Monday, November 23, 2009

A Golden Opportunity? A Documentary about how Tanzania is Failing to Benefit from Gold Mining!

Click and View:

The effects of multinational gold mining on local communities in Tanzania. While Canadian and Australian mining companies reap the profits of record high gold prices, local residents suffer forced displacement, and remain destitute.

A documentary presented by the Christian Council of Tanzania, Norwegian Church and DundasFilm

Canadian mining firms face abuse allegations

A private member's bill aims to impose controls on powerful Canadian mining companies that operate overseas

What is Norway oiling in Zanzibar?

Zanzibar is back on the national and international agenda. Of course it has always been on the agenda. But it’s a long time since it was such a mysterious agenda.

For a whole week we have been treated with puzzling news. ‘What are Karume and Seif up to in Zanzibar? queried The Citizen. ‘Z’bar’s Strange Bedfellows’ quipped the Sunday Citizen.

What I found particularly surprising is not “the recent rare talks between Zanzibar’s erstwhile political foes, President Amani Abedi Karume and the opposition Civic United Front leader, Maalim Seif Shariff Hamad” (Sunday Citizen 15 November 2009). Why should I be shocked while I know if nothing, or anything, is not done now Zanzibar will explode? When? 2010!

Then what did I find surprising? Is it the claim that not even the ruling party let alone the presidency knew about the secrecy behind the meeting? Or is it the assertion that our friends in ‘war on terror’ and piracy are behind the new-found unity in Zanzibar? Could it be the oil factor?
Well, what I found intriguing is the energy that our partners in development, Norway, are putting on this agenda. I am particularly startled given the fact that the Ambassador himself has taken a lead on this. He has “been the busiest and most visible over Zanzibar” affirming that “Norway strongly encourages” Karume and Seif’s “efforts to bring lasting peace to Zanzibar” (Ibid).

Surely we know why Tanzanians or Zanzibaris need lasting peace in Zanzibar. But what about Norwegians? Why should they be interested in such peace? For the sake of humanity? Maybe.

The clue to why our friends in development are so interested in our peace is found in what they have been up to in the past week. Tellingly, their Minister for Environment and International Development was “the first international personality to send a congratulatory message, a few hours after news of the meeting emerged” (Ibid). The Ambassador even crossed the ocean to meet the President of Zanzibar. He also met the Minister responsible for Union Matters.

More tellingly the Norwegian Embassy “conducted two separate workshops for Members of the National Assembly, and the Zanzibar House of Representatives to sensitise them on oil exploration and drilling for an impending Bill on the matter” (Ibid). The possibility of oil discovery in Zanzibar has caused a lot of animosity between those who want its revenues to be shared as a Union Matter and those who don’t. Why, then, is Norway so interested in this issue?

The official website of the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) at list 17 licensed Oil and Gas Exploration Companies that operates in Tanzania. Out of these only one is from Norway. Its name is Statoil Asa. Ironically, it is not operating in Zanzibar. Rather, it is operating on what is refered to as Deep Sea Block Number 2.

On the map this block is close to Mtwara and Lindi. According to this company’s official website at its total area is “11,099 square kilometres, and it lies in water depths of between 400 and 3000 metres” off “the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean.” If a Norwegian company is thus far removed from Zanzibar who then is really involved in Zanzibar?

Apparently the company that is operating in Zanzibar/Pemba is a Canadian one. It is known as Antrim Resources among other names. Shell International from Holland is also operating albeit in the Deep Sea Blocks Number 9, 10, 11 and 12 which, in a way, surrounds Zanzibar. As a matter of fact the whole on and off shore of the Indian Ocean in Tanzania is licensed for oil/gas exploration and companies from as far as Australia, Brazil and the United Kingdom are involved.

It is thus quite clear that there is an international scramble for oil and gas in this Eastern board of Tanzania/Africa. This, I contend, is the one of the main reasons why Norway is so interested in what is going on in Zanzibar. As history has taught us Zanzibar has always been a strategic area.

Commenting on this historical legacy, Abdulrahman Mohammed Babu said: “A country like Zanzibar was quite strategic in superpower manoeuvres because of its historic role in influencing events in the region.” This is the Zanzibar that attracted a whole Empire to move its capital from Muscat into it. It’s the Zanzibar that is facing the shaky Middle East. It is a Zanzibar that is a corridor to Somalia, the new zone of piracy. Who wouldn’t want to control such a Zanzibar?

Surely Norway, as a country that has used oil among other resources to develop, wouldn’t want to be a loser in a battle for the soul of Zanzibar. Neither would ‘America’. Nor would Tanzania.

© Chambi Chachage - Published in The Citizen & The African Executive

Friday, November 20, 2009

Between the Lines

Between the lines
Is our history about today, or…
About our yesterdays and tomorrows
About conventions, memories or imaginings
Is it standing still, in motion or aping
Mine, theirs or ours…?

Depends on the teller
And the subject of the telling
Is the conqueror or vanquished
The author or the audience
Subject or the object…
Of it’s telling?

Which key do we turn?
To tell myth and reality apart
As they spin yet another yarn?

Which memory do we depend on?
To not believe in too many lies
Conscious, sub-conscious, rational or creative

Do we have what it takes, to read between the lines?

Demere Kitunga, 31st October, 2008

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Waiting for Power: Citizens’ Plight during Energy Crises

It has become so predictable. This thing we call ‘power rationing.’ We had it in 2006, 2007 and 2008. It is here in 2009. If the yearly trend continues then we shall surely experience it in 2010.

If we have forgotten the past then we only have to glance at the dates of the following front page news stories from The Citizen to get a glimpse of how this power rationing is such a vicious cycle: “‘Tanzania 2006: Power’ Crisis dominated headlines” (29 December 2006); “Another power crisis as Songas turbines collapse” (25 September 2008); “Power Crisis: Tough times ahead – No solution in sight as sabotage suggestions angers Tanesco boss” (13 October 2009).

For some strange reasons the major power crises tend to emerge toward the end of the year. Some claim it is because of delayed rains. The moment you blame it on ‘Mother Nature’ you let humans off the hook. But isn’t being human all about taming nature? And, as experts of climate change insists, aren’t we the ones who affect those rain seasons with environmental degradation?

From what has been going on there is no way we can claim human agency is not behind this power tragedy. When we survey more cover stories from The Citizen this is what we get as evidence of why this is a man-made problem that needs humans to take responsibility: “Business want power shedding compensation” (19 March 2007); “Tanesco ordered to pay Sh190.8m to paper mill” (12 September 2007); “Emergency power supply contract that never was” (19 March 2008”; “Rationing ends as power supply normalises” (The Citizen 20 September 2008).

Humans, as a restaurant owner plighted with power cuts told me the other day, never get used to problems. We are not used to the power rationing problem. At the individual level we might have devised coping mechanism to partially deal with it but that does not mean we are really used to it. Every time we experience power cuts we suffer and complain. We also try to offer solutions.

When such a crisis occurred, or rather made to occur, in October, 2006 a concerned citizen wrote an open letter to President Jakaya Kikwete. He told him how the crisis was affecting his attempt at self-employment. His hope was that such a leader who was/is committed to creating a million jobs for (young) Tanzanians will take note of how the power crisis was/is a setback to that goal.

Three years down the line self-employees are still bearing the brunt of the on and off blackouts. For instance, in the beginning of the year the parliamentary committee responsible for public investments’ accounts found out that a salon could incur a cost of up to an additional Tsh. 60,000 per day during rationing. According its chair, Zitto Kabwe, in his press statement on the current crisis, the rationing curtails the capital of small-scale entrepreneurs and thus impoverishes them.

Companies also suffer: “Power woes: Cement Firm incurs over Sh2bn loss” (2 February 2007). The national economy as whole has been suffering: “Revealed: Power crisis to cost nation Sh815 billion” (30 November 2006); “Power disconnection cost Govt, firm Sh 540m a day” (22 November 2007). Even Tanesco is losing out - ‘Tsh 2 million or so per day’ says POAC’s chair!

Over the years, however, we have been coming up with ‘Band-Aid’ solutions. We can also see this reflected in The Citizen’s cover stories: “New power tariff soon” (29 December 2006); “40 percent power rise will kill industries” (23 September 2007); “Consumer body says Tanesco’s new connections charges are illegal” (19 November 2007); “Govt is rattled as MPs reject Power Bill again” (20 March 2008); “Power sector for partial liberalisation” (19 April 2008).

A survey of The Citizen’s headlines on the IPTL, Richmond and Dowans solutions is also self-revealing: “Richmond says power equipment ‘in flight’” (21 October 2006); “Tanesco: Dowans yet to commission 20MW” (19 January 2007); “Dowans: Dr. Rashid throws in the towel” (7 March 2008); “Ex-Richmond power deal may be extended to 2012”; “Tanesco now halts Dowans contract” (1 July 2008); “Court blocks sale of Dowans plant” (20 December 2008); “Switch on Dowans, IPTL now, businesses tell govt (21 October 2009).

As I am writing this article the power cuts seems to have eased. Perhaps this is because of “Kikwete’s order on IPTL” (22 October 2009). This order, depending on how you view it, came in the wake, or as a result, of the businesses’ call and Zitto Kabwe’s statement referred to above. I want to be so happy that the power cuts have been cut regardless of who has done it. But can I?

Politically speaking, is it possible to happily enjoy this power when a permanent solution to the recurring crisis has not yet been found? Economically speaking, is it possible to be happy about it even though it will cost us a lot in the long run? Morally speaking, how can it be possible to enjoy this power when there seems to be a shady cloud around it as the court process indicates?

These are the kinds of questions that make me think that perhaps there is more into the word ‘power’ that we use interchangeably with ‘electricity’. No wonder the veteran journo, Karl Lyimo, thus rhetorically admits: “It seems I’ll never understand this even if I live to know the difference between power, energy and electricity!” Power cuts means we are a powerless people.
In my Physics class I was taught that power is defined as energy over time. I was also taught that the law of conservation of energy states that you can neither create nor destroy energy. What you can only do is transform it from one form to another. And that is indeed what we have been doing since Uhuru: transforming mechanical energy from moving water into electrical energy.

Human agency is what has done this transformation. It is this same agency that has transformed fuel energy from generators to produce electrical energy. Surely the same agency has the power to harness the heat from the sun and force from the winds and turn them into electrical energy.

With all these forms of energy in our country how can we afford to be powerless? Why can’t we have the same kind of belief that inspired Barack Obama to powerfully declare: “We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories”? What is stopping us from being powerful enough to also conclude: “All this we can do. All this we will do”?

Power is about the distribution of resources. Let’s redistribute our energy resources. Yes, we can.

© Chambi Chachage - Published in The Citizen & Pambazuka News

Monday, November 2, 2009

Barua ya Wazi kwa Mheshimiwa Mkapa

Barua ya wazi kwa Mhe. Benjamin William Mkapa, Rais mstaafu

Mheshimiwa Mkapa,
Assalam Alaykum.
Nakuamkia kwa heshima na taadhima. Natumai u mzima wa afya, wewe na familia yako. Nakuombea kila la heri na mapumziko mema, pamoja na majukumu yako mengi na mazito ya kimataifa.

Mheshimiwa, nimeshawishika kuandika barua hii baada ya kusoma kwenye tovuti ( maoni yako ambayo yamenukuliwa na mwandishi wa habari Roberto Savio akiandika juu ya kifo cha uliberali mamboleo katika gazeti la Business Mirror la 19 Agosti 2009. Umenukuliwa ukisema:

“We privatized everything the state had. Everything was bought by foreign capital because we had no national capital to compete. The foreign companies almost always closed local businesses, which were not competitive, transforming them into distributors of foreign products and driving up unemployment. The experts of the World Bank and the IMF predicted that this would happen, but they told us: Now the influx of foreign investment will lead to the creation of new, competitive and technologically current businesses that will provide the foundations for a lasting, modern development. None of this happened for us.”

“Tulibinafsisha kila kitu kilichokuwa mikononi mwa dola. Kila kitu kilinunuliwa na wawekezaji kutoka nje kwa sababu hatukuwa na mtaji wa ndani wenye uwezo wa kushindana. Makampuni ya nje yakafunga mashirika ya ndani kwa sababu hayakuwa na tija na yakayageuza mashirika haya kuwa wachuuzi wa bidhaa kutoka nje na kwa hivyo kuongeza watu wasio na ajira. Wataalam wa Benki ya Dunia na Shirika la Fedha la Kimataifa walitabiri kwamba hivyo ndivyo ingekuwa, lakini wakatuambia: Uwekezaji kutoka nje utazaa taasisi za kibiashara za kisasa, zenye uwezo wa kushindana, na teknologia ya kisasa, na kwa hivyo kujenga misingi ya kudumu ya maendeleo ya kisasa. Hakuna lolote kati ya hiyo lililotokea nchini mwetu”.

Mzee, unasononeka; kwa kiasi fulani, katika lugha yako ya kidiplomasia, unalalamika. Lakini hata baada ya maanguko ya mfumo wa uliberali mamboleo na utandawazi, ambao uliushabikia sana wakati wa utawala wako, hukuwa na ujasiri wa kuomba msamaha wa watu wako. Sikulaumu. Huwezi kulaumiwa. Ni hulka ya binadamu kutokuona au kukiri kosa lake. ‘Nyani haioni ngokoye.’ Katika hili huko peke yako. Katika mkutano wa kundi la nchi 20 (G20) zenye nguvu za kiuchumi ulioitishwa mjini London kuzungumzia hali mbaya ya uchumi mnamo Aprili mwaka huu, Waziri Mkuu wa Uingereza, Bwana Gordon Brown, alikiri kwamba ‘Muafaka wa Washington umekufa’, alisema hivyo bila kuwaomba radhi watu wa ulimwengu, hasa wa nchi maskini, ambao waliathirika sana na “muafaka” huo wa nchi za kibeberu ambao nchi zetu zililazimishwa kuufuata.

Mheshimiwa Rais mstaafu: Ukweli ni kwamba haya yaliyotokea sasa si matokeo yaliyokuja kwa bahati mbaya au kwa miujiza tu. Wako viongozi na hasa wasomi (angalau wachache) walisema, tena kwa uchambuzi wa kina na yakinifu, kwamba mfumo huo hautufai, hautatuletea maendeleo, bali utauongeza tu unyonywaji wa watu wetu na uporwaji wa mali zetu. Mwalimu Nyerere alijitahidi sana kupinga masharti ya nchi za kibeberu, lakini hakufanikiwa. Mzee Mwinyi alifungua milango na wewe ukakumbatia, bila kuhoji mfumo huo, hasa masharti yale ya kubinafsisha mashirika ya umma. Ni kweli mashirika mengine hayakuwa na tija, ni kweli pia mengine yalikuwa na menejimenti mbovu. Lakini je, tulijaribu kutafuta njia mbadala, licha ya hiyo ya kubinafsisha ‘kila kitu’? Wasomi wako wachache waliokosoa sera zako za kiuchumi uliwaita majina na kuwafananisha na ‘wavivu wa akili’. Ulipigia sana debe utandawazi kiasi kwamba jina lako litaingia katika historia kama mvumbuzi wa neno ‘utandawazi’ katika msamiati wa Kiswahili. Uliwafumbia macho viongozi wako wakati wakitumia vyeo vyao kujilimbikizia mali na utajiri wa kupindukia – au hili pia ilikuwa ni sera ya kujenga mabepari wa ndani?

Mbaya zaidi, mheshimiwa, chini ya uongozi wako tukakubali kutoa uhuru kwa taasisi za kifedha, na kukubali soko huria katika biashara ya fedha, (na kutokudhibiti akaunti ya mtaji (capital account)) bila udhibiti na usimamazi wowote wa dola. Hili ndilo hasa lilikuwa chanzo cha chumi zetu kuathirika kupita kiasi pale anguko la mfumo wa fedha wa kimataifa lilipotokea.

Nchi ambazo zilikataa soko huria katika mambo ya fedha, kama China na Malaysia, hazikuathirika kama nchi zingine. Naomba nisiendelee. Wananchi wetu, pamoja na kutokuwa na usomi au ustaarabu wako au wangu, wanahisi moyoni mwao udhaifu wa mfumo wa utandawazi na binamu yake uliberali mamboleo. Ndio maana wakati wa kuadhimisha miaka kumi tangu kifo cha Mwalimu, wakalilia sana Azimio la Arusha.

Mwalimu hakuwa malaika, alikuwa kiongozi wa kisiasa. Alikuwa na mapungufu yake lakini alijali watu wa chini, watu ambao walisahaulika kabisa katika awamu ya tatu na wanaendelea kupuuzwa katika awamu ya nne. Kila mlalahoi aliyetoa maoni yake alikuwa na maneno haya tu: Mwalimu alitujali; Azimio la Arusha lilitujali sisi wanyonge. Azimio lilitoa matumaini. Uliberali mamboleo na utandawazi ulitoa matumaini yapi kwa matabaka ya chini, zaidi ya kuwa njia ya viongozi kujilimbikizia mali bila aibu!

Mheshemiwa Rais mstaafu, sio nia yangu kurudia yale yaliyotokea. Lakini, utakubaliana nami kwamba historia ni muhimu. Kujifunza kutokana na historia yetu na ya wengine ni hatua ya kwanza katika safari ndefu ya kujikomboa na kujiletea maendeleo halisi. Kama kweli umejifunza na umeyaona madhara ya sera ulizozikumbatia wakati ukiwa madarakani, je, huoni kwamba una wajibu wa kumsaidia mrithi wako, na hasa kutusaidia sisi wananchi, ili tujifunze kutokana na makosa ya serikali yako? Je, kweli, bado unanadi na kutunasihi kwamba utandawazi hauepukiki? Je, bado unatushauri kwamba msukumo wa maendeleo ni uwekezaji kutoka nje, uwekezaji ambao umejidhihirisha wazi ni uporaji wa maliasili yetu? Je, huoni kwamba unao wajibu, kwa upande wako, wa kufanya kila iwezekanayo – na wewe sio mtu mdogo katika nchi hii – kutusaidia kuzindua mjadala wa kitaifa juu ya hatma ya nchi yetu na bara letu?


Issa Shivji
Profesa wa Kigoda cha Taaluma cha Mwalimu Nyerere
Chuo Kikuu cha Dar es Salaam
Okotoba 24, 2009

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