December 2007

Mwezi uliopita, nilikosa sherehe ya Poverty Week. Imefanyika Ubungo Plaza, kama uzinduzi wa kampeni dhidi ya ‘trafficking’. Shughuli nyingi zimetokea, uzinduzi wa Views of the People 2007 ni mmojawapo.

Views of the People 2007 ilizinduliwa na Prof. Semboja, mkurugenzi wa Research for Poverty Alleviation (REPOA). REPOA ilifanya utafiti huu mkubwa kwa ajili ya kupata maoni ya wananchi kuhusu utekelezaji wa Mkukuta. Walihoji zaidi ya watu 8,000 katika mikoa kumi ya Tanzania bara. Ripoti ni ndefu. Nitaweka matokeo machache tu hapa.

Asillimia ya watu ambao wamesikia Mkukuta                                                38

Asilimia ya watu ambao wanaamini maofisa wa NGOz                                 12

Asilimia ya watu ambao wanaamini polisi                                                         12

Asilimia ya watu ambao wanaamini wanasiasa                                               14

Asilimia ya watu ambao wanadhani watu kwa ujumla wanaaminika         22

Kwenye ripoti hii kuna mambo mengi ya kutafakari. Lakini nashangaa ripoti hapatikani kwa urahisi. Labda REPOA hawawaamini wananchi…. Haionekani kwenye tovuti yao. Haionekani kwenye tovuti ya kitengo cha kupima umaskini cha Wizara ya Mipango, Uchumi na Uwezeshaji (pia, tovuti hiyo inapatikana kwa kiingereza tu). Kwanini, jamani? Wamepima maoni ya wananchi lakini wananchi hawana fursa ya kusikia sauti zao wenyewe. Imeshazinduliwa kwa ‘wadau wa umaskini’ kwa sherehe ya Poverty Week. Maskini wenyewe, je?


Tanzania Daima (the opposition Chadema daily), recently reported the crash of a Tanzanian army helicopter carrying ‘tourists’ from England, Canada, USA and Australia. It apparently happened in Arusha Region within the past three weeks. You can read Ndimara Tegambwage’s complete article if you just click here. It was also reprinted in the weekly Mwanahalisi (December 19 2007 issue). The business activities of the Tanzanian Army are no secret, certainly for those who have attended functions at their swish Msasani Beach Club in Dar, after being ushered into the grounds by a barrel chested NCO.

Regarding the tourism business, Tegambwage asks many pertinent questions, including:

Does the army have a tourism department? If so, how many planes and helicopters does it have? What else does it have for these type of activities? Is tourism one of the army’s fund raising projects? Is the army so cash strapped that it needs to start such projects?

Well, to answer the second question, it has at least three airplanes with which it runs an unofficial passenger and cargo service between Mwanza, Tabora and Dar es Salaam. Head down to the Air Wing section of the airport and watch the flights come in and the unloading of buckets of fish, cooking oil and furniture as you wait amongst the throng of friends and relatives waiting to receive loved ones, or just some fresh lake fish.

It’s an accident waiting to happen.

Is a housegirl a victim of trafficking? What is the nature of her exploitation? Is her situation an acceptable norm in Tanzania? These are a couple of questions that the International Organisation for Migration seems to have failed to ask when designing its just launched campaign against people trafficking in Tanzania. 

So what is trafficking? To the IOM it is: 

the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat, use of force or other means of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the receiving or giving of payment… to a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

Now that’s bad, and it should stop. So what is their campaign in Tanzania about? Jean-Philippe Chauzy, an IOM spokesman in Geneva was reported in today’s Citizen newspaper in Dar es Salaam:

most of the victims are young boys and girls that are trafficked from rural to urban areas. “They are routinely abused and exploited either as domestic workers or working in commercial agriculture, in some cases, in fishing and mining industries,” he said.“We also know that trafficking occurs internationally and we know that Tanzanian women and children are usually trafficked for sexual exploitation, for labour exploitation into the broad southern African region, mostly South Africa, but also as far field as the Middle East and Europe.”

Let’s focus on the internal aspect. The exploitation of children, particularly girls working as servants, is one of Tanzania’s dirty little secrets – underpaid (if at all), sexually exploited (at times) and overworked.  But, as is the way with secrets, we know little about it. And neither does the IOM. Again, in The Citizen’s report Chauzy tells us that “little is known about how the trafficking network operates in Tanzania…..[trafficking] tends to be under-reported”. Needless to say, the then goes on to tell us how the trafficking network operates.

The campaign website, has what it professes to be true testimonies (hadithi za kweli) from victims of trafficking. Read them here. Unfortunately, they don’t have the ring of truth about them. “Stella” tells us of being taken to Dar es Salaam by her relative “Decorata” with promises of work and education, only to be an unpaid housemaid, forbidden to leave the house. And according to the story, that remains the case. So how did the IOM get the story? If true, why have the names not been changed? And if true, why hasn’t the IOM been able to do anything for her?

So, we have a massively expensive campaign with the usual plethora of caps, t-shirts, calendars, brochures, TV and radio spots and a concert in Dar’s swish Ubungo Plaza.  But there is no attempt to understand and respond to inequality, vulnerability and exploitation in Tanzania.

“Ukimwi Day imeisha – tunasubiri Uhuru Day.” Maneno haya niliambiwa leo, na pia yana maana. Hapa Tanzania tunapewa ujumbe juu ya ujumbe “kila dakika, kila saa, kila saa, kila siku” (asante II Proud). Kama siyo Ukimwi, ni Uhuru. Kama siyo Uhuru, itakuwa mapambano dhidi ya rushwa.

Kila ujumbe umependekezwa na ngazi za juu. Kama siyo serikali, ni wafadhili. Tutasikia lini sauti ambazo zinaleta ujumbe wa ukweli kutoka moyoni? Tutasikia lini sauti ambazo zinatuletea vitu vipya, ambavyo vitatusisimua kwa ukweli na nguvu zao?

Je, tutapata nafasi hiyo?