Wednesday, November 30, 2016

WORLD VIEW : Donald Trump’s beefed up economics



US president elect Donald Trump.

US president elect Donald Trump. 

By Jonathan Power jonatpower@aol.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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

By Citizen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IT’S RAINING, BEWARE CHOLERA!

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

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

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

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

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

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

With proper plans, we can stop cholera outbreaks.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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

Deus Kibamba is trained in Political Science,

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

By Deus Kibamba dkibamba1@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why Donald Trump deserves to be congratulated for his win

Donald Trump won the US presidential election

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

By Benji Ndolo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanders began what looked like a sure political revolution.

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

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

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

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

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

The Republican Party openly revolted against its candidate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, February 24, 2017

Why condemn those marrying someone much younger?



Freddy Macha

Freddy Macha 

By Freddy Macha

Two days ago I read something which raised my eyebrows.

It was not the meaning of the piece by the way it was written. We authors tend to stick to two principles of writing. Having a clear message (i. e. content) and making sure the language is good. When you are starting out content always takes precedence—you want to be heard. Like a baby screaming for mum. I remember when I began sending my early pieces to the Daily News while still studying at Mzumbe Secondary School in the 1970s. I felt like I was shouting. I wanted to be heard. Baby in a cot. Words just spilled out of my chest (via the pen) it felt like a release. Gave me a purpose.

Every human being has something to say. Whether it is a story, a need, emotions…you name it. A writer has to represent that yearning. However, as time goes, experience sets in, you realise there are other people writing too. Just like being in a pub, a conference, a party.

Everyone is talking and expressing their sorrows and glees. Questions shoot in …like hands of children in a classroom. Which pupil should the teacher pick? You have to stand out. You need style.

Artists call it a voice. Journalists rush and compete for scoops and special material. You have to maintain that uniqueness. Your “uniqueness” gradually develops into an identity, your voice is assured.

Readers and audiences know and easily see you. That is why you have columnists. A mix of language, style, catchy things. This is called the form. So, here we go. The basics. Form and content have to balance. You might say a lot, but if you are not articulating that in an interesting manner, no one buys it.

Soon you find more advanced things. Tone. Mood. Dynamics.

Tricks of the trade. I guess, established authors, new writers and all sorts of word experts are reading this and wondering, where the hell is it going?

So, back to London, where this chat is based.

I read this piece by one established London columnist. She was literally massacring an established TV presenter, in his sixties, going out with a younger woman, and that was supposed to be bad.

I thought as I read it, what the hell problem? There was a tone of chiding, as though this was a crime. Tone, ladies and gents. Tone.

Did the accused rape this younger woman? No. Did she go for him because he forced her? I mean, this culture is non-existent in modern 21 century Europe.

Well, it definitely exists in some Third World societies, where younger brides are coerced to marry or interact with older men, for wealth, tradition and so on…Here we may I ask: Are those females really doing it for love?

But in the First World? Why question why an older man goes out with a younger woman? Or even vice versa?

If people like each other, are attracted and decide that age is just a number, and long live passion, why should we be shouting and condemning it?

There are loads of women out there who detest going with older men. Oh yes. But there is also a large number who do not mind. Just hook into Internet sites and read the age sections. Most would say, I want a man from 21 to 99. Or 30 to 99 and so on….What humans are craving for are happy relationships, happy times, understanding and joyous coupling.

If you pay a bit of money to these dating channels and find someone, well, why not? Of course it is a problem when a younger lady wants to have children.

If the chap is 62 like me, and the young maiden is 30, by the time their kid marries, he might be in his 90s.

If lucky, live as long as Pablo Picasso the famous painter. Picasso, by the way, had children to his 90s. Having said that, what is the use of having a 30 year old “geezer” who drinks and just makes the similar age lady’s life miserable? Happiness is like day. You never know what is going to happen after you wake up. You have your plans may go unexpected paths like the sun’s rays and shadows and tree leaves falling off the grass.

To conclude.

Love is blind.

I do think everyone on this earth has a fair chance to choose and have a romantic relationship with whoever is attracted to them and make them feel special ….

Repeat. Filled with bags and tons and kilogrammes of laughter.

 

London, 23 February, 2017..

Email: gmacha52@gmail.com

Web : www.freddymacha.com


Friday, February 24, 2017

The dream of reaching the last frontier



SABINE BARBARA_ sabinebarbara@yahoo.co.au

SABINE BARBARA_ sabinebarbara@yahoo.co.au 

By Sabine Barbara sabinebarbara@yahoo.com.au

Humanity is clearly intrigued by the celestial objects of our solar system. When the space race of the American-Soviet Cold War rivalry culminated in 1969 with the first man walking on the moon, this signified a proud moment for Americans and a triumph for astronautical engineers whose entire careers were dedicated to this event.

Four decades later, billionaires are investing huge sums in the dream of landing a manned spaceship on Mars, with one man even unveiling a plan to establish a human colony there. Anticipated expense: $36 billion. To compare: the cost to end global poverty was estimated to be around $58 billion in 2014. No prize for guessing where this column’s line of argument is heading.

The billionaire founder of SpaceX, a company which develops and launches spacecraft, is understandably proud of its Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) which is envisaged to provide regular flights from Earth to Mars – and eventually beyond. SpaceX engineers have designed reusable rockets, which are more economical. Perhaps not exactly cheap in the eyes of ordinary citizens, but less expensive than other billionaires’ toys.

Such cost reductions could enable aerospace companies to launch a new space tourism phase. A larger number of affluent thrill seekers could be enticed by reduced fares. Some believe that tickets to Mars could drop to around $200,000 once regular flights commence. Perhaps this is good value to some, considering the astronomical (pun intended!) amounts of money required to make leisure trips to Mars possible.

No doubt, holidays on neighbouring planets count as exceptional experiences, but the inordinate sums spent may be seen as obscene if considering that other members of the species are living in poverty, denied basic health care, education and dignity. It is like watching our uncle buy lobster, caviar and French champagne while destitute relatives struggle to scrape together enough money for a handful of rice to feed their children.

Billionaire entrepreneurs yearning to earn praise for outstanding achievements should consider the vast array of projects worth funding on planet Earth: medical research perhaps, or technologies, which advance civilisation. They could make their mark by eradicating slavery, human trafficking, child labour, epidemics. Nice challenges for bored billionaires!

Earth offers endless exciting project choices. Past science and technology investments here enabled advancements, which truly improved people’s lives. From mobile phones to solar energy, funding new technologies on Earth has benefited not just the most financially endowed.

What drives the urge to colonise other planets when we are barely able to intelligently govern and manage our own? An innocent but indulgent obsession with new technologies and new frontiers? Humankind’s natural curiosity? Expansionism? Or the need for an extra-terrestrial habitat in case Earth can soon no longer sustain life as careless overconsumption and environmental degradation continue?

Neither the dawning of a new era of colonialism nor seeking a safe escape destination are defensible explanations. Why are our rich uncles not trying to heal Earth before taking possession of another planet? Unless we reign in excessive consumerism, pollution and the resulting destruction of the ozone layer essential for human survival, the less affluent will suffer the devastating consequences.

It is fashionable for billionaires to call themselves “entrepreneur philanthropist”. Several can wear the title quite convincingly, validated by committed, selfless investment in many projects that benefit society. Others, however, ignore the suffering which they could end with a single signature placed on the dotted line of a cheque. Nonetheless they expect to buy our admiration by spending a minuscule portion of their riches on public relations exercises aimed at humanising obscene wealth.

We must not idolise indulgent individuals whose wasteful lifestyles involve extravagant entertainment like interplanetary travel. The fuel burnt during each rocket launch leaves a mark on our shared environment. Our beautiful blue planet must be kept habitable for all. No backup planets for the rich, please! Space is not the final frontier. Poverty eradication is.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Rid varsities of ‘unfit’ students cautiously

The report indicating that over 8,000 learners are in Tanzanian universities while they don’t meet the criteria for undergraduate studies will have come as a shock to many. People must be asking: don’t we have, in this country, standard university entrance qualifications?

If we have them, how did the 8,000-plus sneak into institutions of higher learning when they shouldn’t be there? Going by the report, one can be sure those of us who care for this country are hoping that there is some mistake somewhere and that our universities cannot be in such a mess!

Leadership at one of the most affected universities has told its learners they have no cause to worry because the matter is merely administrative and will be sorted out.

The liberalisation of the education sector has seen the number of institutions of higher learning multiply quickly in the recent past. Tanzania, which had only one university between independence in 1961 and the 1980s, is now home to over 80 of them.

Given that most of these universities are privately owned, the need to raise operational funds is great, hence the possibility of having relaxed entry qualifications.

There is concern amongst educationists that poor undergraduates who should actually be discontinued are often retained simply because “the university needs the fees money”. But since that is merely speculatory, it is important to appreciate that, even as the Education ministry moves to get rid of the chaff from the corn in universities, caution should be taken lest brilliant learners are thrown out.

If a person is at the university via a forged certificate, that is a criminal matter and legal action should be taken. However, if a person is there with “lower” qualifications, yet he or she beats his or her classmates with Division One A-Level results, there is a need for a second thought before he or she is kicked out.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Retired but not tired: Why we need some rationality here



Professor Zulfiqarali Premji

Professor Zulfiqarali Premji 

After about 40 years of working in May 2013 I received a letter that I had to retire because I was turning 60 years. This was not a big surprise since I was well aware of rules and regulations, in a way it was expected.

I was not worried that I was now retiring. Most of my colleagues’ discussion was how well are we prepared financially for the retirement. This was not my worry. I had lived a very simple and pragmatic life and with the pension I would receive I would be able to continue with the same lifestyle.

My deep worry was that it took me years and really hard work to reach the academic ladder and now someone was telling me that I had reached the peak of my incompetency hence I should retire.

At that time I was supervising a couple of PhDs and M.Sc. students. I was full of energy and healthy thus the whole issue of retiring as a professor of medicine at 60 years did not make sense. The truth is, we are healthier and living longer than any previous generation.

With an arbitrary age limit of 60 years it was not rational for a country like Tanzania to retire its work force of academicians, since more of us would want to continue working into later years of life because we genuinely enjoy what we do and still feel the passion and energy to do it.

Retiring when still healthy and able to contribute is undignified. This brings up the core question: what should be the ideal and right age to retire. What’s so magic about retiring at 60 years?

At the same time when I was retiring also a driver was retiring. We were in the same basket, a university professor and a driver all retiring at 60 years

The argument for retiring at 60 is simple: making room for the younger generation. Younger folks need the opportunities, and there is a need for continual renewal at work places and new ideas are infused.

The solution of unemployment will not be sorted out by retiring at 60 years, what is important is to create more jobs and opportunities. Thus I still feel that you can replace the driver next day while post 40 years I have not been replaced.

It took almost 30 years to become a full professor and when I was at the peak in terms of contribution I had to retire. I feel there is something grossly wrong; politicians have no retirement age, and one can be a member of Parliament as long as one is elected or nominated. Thus there is no rationality.

A two-year contract was available if I had chosen to continue but it was rather undignified and it appears someone is doing a big favour to me and that I was under some obligation. At another level with a serious shortage of human resource in the health sector, who is really losing by my retirement?

I know a number of my colleagues have left and taken up farming! I relocated to Kenya and joined a private university. In Kenya I understand professors do not retire hence they could not believe that I had to retire.

At Western University in Canada, the number of faculty choosing not to retire at 65 has risen steadily since the lifting of the mandatory age requirement in 2006. Today, 95 of Western’s 1,100 professors – close to 10 per cent – are older than 65, and 21 of these are in there 70s. That reflects what’s happening at most universities as well as larger social trends.

In 2012, Statistics Canada reported that 24 per cent of Canadians aged 65 to 69 were still in the workforce, compared with 11 per cent in 2000.

The health workforce is the backbone of each countries health system, the lubricant that facilitates the smooth implementation of health action for sustainable socio-economic development.

It has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the density of the health workforce is directly correlated with positive health outcomes. In other words, health workers save lives and improve health. About 59 million people make up the health workforce of paid full-time health workers worldwide.

However, enormous gaps remain between the potential of health systems and their actual performance, and there are far too many inequities in the distribution of health workers between countries and within countries. The Americas (mainly USA and Canada) are home to 14 per cent of the world’s population, bear only 10 per cent of the world’s disease burden, have 37 per cent of the global health workforce and spend about 50 per cent of the world’s financial resources for health.

Conversely, sub-Saharan Africa, with about 11 per cent of the world’s population bears over 24 per cent of the global disease burden, is home to only 3 per cent of the global health workforce, and spends less than 1 per cent of the world’s financial resources on health.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Climate change could make us stronger

 

Sometime before Ethiopia started construction of its Gibe III dam in the Omo Valley in 2008, I went to the outskirts of Nairobi for a conversation with some of Kenya’s bright national security elite.

The conservation explored the risks faced Africa in the years to come. There were some gasps in the room when photographs were put up showing that Lake Chad had shrunk by nearly 80 per cent at that point.

The “environmental degradation” (at that time the term “climate change” was still too cute) happening in the Lake Chad Basin, was likely to be the future of many African countries, and could cause a lot of problems, the conversation went. With all the foresight in the room, no one even hinted that climate change in the area, would provide some of the fuel that would drive the Boko Haram nightmare in that part of the continent.

Kenya was hardly mentioned. However, in recent days, alarm bells have grown louder over the fate of Lake Turkana. Because of Ethiopia’s development of dams and plantains in the Lower Omo Valley, Lake Turkana’s shoreline has receded by as much as 1.7km in Ferguson Gulf since November 2014. At that event nearly 10 years ago, this outcome would have been dismissed out of hand even if it had been offered as an unlikely scenario.

The current drought in parts of Kenya, and the political tremors it has touched off in places like Laikipia, where there have been several ranch invasions as militant pastoralists with electoral winds on their back seek water and pasture for their cattle, are all tracks of the bigger environmental crisis confronting the country.

While Lake Turkana’s slow starvation to death, and the potential it signals for conflict between states over shared resources, and the problems in Laikipia, are bad enough, they are not going to be the worst near-future climate change crisis Kenya and other countries will face.

That is going to happen first in the urban areas. As some alert chap who is already working on these issues noted recently: “imagine the recent water shortages in Nairobi, led to a situation where the slums ringing the city all ran out of water completely, and it was available only in the tanks of the homes in the gated communities, what do you think would happen?”

Recently when there was a ban on water use by car washes, it made sense – if it had happened in California. But in our cities, car washes serve an important social stabilisation function, because they keep the army of young people from a life of crime by offering them honest work.

The answers therefore, are uncomfortable, but running away from them won’t help.

As it happens, an urban water time bomb is already ticking in quite unexpected ways in some densely populated areas like Eastleigh. According to a Nairobi water engineer, many parts of Eastleigh couldn’t get water from Nairobi Water during their development, and some still don’t.

With weak enforcement, mixed in with the fear of picking a fight with a “tough neighbourhood”, many boreholes were dug without regulation.

To get water for its borehole, every other next development had to dig deeper for it, and now the early drillers have little or no water.

And, therefore, even when the water is running in Nairobi Water’s pipes, you have outlying parts of the city where some people don’t have water because the neighbour “stole” it by digging too deep for his or her borehole.

So you have pressure on the Water Order in the countryside, as in Laikipia; a two-in-one problem in the city, as evidenced by the evolving water tensions in places like Eastleigh; and a geopolitical one in Lake Turkana caused by Ethiopia’s exploitation of the Omo Valley water.

We should not despair just yet, though. Many dark clouds have a silver lining. This is one of them. The thing with water, and climate change in general, is that it is bipartisan. It won’t flow in the taps or pasture of a Jubilee supporter, and stay away from those of the local opposition CORD chairman. Climate change is also tribe-blind.

It’s possible then, that in the years to come, for the survivors climate change will birth an issue-based politics for Africa, and sideline tribal electoral math.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Invest in budget units to reap in real estate

Reports indicating that real estate developers and agents found it difficult to find clients to buy and rent high-end properties last year should give them a complete shift in their business models. Developers will be required to adjust to the new economic realities and come up with the type of houses that meet the capabilities of a majority of Dar es Salaam residents.

With a deficit of three million housing units, the market is still vast for developers. The problem, however, is grounded on the fact that most of the past projects were largely meant for high-end clients, those who were capable of paying at least Sh100 million for a unit.

With the government’s crackdown on corruption, coupled with its austerity measures—resulting into a drastic cut in public servants’ foreign trips and seminars thereby reducing their disposable incomes—very few Tanzanians are still able to afford the luxury of buying/renting expensive houses.

However, if available data is anything to go by, then developers have the opportunity to reap handsome profits if they inject ample resources in budget housing units.

According to the African Development Bank, the Dar es Salaam population—currently standing at 4.1 million—is expected to grow by more than 85 per cent through 2025.

In fact, it is envisaged to achieve a megacity status—with about 10 million residents—by the early 2030s. That notwithstanding, a recently released World Bank report shows that Dar es Salaam’s real estate is worth $12 billion (Sh26.2 trillion), compared with Nairobi’s $9 billion (Sh19.8 trillion) and Addis Ababa’s $6 billion (Sh13.2 trillion).

What these figures show is that despite last year’s challenges, Tanzania’ real estate industry is still lucrative and growth prospects are very much there. Developers are only required to invest in affordable properties that could be accessed by a majority of the population.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Situation worsens in Myanmar despite Aung San Suu Kyi win

Children displaced by fighting in Kayin State

Children displaced by fighting in Kayin State in a makeshift shelter. PHOTO | IRIN 

By Paul Vrieze

Many hoped that Aung San Suu Kyi’s electoral triumph would revive peace negotiations in Myanmar. The talks were fraught with distrust between the ethnic armed groups and the government, which was led by a party mainly comprised of former officers of the military that had ruled Myanmar for 49 years.

While expectations were high, Aung San Suu Kyi actually has limited influence over security matters. A military-drafted constitution reserves a quarter of parliamentary seats for serving officers and puts key ministries in military hands.

The constitution allows no civilian oversight for military operations, which means that Aung San Suu Kyi’s government does not have control over the military offensives in Myanmar’s northern Kachin and Shan states, or western Rakhine State.

What Aung San Suu Kyi does have is a lot of political capital, and she has been criticized for failing to expend some of it to stand up to the generals. As horrific reports of atrocities committed against Rohingya civilians emerged, her government’s response has been outright denial in defence of the military. To the dismay of some ethnic leaders, she has not condemned the military’s intensifying offensives in the north. Instead, she implored them to sign the NCA.

“I want to request of national ethnic groups who have not signed yet the cease fire treaty to sign with bravery and self confidence,” Aung San Suu Kyi said in a February 12 speech.

Almost a year after the NLD took power, the picture is grim. Fighting has gotten worse, and the government was forced to call off the next round of peace talks scheduled for 28 February. As the security situation has declined, so has access to those affected, with humanitarian groups saying the government is preventing them from bringing aid to displaced people.

The situation is so bad that the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, recently told IRIN that she would call for a “special session” at next month’s Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. At the moment, she is scheduled to present her report on March 13, which will be followed by a two-and-a-half hour discussion. “That’s just not enough,” she said.

Lee mentioned in particular the recent assassination of Ko Ni, a respected legal advisor to the NLD and a prominent Muslim, the surge in fighting in northern Myanmar, and alleged abuses of ethnic Rohingya during military counter-insurgency operations in western Rakhine State.

Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay did not answer phone calls to respond to IRIN’s questions about the deteriorating situation.

The UN says about 218,000 people are displaced inside Myanmar, mostly in temporary camps in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states. Many of them fled after ceasefires broke down in Shan and Kachin in 2011, and when mobs of nationalist Buddhists chased minority Rohingya Muslims from their homes in 2012.

Another 100,000 people or so more recently fled their homes. They include people like Naw Tin Swe in Kayin State, as well as thousands more in Shan and Kachin who have escaped clashes between ethnic armies and government forces. But the vast majority are Rohingya and most of them escaped over the border to Bangladesh.

More than 73,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh since the military launched operations in October in Maungdaw, a border township, and the UN estimates that another 24,000 are internally displaced. Amid reports of atrocities committed by the military against Rohingya civilians in Maungdaw, the government refused access to media as well as aid agencies.

aThe World Food Programme reported that it has recently been allowed to distribute some relief items, but restrictions remain in place in Rakhine, as well as other regions in the north and east.

The writer filed this article for IRIN from Myaing Gyi Ngu, Myammar


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

TALKING POINT : Principle of separation of powers still a joke 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

I accepted an invitation earlier this week to speak on separation of powers in theory and practice on a television programme. As part of my preparations, I had the opportunity to review various sources of literature, documented cases and provisions of various constitutions.

Although the concept is noble, separation of powers in Africa still leaves a lot to be desired. Recent events in Africa, including the ongoing wrangle among some government officials over the arbitrary arrest of MPs in Tanzania, are a case in point. I wish to make it clear from the outset that the principle of separation of powers has never been practiced to perfection anywhere in the world.

In Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose names have changed several times from Congo Free State to Belgian Congo, Leopordville and Zaire, is in an extreme case as far as lack of respect for the principle is concerned. The DRC, which has had three republics and constitutions since the time of Patrice Emery Lumumba at independence in 1960, has excelled in not observing the principle of separation of powers.

Looking at the manner of change of names, the country’s executive has had all this done without any meaningful involvement of the other pillars of state, namely the judiciary and legislature. For instance, while the name Congo Free State was a colonial government’s creation, the independence rulers coined the names Belgian Congo and Leopordville for the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa.

Later presidents of what is now known as the DRC came up with new names for the natural resource-rich country, with Mobutu Sese Seko (pictured)renaming the nation Zaire in 1971, six years after seizing power in a coup d’etat.

For his part, Laurent Desire Kabila, who also came to power through means other than elections in 1997, saw it fit to rename the country, dropping the name Zaire in favour of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

One overriding feature in all governments Congo has had since independence has been its low level of implementation of the principle itself and the constitution. It is worth noting that the DRC constitution has since 1964 provided for provincial decentralisation, which requires that up to 40 per cent of government revenue go to the 26 provinces. This has, however, never been implemented. As a result, local governments in the DRC are heavily dependent on the central government in Kinshasa nearly 60 years after independence.

Back home, the situation is not any better. The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania provides for the functional mandates of all the main pillars of state but still leaves a lot of room for manoeuvre. For instance, the presidency, which heads the Executive branch, is vested with perceived powers over both the Judiciary, whose head is an appointee of the Head of State, and the Legislature, whose speaker is elected from among members of the majority party in Parliament.

This puts the independence of both the Legislature (articles 62-101) and Judiciary (articles 108-124) into question. Furthermore, the Constitutional Court (articles 125-128), which was to have an appellate function on relations between and among the pillars of State, has proved virtually impossible to constitute, let alone execute its functions.

In a nutshell, the Executive still wields immense powers over the Legislature and Judiciary. This is an undeniable fact. To add insult to injury, the President is part and parcel of the Legislature.

In terms of operational problems of the principle of separation of powers, a lot has been witnessed. For instance, although the military is partly within the executive arm, this, to some extent, has been disregarded.

Take the habit of having retired senior military personnel run for political office or the recent tendency to appoint both retired and serving army officers as regional and district commissioners and administrative secretaries or party operatives.

This is in direct contravention of Article 147 (3) of the Constitution of Tanzania, which prohibits members of defence and security forces from joining political parties. The nation has witnessed retired senior military officers offer themselves as candidates for political office. My take is that senior members of defence and security forces must refrain from party politics during and after military service.

The principle of separation of powers, as promoted by its proponents, envisages independent existence of the pillars of State. Short of this, nations run the risk of being mired in confusion to the detriment of democracy.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WORLD VIEW : Why Europe conquered the world



Jonathan Power  jonatpower@aol.com

Jonathan Power  jonatpower@aol.com 

By Jonathan Power jonatpower@aol.com

Eleven hundred years ago Europe was a backwater. There were no grand cities, apart from Cordoba in Spain which was Muslim.

The Middle East was much further ahead, still absorbing the intellectual delights and challenges of Greek science, medicine and architecture which Europeans were largely ignorant of. In southern China agriculture advanced and trade in tea, porcelain and silk flourished.

By 1914 it was a totally different world. The Europeans ruled 84 per cent of the globe and they had colonies everywhere. How was it that Europe and its offspring, the United States, became the dominant dynamic force in the world, and still are today in most things?

If I walk round my university town and stop the first ten students I meet and ask them why this was so they would probably say because of the Industrial Revolution. But in 1800 when the Industrial Revolution was only just beginning Europeans already ruled 35 per cent of the world and had armed ships on every ocean and colonies on every continent.

If they didn’t say that, they might say it was the way the Europeans spread their fatal diseases, smallpox and measles, to which they had gained a good deal of immunity, and this enabled them to lay low native peoples. But in fact all the major Middle Eastern and Asian civilizations had this same advantage. In Africa it was local diseases that attacked the Europeans more than vice versa.

Maybe one of the ten students would say it was because the Europeans were ahead in the development of gunpowder technology. After all the military revolution preceded the Industrial Revolution. But I doubt that, even though on the right track, this one student could explain why.

Gunpowder was invented in China and by the sixteenth century the Ottomans were making high quality artillery. But they could not keep up with the pace of European technological development. Europe had military competition and thus innovation baked into it.

Europe, unlike the Ottoman Empire or China, was a very un-unified kind of place. Since the fall of Charlemagne there was no one strong enough to hold Europe together. Moreover, the popes preferred divide and rule and did not want a single strong European leader to diminish their power. In Europe dozens of small states and principalities, often each vying to be top dog, were stimulated to nurse their competitive instincts. This pushed research and the gunpowder technology forward at a much faster pace than anywhere else in the world.

In contrast, China was a massive hegemon; Japan and the Ottoman Empire sizeable ones. A hegemon inevitably comes to believe that since it is politically dominant far and wide it doesn’t have work so hard at maintaining superior arms. But when it came to gunpowder technology and its adaption to warships the smaller European powers, each seeking to outscore each other, could often call the shots against Asia’s hegemons.

Philip Hoffman, professor at the California Institute of Technology, argues in his new book, Why Did Europe Conquer The World? that Europe’s pace of innovation was driven by a peculiar form of military competition which he calls a “tournament”- the sort of competition that under the right conditions, can drive contestants to exert enormous effort in the hope of earning a prize.

This is what happened in Europe, but not elsewhere. European rulers raised taxes and lavished resources on armies, navies, gunpowder technology and pushed forward research. Moreover, unlike in Asia, private entrepreneurs faced few legal, financial or political obstacles to launching expeditions of conquest and exploration. This is why the British East India Company could conquer much of India.

The wars that led to Europe’s and particularly Britain’s domination of the world made possible (although there were important other factors too) the Industrial Revolution, not vice versa. Victory in battle had given Britain a large share of Europe’s intercontinental trade. That created jobs in British cities. That raised wages and agricultural demand. High wages stimulated the invention of labour-saving machines, such as spinning machines and steam energy. Then there were the huge deposits of coal. Hence the industrial revolution. Some historians add into the mix the immense profits from the Caribbean and North American slave trade which provided much of the capital needed to build machines and factories.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

‘Viroba’ production and drinking ban apt move

The government has declared that come March 1,

The government has declared that come March 1, packaging of spirits in sachets, commonly known as viroba, will illegal 

By Citizen

The government has declared that come March 1, packaging of spirits in sachets, commonly known as viroba, will illegal. We consider the decision most appropriate and hope it shall be implemented.

The sachets have made alcohol most affordable, which in itself, is factor that has made it possible for people of all ages and economic status to access easily.

Young Tanzanians, including schooling-going youth, indulge in drinking spirits in sachets which are sold side by side with biscuits, pens, fruits and all manner of merchandise on roadsides.

Tanzanian laws forbid drinking or venturing into premises where alcohol is dispensed by anyone under 18, yet our young can get alcohol as they buy sweets or biscuits at the vendor’s. All this is thanks to viroba that are sold at any place, anytime of the day.

As the Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environment), Mr January Makamba, sachets of liquor that are of dubitable quality have penetrated the viroba market.

Makers of such illicit alcohol undertake their production in backyards and generally, they have no idea what quality, hygiene and standards are all about. This, of course, endangers the lives of consumers.

It means, the abolishment of viroba isn’t just about protecting the environment, it is also about protecting the lives of Tanzanians who would unwittingly buy the sachet.

The viroba which are manufactured in backyards provide supplies for a parallel market which satisfy a sizeable population of consumers, who would then see no need to buy from the mainstream market. According to Mr Makamba, this situation causes the government a loss of at least Sh600 million in unpaid taxes.

It means, by allowing the sale of viroba, it is not only the lives of our people which are jeopardised; the economy is endangered too. That is why it makes a lot of sense to ban the production and consumption of viroba.

PROTECT THE ECO-SYSTEM

Human settlement planning is there to ensure cities, towns and villages are properly arranged to facilitate smooth development. This matter is guided by the 2004 Land Act and as was amended.

One of the key aspects of the law is the prohibition for people to put up structures within 60 metres of features such as rivers, lakes and the sea.

Human activities are, therefore, generally restricted within that area. The restriction serves to protect such features and safeguard the environment.

Violating the law, therefore, leads to degradation of the environment in and around the features, exposing human beings and nature to hazards like floods.

A brief survey in various parts of the country will reveal that often, people breach the environmental law. This happens in the full sight of law enforcing organs. The question is: why would someone start putting up a structure close to a river, and the authorities take no action?

Partly, the answer is that someone must be sleeping on their job. Therefore, sensitisation must be continuous. Street and village leaders must be empowered to handle such matters so that decisions are made without delay.

It is important to continue putting in check human activities in order to protect the country’s eco-systems.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

BEWARE PEOPLE SMUGGLERS!

Human trafficking might not be in a one of the topmost agendas in Tanzania, but it exists. The fact that tens of immigrants of different countries, mainly Somalia and Ethiopia, illegally enter the country every year, shows that something is wrong with our system of vetting aliens before they are allowed in.

In Kilimanjaro Region, for instance, a total of 129 illegal aliens were apprehended last year, according the Regional Immigration Officer Ebrosy Mwanguku. That is worrisome.

Some officials might connive with people smugglers under the mistaken belief that there is no harm as long as the final destination is a third country.

Such officials should know that there is danger from terrorists. Those who wish this country harm will happily exploit dishonest people to infiltrate the country in preparation for murderous activities.

The authorities must, therefore, move with speed to seal all the routes used by people involved in such business and act against security officers who may be abetting such activities.

We must never forget that human trafficking ranks alongside transnational crimes like money laundering, poaching and arms smuggling that are ultimately tied to international terrorism networks. We believe Immigration officers in Kilimanjaro who are accused involvement in human trafficking will be fired once their wrongdoing is proven.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

EDITORIAL & OPINION: Why it’s time to change to Afrocentrism

 

By Kasera Nick Oyoo

From recurrent xenophobic killings in South Africa to displacements in West Africa, the fear of nationals of one country being set upon either unofficially by nationals of another or officially by decree is nothing new.

The exit of Barack Obama, Brexit and entry into the White House of hawkish Donald Trump and everything associated with him surely should be a wake-up call to Africans that the time is right to rekindle the spirit of one Africa for Africans.

None of this – Tanzanians expelled from Mozambique, Ethiopians arrested in Kenya, South Africans lynching non-South Africans and Tanzanians arrested for alleged espionage in Malawi – need to become headline news if Africa re-strategised its relationship with itself and the rest of world.

Brexit and Donald Trump have given us good reason because in rejecting immigrants we have no choice but to rethink our survival strategies together. When the West gave us immigration rules that followed colonisation, they forgot that Africa was basically one. It still is one but is divided by rules that are not of our making.

Africa may not have done many things well. But for sure, we have been great at identifying, isolating, arresting, trying and deporting fellow Africans, better known as illegal immigrants, from our so-called ancestral lands. Our immigration officers are basically colonial police officers-cum-intelligence officers-cum-torturers-cum-political commissars all rolled into one.

We have refused to learn that the most successful economies of the world have been built from scratch by immigrants.

We are lucky to we have our very own Dr John Pombe Magufuli and his Afrocentric policy which seems to have literally thrown away the script that every head of state of a former British colony must run to London and Washington with a beggar’s bowl.

I am not saying the begging has stopped, though I believe it should. Dr Magufuli has brought a new dynamic of confronting our genie in the bottle. The fact that we have entered into debasing contracts for our natural resources and have hardly used our funds well for the good of our people makes for reason to worry about how we would have changed the course of African history.

In the West, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is asking the right questions, including where Canada needs new engagement with Africa. It does. Too much African resources have enriched the West, Canada included.

Africa has no chance of stemming the tide of thousands dying at sea trying to make it to Europe if we do not have a rethink.

The recent bundling out of Tanzanians in Mozambique is a case in point. It points to the need to redraw our diplomacy and retraining of our immigration officers, the whole kit and caboodle of them.

Thus far we have been obsessed with timua timua (chase away) and even have a choice name for them – wahamiaji haramu (illegal immigrants). We have ostracised those who cross into our borders and criminalise them. We assume all criminality is done by these undocumented folks.

In Malawi, several Tanzanians have been arrested on suspicion of being involved in espionage. Espionage belongs to the Cold War era and the Malawian government would do well to establish how folks who were merely looking to earn an honest living could possibly have been collecting secret information purportedly on behalf of the United Republic of Tanzania. It doesn’t make sense.

The time has come for Africans to rethink our interstate relations. There was a time Idi Amin and Mwalimu Nyerere were not on talking terms but Ugandans and Tanzanians had no such qualms. It behoves Africa to redraw its borders and stop criminalising migrants looking to earn an honest living.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Last week’s deportation of nearly 200 Tanzanians living in
Mozambique in what was described as “crackdown on illegal
immigrants”, has been received with a large measure of concern in this country. And, that, we aver, isn’t because of the repatriation in itself, but, going by the accounts of the affected, it is due to the way the exercise was executed. Narratives from some expellees indicate that those assigned to implement the exercise did it with inexplicable crudity.
The expulsion of foreigners was mainly conducted in Montepuez, the second largest city in Cabo Delgado Province. We have been reassured that the Mozambican authorities were targeting, not only Tanzanians, but all illegal immigrants.
Tanzania’s Foreign ministry reaffirmed it was doing its best to
ensure the safety of Tanzanians in Mozambique, whose numbers are estimated at 3,000 in Montepuez alone. Indeed, there it is comforting that there hasn’t been verified reports of vicious attacks, but it is a fact that some of our deported compatriots have lost properties in the process.
Tanzania and Mozambique have close, historical ties starting
from the latter’s days of liberation struggle. Not only did
Mozambican freedom fighters train in Tanzanian bases, but numerous

Tanzanians actually fought along Samora Machel’s troops right inside Mozambique in the effort to root out Portuguese colonialists.
It must be such recollection that our people—both Tanzanians and Mozambicans—take each other’s countries for granted. Some of the expellees could even have reacted with shock upon being told they needed passports, residence permits and work permits to toil to earn a living and contribute to the economy of a “brotherly” country.
Immigration laws have to be respected. The boundaries between sovereign countries cannot be ignored. However, it is our view that when it comes to evicting unregistered non-citizens, so long as they aren’t confirmed criminals or terrorism suspects, their repatriation should be as humane as possible.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Attempting to tackle drought with emergency aid is not the answer

For those forced to live through them, droughts

For those forced to live through them, droughts are less an unusual event than a way of life that constantly tests your resilience and resourcefulness. PHOTO|IRIN 

By Brad Sagara

For those forced to live through them, droughts are less an unusual event than a way of life that constantly tests your resilience and resourcefulness.
To be a farmer, or make a living from livestock in Ethiopia, where my organisation,Mercy Corps, has been working for many years, you need to be innovative in the face of ever-changing weather patterns.
And yet the 2015 El Niño drought cycle – the worst in 50 years by some measures – tested even this population. One seasoned pastoralist reported recently to our staff that he’d “never seen anything like this drought”.
Though it has driven an estimated 10 million people into food insecurity, the drought was not particularly surprising – weather-related crises have increased in frequency in this part of the world over the last decade.
Facing these extreme climate patterns, many development organisations have recognised what former USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah stated: that “segregated humanitarian support activities and development activities” no longer work in these contexts.
What is needed are carefully sequenced, layered, and integrated interventions that work together to build household and community capacity to learn, cope, adapt, and transform in the face of shocks and stresses, rather than a reliance on costly direct emergency assistance after the fact.
To this end, instead of the traditional humanitarian assistance method of direct delivery of resources like food, medicine, or other equipment, Mercy Corps has adopted a new approach designed with resilience as a central feature. Our aim is to ensure that wellbeing like food security, economic status, and health are maintained or improved despite recurrent shocks.
Putting this into practice requires longer-term strategies that take into account the many factors that influence resilience and vulnerability at different levels of society – from household to community to region.
One example of our resilience-building is the USAID-funded Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Expansion project in Ethiopia, which relies largely on strengthening the market systems in which households participate. The PRIME programme does this in part through strategic subsidies aimed at supporting individuals and local businesses to expand their livelihood options – including support to develop and adopt new technologies, skills training, and improved access to natural resources.
Simultaneously, linkages are created between producers and consumers, potential employers and employees, suppliers and retailers, and communities and government institutions. By then providing support through ongoing research, demonstration, and training, these individuals and communities are given the help they need to access the global market and to sustain their gains.
This kind of resilience-focused programming sounds like a good idea – but does it actually work? Until recently, little evidence existed to address this question. But new Mercy Corps research offers some promising observations about the effectiveness of a resilience approach.
While such work has been evaluated before, no one to our knowledge has rigorously evaluated a programme‘s impact in real time in the context of a major shock. By conducting this study during a major drought cycle, we were able to leverage a rare opportunity.
The writer filed this article for IRIN from San Francisco


Monday, February 20, 2017

TOUGH JUSTICE : Keeping up with social media: Why authorities struggle



Justice Novati Rutenge



justice@idev.co.tz

Justice Novati Rutenge justice@idev.co.tz 

By Justice Novati Rutenge justice@idev.co.tz

Bizarre things are happening all around involving authorities attempting to survive or fit-in in this increasingly ‘digitising’ world.
Social media platforms are increasingly becoming essential to how citizens go about their social and political activities. These platforms are characterised by their randomity, and they have allowed millions of people in the world to express themselves with very little influence from authorities.
Most authorities in the world are made up of ‘digital immigrants’ as opposed to ‘digital natives’. Unfortunately for power structures, it is the natives, people aged below 35, who form an overwhelming majority of social media users.
The biggest social media platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat were most founded by people who are below 35. For me, the significance of this fact lies in my belief that these platforms were created with the young person in mind.
Power though, even democratic power, was not created in a way that particularly favours the young generation. This is why it is rare everywhere in the world to see people who are below 35 years old in top government positions, such as ministerial positions and above.
In this day and time when inventions by millennials are changing the face of the earth, I find it quite preposterous that someone would still be legally hindered from running for the top office in their country because they haven’t yet turned 35.
Up to this point I have introduced three ‘variables’ namely digital platforms, young people and power. I have also discussed the relationship between digital platforms and young people in terms of their compatibility, as well as young people and power in terms of their lack of compatibility.
I will explore one more relationship, that of the digital space and power in light of recent events, my key question being, how can power be effectively exercised in the ‘incompatible’ digital world?
In Kenya, recently, President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) found himself opening a can of worms when he attempted to do a ‘cool’ video mobilising people to register to vote. In this video Mr Kenyatta and a group of boys are seen following a choreography that includes a dance known as “the dab”.  
When the video was released, doctors in the country were on strike and people were calling upon the government to pay more attention to their plight. So young people took to social media in their numbers, and instead of heaping praise on the President for being cool, they condemned him for his purported negligence. They even nicknamed his dance the “dab of shame”.
The fact that the dance is extremely popular among young people did not help Mr Kenyatta dodge the bullet.  See, it is wrong to assume that young people will blindly rally behind whatever nonsensical thing simply because it is popular. Supported by their numbers, they, and not the authorities, dictate the conversation as well as the tone of the conversation on digital platforms.
The lesson for authorities here is to never attempt to cover up real issues with issues that are superficial. The fact that young people are pre-occupied with things that seem superficial does not mean that they have lost their ability to reason. All it takes is one conscious tweet!
In Tanzania, authorities overreacted over a photo of a tour guide faking a translation in a video he shot of a tourist who had a message for the country. This was obviously a harmless joke; one of the many you can expect to see on a daily basis on social media. Authorities attempting to scout around for such content on social media is really biting off more than they can chew. There are more important things to do, surely!
In the same vein, the recent ban imposed by BASATA on Nikki Mbishi’s song titled “I am sorry JK” could prove to be futile and unworthy of the effort. The song is a mere expression of the rapper’s preference for the former regime and it says nothing outrageous enough to justify offending the current regime.
People naturally assess regimes by comparing one from another, and one regime cannot expect to be favorited in all instances. In fact, even the tone of the current regime’s election campaign was quite critical of the previous. They can dish it out but they can’t take it?
To flourish in the digital world, authorities need to develop a thicker skin.  Digitisation has brought about the democratisation of opinion. This doesn’t mean that a President must do every idiotic thing on social media just to keep up, or engage in a feud (also called a ‘tweef’) with every celebrity who disagrees with them on social media. No Mr Kenyatta and Mr Trump!
Neither does it mean that authorities must attempt to actively monitor and police social media content.
Authorities simply need to understand that power is inevitably evolving, and instead of fighting off this reality, they themselves should evolve and embrace the change.


Monday, February 20, 2017

FROM THE PUBLIC EDITOR'S DESK : State should defend speech, not control it

Ndimara Tegambwage is Public Editor with

Ndimara Tegambwage is Public Editor with Mwananchi Communications Limited. 

By Ndimara Tegambwage

I have all along held the view that no law or constitution provides human life. However, these two, and possibly others, can either destroy, or provide protection, to life. Decency demands that authority defends human life.

This is because life is what constitutes a human being who is neither the product of the law nor the constitution.

Inherent in the human being are thinking and self-expression—speech, gesture or any other form through which to share information and feelings.

Therefore, any attempt at encroaching on the above inherent rights of an individual, is an assault on freedom of expression – a human right.

Invasion on the inherent right to free speech comes in many ways. It could be through threats to citizens – ordering them “to shut up” even on matters that affect them.

It could be through authority working in secrecy – in total darkness – so that citizens, especially the enlightened section of the public, does not see certain things that could arouse questioning and the desire to know more.

Another way of interfering or tempering with free speech is through enactment of laws that are deliberately meant to be hard on media owners, managers, editors, reporters and printers.

This goes with criminalisation of editorial errors, which would otherwise be dealt with at desk level and through a process that would be beneficial to all old—and fresh scribes.

While the laws may threaten practitioners and hold them captive in total self-censorship or resignation; transgression is met with heavy and impoverishing fines that could see many or all media outlets closing down business.

The closure of media outlets could leave populations without supply of information and news; but could also leave workers without employment and income.

Draconian laws apart; there are physical attacks on media houses and individual journalists. These could be the work of those claiming to have been badly depicted in media or retaliation for exposure.

Such attacks, which the police claim are committed by “unknown assailants”, have created fear and unending trauma among media practitioners.

As if that was not bad enough, in some countries there are standards of entry into journalism and licencing of all journalists.

Entry standards, for example— certificate, diploma or degree in journalism; or degree in any field with certificate and or diploma in journalism.

However, complaints abound, for example in Tanzania, that “…there are those bedecked with diplomas and degrees but cannot write a story.”

And, this licencing; it can be used to deny entry or renewal of licence to committed, hardworking investigative journalists.

All such acts are meant to silence journalists. But it is now no longer a secret that silencing journalists and journalism is silencing audiences.

All is done to dry up the fountain of information; sealing entry points and finally blocking the veins that throbbed with news and information and which refreshed or fed the thinking process. This is why we keep reminding every scribe, every human rights activist and every conscious individual, to consciously keep on reading laws on media and free speech—in the country and beyond.

There is the right we cannot let anyone ride on and whip everyone else and still claim to remain human like the human being whose free speech is inherent. No!

And this inherent right to free speech is what we call a human right—to shout out your opinion and your grief; and write uninterruptedly and without being asked whether you have a licence or not.

This right can never be equated with the mere wish to become an engineer, doctor, pilot or carpenter. No!

But still, all those in their trades still have the right to express themselves—through speech or writing—and unhindered by licences.

With experts—editors, managers, programmers—let the whole world speak and write; and let experts do their job.

Decency demands that authority defends human life and its inherent rights; and it doesn’t need the Board to offer licences to the entire population of this nation so that they express themselves—speak and write.

Ndimara Tegambwage is Public Editor with Mwananchi Communication Limited.0763670229


Monday, February 20, 2017

Save lives by making gym equipment affordable

 

Cases of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Tanzania are on the rise, and there is a great need for intervention. Diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, heart disease and gout are messing up people’s lives.

When people’s disposable incomes increase, they tend to over-indulge in habits that make them vulnerable to NCDs.

In the past, diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular complications were associated with affluent people, but today, even low-income earners have become susceptible. Urbanisation in Tanzania is increasing in leaps and bounds and consequently, thousands of people who had been feeding on healthy foods in the village turn to junk foods that are of little use dietary-wise.

Many people in urban areas—especially those who are living single—consider cooking proper and healthy meals a waste of time and this explains for the rise in the number of people who are overweight and obese.

The risks are higher for those who smoke and take alcohol. While smoking can lead to lung cancer, alcohol can mess up one’s kidney and the liver. We need more campaigns to discourage people from indulging in excessive smoking and over-drinking.

Enforcing the drinking hours rule which restricts opening time for bars to 4pm and closing time 11pm, will impact positively on our people’s health. In order to keep NCDs at bay, regular exercises are most crucial. Health experts say exercising for just thirty minutes every day will do wonders to an individual, yet people are given to saying they cannot find time for this “luxury”.

For those who cannot muster the discipline of taking themselves through a regime of daily exercise, we propose they join a gymnasium, but government role would be crucial here.

It should reduce taxes on gymnasium equipment so that even people of modest income can attend gym sessions at affordable charges. That will save lives and huge cost involved in treating NCDs.

IMPROVE LEARNING FACILITIES

The desire by parents to send their children to school is high, and this has been amply demonstrated by the massive registration for Form One in regions like Mwanza.

According to the City Executive Director Kiomoni Kibamba, the city council has registered 16,000 against its target of 12,000. It means, the number of students which the authorities has planned for has been surpassed by 33 per cent!

The situation in Mwanza is sure to be replicated elsewhere in the country, more so in regions where parents have traditionally given priority to education such as Kilimanjaro, Kagera and Mbeya.

The free education policy that covers learners’ from Standard One to Form 4 leaves parents with no excuse for not sending their children to school, hence the high rate massive country is witnessing massive enrolment. The challenge ahead is to look into ways of ensuring learning environment is upgraded and expanded to match the rise in the number of learners. We should not allow our schools to be institutions where children simply go through the motions attendance, from Standard One to Form 4.

We need to expose them to quality education—and that entails availing proper teaching and learning facilities—if they are to be truly nurtured and equipped for today’s competitive world of science and technology.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

New Katiba role in war on narcotics



Alfred Sebahene

Alfred Sebahene 

By Alfred Sebahene

The war on drugs is hitting us all and we have to embrace it. Whatever has been happening in the public, the said war should help us understand where we, as a nation, stand.

The ongoing debate and discussion is important. It tells us the state of our Tanzanian society. Are we really united? Are the diverse voices on drug crackdown efforts something to celebrate? Are the voices we continue to hear make up the great chorus of our nation, or are these nothing else than wake up calls that we are no longer confident and steadfast in our shared values and common purpose? The war on drugs in Tanzania begun quite some time ago. But a few weeks ago, it was rejuvenated and became livelier than ever before.

Mr Makonda took a very bold initiative, whether the approach was good or not, in my view it has helped to kick start drug crackdown journey. In fact it is now spreading to Arusha, Mwanza, Manyara, Lindi and Iringa just to mention a few.

The journey will not come to an end soon, in fact it is gaining momentum. We know that Wananchi have heard harmful, detrimental and destructive words from their fellow citizens. Other peoples’ status and integrity have been damaged. Some words have gone to the extreme to becoming poisonous if not baleful to our community.

Obviously, there is still much to come. We shall need a breath of fresh air on how to clean up our act and win the drug war. There were also some positive points though. We heard leaders speaking and acting with strict political neutrality. Some exercised powers on the advice of relevant people responsible for the war. We also heard Members of Parliament clearly holding the government to account. Their tone of speech clearly sounded that they were shifting their focus on duties of representing and furthering the interests of their constituencies, to the interests of the country. Indeed they moved from representing individual constituents to taking up the national problems and grievances if not agenda on drugs.

As a nation we need to come together in the spirit of self-determination in order to establish the principles of our law and governance. Ours should not only be to disrupt and dismantle organizations and people involved in illicit drug trafficking, but rather to set out to hold moral lenses.

This is possible only if a shear need for a new constitution shall be viewed as critical for moral footing on drugs. A new constitution which we hope shall be packed with valuable instructions, information and warnings, needs to be found. It is unfortunate that the journey towards the new constitution has been halted for the unforeseeable future.

Yes, with a new constitution one shall hope that citizens will be challenged to create a united resolve, one which will grow ever-stronger under the enlightened auspices of the said new constitution to address many issues including united efforts to tackle drug problems.

It was sad to discover that the current public discussion suggest that a new constitution composed of the laws and rules that create the institutions of the state, regulate the relationships between those institutions, or regulate the relationship between the state and the individual is very much needed. If the current constitution suffices, then the chaos we saw when the leadership took action on drugs is suggesting that the constitution is inadequate. This is the possibility because it also happens in big democracies leading to the formation of Commissions for Democracy and the like, which keeps under review the operation of the Constitution.

As the war is waged, there is every indication that it is the judiciary which should play a major part and this reality calls for it to be extraordinary independent and impartial and ministers must uphold the principle of judicial independence.

Again the new constitution with an emphasis on the call for the judiciary to uphold the rule of law and the rights and maintain the administration of civil and criminal justice which is needed.

Dr Alfred Sebahene is a lecturer at St. John’s University of Tanzania


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Welcome changes in the war on drugs

Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul

Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda speaks at press conference at the Central Police Station in the city recently. Right is Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander Simon Sirro. PHOTO | file 

By Erick Mwakibete

Social cognitive theories hold that our behaviors are partly influenced with what we observe from others and our interactions with them. In the same line, we do not expect our elders to apologize to those who are far young to them or those with authority to explicitly say that a certain strategy was wrong or inaccurate.

And in the rarest of occasions when an apology is offered by an elder to a young person it could provide for an awkward situation especially on the young person who is supposed to be receiving that apology.

As such our societies have devised mechanisms in which no apology is offered and no mistakes are acknowledged. You just see a change in strategy or direction. This is true to how our politics work. CCM and the leading opposition parties have a lot of differences but this is one of those areas where they have a lot in common.

When Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda launched his war on illicit drugs in his region; it turned out he was not the best of messengers to lead such a battle as his critics could not separate him from his message and reduced his efforts to mere squabbles among Dar socialites and who’s who in largely in the entertainment circles as well as arguing that his war on drugs was nothing but a political witch hunt.

Even parliamentarians poked at what they considered to be the holes in his private life and not the message he was trying to deliver.

On the other hand, the strategy he had opted in this difficult war on illicit drugs of publicly naming individuals he thought could help him was debatable as it could lead to dubious outcomes and the authenticity of information obtained under such circumstances will be doubtful.

President Magufuli signaled a change in the messenger and strategy when he finally appointed the new Commissioner General for the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority in Rogers Sianga and the top members of the agency. This was a welcome development because it brought into the fold professionals who are expected to do their jobs without the personal and political controversies or legal wrangles that dogged RC Makonda (of which he used a significant amount of time to clarify basing his argument on some sections of the Drugs Control and Enforcement Act of 2015) and turned him into an easy target.

This move as well expanded the war on narcotics to the national and international level.

The new Commissioner General outlined his priorities giving the fight against drugs a clear vision and direction that solely lacked in Mr Makonda’s approach.

It is far easier for the country to unite behind bureaucrats who know their trade as they come with a sense of impartiality with them.

Commissioner General Sianga’s change of strategy after being handed an envelope with 97 names of individuals who range from people with useful information to drug lords is commendable as well. By opting not to name names before being certain of their involvement or role in the war on illicit drugs shields the agency he leads from political attacks as well as legal issues which could arise out of naming individuals without any solid evidence. But there is another practical fact here as well. By its very nature, intelligence is gathered in the shadows; in the dark even more so for a sensitive issue like the war on narcotics.

Publicizing the names of those you intend to get such sensitive information from exposes them to potential dangers and to such individuals they are likely to take their chances with the guys in the dark than state organs for the obvious reasons.

State organs are expected to follow certain rules in their operations; they are accountable to the law while the guys in the dark; those involved in narcotics are accountable to themselves and their survival. They are likely to be more merciless, hence more dreadful.

The government has to go a step forward as well by investing huge financial resources in this war and be prepared to offer protection and new identities to those with sensitive information.

As a country, we need more than passing headlines to win the war on narcotics.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Why TZ risks becoming a land of zombies

A man injects himself with narcotics. Drug

A man injects himself with narcotics. Drug abuse is causing a lot of problems in society. It is for this reason the government has launched a crackdown. PHOTO | FILE 

By Danford Mpumilwa mpumilwa@gmail.com

Sometimes in the mid 70s my then Member of Parliament, the late Jackson Makweta, rattled members of the National Assembly by tabling a motion urging the august House to legalise the use marijuana.

To many, this was rather an unsettling motion taking into account the disciplined and high moral standards upheld by the then no-nonsense Mwalimu Nyerere.

However, most of us, those hailing from Njombe, then Makweta’s constituency, found nothing wrong with the motion.

After all the marijuana plant was widely cultivated by most farmers in almost all the villages in that part of Bongoland. Actually to us marijuana was simply another traditional vegetable.

Njombeans, of that era, were therefore very shocked to learn that the leaves of this innocent plant had another sinister use; that it could be smoked like tobacco. And that this was the problem.

“How could one smoke a vegetable?”They wondered. In due course, however, Makweta’s motion was thrown out by all the honourables.

Understandably, side effects of consuming marijuana, like a vegetable, are rather scanty. I do, however, remember coming across a scientific paper which concluded that consumption of large quantities of marijuana leaves – as a vegetable – by parents, adversely affected the health of their newly born babies.

It alleged that these babies were likely to suffer brain damage. Indeed I do recall that there was an abnormally high percentage of brain challenged pupils in my primary school.

Otherwise everybody knows the more perilous side effects of smoking the common marijuana leaves. And presently, after many years of smoking marijuana, many young men and women have graduated from the use of marijuana to that of more potent drugs including cocaine and heroin.

Now that is a very grim situation. The use of these new generation drugs gravely destroy the health of our young men and women; expose them to predatory diseases including HIV; destroy families; raise crime; affect the economy; and even produce powerful and dangerous crime cartels which end up controlling all sectors of the economy and even usurping political power.

This reminds me of the famous 19th century Opium Wars in China. The British had been exporting opium mainly from India to China from the 18th century to destablise and subdue the later. In the 1820s this perilous trade grew dramatically resulting in widespread addiction in China. Naturally this caused serious social and economic disruption.

Subsequently the Chinese government, in March 1830, decided to suppress this trade. It confiscated and destroyed more than 20,000 chests of opium – some 1,400 tonnes of the drug.

Naturally the British were not happy.

And soon after, a vicious war broke out with the British sending many warships to fight the Chinese.

After much loss of life and property, some ten years later, peace negotiations took place resulting in the Treaty of Nanjing, signed on August 29, 1942.

This is the treaty whose provisions, very imperialistic among others, required China to pay Britain a large indemnity and cede Hong Kong Island to the British. A decade or so later, another similar Opium War was fought. But that is a story for another day.

The imperial Britain had gone to war with China to, among other exploitative reasons, safeguard its lucrative opium trade which ensured that millions of Chinese people would subsequently turn into zombies.

In their weakened position they would be easily controlled and exploited by the mighty British. Notably this was at the height of the famous Shanghai, Canton and Hong Kong decadent nightlife of drugs, gambling and prostitution.

That is why we all have to join forces with the authorities in the current fight against narcotics in our country.

Otherwise we should be prepared, in the very near future, to become a land of scrawny and semi-dead people. A land of Zombies!

Danford Mpumilwa is a Journalist and Communication Consultant based in Arusha