzania’s Patents (Registration) Act, Cap 217 (R.E. 2002), the most important criteria for patent protection is novelty and industrial applicability.

Novelty means that the invention must be new and beyond what is obvious to a person who’s skilled in inventions.

Industrial applicability means that the invention should be capable of being industrially workable in order to be patented.

In light of the above criteria, if a mobile app works in a unique way, then the app may be patented by the registrar of patents.

UK and European approach

Whereas in Australia and the U.S there is a flexible approach to patentability of mobile apps and other software-related inventions, in the UK and Europe there is a stricter approach to the same.

If a developer invents an app that can solve a technical problem, then there is greater likelihood for the app to be patented in Europe.

It should be noted, however, that Tanzania’s patent law reflects European and UK patent law.

Notwithstanding this, the registrar of patents in Tanzania will grant and issue a patent to a developer of a mobile app who has filed a complete patent application and met all the criteria, including paying the prescribed fees.

The effect of registration of a patent is that the owner gets the exclusive right to use such patent and to recover damages arising from infringement of the registered patent.

Any other person is precluded from exploiting the patented mobile app.

If another person wishes to have the patent app cancelled, then he/she must prove ownership to the contrary.

Patents for mobile apps and software inventions generally may be viewed as being controversial.

Yet, the bare truth is that if a developer disregards patenting his/her mobile app—despite the fact that it may have a special functionality—the developer will need to accept the reality of the existence of the free and open-source software market, which has provided a platform for other developers to create similar apps.

The author is the managing partner of Isidora & Company Advocates

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Corporate hospitality is not infrigement of law

 

I have been asked to sign a personal guarantee agreement by a bank that is extending a business loan to a company in which I am a director. Should I sign the agreement?

That your company is being extended a business loan doesn’t mean that you must sign the personal guarantee agreement. Read carefully the agreement and if possible, seek the expertise of your legal counsel.

If the terms are not acceptable, there’s still a chance that you or your lawyer to renegotiate. You may propose the terms that will give you more protection. Otherwise, if you’re feeling uncomfortable with the terms of the personal guarantee agreement, you may decide not to sign it. You’re, however, advised to carefully read the agreement and if possible to seek legal advice before securing a business loan.

My employees have gone on strike. Can I replace them with new staff during the strike?

It depends on whether the strike is lawful or not. Under section 76(3)(b) of the Employment and Labour Relations Act 2004, an employer is prohibited from replacing workers to continue or maintain production during a lawful strike.

However, this does not preclude you from deploying an employee to do the work of an employee on strike provided that you have his or her consent.

At the end of a lawful strike, you have no option but to allow him/ her to resume his/ her normal duties if he/ she wants to continue with the job.

An employer cannot simply dismiss employees for exercising their legal rights, which include striking. During an unlawful or illegal strike, the employer has the right to replace the striking workers.

As a director of business development, I invite potential customers to tour our company’s printing facility. The company covers the cost of a corporate hospitality package, which includes travel and accommodation. Do anti-bribery laws of Tanzania prevent such trips? What can I do to comply?

The Prevention and Combating of Corruption Act, Cap 329 (R.E. 2002), criminalises attempted corruption and both passive and active bribery, among others.

It does not, however, prevent corporate hospitality provided that it is reasonable and proportionate expenditure intended to fulfil your company’s legitimate business needs.

If your company fails to prevent bribery by an employee or agent, an offence is committed. However, it is a defence to show that the company had put in place adequate anti-bribery procedures and that these procedures were known to the employee or agent.

You are encouraged to monitor expenses on hospitality and gifts given or received by your company and to put in place anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies and procedures, including a guidance note on corporate hospitality spending.

Our company is wracked with debt. Can a creditor put the company into liquidation? If so, what will be the effect of this process?

Yes, but only if the main justification for a creditor to do so is that your company is unable to pay its debts.

If the court grants a winding up order, all dispositions of the property of your company and every transfer of shares or changes in the status of the shareholders of the company made between the date of filing the petition and the winding-up order are void unless the court orders otherwise.

Also, unless permission is obtained from the court, any other proceedings brought against your company will be automatically stayed.

I have been dragged to court by a former business partner. Will the court hearing be held in private or public? If in public, can I ask the court to hold the proceedings in private?

Court proceedings are usually public and judgments are also delivered in open court. However, the court may decide that a hearing be held in a closed session.

You and your former business partner must disclose information requested by the court, which may include confidential documents. If those documents contain commercial secrets or for reasons of public interest and if confidential matters need to be deliberated upon, the court may go into closed session.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

You may be intelligent, but if not relevant you’re doomed

By Wale Akinyemi

Why do we have very intelligent people who fizzle out with their intelligence over time and on the other hand there are people whose genius transcends generations. What is the difference between the two?

All things being equal you will discover one word aptly captures the difference between these two — relevance.

The Oxford dictionary defines relevance as the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate.

Being intelligent does not guarantee relevance. This is one huge pitfall that a lot of intelligent people fall into.

They are deceived into thinking there is a notion such as once intelligent, always intelligent. That is a fallacy.

Skillset

What gives intelligence value is relevance. Many intelligent people get to a place in their lives where they ask the question the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, had to ask when he lamented in his later years that he experienced the same fate as the fool.

He then questioned why he had wisdom to start with in the first place.

A person who was very intelligent and skilled at fixing typewriters in the seventies and the eighties may still be intelligent but because their intelligence is not relevant; it is useless.

On the other hand a person who may not be that intelligent but whose service is relevant will outshine an intelligent person who is not relevant.

Innovative

How relevant are you to your world today? People do not get paid because they are intelligent.

They get paid because they are relevant. Relevance is not a function of how intelligent you are neither is it a function of size or present day success. It is not a function of how deep your pockets are today.

It is a function of how innovative you are and how well you are able to read the future and use your innovation to capture the future.

Value never follows the irrelevant. You need to be concerned about the shelf life of your current model or

way of thinking.

Future

The more relevant you are, the more value you add. The key to sustained relevance is re-creation.

If you do not understand the time in which we live, you will miss out on the opportunity of the time.

If you try to carry forward the past into the present, you will miss out on the present and absolutely lose the future.

Making the adjustments to be relevant is by no means an easy task. It has to be intentional for it to be exceptional.

A lot of leaders who are not able to read the times will find themselves frozen in the past.

People have defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results but I want to put a twist to that definition.

Success

Insanity is bringing the intelligence of the past into the present and expecting it to work without making any adjustments.

Intelligence is not to be confused with wisdom, which is the correct or the relevant application of knowledge. The continued success of an entity is determined by how connected or useful it is in the context of its environment.

Success is the reward for relevance. This is true across board. When something is relevant, it resonates.

When you are relevant, you will resonate with people.

The more people you resonate with, the more relevant you are and the more relevant you are the more successful you will be.

Churches

Europe had some of the grandest cathedrals in the world. They spent millions in building these architectural wonders over years.

However, many of these cathedrals were converted to shopping centres, apartments or even mosques.

Why did this happen? Once the message from the pulpit stopped resonating, relevance was lost and once relevance was lost patronage declined.

On the other hand we have huge churches in Africa that will overflow tomorrow. People will go in their thousands and they will give in the millions.

Many intelligent people have never understood the logic behind a poor person going into church and giving what he has to a church that is obviously wealthy. The answer is in relevance.

Poverty

The message that God will make your life better does not resonate with a society where the government has made their lives better.

It however resonates with a society that is poverty stricken.

The way to deal with the threat of irrelevance is not to attack the relevant but to re-create yourself for relevance.

Again, remember it has to be intentional for it to be exceptional. How then do you re-create yourself for relevance? To be continued.

Dr Akinyemi is the Chief Transformation Officer, PowerTalks. wale@powertalks.biz

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Tiny fly blows bubbles to cool off: research

 

Paris. Humans sweat, dogs pant, cats lick their fur. Animals have adopted an interesting array of techniques for regulating body temperature through evaporation.

But for ingenuity, the Latrine blowfly may very well take the cake.

To cool down, it blows bubbles with its stomach juices through its mouth, and then sucks them back in, scientists revealed on Thursday.

“As the fluid moves out, evaporation occurs which lowers the fluid temperature, the fly then moves the cooled droplet in, which cools off the body temperature of the fly,” explained Denis Andrade of the Sao Paulo State University in Brazil, who co-authored a study in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

This “bubbling behaviour”, he told AFP, appears to be “a very effective way for blowflies to promote evaporative cooling and, therefore, lower their body temperature.”

The Latrine blowfly is a warm-weather insect best known for depositing its eggs on dead animals.

The fly’s bubble-blowing has been observed before, but its function has remained a mystery up until now.

Andrade and a team used infrared heat imaging cameras to look for any temperature changes on the fly’s body during “bubbling behaviour”.

And they observed that the reddish coloured bubble -- growing to almost double its head size -- cooled rapidly, “down to as much as eight degrees Celsius (14.4 degrees Fahrenheit) below ambient temperature, within about 15 seconds,” the researchers wrote.

“Blowflies then re-ingest the cooled droplet, which lowers the temperature of the fly’s head, thorax and abdomen by 1.0 C, 0.5 C, and 0.2 C respectively” -- and more after repeated efforts.

The flies blew more bubbles as air temperature increased, but fewer in humid surroundings where moisture in the air hampers evaporation, the team observed.

Put together, the observations serve as “compelling evidence” that bubble-blowing is used, at least partly, to regulate body temperature, said Andrade.

Other functions may include digestion. While sweating and panting is an effective cooling method for mammals and birds, body surface evaporation is tougher for insects with their hard, wax-covered external skeletons.

Other insects may use the same method as the latrine fly, suggested the team, but only those that can blow a big enough bubble relative to their body size. (AFP)

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Somebody there should help Makonda

 

By Wilfred Alex

On April 9, 2018, Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Christian Makonda had a hectic day. A crowd of women in hundreds met him because, they claimed, their exes had shirked child care responsibilities.

The exercise elicited a lot of reactions from the social and mainstream media and in the streets. Obviously the reactions were mixed. Men had a block of opinions as to the nature, causes and development of family abandonment. Women had theirs although dominant in this group is ‘laying blame’ on men. The latter see the problem is caused by an insatiable degree that men have when it comes to sex.

That men are exponentially becoming sperm donors, that is, sperm disseminating machines yet careless in taking responsibilities when conception has done its work, is alleged. Women thus see the leading cause as being men’s lasciviousness. And this mainly because men suffer little after their libido is quenched.

Men on their hand view the problem as based on changing character of women when it comes to relationship. In the streets, married men and divorcees are decrying our daughters and their mothers dishonouring marriage codes and traditions. They argue that as a matter of fact, women are currently a more destabilising factor than caretakers. The bond of family love and responsibility is torn in shreds.

Yet there are those who argue that RC Makonda is bound to fail. Why? Because, they say, the problem isn’t administrative to be in his capacity. Neither is it legality based nor religiously definable. Admittedly, we have a social problem at hand. Our society is tipping towards the decline of the institution of family and the rise of single parenting. This is already the salient feature of society in Europe and America – single parenting!

Somebody out there come onboard; help this country sort out this mess. RC Makonda is, plainly speaking, right to make an effort and take bold steps to make voices heard. It must have somewhere to start and that could be him. Let us not shrug off simply because we need legal tapestry.

For thousands of years sanctity of ‘family’ institution has had no equal. Survival of human societies amply depends on what is done in the families. Families make heroes, families make criminals.

The basic, the best thing the family can do is raising its children in unison of father and mother. True unity of pure and selfless love. Nothing nobler. Children raised by a single parent are prone to immense odds and more room for failure. Even worse is when a mother is to raise sons - it isn’t easy.

The trouble with Tanzania is that those who should act make things not their business. In a well-knit society your business is my business. So, sociologists and the likes, take leaves from RC Makonda’s intervention. When it started you people sat on your rumps.

TGNP, Tawla and allied NGOs do you remember what you have been doing? You keep moving around copying Western ‘gender issues’ and ‘rights of women’ agendas. You actually highly contribute to this mess. You have been myopic.

The case for displaced microphone! The government has the Tanzania Police Force has a ‘Dawati la Jinsia na Watoto [Desk for Gender and Children]’, has ‘District/Regional Welfare Department’ and now at ward level there is ‘Social Welfare Office’ tasked likewise. All these are good but are evidently total failure. They are largely interpreted as ‘coercive instruments’ rather than ‘arbitrators’. This is why women flocked to the RC office on short notice. Their issues had found no redress at the Dawati, Ustawi or Kata. Why? Obvious reason: we haven’t this far grasped the nature of the problem.

We have, like thornbirds, embraced legal, administrative and traditional values that gradually pierce us. Notions of gender and family rights from America and Europe are wrongly assimilated. We didn’t bargain for those laws. We needed our sociologists to do their homework to get us through. Failure to do so has brought us legal frameworks that embolden our mothers and scare our fathers thus this impending Western ‘single parenting’ phenomenon happening here.

We are in for trouble. It is a result of failure of social orientation.

Mr Alex is ‘Legendary Performers’ coordinator, editor and tutor . Twitter: @WRuhega; Facebook: Alexinho Ruhega; Email: wilfdiary@gmail.com

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

This is why you need to be happy

 

By Honorina Mashingia

Happiness is the state of wellbeing which characterized by positive emotions from contentment to intense joy. It is a very important thing in life. It is a free gift of which every one of us deserves to have. In life time you must make sure that you believe in yourself, as well as learn to hang out with happy friends. When I say happy friends I mean that you should also consider the type of friends to hang around with, instead of hearing problem conversation all the time, you get some other good experience from happy friends. You know what, the stories we get from our friends or people around us, maters the most on determining our happiness and feelings. You should be very careful of what you would wish to hear at what time.

Some conversation may help you find the truth you want at time, Courage, strength to carry on and many sorts of the things, while other may imply differently, and ruin you even more. What you hear from others and especially from their day to day experience can build you up or discourage you.

Consider making time for games. Through games like football, or any other you like, one achieves happiness. You can always go for a play you love the most, and find happiness in it, and it is also a good therapy for your health. Don’t you ever give a room for negativity. People who always think positively, they have more happiness in their life because they don’t give a room for negative thoughts and disappointment. They had a lot of strength to carry on other than those who are so negative. Fight for positive thinking.

Learn to connect with others. It is always healthy to connect with others on the things you think you can do together. There are a lot of good activities around, of which you might never know, if you will never wish to connect with others. Believe me, not always that we learn bad things in groups. There are good groups where we can as well gather good things. It can be a group of some people in prayers, in charities, in visiting orphanage, and other many. You should not be alone, connect with others, in the cause of action, you will find your happiness and a room for more friends.

It is very good to make an evaluation of your achievement, at a time. I wonder how many of us know this and even see the importance of doing so. Let me assure you that by wishing to know your achievement and failures, you also remember to having been thankful. How great it is to be thankful for each and everything!! This will guarantee your full happiness.

This is a nature you have to build in yourself, and as it grows, you will go further on being a good person and you know what, you will also learn to give a helping hand. What a great. I wonder how many people will agree with me that if you give a helping hand to the needy is the greatest way of being happy other than any other way you might think. In giving, there are a lot of things one receives. There are many doors of blessings revealed through giving or raising a helping hand to others. We should learn to give, to help each other and encourage each other.

I strongly believe in a word of encouragement toward others. Believe me what you tell others, can ruin them or build them. Talk positively to others. They too need to be lifted up. Believe me, words can kill, can destroy, can harm, can separate, and the same words can cure, can build, can renew and can unite. Why can’t we choose the best out of words? What you talk to others guarantees the package of your happiness in big.

You might be judged on what may be you have just said, or you might be hunted by evil actions on just what you have told others or talked. Choose the best words to talk, and you will always be safe and happy.

Finally, on the tips to be happy, don’t forget to pray according to your belief. For no matter what you may think, there is a strong power above all the powers to commit in, and a strong belief that, through this, everything on me can be made possible. You must pray, and you will find your true happiness in it.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Selected discussion issues in infrastructure budget



Honest Ngowi

Honest Ngowi 

By Honest Prosper Ngowi, pngowi2002@yahoo.com

Members of Parliament are currently debating the 2018/19 national budget. This starts with various sectoral budgets before the main national budget towards the end of Parliament’s budget session. The aims of the discussion in Parliament include having good, realistic and implementable budget that can deliver development based on various national goals. Among the sectoral budgets to be discussed include the one dealing with infrastructure. As is the case with many other sector budgets, there are some discussion issues in this sector. Some of these are outlined in this piece.

Unpacking infrastructure

Infrastructure concept is very broad. It covers traditional, hard or orthodox infrastructure on one side and modern or soft infrastructure on the other. The first category of infrastructure includes roads, ports, airports and railways. The latter category includes information and communication technology part of infrastructure including the Internet. It is that part of infrastructure that is very important in enabling knowledge economy including electronic commerce. Infrastructure budget is by and large development expenditure. It is an investment in the productive capacity of the economy. Among issues of discussion in this docket include the quantity and quality of infrastructure. This is very important in a country with relatively huge infrastructure deficit as Tanzania. Therefore one expects discussions revolving around the axis of quantity and quality of infrastructure.

Quick wins

As an investment in productive capacity of the country, infrastructure budget stands to unlock a lot of economic growth and development potential if well done and other factors remain constant. There are a number of potential quick wins and low hanging fruits in this budget. Several groups stand to gain from the potential opportunities embedded in the execution of the budget. These groups include various enterprises dealing with infrastructure and related businesses directly and indirectly. Generally, good execution of infrastructure budget comes with a lot of multiplier effects.

Potential beneficiaries of the quick wins and low hanging fruits include firms producing, selling, transporting and storing construction and related goods and services. These include those dealing with cement, iron, steel, aggregates, sand, stones and many other construction materials and equipment. They also include those providing various infrastructure and related services in virtually all sectors. They include agriculture, finance, insurance, hospitality, research, consultancy and many others along that line. It is also an opportunity for revenue generation for both local and central governments by way of various tax and none tax revenues related to infrastructure development. Apart from taxes, other potential revenues for governments include various fees and fines. Budget discussions therefore should ensure that the potential quick wins are actualised.

Local content

The issue of local content is crucial in this discussion. This includes the extent to which a country’s sons and daughters are involved actively and meaningfully in executing these projects. This includes the extent to which local firms are actually contracted and/or subcontracted in implementing these projects. Tanzania stand to gain more from huge infrastructure projects the more local content there is in such projects. It is among strategies for quick wins and ‘harvesting’ low hanging fruits. The more local companies are contracted in the entire construction value chain and its various nodes, the more jobs are created in-country, more incomes are earned, consumed, saves and invested within the country. This contributes into the country’s economic growth and development. One expects therefore that the parliamentary budgetary discussions on infrastructure will ensure as much local content as possible without compromising quality.

Capacity of local firms

What seem to be reasons for rather low local content in huge infrastructure and other projects is inadequate capacity of local firms. Issues revolve around the axis of low capacity of construction and related companies. These include contractors in various segments such as civil, mechanical, electrical and other works. They also include firms providing related services such as food, accommodation, financing, security, sanitation and many more.

What is needed therefore is for the firms to build their capacities. This should be accompanied with strategic government interventions in terms of policy, legal and regulatory frameworks in favour of local firms but without compromising quality. Budgetary discussions that bring out and solve the local firms capacity issues will be very health in getting the best value for money for the normally colossal sums allocated to infrastructure budget.

Infrastructure PPP

Among the emerging trends in infrastructure projects in the world is the use of public private partnership (PPP) model. This is a model in which both the public sector in the forms and shapes of the government on one side and the private sector collaborate to deliver a public good and services. For infrastructure among the possible PPP variant is Build, Operate, Transfer (BOT).

Tanzania’s infrastructure space has not seen much infrastructure PPPs. Mainly, it is the government that has been shouldering a lion’s share of infrastructure load. This is a lost opportunity when one considers the potential gains of tapping into private sector’s technology, capital and modus operandi among others. PPP challenges notwithstanding, one expects a vibrant parliamentary debate on infrastructure PPP issues.

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