Returning stolen wealth: where is Tanzania in this?

Thursday January 24 2019


By Karl Lyimo

As I was idling away the time by browsing the ubiquitous Internet, I came across quite a few consternating headlines. Samples:

• ‘Africa is not poor; we are stealing its wealth’ [].

• ‘World is plundering Africa’s wealth of ‘billions of dollars a year’[].

• ‘Honest Accounts 2017 - How the world profits from Africa’s wealth’[].

• ‘Africa is not poor, its wealth is being stolen’ [].

• ‘Africa ‘is not poor, we are stealing its wealth’ [News24].

• ‘Dictatorland: how Africa’s natural wealth was exploited and stolen...’ [culture>].

• ‘Dispossessed Africans must reclaim stolen wealth’ [].

• ‘Why the wealth of Africa does not make Africans wealthy’ [/].

• ‘The West stole Africa’s wealth’: Khoza Mduduzi. [/>].

Oh... there were a gazillion responses (actually read ‘about

18,000,000 results in 0.45 seconds!’) after I simply googled for ‘Africa’s stolen wealth’ on Wednesday, January 16 this year. Africa, we are told, is the second-largest continent in the world in terms of size and population. It has a total land area of 11.715 million sq.mi (30.344 million, and a combined population of 1.288 billion souls as of the year 2018. The world’s largest and most populous continent is, of course, Asia, with a total land area of 17.212 million sq.mi (44.58 million sq. km) and had a combined population of 4.545 billion souls in 2018. But, in terms of nominal gross domestic product (GDP), Asia’s was $28.23 trillion in 2017 (with an average GDP per capita of $6,690), compared with Africa’s nominal GDP of a measly $2.19 trillion in 2017 – and $1,720 average GDP per capita.

But, the business here today is about returning the wealth that was stolen – and continues to be stolen in one form or another, every which way – from Africa in general, and from Tanzania in particular.

In this, our comrade-in-regional-integration next-door, Kenya, seems to be way ahead of Tanzania and the other member countries of the East African Community, namely Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi and us in Nyerereland.

“The Government of Kenya has reason to sigh (in relief, no doubt) after signing deals with three countries that will see them recover their stolen assets,” read the intro to a recent press report. [Google for ‘UK, Switzerland and Jersey join Kenya in fight against corruption’ by Norah Kamau; ; Dec. 11, 2018].

In the event, UK, Switzerland and USA’s Jersey State formally pledged their support for Kenya’s fight against grand corruption, promising to return stolen Kenyan wealth which was stashed in their countries. To that end, Kenya recovered Ksh577m (roughly US$5.7m, or Tsh13.167bn) from the UK government in March 2018 as proceeds believed to have been from two major corruption scandals in Kenya.

In July the same year, the President Uhuru Kenyatta government also signed another deal with Switzerland which saw to Ksh200m (US$1.97m, or Tsh4.55bn) stashed in Switzerland frozen, ready to be returned to Kenya. The money is part of the criminal proceeds from the Anglo-Leasing passports procurement scandal revealed in 2002.

Oh, I don’t know... But, Kenya next-door is making hay while the sun shines, by negotiating deals that have started to pay -- witness the foregoing on loot stashed abroad by criminal elements.

Where, pray, is Tanzania in this? Where, indeed? I ask you... Yes; YOU!