Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Angel Investors and Demons of Venture Capital

Angel Investors and Demons of Venture Capital

Chambi Chachage

The old Swahili adage, "vijana ni taifa la kesho" (youth are the nation of tomorrow), seems outdated. Even the use of the phrase, "Today's Youth, Tomorrow's Future", is apparently waning. What appear to be trending now is Africa as "the young continent."

It is thus not surprising that the African youth is the center of attention for advocates of entrepreneurship. For instance, in Tanzania entities from both the public and private sectors that promote youth entrepreneurship are mushrooming. These include, among others, the Tanzania Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness Centre (TECC), the National Economic Empowerment Council (NEEC), the Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship Development (IMED), and The Launch Pad Tanzania.

Prof. Faustine Kamuzora, the Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for Policy and Coordination of Government Business, aptly captures what drives these initiatives. “This large population of youths in the country", he recently stated in his visit to TECC, "should be properly trained and equipped because it is an engine for economic growth and by giving them entrepreneurship skills, business techniques and life skills they will become more productive hence contributing to GDP growth." Since youth restlessness remains "Africa's defining challenge", one can understand why the youth entrepreneurship mantra is trending.

Nevertheless, the effort to train young people to be enterprising is laudable. And the energy devoted in doing so is admirable. Take, for example, Carol Ndosi and Henry Kulaya who are passionately using the Launch Pad Tanzania to impart, inter alia, what they call the "21st Century Entrepreneurial and Employability Skills." Their first cohort has recently graduated with flying colors.

All the graduates made a prototype of what their preferred products would look like based on "HCD-Customer Focus": Jesmoh's "entrepreneurial idea is to have an INTERNET CONNECTIVITY NETWORK"; Joyce "would like to venture into Fruits Supply Business, retail and wholesale"; Suzan, "a Gallet and Cosmetics Business"; Ismail, "a foundation to empower Women-QUEENS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM";  Eva ,"a Brown Bread Bakery business"; and Naomi "start a SOLAR ENERGY business."

One of the practical exercises required these trainees to generate a profit of Tsh 2,000 in two days after they were given Tsh 10,000 as a startup capital. Christina Hillary notes that most of them managed to make profit, with one making almost Tsh 4,000. Of course, as she puts it, this was not only about making profit, but also about "adding value to their products and customer orientation...."

Dr. Jacqueline Mgumia's PhD dissertation, Choices on Money: Entrepreneurship and Youth Aspiration in Tanzania, presents a novel methodology on how to conduct such social experiments. Through a business grant of Tsh 200,000 to 52 Form IV graduates and a business prize competition as an incentive, she managed to closely follow-up their performance as nascent entrepreneurs for a period of one year. Some of them made relatively huge profit.

Her study, however, also provides a cautionary tale of how such interventions do not address structural barriers. It is these issues  that limit youth access to higher education and formal employment in the first place. Or, as Ory Okolloh puts its, 'Africa can't entrepreneur itself out of its basic problems' through "the fetishization around entrepreneurship". This is what brings me to the concept of 'Angel Investors' that has been introduced to assist.

Beng'i Issa, the Executive Secretary of NEEC, is quoted as promising to work on Prof. Kamuzora's "directive" above by identifying "angel investors and link them with the youths so that they can easily access capital to implement their business ideas or expanding existing businesses." This sounds altruistic. Angelic.

What caught my attention is how it is defined. “This concept is very new in the country (angel investors)", she asserts, "in which an investor can be attracted by a business proposal from an entrepreneur and decides to invest.” Her invocation of newness reminds me of my reaction to Salum Awadh's celebratory tweet about the launch of the Tanzania Angel Investor Network (TAIN) in May 2018. Its website describes it as "the first organized angel investors network in Tanzania that seeks to promote angel-investing culture and grow innovative start-ups in Tanzania."

Yet the historian in me recalls that once upon a time we had the Tanzania Venture Capital Fund (TVCF). Lest we start arguing about the semantics of 'venture capitalists' and 'angel investors', let us look at what was its mandate and who funded it. "TVCF", a fact sheet in the UNIDO archives noted, the country's first venture capital fund, was launched in October 1993." The "fund", the fact sheet further noted, "makes equity and quasi-equity joint venture investments alongside Tanzanian entrepreneurs in local companies with high growth potential." This sounds somewhat like a déjà vu.

Most "of the investments", the fact sheet also noted, "are in existing businesses seeking second-stage expansion capital although the fund does consider exceptional start-ups for investment." It then noted that TVCF had "received its seed capital through equity contribution from foreign and local development institutions." Twenty years later, some folks also established the Tanzanian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (TAVCA). Now there is another, the Tanzania Venture Capital Network (TVCN).

Such recurring attempts at initiating capitalist ventures in Tanzania have prompted me to write a dissertation on 'A Capitalizing City: Dar es Salaam and the Emergence of an African Entrepreneurial Elite (c.1862-2015), which will soon be freely available online. As I begrudgingly applaud my friends who are engaged in fostering the 'spirit of capitalism' through private equity, venture capital and youth entrepreneurship, I wonder how much of the history of capitalism is repeating itself. Are we experiencing what the ardent critic of capital, Issa Shivji, refers to as the ways in which history in neoliberal Tanzania repeats itself, albeit as a tragedy and farce? 

Rather than go in circles, as a collective, we need to take a hard look at our history and see why we keep repeating more or less similar things. They tend to start glamorously, then fade away. The likes of Reginald Mengi and Juma Mwapachu would probably not  remember that in 1992 they contributed some money to the then Entrepreneurship Development Fund (EDF) that mainly focused on enabling youth "acquire soft loans for economic projects." It is high time that they tell us, in their memoirs, why such initiative were not sustainable or that successful  Perhaps this will also save our new champions of youth entrepreneurship from "the curse of Sisyphus."

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Is CCM really Curtailing its Grip on Power?

Is CCM really Curtailing its Grip on Power?

Aikande Kwayu's (PhD) recent blog post entitled 'Are political party defections in Tanzania diminishing CCM or enhancing its grip on power?' suggests that Tanzania's ruling party – CCM – is weakening itself, possibly unknowingly, through a number of ways. One such way is how it has been handling recent serial defections from opposition parties. Another way is the imposition of restrictions on civic space, especially the right of other political parties to exercise their constitutional mandate. 

In her post, the author seeks to show that the ruling party has been drifting away from its historical role and reputation, as a key nation building institution. While she raises many important issues, I think there are aspects that require further dialogue. In this response, I discuss some of the key points raised by the author, in a way that interrogates her counter-intuitive proposition.
Electoral violence is a recurring theme in Dr. Aikande's post. It asserts that the ruling party should have discouraged defections from opposition parties soon after the February by-election in Kinondoni. This election was characterized by loss of lives, and mayhem. She writes;

She also notes that the “costs of the subsequent bi-elections [sic] have been enormous, not only money-wise but also lives.” In short, she thinks the costs outweighs the benefits. This is a moralistic argument, which does not necessarily take into consideration the extent of the (unprecedented) threat that the ruling party had to grapple with during the 2015 general election. 

As we have learnt from the history of violence, and fraud in Zanzibar, or other experiences across the continent – South Sudan, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Uganda –  incumbents deploy a wide range of strategies to retain power. It seems no cost is too much in pursuing their objective. For CCM, the most important role of the recent defections is their symbolic value. This is embodied in the standard script, which all defectors keep reciting - “joining the ruling party to support good efforts of the fifth phase government”.
While perceptions of CCM as a benign institution, which Dr. Aikande alludes to, have been helpful in winning elections in the past, the party appears to have struggled, to a large extent, to maintain or reproduce that positive and hopeful image, especially among the young voters. The struggle, or even failure, in my opinion, is in part due to multi-party politics, which has made it possible, and legal (until recently), to contest official narratives. In this case, CCM is a victim of circumstance.

 There are indications that the ruling party has realized the challenge it is facing. Restrictions on political activities, and the enactment and amendment of The Statistics Act (2015), among other restrictive laws and policies, constitute a clear attempt to smother the scale and intensity of counter-narratives. But, this is happening late, at a time when overall support for a multi-party political system (62%), and trust in opposition (53%) is relatively high (See graphs below).

It is, therefore, not surprising that a Twaweza poll showed recently, that the restrictions are fairly unpopular. For instance, 40% of the population disagreed with the ban on political rallies. More significantly, the poll indicates that "young people (41%) are less likely than older citizens (60%) to agree with the ban".

But, how does CCM`s use of “tyrannical actions” – reliance on its own coercive instruments and those controlled by the state as well as restrictions on constitutional rights - in defending its influence, undermine its power? There are two main possibilities. One, is if the opposition (CHADEMA, ACT, CUF) continues to invest, and succeeds, in placing the blame associated with the “politics of upheaval”, which has been a key feature of recent by-elections, on the ruling party. Depicting the party as a divisive force, and a blocker of (re)conciliation efforts, may increase the viability of opposition parties as potential successors. Two, is if opposition parties resist the urge to employ combative measures in dealing with the current situation. There is evidence that populations across the continent, Tanzania included, have a strong preference for “consensus politics”, as opposed to politics of competition.
Recent defections have also given us a glimpse of in-fighting, and succession politics within the leading opposition party – CHADEMA. Sources suggest there is a faction which believes Tundu Lissu (MP) should be the (next) chairperson, based on his intellectual abilities, and combative leadership style, which seems to fit well with the 5th phase government`s orientation. But, as argued earlier, it is unclear if confrontation will bolster the opposition`s profile. Besides, if the emerging divergent visions of how to deal with the current political situation continues to weaken CHADEMA, as it seems to be doing, CCM will be the ultimate winner. It is high time that the opposition undertakes a sober reflection.

In her piece, Dr. Aikande focused on defections to the ruling party, and how mis(handling) them may undermine the party`s grip on power. Surprisingly, she rejected the claim that the opposition is weak, and suggested that the argument amounted to blaming the victim. While weakness is a relative status, and thus disputable, intellectuals sympathetic to the opposition should offer more insights, and strive to be more impartial in their analysis. For instance, one can hardly tell what CHADEMA`s strategy is at the moment, as the party continues to lose representatives in parliament and local councils. 
No significant effort has been made to re-assure CHADEMA's members and well-wishers, and re-adjust its public position in the current political climate. Politics is about perceptions, and public narratives are key in shaping perceptions. On this aspect, CCM appears to have an upper hand as Dr. Aikande had once highlighted in her 2014 blog post on 'Politics of Image or Image Strategy? CCM vs Opposition'. But that was when the playing field for the politics of opposition was relatively levelled in the country.

Many people seem to agree that the current CCM-led government has gone to great lengths to “trim” the influence of the opposition. In the course of doing so, it has made a wide range of relatively unpopular decisions. Nevertheless, the opposition would not significantly benefit from such social and political transgressions if it is fed with analyses that ignore its fundamental weaknesses.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Tangulia Mama Zippora Shekilango (1938-2018)

Tangulia Mama Zippora: Taazia ya Kijana Mwenye Hisia za Majuto 

Seif Mwarizo Abalhassan 

Jijini Dar es salaam kuna barabara moja mashuhuri kwa jina la 'Shekilango Road', ikianzia maungio ya barabara ya Morogoro, eneo la Nyumba za NHC, mkabala na Kiwanda cha Urafiki, ikipitia mitaa yote ya Sinza na kuishia maungio ya barabara ya Ali Hassan Mwinyi kituo cha Bamaga. Wengi wetu tunalijua hili.

Ambalo watu wengi hawalijui ni kuwa barabara hiyo ya Shekilango imepewa jina hilo kwa ajili ya heshima na kumuenzi ndugu Hussein Ramadhani Shekilango, aliyekuwa Mbunge wa Korogwe (1975 - 1980), Mkoani Tanga na Waziri wa Nchi katika Ofisi ya Waziri Mkuu, aliyekufa kwa ajali ya Ndege Mei 11, 1980 wakati akiiongoza kwa muda nchi ya Uganda mara baada ya vita vya kung’olewa kwa nduli Iddi Amin Dada. Barabara hiyo imepewa jina hilo mara baada ya kifo chake pamoja na wenzake sita.

Asubuhi tulivu ya Desemba 15, 2013 ilinikuta Kinondoni Morocco, mtaa wa Bwawani, varandani kwa Mama Zippora, mjane wa mzee Shekilango. Mkono wangu wa kulia ukipokezana kikombe cha chai aliyonikirimu (watu wa Tanga ni wakarimu sana) na kalamu yangu, nikiandika kila linalonivutia kutoka mdomoni mwake. Tulifanya mahojiano juu ya maisha ya mumewe, aliyekuwa pia meneja wa shirika la taifa la usagishaji (NMC) kabla ya kuwa mbunge.

Ilitokea sadfa (‘koinsidensi’). Siku hiyo ya mazungumzo yangu na Mama Zippora pia ilikuwa ni siku ya mazishi ya mzee Nelson Mandela, Rais wa Kwanza wa Afrika Kusini ya Kidemokrasia na isiyo ya Kibaguzi. Tulizungumza huku tukitazama luninga iliyokuwa ikionesha mazishi hayo. Mazungumzo yetu yakikatika kila mara tulipoona jambo lililotuvutia kwenye luninga iliyokuwa ikionyesha mubashara tukio hilo muhimu ulimwenguni.

Mara baada ya hotuba ya taazia ya Rais wa Malawi, mama Joyce Hilda Banda - aliyekuwa Mwenyekiti wa SADC wa wakati huo, ukaja wasaa wa Rais Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete kwa fahari kabisa kuieleza dunia juu ya kila hatua za kiutu, za kujitolea ardhi, rasilimali na hata watu ambazo Tanzania ilizichukua kwa ajili ya Ukombozi wa Afrika Kusini. Muda huo tulisitisha mazungumzo. Tukamsikiliza Kikwete (akisoma hotuba bora katika miaka yake yote kumi ya Urais).

Mara baada ya Kikwete akapanda jukwaani Komredi  Kenneth Kaunda, Rais wa kwanza wa Zambia huru, na swahiba wa Mwalimu Nyerere katika Nchi za Mstari wa Mbele kwenye Ukombozi (Frontline States). Ikumbukwe kuwa Makambi ya mafunzo ya Kijeshi ya ANC yalikuwa Tanzania (Kongwa na Mazimbu), wakati makao makuu ya ‘Ughaibuni’ ya chama cha ANC yakiwa Lusaka, Zambia. Hivyo, wakati Rais Banda akizungumza kwa niaba ya SADC, Rais Kikwete na Mzee Kaunda walizungumza kwa sababu nchi zao ndizo hasa zilizokuwa mstari wa mbele kuikomboa Afrika Kusini.

Mzee Kaunda alianza hotuba yake na wimbo wa ukombozi, “Yamike Madiba 🎼🎼....” Hisia na kumbukumbu za Mama Shekilango zikamrudisha nyuma miaka ya ujana wake. Akajikuta naye kwa hisia kali anaimba kibwagizo cha wimbo ule wa kuhamasisha Ukombozi uliokuwa unaimbwa na Kaunda. Ilikuwa raha, furaha na hisia kali mno za Msiba.

Baada ya hotuba ile ya Kaunda ikatubidi kuzima luninga ili tuendelee na mazungumzo yetu. Lakini muda huo sasa tukiwa hatujadili tena juu ya maisha ya mumewe, bali akajikita kunielezea juu ya historia ya ukombozi wa Taifa letu. Mama Zippora alikuwa mtu mzima tayari, akiwa amezaliwa mwaka 1938, hivyo ameyashuhudia mengi ya Taifa letu.

Katika mazungumzo yetu hayo ndipo kwa mara ya kwanza nilipolisikia jina George Magombe, Mwanadiplomasia mbobezi wa Tanzania, na Katibu Mkuu wa 2 wa Kamati ya Ukombozi (Liberation Committee) ya Umoja wa Nchi Huru za Afrika (OAU). Nikivutiwa zaidi na simulizi za Mama Zippora juu ya namna Balozi Magombe alivyoshawishi ‘Azimio la Mulungushi’ pamoja na lile ‘Azimio la Mogadishu’, yaliyoacha mapambano ya Diplomasia kwenye kupinga Ukoloni na kuruhusu mapambano ya Kijeshi. Ni maazimio mawili hayo ndiyo yaliyomfanya Magombe ampishe Brigedia Jenerali Hashim Iddi Mbita katika nafasi ya Ukatibu Mkuu wa Kamati ya Ukombozi.

Ilikuwa siku ya bahati kwangu. Nilijifunza kuhusu mumewe, ndugu Ramadhani Hussein Shekilango, pamoja na wenzake sita aliofariki nao ajalini, Balozi wetu nchini Uganda, Balozi A. Faraji Kilumanga, mwanadiplomasia wetu, FSO Iddi Msechu, pamoja na Wanajeshi wetu, Luteni Mallya, Luteni Luoga, Koplo Petro Kalegi Magunda na Private Stephen Mtawa. Mola awalaze pema mashujaa hawa wa Taifa letu.

Mama Zippora alikuwa mpambanaji wa usawa wa jinsia nchini. Mimi ni shuhuda wa jambo hilo. Mara baada ya mahojiano yetu juu ya mumewe, naye akanihoji kwa utani:

 “Unaniuliza kuhusu mume wangu tu? Hutaki kujua mimi ni nani? Au huamini kuwa mwanamke anaweza kuwa na ‘role’ kubwa kama mumewe?” 


Tukaanza upya mahojiano. Sasa ikawa ni juu ya maisha ya Mwalimu, Mama, Mkuu wa Shule, Mpambanaji wa Haki za Wanawake na Mwanachama Mwandamizi wa Taasisi ya Mtandao wa Jinsia Nchini (TGNP). Ni maisha yenye changamoto na mapambano ya kupigania haki za wanawake, kupigania nafasi ya mtoto wa kike kielimu na kuhimiza haja na wajibu wa kufanya mabadiliko ya kisera na kiutamaduni katika kuhakikisha ushiriki wa wanawake kwenye maamuzi, kuanzia ngazi ya familia mpaka Taifa. 

Mama Zippora ni Mwalimu Kitaaluma, aliyeanzia ngazi ya chini kabisa, na kisha kupanda mpaka kuwa mkuu wa shule za Wasichana za Zanaki, Msalato, Kisutu, Jangwani, Iringa pamoja na shule ya mchanganyiko ya Forodhani. Amewahi pia kuwa Afisa wa Elimu wa Mkoa wa Dar pamoja na Makao Makuu ya Wizara. Ana stori ndefu ya maisha inayohitaji wasaa wake kuielezea.

Kwa hiyo, kwa nini nimeandika haya? Hisia za kujutia, naam ‘guilty conscious’. Miaka mitano baada ya mahojiano yetu yale, Septemba 1, 2018 Mama Zippora Lukuiya Shekilango alifariki dunia, akiwa na umri wa miaka 80. Ni huzuni kubwa.

 Lakini sikuandika kuhusu mahojiano yangu naye. Sikuandika kabisa kuhusu maisha yake, mapambano yake ya kutoa elimu kwa mtoto wa kike pamoja na kupigania haki za wanawake nchini. Amefariki bila mimi niliyemhoji kueleza stori ya maisha yake, kwa miaka mitano!

Sina sababu ya kwa nini sikuandika juu ya mahojiano yetu haya. Ni uzembe? Uvivu? Kutokujali? Kutingwa na kazi? Au labda ni kwa sababu ya mfumo dume tu? Kwa nini nimeandika juu ya maisha ya Balozi George Magombe, Hussein Ramadhani Shekilango na Balozi Faraji Kilumanga? Wote wanaume? Na sijaandika juu ya Zippora Lukuiya Shekilango, mwanamke P]pekee niliyomhoji? 

Sina utetezi!

Namuomba radhi mama Zippora. Sikumtendea haki kabisa. Nilimkosea. Kumuomba radhi kunaweza kusiwe na maana kwa kuwa hayuko hai tena, lakini itanipa amani ya moyo. Na siku moja, Inshaallah, nitaandika juu ya maisha yake.

Jumamosi, Septemba 8, 2018 Mama Zippora Shekilango atalazwa mahali alipolala mumewe miaka 38 iliyopita, Jitengeni, Mombo, Korogwe, Tanga. 

Mola ampe pumziko, na aipe subira familia yake kwa msiba huu mzito.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A Life Looking Forward: Farewell Samir Amin

A Life Looking Forward Beyond Capitalism: Farewell Samir Amin

Chambi Chachage

I only met him once. It was at the Mwalimu Nyerere Intellectual Festival Week in the hallowed Nkrumah Hall of the University of Dar es Salaam. In an electrifying keynote, he summed up the long history of capitalism and its discontents, charting the way out of it.

As a historian of capitalism, I was awed. "Capitalism is a small bracket in the long history of human civilization", he asserted. Then he asked: "If it continues for another 100 years so what?"

 For him, capitalism is not a given. It is not inevitable. There was life  before capitalism. And there will be life long after capitalism.

So, there are alternatives to capitalism and its neoliberal form of globalization. Elsewhere, Samir Amin stressed that "globalization is never absolute, it is always relative...." With the possible exception of Noam Chomsky, probably no one has consistently unpacked the history of capitalism from a radical leftist viewpoint than Samir Amin in our contemporary times. No one since Marx.

When we mourn his passing, may we celebrate his contribution to, and indeed innovation, in making sense of capitalism. It is in light of this that I share the excerpt below from my old essay on the history of capitalism in Africa. One may see what I mean when I say he was innovative in his diehard analysis of capitalism.


To the Egyptian Marxist, Samir Amin, capitalism is a global system that developed out of ingredients that came from various sources[1] His analysis is in tandem with the institutional analysis of Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson & James Robinson at least in one respect.[2] Both perspectives view the rise of capitalism in Western Europe in the 16th century as an outcome of a long and gradual process. However, Acemoglu et al. locates its evolution within the disintegration of feudalism in Europe that went hand in hand with what they view as the consolidation of institutions that provided checks and balances to the monarchs. For them, these legal and administrative institutions protected private property and created the conditions for the accumulation of wealth through trade and other means.[3] In contrast, Amin locates this evolution within the long transition from the tributary mode or system that was the form of organization that generally characterized pre-modern society. This lengthy preparation of, and for, capitalism, he asserts, started in about 1000 CE and lasted for nearly 8 centuries.[4]

Thus, in Amin’s historicization of capitalism, in contrast to Acemoglu et al., internal contradictions of advanced pre-modern societies were not only confined to feudal Europe. Rather, they characterized all such societies and thus created successive waves of the inventions of ingredients that were to constitute capitalist modernity. In this regard, the first major wave came from China in the 11th century during the Sung era followed by the Middle Eastern wave in the Arab-Persian Caliphate before moving, in the context of the Crusades, to Mediterranean Europe in the towns of Italy such as Venice. According to Amin, the “last wave”, then, “concerns the long transition of the ancient tributary world to the modern capitalist world which began in the Atlantic part of Europe as from the conquest of the Americas, and took the form of mercantilism for three centuries (1500-1800).”[5] Thus, as he reiterates elsewhere, historical capitalism “did not start and appear suddenly in Western Europe as most of Eurocentric visions of history presented”, but rather, it was a product of a series of waves whose ingredients made possible the last wave “that crystallized in the small triangle between London, Paris and Amsterdam late in the 16th, 17th centuries.”[6]

What Amin attempts to do with relative success is to deconstruct the Eurocentric history of capitalism that renders it a western phenomenon. However, he pays little attention to the contribution of Africa’s tributary modes in this development. This is particularly striking given that all the three key waves that Amin refers to as having played a major role in the development of capitalism were linked, at least in relation to trade, with Africa. Such a conspicuous absence, it seems, stems from locating Africa primarily within the last wave that is associated with the Atlantic trade. It also appears to stem from his selective engagement with the world system theory. As a reviewer of his book on Global History: A View from the South points out, Amin does not, at least in this case, think in terms of such system that reaches back 5000 years hence his reluctance to conclude that prior to 1500 CE “the trading links between these different tributary systems implied that they were part of one and the same overall system.”[7] Nevertheless, this historical approach is useful since it does not outright preclude contributions of other waves in the history of capitalism. 

[1]Samir Amin's Lecture on 'The Trajectory of Historical Capitalism' at the International Conference on 'New Emancipatory Struggles' in Zagreb on May 17, 2011 accessible at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X46v6ak0btA> (last accessed: December 10, 2012).

[2] Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson and James A. Robinson, “The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change and Economic Growth,” American Economic Review95, 3 (2005).


[4]Amin, “The Trajectory of Historical Capitalism and Marxism’s Tricontinental Vocation,” Monthly Review62, 9 (2011): 1.


[6]Amin’s Lecture on 'The Trajectory of Historical Capitalism'.

[7]Andreas Bieler, “Samir Amin, Global History and the critique of Eurocentrism, ” Trade Union and Global Restructuring Blog May 24, 2012accessible at <http://andreasbieler.blogspot.com/2012/05/samir-amin-global-history-and-critique.html>(last accessed: December 10, 2012).

Farewell Samir Amin. Like you, may will live a life looking forward as we struggle with this (bracket) called capitalism. May we realize your childhood dream of changing the capitalist world.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Having Friends in Power

Having Friends in Power

Chambi Chachage

Why aren't you writing about it, a former colleague asked. She/He was referring to my practice of analyzing political appointments in Tanzania. In this case, it was in reference to her/his appointment.

Her/His appointment, like those of a couple of my other colleagues,  has left me contemplating about what does it mean to have friends in echelons of power. This question is particularly troubling given the old adages claim that power corrupts and in politics there are no permanent friends. And politics is more or less about power.

So, what do you do when your friends are in power? Do you speak up publicly against them when they wield that power unfairly? Or do you seek them out to quietly lobby against their abuse of power, if any?

Being in power, however, does not necessarily mean having power all the time. This means that a friend in the corridors of power may have little say on what their superiors or colleagues in other spheres of power do. In other words, they may also find themselves in the same corner as you, having to speak up publicly against their bosses and coworkers, keep quiet or raise issues privately.

In a regime that is based on collective responsibility, speaking up publicly is tantamount to getting fired or having to resign. So, when a friend with a position of power opts to be silent when their colleagues beat people with impunity, what do you do? What do you do when a friend watch silently when their superiors evict people mercilessly and arrest them indiscriminately? 

Do you disown or admonition them? Do you distance yourself or keep them closer? Do you criticize or plead with them?

For some, the choice is clear. To continue to hobnob with the powerful is to partake in their wielding and abuse of power. By continuing to rub shoulders with them, one is complicit.

One should thus relentlessly be vocal against them when they participate, passively or actively, in the abuse of power. It should not matter whether they did it themselves or not. As long, as they are part and parcel of the same regime, they are accountable.

Noble as it is, this is a tall order. It literally means each and everyone in a regime that abuse power is responsible. It does not matter if one is only a civil servant or junior political officer. As long as they don't denounce the abuse of power, they condone it. 
Criticizing such friends could have its consequences. This may range from simply cessation of friendship to severe censure. And political history is replete with cases of friendliness turned awry.

Having friends in power can thus be scary for a diehard critic. After all, in politics people have interests to protect. The anecdote below aptly captures how the tables can easily be turned:

Power, as vested in the President, soon asserted itself. It does especially when one speaks the truth to power. May critics be empowered to contend with it when they criticize friends in power. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Wakati wa Ushairi Mkahawani Soma

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Meeting Africa's Creative Writers in Dar es Salaam

Tuesday, July 10, 2018



Richard Mbunda, UDSM

There is a notion out there that does not sound so good for a leader in a democratic society. They say JPM doesn’t listen, he heeds no advice and that is it! He’s got it all. He has nothing to learn.... and all sorts of comments. 

Well, I want to say this again, that this notion is polarizing, dividing and at best demoralizing. We are used to some wishful exquisite attributes of a leader. We want to characterize leaders as charismatic, eloquent (because leaders ought to persuade their followers) and transformative. That’s all we want to hear: The ability of leaders to inspire their followers to behave beyond their self-interests; for the benefit of the wider social group-the nation.

Of recent, our beloved President has received sticks. Apart from the opposition leaders, of whom Zitto Kabwe deserves an inimitable credit, statements issued by the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and, most recently, the Muslim Statement, should not be ignored. If you ask me, this is a genuine poll, which is naturally representative for two good reasons. 
First, they are all talking about more or less similar issues. They reiterate lack of freedom of expression, arbitrary arrests, persecutions, disappearances, extrajudicial killings and economic hardship. Hear me Oh Tanzania! Religious leaders are probably the best economists to gauge our situation because they also collect donations. I cannot stop wondering how the voluntary donations and tithe are dwindling... Second, we all belong to one religion or the other. And we interact with these religious leaders every day. They know our problems and they speak for us. We speak. We can in no way ignore them. Their message is REAL.

Oh! Sweet Lord, who says JPM doesn’t listen? As recent as last week, and out of free will, he convened a special meeting with former national leaders at the State House. For me, this is a big thing. It is the learning curve I am talking about! Because JPM knew what was coming from the [retired] politicians. He wanted to confirm the credibility of the noises that have been doing the round ever since he took office. Actually, former President BWM made this clear, that the notion that it’s only from him JPM has chosen to listen to, is wrong. Wrong or not wrong, I see a learning curve, and that’s the point I want to make.
What did the political gurus say? I hear you BWM. In your voice that used to send shockwaves when I was an undergraduate student, you put it precisely... advising JPM to stop personalizing his administration. You say, you want to hear the Fifth Phase Administration identifying itself as the CCM government and that the sitting President has been put in power by CCM. You believe it has effects on the morale of the followers as we are gunning for the 2020 elections. Alas! 

What a vision! It’s only a few months away! Apparently, you are appalled by statements such as ‘my administration’; ‘my government’; and you probably didn’t go as far as saying ‘hakuna aliyeniweka hapa’ ‘mimi nimewekwa na Mungu’.... although I subscribe to the last statement.

There was also a rare appearance of former chiefs of that key branch of the state, dealing with the administration of justice. Their advice was spot on! Ensure a smooth dispensation of justice in your administration. One former Chief, who I hear is also a Pastor, tells you rightly, that peace is a product of justice, whereas without justice there is no peace. Your assistants, such as Ministers, Regional and District Commissioners ought to observe justice in their capacity if Tanzania is to maintain the most valuable item on earth, and that is, peace.
Probably what the other former Chief said is essentially vital! Rule of law. Mr. President, all Tanzanians congratulate you on the developmental initiatives your administration is embarking on, including the recently acquired Dreamliner 787-8. Mr. President, you have achieved a lot in only two years. We are a proud country because of you. And I wish to get my salary arrears so that I can plan a family trip somewhere with the Dreamliner.... Oh, never mind that!

However, in accordance with this former Chief, all our development efforts must be within the rule of law. It is inexcusably absurd to see the way the observance of rule of law is deteriorating in the country! And I won’t comment on the statements that you see leaders issuing in the local TVs Chief... always off the mark! Oh yeah, we all get disappointed, but thank you for this very important remark, and peace be with you!

And look who is here! Former premier, Chair of that Committee whose good work could not see the light... I hear you saying that many good efforts are done to fight corruption, drug trafficking and ghost workers and the like. But you are concerned that, such abhorred practices are likely to come back in future because no institutions are built to ensure continuation of the efforts. It’s a question of sustenance of the efforts which automatically require institutionalization. 
It’s like saying, JPM, we cannot be sure your successor will embrace your spirit! Implied, Mr. Former Premier, you are telling the Commander-in-Chief that we need a new constitution that will accommodate the required institutions to further the agenda which he has initiated. The presence of great thinkers, like this former Premier, made this meeting not only special, but also extraordinarily crucial. 

At this point I don’t want to be analytical. Why would I? Because I don’t want to recap what JPM said about advice from former national leaders, and his example of Mr. Trump versus Mr. Obama. Of course, he had to say something, anything. It’s human nature to kick when you are attacked. Just like in wrestling, even when you are hard hit, you can’t yield in easily. But you accept you are hit. And this is what JPM finally did.... to accept the advice, and promise to work on it. 

May this article serve as a reminder to you- Your Excellency! The Bible wants us to be forever students and there is no end to learning. And Proverbs 20:15 says "Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel". Mr. President, you had rare jewels in that very special and extraordinary meeting. And what is more pleasing for me is that, I see a learning curve. Heed to their advice. 

Viva our President! God bless Tanzania! Amen!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Love Note to Mama Samia

A Love Note to Mama Samia

On that particular evening, like many Tanzanians, I was glued on the sofa watching a LIVE broadcast of the CCM Presidential Candidate nomination. The 3 finalists were two women and one man. As the gender activist I am, I believed on the possibility that CCM will nominate a woman candidate, hence, the likelihood of having the first woman president in Tanzania. 

But my logical self was telling me that the women finalists were strategically brought in to divide women votes, sweeping the floor for a man to win. 

The results came in, both women lost. I was tearing up, angry and emotional. While people on TV were happily dancing for having their candidate, I was cursing, shouting and complaining. Then the candidate announced his running mate, Mama Samia.

 I was still angry, but I remember the ‘then president and party chairman’ said ‘wanawake shangilieni, mtakuwa na makamu wa raisi wa kwanza mwanamke’(women, you need to celebrate, you will have the first woman vice president). It was as if he was speaking to me. I accepted a compromise. 

 Fast forward. The election won, and we got the first woman vice president. I was happy. 

It took me courage to write this blog post. In fact, I have deleted many versions of it. I know exactly what might happen to me.

Mama Samia, when you have a chance to read this, treat it as an emotional letter, from a place of love not hate or hypocrisy. You will notice I hardly use data or any statistics because I don’t want my feelings to be reduced to a statistical debate. This is personal, a love letter to my first woman vice president. 

Mama, before I share my feelings with you, allow me to ask you a few questions. Do you know the significance of being the first woman vice president of Tanzania? Do you know what it means to me? Do you know what it means to your fellow women? Do you know what it means to male chauvinists? 

When you took office, I was excited that finally we have a woman in the white house. We have finally proved a point that women too can be leaders. At last we have changed stereotypes. Now we are reviving hopes of millions of Tanzanian women. They too see possibilities of becoming leaders. 

Three years down the line, I can’t help but feel, ‘you need to be reminded of what your position means to all of us.’ 

Mama, have you taken a moment to think  of your legacy? What would you wish to be remembered as the first woman vice president? Let leave the issue of legacy aside. I would ask you some practical questions.

When your boss publicly dehumanised pregnant schoolgirls, did you go to his office and look him in the eye and call that out for what it is? When appointments are being made with less than 10% women representatives, do you call him and ask: ‘Where are the women?’ I am asking these questions assuming that you were not in the room when these decisions were made. If you were, gosh, I would be devastated. 

Mama, I don’t see that we are making any progress. I don’t see what I expected from you as a woman leader. I don’t see our ambassador who negotiates within while we lobby from outside! 

I know you know the many reasons we have been pushing to have more woman leaders. Apart from exercising our rights to vote and be voted for, men have no insights of our experience as women. When in leadership, they tend to take women issues for granted and protect their interest over ours. 

Now we have you as a vice president. Do you get us mama? Do you have our interest at heart? Are you proud and happy with everything that is happening? Or are you as upset as all of us?

 Some of my friends try to convince me that your hands are tied. I refuse to accept that. I refuse to accept that the vice presidency is a toothless position. If it is, then let history records that we are yet to have women in powerful positions. 

As a woman, it took me courage to ask you these questions. But I believe in the power of love and I bank in your wisdom. I know I will be called a hater by some of my fellow women. I also know that the rest of ‘men-kind’ will be jumping with joy, invoking the myth that ‘wanawake hawapendani’(women hate each other).
Mama, let me tell you it is from this fear of being labeled ‘hater’ or the desire to labeled ‘supportive’ that almost all women have chosen to glorify you, singing praises, yet complaining about the backsliding on the gender agenda. In their mind they divorce you from the system, absolving you in everything that is going on now.

 When asked to list five awesome things you have done or changed during your three years in the office, they end up saying, ‘let’s not be too hard on her, her hands are tied’. This excuse that masquerade as an explanation boils my blood. I see you as a comrade, a doer, a mover and shaker, a woman of courage and the list goes on. 

Unfortunately, when your glorifiers think they are bailing you out by saying, ‘your hands are tied’ they are actually saying you are incapable of doing anything. This is an explanation I refuse to accept. And this is why I am sending this letter to you Mama.

Mama, you are wiser than me and you certainly know better. The truth is, as soon as you leave that chair, critics will be throwing arrows right and center. They will tell you then the opposite of what they are telling you now. It will be tough because there will be nothing you can do then. But I believe that in telling you now, there is a lot you can do. That is why I am doing it. 

I know you can handle critics. What would be lethal is to retard the women leaders nurturing movement for failure to provide evidence of transformative leadership. As one of my friend puts it, “better to be ruled by a man who we can punch on the face publicly and shamelessly than being ruled by women who we are ‘not allowed to criticise.”

Mama Samia, there is a reason you are the first woman vice president. This position is not only about you. It is for all of us. That is a lot of pressure for sure, but we don’t have a choice.

 Leave a lasting legacy. Make your vice presidency inspirational to millions of women aspiring to be transformative leaders. Please inspire change on men’s attitudes, so, they too can envision their wives, daughters and sisters in leadership roles. 

Last but definitely not least, prove to all of us that when women lead, the quality of life for all women and men improve, a dignified life became a reality, and society became better. 

With Love,


Friday, June 22, 2018

Miaka 10 ya Mkahawa wa Vitabu Soma: 29 Juni 2018

Saturday, June 16, 2018

In Defence of African Bloggers' Freedom

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Book Launch: Tanzania in the Age of Change...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Fraught with Land Acquisition Risks: LNG Project

Tanzania`s LNG Project Fraught with Land Acquisition Risks

There are indications that the government, and the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project consortium, are determined to explore ways to take the (delayed) $30 billion project forward, after nearly four years of limited activity. The slowdown was due to multiple factors - global and national, such as contentious land acquisition process for the project, low oil price, leadership transition within the national oil company (TPDC), limited negotiation capacity, and the general election in 2015, and its aftermath, especially Acacia`s copper concentrate issue. 

Notably, what started as a row over concentrates in March 2017, evolved into a broad scrutiny of the mining sector, symbolized by multiple investigation committees, and culminated into significant policy changes in July, 2017.

Reportedly, the government has not yet reached a final agreement with Barrick – Acacia`s parent company, but this seems not to be a distraction anymore. At least not to the government, given its renewed interest in the LNG project, as signalled by the decision to “prioritize”it in the 2018/2019 budget. The (ultimate) objective is to improve energy supply, which is central to achieving the fifth phase regime`s central agenda – industrialization. 

Apart from industrialization, rural electrification is expanding demand for energy, and thus straining available capacity. Another notable action that points to government commitment is the decision to hire a consultant to support its Negotiation Team (GNT) as it seeks to work out a framework for the project. This is strategic and, if done well, will not only enhance government stake, but also shorten the turn-around time, which has been a challenge in the past.
Graph shows Percentage Distribution of Households Connected to Electricity.
Source: NBS, 2016 – Energy Access Situation Report.

Commitment signals, as highlighted above, will not be sufficient to reassure consortium partners, after a tumultuous period of reform. Oil and gas companies prefer “stability” (interpreted as maintenance of terms that protect and guarantee their interests) and concerns arising from last year`s legislative reforms will likely feature in the LNG negotiation. 

As such, companies will, undoubtedly, seek to obtain significant guarantees through the project agreement and may, in the process, deliberately depict the government as a sole player responsible for ensuring policy stability. Fortunately, experience from the row over concentrates has shown us that this strategy works, but only for a “short” while.

Government policy tends to depend on “public” opinion. Moreover, public opinion shapes and is shaped by national and sub-national political dynamics, i.e. the status of the ruling coalition, the influence of the (political) opposition, orientation of the masses (political culture) etc. This level of interdependence limits the ability of the government to guarantee policy stability. In other words, the government is not the sole guarantor of (policy) stability – there are other “environmental” factors, public demands included. 

As such, companies` ought not to rely, totally, on what the government offers to the public. They must strive to push the boundaries in ways that seek to improve the (overall) policy environment, because it is in their interest. An important question is, when to do so? While the Final Investment Decision (FID) has not yet been made, companies are certain about their interest in the LNG project. As such, they should pay attention to any potential risks, current or future, since, the project, if implemented, is likely to outlive several regimes.

So, what are the risks associated with the LNG?

One of the key areas of concern is land acquisition for the project. For instance, the national oil company (TPDC) announced acquisition of land for the LNG in late 2015 and noted, in early 2016, that it was undertaking a confirmatory exercise before paying compensation. Reportedly, valuation had been undertaken more than a year earlier by the Ministry of Land, Housing, and Human Settlement Development. 

This is to say, the Project-Affected People (PAP) have been waiting for compensation for more than four years now. Unfortunately, the uncertainty arising from the delayed acquisition means that these people are unable to think about long term development. They, instead, focus on surviving, and struggle to access credible information about when their plight will end.

Compensation standards is another important dimension of the land acquisition aspect. The national oil company (TPDC) stated in its 2016 press release (cited in the paragraph above) that compensation would be paid based on national laws. However, research has shown that such standards are not always applied consistently, they are inadequate ,and may lead to an outbreak of conflict. 

Moreover, the Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs, Professor Palamagamba Kabudi, is on record telling the parliament how disastrous similar standards have been in the past. It is unclear if the LNG consortium has decided to accept these risks or ask for application of better standards.
Source: Must, E (2016) - `When and How Does Inequality Cause Conflict`? PhD thesis, LSE. 

Recent evidence suggests that concerns over “land grabbing”, especially “sale of land rights to foreign companies” played a key role in the outbreak of the 2013 riots in Mtwara (see graph above), and that the southern part of the country – Lindi and Mtwara – has strong sentiments related to land rights issues dating back to Ujamaa days in the 1970s. 

There is, obviously, a strong case for handling land acquisition for the LNG cautiously. This is an example of a key issue that companies can, and should influence. Another key issue is that of “host community’s” benefits, which has been described by Nape Nnauye (MP) as a “big bomb.” The time to act is now, before the tide of public opinion turns.

Karibu kwenye ulingo wa kutafakari kuhusu tunapotoka,tulipo,tuendako na namna ambavyo tutafika huko tuendako/Welcome to a platform for reflecting on where we are coming from, where we are, where we are going and how we will get there

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