Wednesday, August 28, 2019


This is Part 6 of a series of commentaries on Udadisi Blog entitled Tanzania Institutional Diagnostic: A Response and Comments By Andrew Coulson

Chapter 6: Land Rights

I have read several attempts to describe the confused position of land rights in Tanzania, and this chapter [by S.J. Mramba with discussion by Klaus Deininger ] is comprehensive, well-informed and practical. However, it is not an easy read: I would recommend readers to first read Deininger’s four page commentary at the end of the chapter, which provide a clear summary of practical proposals to improve both urban and rural land tenure.

Turning to the chapter, I would have liked more recognition that land is a form of property, and that control of land is an exercise of power, and that sometimes power is exercised to prevent change or reform. I do not think it is coincidental that the 1999 legislation has not been reformed, because there are individuals and classes that benefit from the present confused situation. There is some political economy in the chapter, e.g. pp.3-4 and the mention of Shivji’s position on p.6, but there could have been more.
One significant development is not discussed – though the comments about bias against villagers and enclosures of “commons” in Para 6.2 are consistent with it (note – the page numbering in this chapter is confusing). It is set out in a paper by a team led from Michigan State University (MSU) by Thomas Jayne et al.: “Africa’s changing farm size distribution patterns: the rise of medium-scale farms”Agricultural Economics Vol. 47, 2016. They present evidence that huge transfers of land are taking place, in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, to middle-class salaried professionals who are purchasing agricultural land cheaply, without, in the main, living on the farms. This provides a new and valuable source of capital for investment in agriculture. But many of these investors have little experience, or understanding of the risks, and some are not using the land at all, and risk having it taken back. Overall, it is a form of land-grabbing that far exceeds anything by overseas investors. 
The Jayne paper quotes fieldwork by a team at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) led by Prof Ntengua Mdoe, but I am told that this is not yet ready for publication. Much of this land is in marginal areas, such as Kiteto District in Tanzania, the South-Eastern part of Maasailand, where the Mdoe team identified 3668 farms of more than 5 ha. In the past, there are examples where mechanisation has been applied to marginal land such as this with initial success, but it has led to very serious soil erosion and failure (e.g. the Ismani area North of Iringa in the 1970s). 

Much of this land has been used by pastoralists, and continues the grabbing of such land for crop cultivation that was found, for example, in the Groundnuts Scheme or the Basotu Wheat Scheme of the late 1970s and 1980s. But perhaps much more is land that has not been cultivated since the villagizations of the 1970s. Many farmers who were compulsorily moved into villages were given plots far from where they had lived. The land they had cultivated, often with higher quality of soils than where they were moved to, was abandoned. Some of this is now being “sold” to these investors by village committees – for, I was told, a going price of T.Shs.1m per acre, i.e. very cheaply indeed. 
But meanwhile the forms of shifting cultivation, which enabled the fertility of large areas of land to be maintained are no longer possible, and from the 1970s farmers had no option but to adopt permanent cropping. They had little guidance on how to introduce rotations, crops and cultivation practices that will maintain fertility – and yields are falling. In earlier times, when fertility dropped, a family could ask the chief, or village leader, for more land – but with villagization plots became much more inflexible. How to treat this was a challenge when it came to our book on agriculture (Coulson, Ellman and Mbiho, Increasing Production from the Land, 2018). We dealt with it by avoiding the issue directly and pointing out that productivity increases are possible at all scales. 
The issue of land grabbing by overseas investors would have been more contentious if five large projects based on cultivation of biofuels had succeeded. The most specific research on this, which includes comments on all identifiable large-scale proposals, is by Martina Locher and Emmanuel Sulle: ‘Foreign Land Deals in Tanzania: An Update and a Critical Review on the Challenges of Data (Re-)production’, Working Paper 31, Land Deals Policy Initiative, 2013; and ‘Challenges and Methodological Flaws in Reporting the Global Land Rush: Observations from Tanzania’Journal of Peasant Studies Vol.41, No.3-4, 2014. [Note: the author referred to below Box 5 and in the bibliography is Sulle not Sule.]
Deininger’s commentary at the end of the chapter provides four pages which “provide concrete next steps that could allow Tanzania to improve land tenure security at a scale similar to that in Rwanda without giving up some of the distinctive characteristics of land tenure in Tanzania.” One of the main conclusions of the chapter, of the final chapter, p.16, and of the commentary is that rapid surveying of village land, using aerial photos, followed by the issue of titles whose details can be clarified subsequently, needs to be conducted for the whole country, urgently, as it has been for Rwanda. 
Why has this not been done? Maybe because it is opposed by those who are able to purchase land cheaply now. But if the rural areas are to provide a basic living for a large part of the population of Tanzania, they must have security of tenure.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Coulson: On Decentralisation

This is Part 5 of a series of commentaries on Udadisi Blog entitled Tanzania Institutional Diagnostic: A Response and Comments By Andrew Coulson

Chapter 5: Decentralisation

I spent the last 25 years of my salaried employment working in the Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV), at Birmingham University, the leading institution studying local government in the UK. I worked on local government finance, then developed the Institute’s work on local economic development, and ended working on local politics, especially the “scrutiny” function, how councillors can hold council officials to account.
Most writing on decentralisation to regions, districts, cities or towns, or villages focuses either on finance, or on function, not on both of them. This chapter [by Jan Willem Gunning], interesting as it is, is about finance and says little about the possible functions of local government – which functions should be devolved, and how they can balance the advantages of being nearer to the people with the disadvantages of not always being up to date, or of being “parochial” i.e. not seeing beyond their own boundaries.
Many problems of the district councils in Tanzania relate to function – how do they decide which feeder roads to maintain? How many dispensaries to open if they cannot be sure of the drugs to supply them? How much resource to devote to maintaining rural water supply infrastructure constructed in the 1970s? How to use the agricultural extension service effectively when most of the extension officers are not up to date in their technical knowledge about crops and their pests and diseases, or aware of short-term changes in prices etc.?
The chapter does not consider what is not decentralised, e.g. the police and judiciary, or the various inspectorates. Or of scale – is there a case for elected councils for regions and districts, with Regional Commissioners and District Commissioners replaced by Council Leaders? Would Dar es Salaam be better with an elected council for the Region rather than separate councils for 5 districts? 
It is hard to disagree with its main conclusion, that revenue is best collected centrally and divided between councils using a formula. Of course this means that the Centre controls the money, and, when push comes to shove, will boss the districts – especially if many of them, and many of the most important, are controlled by Opposition parties.
However, more could usefully have been said about the disastrous practice of agreeing budgets for a year on the basis that they will only be funded once the revenue is raised. This has kept the spending on local government under some sort of control. But has had the result that district councils often make promises which they are unable to fulfil. It would be better to have less ambitious budgets which are contractually agreed with central government, which can be supplemented if more revenue becomes available.
In most European states and parts of Asia, local government of cities and towns existed before central government – and in America from the 1790s all city councils were run by representatives elected by people who lived there (but it was far from a universal franchise – those who could vote were male and owners of property, and hence white). There are proud traditions of local self-government across mainland Europe, with councils responsible for basic services elected in small towns or villages. But the advent of welfare states which provide expensive professionalised services, led to councils for much larger areas – or several tiers of councils such as the communes, départements and régions in France. Service delivery may be contracted out to private companies, e.g. collection of domestic waste, or maintenance of roads, but this requires the council to have the expertise as client to manage the resulting contracts so as not to be exploited. 
African countries have had to create such structures with much less history. Looking at it the other way round, Tanzania is a very big state, and it is not possible or desirable for all decisions to be taken at the centre – people need to be able to make decisions locally, and to be held accountable for them – but, as the chapter makes clear, this is not without costs and it needs specialist expertise with integrity, e.g. auditors, inspectors, etc. This chapter is very good on what it covers, but there are large areas, and big challenges, which are only mentioned in passing.

Monday, August 26, 2019


This is Part 4 of a series of commentaries on Udadisi Blog entitled Tanzania Institutional Diagnostic: A Response and Comments By Andrew Coulson

Chapter 4: The Civil Service and Economic Development

If you have time to read just one of the chapters here, it should be this one [by Rwekaza Mukandala with Discussion by Jan Willem Gunning]. It provides detailed descriptions of how, since Independence, the civil service in Tanzania has struggled to make, even to develop, policies, because so much has been taken over by politicians. The country has moved from being one of the least corrupt (at the time of and after the Arusha Declaration) to one of the most.
Jan Willem Gunning, in a thoughtful commentary, points out that, in a democracy, politicians should be elected on the basis of promises to implement specific policies – and civil servants put those policies into effect. In reality, in a complex society, many new policies derive from civil servants, but the process of putting them into effect involves a complex interplay with politicians, who have views on how they should be implemented, and have to steer the proposals through Parliament. 

Gunning also points out that there is some confusion in the chapter, especially when it draws on statistics. Thus, in a strict sense, a civil servant is any person who is directly employed by a government – from very junior clerks and (say) watchmen who happen to be employed by the state, to highly specialised technicians such as those who work in various inspectorates, or as judges or magistrates or in research stations, right through to the elite group (in the UK the “executive grades”) who make policy. But the term is also used to describe just the elite managers who head departments or divisions of departments, and that is what most of the chapter is about. A statistical annex, which included figures over time for the numbers of different types of civil servants, would have been a useful addition to the chapter and clarified some of these issues. 
As Mukandala notes, at Independence in 1961, Tanzania “had 21 graduates, out of whom 11 were indigenous Africans” (p.3). To fill the top posts, staff were moved in from other services, especially teaching, or promoted very quickly. It was a major achievement to keep the civil service operational with so little local technical expertise and practical experience.

Inevitably, others were brought in from outside the country. I was a civil servant in the Ministry of Agriculture from 1967-1971. My work, relating to foreign-aided projects, required me to support the senior civil servants in the HQ of the Ministry. They included, until 1968, the remaining “permanent and pensionable” civil servants who had served in the colonial civil service, most as Provincial or District Commissioners or agricultural officers of various specialisms. The Ministry also employed expatriates on contracts (such as me) who did not have previous experience in Tanzania. Most of the Heads of Departments were African Tanzanians - the first generation to be appointed to these roles.
The expertise of some (but by no means all) of the foreigners was very high. To give one illustration, Nicholas Monck, who sadly died recently, studied at Eton College and Cambridge University, and came on secondment from the UK Treasury in 1967 when he realised that he was unlikely to be promoted in the next 3 years. He later became Permanent Secretary of the UK Ministry of Employment and the first UK civil servant to be made a director of a UK nationalised industry (the British Steel Corporation). He was one of the most senior UK civil servants who was also a member of the Labour Party. In Tanzania he headed the team responsible for crop marketing, which included setting the pan-territorial prices, which was done with great care. [Incidentally, apropro pan-territorial pricing, mentioned on p.8, in at least two places Marc Wuyts has recently defended it, as a form of infant-industry protection, no doubt expensive, but it made it possible for crops such as maize to be grown for sale in remote parts of Tanzania, such as Rukwa or Songea].
Different issues apply to the different kinds of civil service employment. Thus, again from my experience, ten years after I had left Tanzania, in 1986, I was employed as a short-term consultant to help NORAD decide whether to continue its support for the Department of Chemistry at the University of Dar es Salaam. The methodology involved identifying as many recent graduates of the Department as possible to find what they were doing. Many were working in the labs of large companies, such as Kilombero Sugar Co. They were using their technical skills as chemists. But there was little expectation that many of them would move on to become the top decision-makers. We recommended that NORAD continue its support, and that the University maintain its chemistry department not just to train teachers but also technicians such as these – alongside the rapidly developing chemical engineering/process engineering department in the Faculty of Engineering. 

Project-aid has had some unintended consequences. A project is created to address a problem. That project includes post-graduate training in regard to that problem, often in the donor country. It also includes a new building for a new institute in Tanzania. Those trained come back, influenced by practice in the country where they have been trained, and take over the project. What they should do, or be prepared to do, is to move into the civil service and use the skills they have gained to develop their technical area. But they are likely to be better paid and with much less stress if they stay with the project. The result is many NGOs and institutes, with complex relationships with the civil service. This may not be the best way to use the skills of those who have been trained abroad.
There is much in this chapter about corruption and how to deal with it, about the motivation of civil servants, about the need to deal with scandals such as “ghost workers”, absentee teachers, and high vacancy rates, the need for competence and performance evaluation, and moral and professional incentives. It is notable for not proposing a reduction in numbers, or more privatization.

Sunday, August 25, 2019


This is Part 3 of a series of commentaries on Udadisi Blog entitled Tanzania Institutional Diagnostic: A Response and Comments By Andrew Coulson

Chapter 3: Politics and Business

Samuel Wangwe has a lifetime of research and writing on industrialisation in Tanzania, and it comes to the fore here on chapter 3 [with Discussion by Hazel Gray]. He also makes very good use of other sources especially Barker et al.’s African Industrialisation: Technology and Change in Tanzania (1986), Bryceson’s Liberalizing Tanzania’s Food Trade (1993), and Gibbon’s (ed.), Liberalised Development in Tanzania (1995). 
However, two recent publications take the historiography to another dimension: 

Chambi Chachage’s A Capitalizing City: Dar es Salaam and the Emergence of an African Entrepreneurial Elite (c.1862-2015). Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, 2018

The first part of Chambi’s dissertation is a retelling of the history of capitalism in the colonial period and early years of Independence. Much of it is a reworking of John Iliffe’s (ed.) classic mini-biographies of the African capitalist pioneers and their struggles. The later part includes mini-biographies of key members of the current business elite, and the many challenges they have faced, and, for them at least, overcome. It will be published as a book in the not-too-distant future.
In my opinion, the Mufuruki book is profound not only because of the originality of some of its proposals, but because it is a political statement of a successful Tanzanian businessman (his life story is summarised in Chambi’s dissertation). His main intellectual influences are Ha-Jung Chang and Justin Lin, basically following the South Asian model (Vietnam, Malaysia and, implicitly South Korea). It is a sad reflection on the discourse in Tanzania that it was not widely discussed after its launch, and is only now being taken more seriously. For me that says a lot about who controls the Tanzanian agenda on industrial strategy – a group including key donors, politicians and economists. The Mufuruki book was produced outside this framework, and said things many in this group did not want to hear – such as that energy policy should not be so dependent on gas and oil. It also supports what amounts to the Ethiopian strategy for labour-intensive export-oriented manufacturing, e.g. of textiles or shoes, which has been rejected, or not accepted, by most of the Tanzanian policy-makers. 
There have been times, attending REPOA Annual Research Workshops, when I felt that Tanzania was being offered a different industrial strategy each year, without relating it to, or comparing it with, what had been said in the previous years. Thus, Justin Lin was the keynote speaker in 2016, and proposed a version of the Ethiopia strategy. Lant Pritchett was the keynote speaker the next year, and offered different advice, to the effect that the best strategy was to export as many different products as possible. No one pointed out that this was diametrically opposed to what Lin said the previous year.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Coulson: On Insights for Institutional Diagnostic

This is Part 2 of a series of commentaries on Udadisi Blog entitled Tanzania Institutional Diagnostic: A Response and Comments By Andrew Coulson

Chapter 2: Collecting Insights for an Institutional Diagnostic of Development

This chapter, by François Bourguignon and François Libois, brings together information about the major institutional challenges to development in Tanzania. More than half the chapter reports on questionnaires administered to a sample of 101 elite Tanzanian decision-makers. These include politicians, administrators or civil servants (including those from the justice system, the military, and the foreign service, as well as public administration), business people, and those from civil society. To select the sample “REPOA, in co-operation with Oxford Policy Management, determined a list of target respondents who satisfied the occupational, geographical and gender considerations”. They interviewed these respondents, asking them for their opinions, on a scale of 1-5, on a long list of topics; the most significant were corruption, land issues, the absence of effective regulation especially of infrastructure, and lack of transparency.
83 of the 101 were male (but this does not stop the authors making comparisons between male and female responses – women turned out to be much more concerned about all kinds of discrimination than men), 95% of them were living in urban areas, and just over a third were “directly involved in politics”, divided equally between supporters of the Government and the Opposition. By far the greatest numbers in the sample were born in Dar es Salaam, Moshi, Arusha, Tanga, Kagera or Mwanza – the Southern and South-Western parts of the country were under-represented. 
The questionnaire-based interviews were supplemented by unstructured interviews: “several experts, some of whom are at the highest level of responsibility in the country, were interviewed on an informal or open-ended basis” – about 50 in total.
The chapter then turns to internationally available data from different sources. Very large numbers of indicators were grouped into clusters, six of which were deemed to be most significant: democracy, human rights, administrative capacity, rule of law and corruption, conflict and violence, and competitiveness. Comparisons of these are made with the six countries that border Tanzania, and with five Asian countries. Tanzania outperforms many of its neighbours on all six indicators, and compares very favourably with the five Asian countries. These results are unexpected, to say the least. 
Perhaps many Tanzanians underestimate the levels, and successes, of their economic growth, because only a little of it trickles down to them. Many middle level government employees face this personally, not least because the President has removed many fringe benefits, such as cash allowances for attending conferences and meetings. So, for example, numbers of African Tanzanians able to afford to send their children to elite English-language schools, such as Morogoro International School, have fallen.
The limitations of this kind of methodology are apparent: the surveys are dependent on the selection of the sample and the questions asked. There should have been many more women in the samples, and more effort to get representation from across the country. A deeper criticism is that they reflect what is actually going on but not necessarily what should be. Thus, there is no mention here of global heating (climate change), or population growth. 
The official line, reasserted by the President, is that population growth is good, and a population of 100m will make Tanzania a powerful state on the world stage. Economists, overwhelmingly, see rapid population growth as making it harder to get rises in GDP per capita and finding employment a greater challenge. In our book on agriculture we suggest that small scale agriculture is the only way of providing jobs on the required scale – a reserve army of labour, but not one likely to be called on much (Coulson, Ellman and Mbiho, Increasing Production from the Land: A Sourcebook on Agriculture for Teachers and Students in East Africa, Mkuki na Nyota, 2018). Arthur Lewis had good instincts. Even keeping a large part of the population alive may not be easy to achieve, given global heating, soil degradation, declining sizes of plots in mountain areas, etc. 
I partly blame myself and colleagues for Tanzania’s uncritical response to population growth: in the 1970s we taught a very strong anti-Malthusian message – but when I left the country in 1976 the population was only 16 million! China’s GDP is growing at 6-10%, but its population is reducing, as a result of the draconian one-child policy. I doubt if that would ever be accepted in an African country. But it means that there are that much more resources available to ensure that almost everyone can get an uplift.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Coulson: On Political and Economic Development

This is Part 1 of a series of commentaries on Udadisi Blog entitled Tanzania Institutional Diagnostic: A Response and Comments By Andrew Coulson

This chapter, by François Bourguignon, has three sections: a summary of Tanzania’s political and economic history; a review of the macroeconomic data; and a discussion of some of the information on education and healthcare.

It is hard to write a convincing summary of the history of a country in less than 10 pages, so there are bound to be gaps, but here are some of the points that struck me when I read it:

Tanzanian history did not begin with the German conquest. There was an active empire with its capital in Zanzibar, and increasing trade inland before the Germans, as well as many craft skills. There was also slavery, though not on a scale comparable to that in West Africa. 

The Germans were incredibly productive in a very few years (that is after they won militarily and created a new state): they mapped the whole country, discovered most of the minerals, conducted pioneering medical and veterinary research, built the Dar es Salaam to Kigoma and Tanga to Moshi railways, and created a new capital and harbour in Dar es Salaam. Governor Rechenberg in particular was not purely authoritarian. The return of the tsetse fly was related to the wars of conquest – when there is human habitation the fly are controlled; in times of war the people move to a few places to seek safety and the fly return. The situation was bad following the Maji Maji rebellion, but probably even worse during and after World War 1, when German and British armies largely lived off the land.

Tanganyika under British governance was neglected, especially when compared with settler colonies such as Kenya and Zimbabwe. But after World War 2 there was more interest. The Groundnuts Scheme was a classic failure of large scale agriculture – but there were similar failures post-Independence (the Basotu Wheat Scheme of the late 1970s, and the agricultural aspects of Big Results Now in the 2000s). Coffee and cotton were developed for export markets, adding to sisal which expanded earlier. By the time of Independence, there was close cooperation between the British administrators and the nationalist politicians.

Nyerere was very cautious about the Soviet Union and countries in the Soviet sphere of interest. He was more influenced by the Fabian socialist thinking which he encountered in Edinburgh, and he resisted strategies based on heavy industry, and attacks on “kulaks” when these were advocated by some of his political colleagues, such as Abdul Rahman Babu. If anything he and the country were closer to the Chinese. 

Sisal exports declined because their main uses – string to tie up parcels and ropes for ships – were replaced by cheaper and lighter plastic-based substitutes. Tanzania did export food in some years, but it also imported food.

The war with Amin was quite short. I have often wondered why it appears to have consumed so many resources, and suspect that it was followed by a heavy investment in the military.

I have little to add to what is written about the years of structural adjustment etc. I did not visit Tanzania in that period, or keep up to date as the situation developed.

Pp.10-26 is an important review of the macro-economic data for Tanzania. In terms of GDP the country has done well since the turn of the millennium. No sector became a dominant “growth centre” in this period, with much of the growth coming from a movement out of agriculture, where productivity is low, into other sectors where it is higher. In terms of trade, the biggest increases in exports came from gold and tourism, but imports have exceeded exports – with the balance made up from overseas “aid” and government borrowing. 30% of GDP is invested – a high figure – but it does not appear to have been invested particularly well, or growth would have been even higher. The net borrowing from overseas reached 33% of GDP in 2015, which is sustainable as long as international borrowing rates stay low, but will quickly become a big problem if they rise.
There are many places in this narrative where difficulties with the data are acknowledged, most where different sources give different figures for what should be the same. It may be that the data we have is better than not having any data. But I think that the problems are even worse than described. Difficulties with the data on small-scale agriculture were discussed by Skarstein (in Havnevik and Isinika (eds.) Tanzania in Transition: From Nyerere to Mkapa, 2010 pp.99-130), and in an Annex of the Agriculture Sector Development Programme Phase Two (ASDP II) in 2016. 

My interpretation: agricultural censuses produce a baseline for the areas devoted to different crops. But yields and prices vary greatly from year to year and in different parts of the country and are much harder to estimate. In colonial times and when I worked in the Ministry of Agriculture in the 1960s, District Agricultural Officers were rung up on the telephone and asked to make estimates of by how much yields were likely to be higher or lower than the previous year – not reliable but it explains some of the contradictions. This fell into disuse when the agricultural officers concerned became employed by district councils, and could not be forced to respond to requests from the Ministry. I am told that there are better methods now, including use of aerial photos, but I am not sure that the task is possible. 

There are even bigger problems with prices, e.g. if there is a good yield of cashewnut or maize but the farmers are paid half of what they were promised, or payments to them are delayed, how do you value the crop in GDP calculations? Or if a very good crop of tomatoes rots in the field? Should you value a food crop such as maize which is consumed locally at its value that would have been achieved if it was sold, or its value if the farmer or producer had to buy it at the end of a long dry season, when its value is much higher? Should the same price/value for food crops such as maize or bananas be used for the whole country? 
There are issues of smuggling and associated under-reporting (see Lofchie, The Political Economy of Tanzania: Decline and Recovery, 2014, p.167 for a telling paragraph on the smuggling of raw coffee to Kenya). One of the challenges is that there has been a green revolution in the South, Rukwa and parts of central Tanzania, based on hybrid maize and sunflower, potatoes, tobacco, cashewnut and other crops. However, climate change, plant diseases (affecting bananas in particular) and declines in both prices and quantities of coffee and cotton have turned what were, not long ago, the success areas of Northern Tanzania into huge challenges. Figures for the country as a whole do not reflect this diversity (See Figure Below from ASDP II, 2017).
There are issues with the informal sector generally. Rizzo (Taken for a Ride, 2017, esp. pp.76-8) pointed out that a problem with the translation of the labour force surveys into Swahili has led to most of those in the informal sector who work for others (e.g. on daladalas) being recorded as self-employed – thereby overestimating the number of businesses and underestimating their scale. But generally, in rural areas as well as urban, the sector is growing so fast that it is very hard to keep track. For example, artisanal mining has in recent years employed more than a million people (see Bryceson and Geenen in African Affairs, Feb 2016, and work by Sarah Hayes for the World Bank).
The dark sector is even more of a problem. Smuggling, to avoid local taxes and cesses as well as border controls, is significant. It is alleged that most of the property boom in high-rise buildings in Dar es Salaam is based on money laundered from the Middle East – I have no evidence for this. Lofchie (pp.137-9; p.151ff.) describes the various forms of rent-seeking that emerged due to the overvalued exchange rate in the 1980s. Those who could persuade the Bank of Tanzania (BOT) to give them dollars in exchange for shillings, could import goods and sell them for many more shillings – and go back to the BOT for more dollars (pp.168-9). But, he argues, many other members of the elite made money by making and selling goods, and the reforms of the Mwinyi period were acceptable because this group of salaried individuals realised that they would find it easier to make money from businesses if they could do so legally (pp.41-2; 151-161). But if individuals could play the currency markets like this, how much more so companies which were regularly involved in importing?

The discussion of poverty and inequality again highlights almost insuperable disparities between the different sources of data, though none of them doubt that “there is a challenge in transforming GDP growth into poverty reduction” ( p.30) – i.e. not much of the growth has trickled down.

How should scholars respond to these huge problems with the data? The most common approach, followed here with great diligence, is to study the different sources and make judgements about which is the most plausible for any particular figure. But this gives a spurious impression of accuracy. Maybe every figure should be given a range of possible values. Or any figure for which there is more than one official estimates should be marked with a *.
 Perhaps it is time, in a country study such as this, to question the utility of the international systems of statistics, and in particular GDP as a measure. It has been controversial ever since its creation by Kusnets, Richard Stone and others in the 1940s. There are fundamental problems about valuing investment, unpaid labour such as housework or care of elderly relatives, environmental externalities, and public services provided by states (customarily included as the value of wages and salaries paid to those involved, which makes no allowances for differences in quality or productivity). It makes no allowances for inequalities, or (un)happiness. The difficulties/disagreements are bad enough in developed countries, but far worse in countries such as Tanzania. So possibly the author should have concluded that GDP for Tanzania is uncertain, and given more weight to figures which are collected as part of public administration – imports and exports, taxation, employment in the formal sectors.

Pp.31-5 report on education and health. It is helpful to highlight the weaknesses in the quality of education, lack of teacher skills, and absenteeism, and the lack of attention given to technical training programmes. Similar points could be made about the Higher Education (university) sector. And to point to the failure to deliver budgets for basic medical services. The institutions involved could have been the subject of chapters in their own right, as could other services devolved to district councils – agricultural and livestock extension, domestic water supplies, feeder roads, etc. The discussion of decentralisation in Ch.5 is about tax revenues and the income side of budgets, whereas an institutional approach cries out for focus on functions and expenditure, such as how allocations of drugs for rural dispensaries are managed, or whether the village-based extension service can be effective without better links with research stations and without adequate transport.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

You Have No One To Blame, Not Even Yourself

You Have No One To Blame, Not Even Yourself

Take a deep breath

Baffled we were, with your performance as a Minister, in several Ministries, for several years
An exemplary public official, we saw in you!
By far, you outperformed your peers, so we believed
Enchanted, we became!

You bedazzled us with your mastery of statistics in your sectors
Readily regurgitating numbers of all fishes by species in all the seas, lakes, and rivers
Easily spewed up, to the nearest decimal points, kilometers of paved roads country wide

Freely disgorged numbers of cattle by geography, type and even pregnancy status
We swear! We believed all that!
A celebrity Minister, you were!

Who else deserved being your party’s flag bearer? We wondered!
The President of the United Republic, you became, eventually, naturally!
Jembe, tumepata” we chanted spiritedly
Chuma”, “Tinga Tinga”… It was a thrilling and surreal moment
Hapa Kazi tu” such an enthralling and captivating slogan
You set the bar very high!
Expectations were sky high!

Before we continue
Kindly remember,
You Have No One to Blame, Not Even Yourself

Now that … our eyes have seen the effects of your Government’s policies, actions, and words
Now that … our ears have heard the outcomes of your Government’s policies, actions, and words
Now that … our noses have smelled the stench of your Government policies, actions, and words
Now that … our bodies are devastated as we try to articulate what is going on
It is only logical that … our hearts are bleeding
It is only logical that … our heads are exploding

Perhaps, we are not the only ones suffering?
We have heard you, incessantly begging for our prayers
That is good, but we wonder…
What happened to the Kiranja wa Malaika?
And who are we to pray for him? We, his ungrateful subjects?
Why should we pray for him? Him, our Master, Mr. Perfect?

We trusted you!
We (unwillingly) agreed with you to push politics aside
We believed that you genuinely wanted to collaborate with us on the development agenda
Little did we know you would conjure some tricks up your sleeve
Swiftly uttered public statements to set the tone of the regime
Ushered in new laws to bolster your throne
Boldly took several actions to demonstrate that you meant business, not just mere words!

No more live broadcasting of the National Assembly proceedings
No more political rallies until next election season
No more unnecessary noise on (sic) imported human rights and democracy agenda
No more this, no more that…
…You and your subordinates would spit as you traversed the contours of this endowed land
Instantaneously and publicly, fired supposedly underperforming public officials. Tumbua majipu
Single handedly suffocated mafisadi … some of them are still in jail
Arguably, instilled a sense of discipline, efficiency, and effectiveness in the public sector
Disputably, also instilled a sense of job insecurity, fear, cowardice, hypocrisy. No?
Then reality dawned on us
The initial tinder has extinguished
Bad outcomes have masked the supposedly good intentions?
Perhaps a few anecdotes are worth recounting:
CAG reports methodically raise issues on management of public funds in every corner
The Judiciary is grappling with heaps of lawsuits filed against actions by the State and its organs and agents
The opposition emphatically criticized the regime’s policies, actions, and performance
The activists consistently interrogated the regime’s leadership style, priorities, strategies, and tactics
The development partners justly wondered about the blatant disregard of human rights and democratic principles
The media aptly amplified and widely circulated the dissenting voices before they were expeditiously quashed
The orchestrated exodus of opposition politicians joining the ruling party, fueled further internal party factions
Even the dissidents from within the ruling party and government were not left behind in venting their discontentment

Such tenacious onslaught from all sides, it must have felt
Despair must have lingered in the air, everywhere
Feelings of betrayal, anger and being overwhelmed would be natural reactions

But, you – Jembe letu – never gave up
Fiercely marched forward
Alas! Decisions with worse consequences have been made
There exists an expansive and paralyzing list of bad laws enacted since
Very bad ones: the mere thought of them, makes one’s guts shudder
Laws that undeniably contravene the Constitution of the United Republic
Needless to say…
People have been abducted and attacked, by the unknowns who remain unknown for years now
People have disappeared, some reappeared, and others are yet to reappear
People have complained of unlawful arrests, detaining, and torture, so we have heard and seen
People have mysteriously died, dead bodies in viroba, dead bodies washing ashore - dead bodies galore!

Selectivity, the guiding principle, in deciding on when and how to intervene. So it seems!

Should you have done something, anything, everything as the custodian of people’s safety and security?


A national moment of silence is in order
But what would it help anyway?

Should we remind you that your wananchi are no longer feeling safe in their own country?
Should we remind you that your country is no longer that idealized island of peace?
And do you need to be reminded that your country’s reputation and image locally and internationally, is tainted?

And remember that,
You Have No One to Blame, Not Even Yourself
Can you attempt some damage control?
We believe you have the reason, time, and resources to do so
We do not believe that you have the right team to control the damage
Maybe some are hypocrites? Maybe some are genuinely cowards?
And maybe some have the competencies but stifled and paralyzed by the culture of hypocrisy (majungu na fitna) engulfing them?

Unquestionably, you have deliberately thwarted virtually any critical and constructive feedback
Erroneously, you have apparently pushed away all actors with constitutional rights and strategic competences to help you
Disappointingly, you have hired and fired many but more often than not to no good results
Unsurprisingly, you have boxed in yourself with your few loyal advisors, again with unconvincing results

Do not blame them when they let you down
They are simply trying to impress or emulate you
Remember, they are paralyzed to inaction by the culture of hypocrisy that seems to thrive effortlessly

You have told us that if you knew what the presidency entailed, you would have thought twice about it
You have told us that you do not sleep well at night because the job is overwhelming
But we truly believe you knew what you were getting yourself into

We are not going to attempt to pretend to offer you some advice
We know you will do exactly the opposite of what we would advise

You have no one to blame, not even yourself!

Please remember that!

@Concerned Citizen, 22 August 2019

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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