August 2007

The Economist has yet another puff piece on President Jakaya Kikwete in this week’s edition. You can read it here. And you can read a previous one here.

This week’s story is worth reading to the end.  It is notable for being an entirely uncritical account of a president under pressure. But it is also notable for its description of his mobile phone use. Mobile networks have been adapted to management of the treatment of AIDS patients, money transfer, market information and any other number of issues. Here we see Kikwete using his famous mobile as a tool to make seemingly random management decisions. The mind boggles.


Professa Issa Shivji ametoa mawazo yake juu ya kisa cha Zitto Kabwe na ulinzi wa maliasili yetu. Mjengwa ameshaitangaza kwake. Soma, fikiria, utafaidi….

The suspension of Honourable Zitto Kabwe from parliament is not simply an episode. It is a beginning of an epitath on the last twenty years of reckless privatisation and exploitation of national wealth and resources. The suspension was an occasion for the people to give vent to their accumulated grievances, problems, and frustrations.

Two decades of neo-liberal reforms has produced a deeply divided society and an utterly fractured politics. At one pole, there is a small group of filthy rich (walalaheri), who have used all means, fair and foul, to accumulate wealth. At the other pole, are the large majority of the wretched poor (walalahoi), who are desperately trying to keep body and soul together. Under Mwalimu, the ratio between the highest and the lowest wage/salary income earners was something like 1 to 8. The current one is 1 to 50, and that is an underestimate because it does not take into account unofficial, informal, and unaccounted incomes. (more…)

You can overcome your fears if you understand what is confronting you. Fear often accompanies great change, and great changes are afoot in Tanzania now. A previous post dealt with inequalities. In Tanzania’s cities you can see it all around you. The relentless slums, the rising mansions, the plazas and shopping centres. And people are beginning to question what is happening, particularly with regard to the use and abuse of the country’s natural resources. Traffic recently highlighted the rampant corruption in the forestry sector. Increasingly questions are being asked about mining contracts. Zitto Kabwe was suspended from parliament as a result

The next big investment sector will be biofuels – production of diesel type fuels from plants. The leader currently is Jatropha – read more here.

A renewable source of energy, easily grown…… it seems perfect for a country with, supposedly, so much land.

The East African recently reported on one such investment by Sun Biofuels, a UK based company with interests in Tanzania. The full report is reproduced here.

Sun Biofuels needs land to grow Jatropha. They requested 20,000 hectares in Kisarawe District and were awarded 9,000. The District Land Officer is reported as saying thatTsh800 million (c. USD630,000) has been earmarked by the investor as compensation to 2,840 households. This works out at less than USD200 per household. It works out at about USD70 per hectare.

What are your options as a villager in Kisarawe when faced with these levels of compensation? What are your options as Sun Biofuels when offered land at give away prices?

Is it any wonder people are afraid?

Hivi karibuni, nilibahatika kutembelea tovuti ya Mheshimiwa Nimrod Mkono. Inaonekana hapa. Mh. Mkono ni mbunge wa Musoma Vijijini. Napendekeza utembelee tovuti hiyo. Inaonyesha vizuri kazi ya mbunge hapa Tanzania.

Sina mabaya ya kusema. Inaonekana kuwa Mh. Mkono anajitahidi kuendeleza jimbo lake, hasa upande wa elimu. Lakini si mbaya kuuliza maswali machache….

Kwanza, kwanini tovuti hii imeandikwa kwa kiingereza? Je, lengo lake ni kuwasiliana na wananchi au kuwasiliana na wafadhili kutoka nje?

Pili, baada ya kustaafu Mh. Mkono, nani ataendesha miradi hiyo pale Musoma?

Tatu, je, kwanini haijaandikwa kuwa Mh. Mkono ni mbunge upande wa CCM? Asifiche kitu hicho. Kuchaguliwa na wananchi ni heshima.

Si kila jimbo lina mbunge mwenye uwezo kama Mh. Mkono. Je, wananchi wategemee uwezo wa mbunge wao kuliko serikali wakitaka maisha bora?

Kwa kumalizia, niseme kwamba nimefurahi kuwa mbunge mmoja anatumia teknolojia ya mtandao pamoja na mtandao wake binafsi.

Namshukuru Jaduong Metty kwa kunihamasisha kuhusu Mh. Mkono na kazi zake mbalimbali.