Last week, The Citizen’s sister paper Mwananchi published a piece by journalist Elias Msuya in which he urged the government to do more to secure job opportunities abroad to augment the few that are currently available in Tanzania.
Msuya admitted that his proposal was no-brainer. Even advanced countries – including the so-called “donor countries” – routinely send their citizens to administer the donations in the receiving countries, he said.
That is a truism that cannot be argued against.
In his piece in which he cited what donor countries do, the writer inserted a poser: “Sisi tunashindwa wapi?” In rhetoric, he wants to be told why we in Tanzania fail to pursue the placement of our citizens in jobs abroad.
In this my modest piece, I humbly respond to Msuya’s baffling poser by first and foremost categorically stating that the Tanzania government is a very spirited fighter for opportunities for its citizenry.
This is especially so in international organisations like the East African Community, the Southern African Development Community, the Africa Union and the United Nations in general. On that score, I cannot fault the government.
The reality on the ground is that these organisations tend to have quotas that are assigned by relevant national authorities – thus making it easy for our highly competent negotiators at Foreign Affairs and other line ministries to do the needful and get opportunities coming our way.
This probably explains why we have a high profile Tanzanian, Joyce Msuya (no relation to Elias), a marine biologist and environmentalist posted in Nairobi, Kenya, as deputy executive director of the UN Environment Programme (Unep).
To be honest, our discrimination (for lack of a better word) at home these days has not covered us in glory in our quest to secure jobs abroad.
I will not name the channel here; but we all know that it is funded by public taxes. When it wants to wax lyrical about the greatness of our nation, it goes overboard without considering the ramifications involved.
These days, for example, we do have enough qualified engineers to build roads, bridges and dams – and we do not need foreigners for such jobs. Now, going by this syllogism: how can we then rightly argue that our people should be given salaried jobs abroad?
There is no doubt that the Tanzania of today (2020) is not the Tanzania of the 1970s.
It is also possible that our open door policy may have been abused. But our closed door policy – practised under the guise of laws, rules and regulations which are all legitimate – does not do justice the quest to find jobs for our citizens beyond our borders any easier, does it?
That the government preaches water and drinks wine is a stumbling block in this quest.
These days, we have economic diplomacy as a plank for mutually-beneficial relations with other countries. However, our economic diplomacy is marred by the general idea that we somehow turn a win-win situation into one in which they must lose so that we win!
Obviously, our resources should benefit our people. But – as retired President Jakaya Kikwete said in Njombe years ago: “Ukitaka kula, sharti uliwe…!” In my view, this roughly translates into: ‘if you want to eat, be certain to share with others…’
In reality, the natural resources we are blessed with were not bequeathed upon us only because we were born Tanzanians. It was purely coincidental, accidental that we were in Tanzania where gold, tanzanite, natural gas, etc., are also found!
In terms of the blue economy, many of the world’s resources are shared. One may be harvesting in Bulyanhulu; but the gold vein may be from Got Kwer, Migori County in Kenya. We may be harvesting gas in Mtwara; but its real source is international waters.
In the spirit of shared resources – and in an increasingly digital, globalising world – let us create an environment that makes it favourable for us to enable our sons and daughters to enjoy resources elsewhere unimpeded by our own brand of “Make America Great Again”.
In other news: Dr Patrick Mugoya – a Tanzanian national – has been appointed Commissioner General of South Sudan Revenue Authority… Now let us show reciprocity in how we deal with our South Sudanese brothers and sisters.
Kasera Nick Oyoo is a research and communications consult-ant with Midas Touché East Africa