All is set now for the kickoff of the Tanga-Hoima Pipeline, with Tanzania looking to March 2021 for the start of the construction of the $3.5 billion project.
This followed Friday's confirmed agreement between French oil company Total and the Ugandan government over differences which forced the project to stall since 2018.
An initial plan for Tanzania and Uganda to have first oil flow in 2020 through the Uganda-Tanzania Crude Oil Pipe Line (UTCOP) was delayed after investors dragged their feet in making final investment decisions.
Total is now seeking to conclude a similar host government agreement with Tanzania, whose territory the pipe will traverse, to complete the tendering process for all engineering, procurement and construction contracts, according to the statement.
The country coordinator for the East African Crude Oil Pipe Line (Eacop) in Tanzania, Mr Salum Mnuna, told The Citizen that Tanzania is going on with similar negotiations that have been concluded between Total and Uganda.
Credit: The Citizen
Before the heroic return of opposition figure, Tundu Lissu, in late July 2020, Tanzania’s political landscape lacked the exuberance and ebullience that comes with an election season.
Lissu’s return reignited the hopes of a despondent opposition that had been subdued by the oppressive and restrictive political environment during President John Magufuli’s five-year term.
Lissu has been active in politics for the last two decades. He was elected to parliament on a Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Party for Democracy and Progress) ticket in 2010.
A firebrand lawyer and politician, he is known to hold the government accountable. He has questioned retrogressive laws, mining legislation, government procurement, government corruption, and the demand for a new constitution among others.
Lissu has been a constant critic of Magufuli. In 2017, he survived an attempted assassination while on official parliamentary duty. He has attributed the attempt on his life to the Magufuli administration. While he was abroad for treatment he was stripped of his Parliamentary seat.
Tanzania goes to the polls in late October with the dominant ruling party, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Party of the Revolution) and Magufuli, as favourites.
Background to the Elections
The general election will be Tanzania’s fifth since the reintroduction of multiparty politics in the early 1990s.
Since then, the country has been ruled by the dominant Chama Cha Mapinduzi party. There have been significant gains by the opposition parties over the years. Nevertheless, Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s mass mobilisation and internal organisation has seen it strengthen its grip on power. The party has also relied on its incumbency, resource advantages and patronage politics to strengthen itself and weaken the opposition.
In the last general election in 2015, a united opposition coalition made significant gains. It garnered close to 40% of the presidential vote share. Chama Cha Mapinduzi nominated little known candidate John Magufuli ahead of other popular candidates.
Ever since his election the world has tried to understand Magufuli. He has been the subject of immense academic discussion ranging from his personal idiosyncrasies, to style of governance, and approach to national development.
I argue that he needs to be understood at both the domestic and international levels.
At the domestic level he has been praised for his war on corruption, rapid infrastructure developments, fiscal discipline, and concern for the downtrodden.
The president makes frequent visits to various parts of the country. He interacts and engages with the public on their issues. Very often he delivers instant remedies. This is something that has earned him the populist tag.
Internationally, Magufuli is read as an isolationist. He has shunned the global community in an approach driven by his nationalistic and anti-Western rhetoric.
Western governments have criticised Magufuli for Tanzania’s deteriorating human rights and shrinking democratic space.
Chances for the opposition
Opposition parties very often form alliances when competing against a powerful ruling party.
In the 2015 elections, a few opposition parties came together under the agenda for a new constitution. They fronted one candidate to challenge the ruling party at the presidential and parliamentary level.
Under the umbrella, Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi (Coalition of Defenders of the People’s Constitution), four opposition parties made significant electoral inroads but still couldn’t challenge Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s dominance. They were Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo, the Civic United Front, National Convention for Construction and Reform – Mageuzi, and the National League for Democracy.
This year, the opposition is less organised and relatively weakened by the Magufuli administration. But Lissu’s nomination as the main opposition presidential candidate has given Tanzania’s democracy renewed impetus. This comes after a torrid five years during which political party rallies were banned. Lissu’s survived assassination embodies the opposition resilience.
During his medical recuperation in Europe, he embarked on an international tour speaking about what had happened to him and castigating the Magufuli administration. These media appearances gave him massive global exposure.
Having nominated and declared their presidential candidates, the two leading opposition parties, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo and Alliance for Change and Transparency will most likely enter a gentleman’s agreement going into the election. The Alliance’s nominee is former foreign minister Bernard Membe.
During their respective party conventions in August 2020, both reiterated the need for a united opposition to challenge Chama Cha Mapinduzi and Magufuli.
Issues for the Elections
Magufuli goes into the election with a good development track record. In July, the World Bank announced that Tanzania’s economy had been upgraded from low to lower—middle income status. This development came five years ahead of earlier projections.
For the Magufuli government, middle-income status means that it can access international credit markets. The president will also bank on his successes in the war on corruption and his efforts to streamline the civil service.
While the economic numbers look good, the opposition has criticised the government’s lack of investment in human resources.
The government’s repressive legislation, and the curtailing of media and individual freedoms has cast the Magufuli administration in the worst possible light. The administration has been accused of human rights abuses including the arbitrary disappearance and jailing of dissidents as well as curtailing civil society space.
The opposition is bound to capitalise on these issues during the campaigns. It has also called for the electoral commission to be reformed, stating that it is not independent but structured in a way that favours the ruling party.
Elections and COVID-19
Tanzania will go into the elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The president, in June declared that the country was COVID-19 free.
The major concern will be reduced external election observation.
Political temperatures will rise as the elections draw closer. And the government will likely crackdown on the opposition. The elections will be a watershed moment for Tanzania as its democracy has been in retreat for the past five years.
A strong opposition performance in the elections, especially at the parliamentary level, will be crucial in building a strong and viable democracy in Tanzania.
Tanzania banned Kenya's national airline from entering the country effective Saturday, in the latest move in a deepening row triggered by Tanzania's controversial handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tanzania said Kenya Airways flights were being banned "on a reciprocal basis" after Kenya decided against including Tanzania in a list of countries whose passengers would be permitted to enter Kenya when commercial flights resumed on 1 August.
"Tanzania has noted... its exclusion in the list of countries whose people will be allowed to travel into Kenya," Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority director general Hamza Johari said in a letter sent to Kenya Airways on Friday.
"The Tanzanian government has decided to nullify its approval for Kenya Airways (KQ) flights between Nairobi and Dar/Kilimanjaro/Zanzibar effective August 1, 2020 until further notice," Johari wrote.
"This letter also rescinds all previous arrangements that permit KQ flights into the United Republic of Tanzania."
Kenya Airways chief executive Allan Kilavuka said Saturday he was "saddened" by the letter and hoped the situation would soon be resolved.
Tanzania has taken a controversially relaxed approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic and began reopening the country two months ago.
President John Magufuli's refusal to impose lockdowns or social distancing measures, and to halt the release of figures on infections since late April, has made him a regional outlier and caused concern among Tanzania's neighbours and the World Health Organization.
Magufuli declared Tanzania free of coronavirus in June, thanking God and the prayers of citizens for the disease's defeat disease.
The diplomatic spat between Kenya and Tanzania erupted soon after the outbreak of the pandemic in East Africa, when Kenya blocked Tanzanian truck drivers from entering the country, fearing they would spread the disease.
Vodacom M-Pesa has announced the expansion of its International Money Transfer service portfolio. Vodacom customers will now have the option and ability to easily transfer and receive funds from individuals across more than 200 countries worldwide.
This was said recently at an international day of family remittances event held in Dar es Salaam where stakeholders met to deliberate on the future of International Remittance post COVID 19.
Speaking during a panel discussion on the same, Assistant Manager, Oversight and Policy at Directorate of National Payment Systems from Bank of Tanzania (BOT) Albert Cezari said the national bank has increased limits on digital transactions and reviewed balances of mobile wallets in a bid to provide relief and ensure continuity of services as part of measures taken amidst COVID-19.
On his part, Vodacom Tanzania PLC Managing Director Mr. Hisham Hendi, said that international remittances make possible people and small businesses to stay connected irrespective of geography.
According to World Bank Figures, Tanzania recent remittances stood at $430 million, an increase of $25 million from 2019. The sum represents 0.8 percent of the country’s GDP.
One of the main points of discussion around the various responses to the COVID-19 pandemic is governance. Different countries have reacted to the pandemic in different ways. These differences are informed by varying styles of leadership and governance around the globe.
Countries with open and transparent governing styles have taken a more hands-on approach by engaging diverse stakeholders. Scholars who examined the COVID-19 responses in China, Japan and South Korea, for example, found that there was systematic evidence that different governance decisions led to different results.
In the case of Tanzania, I argue that COVID-19 has revealed, rather than informed, the governance style under the current administration.
tackling a social calamity is not like fighting a war, which works best when a leader can use top-down power to order everyone to do what the leader wants — with no need for consultation.
In line with this thinking, being transparent and engaging diverse groups, including both loyalists and critics, is crucial for governments in the fight against the virus.
In Tanzania, President John Magufuli has taken the opposite view. He has framed COVID-19 as a war and not a health calamity requiring scientific consultation. As a result the handling of the pandemic has been at the whim of the president.
Since Magufuli expressed his doubts on the professionalism of the national laboratory, no more updates on COVID-19 have been made. It’s no longer easy to tell if data being released by the government is grounded in science, or whether it is simply that the president wants lower figures reported.
Magufuli’s COVID-19 response is typical. He is a president who has always taken an idiosyncratic view of leadership. Since his election in 2015, he has acted unilaterally. This has divided the country, while consolidating power in the presidency. Even his own ruling party has become a casualty of his autocratic style of leadership.
Idiosyncratic response to COVID-19
Magufuli has downplayed the pandemic’s threat and encouraged the use of local and home remedies such as drinking ginger and lemon tea, and steam therapy as a way to prevent infection.
This statement marked the end of the health minister’s daily updates on the country’s COVID-19 response. It was followed by a presidential proclamation that that God was answering the prayers of Tanzanians against the pandemic.
The president then appointed a new deputy health minister, probably because the previous one had questioned the use of steaming therapy to manage the virus.
Two weeks earlier, the president had appointed a new Constitutional and Legal Affairs minister, following the sudden death of his predecessor. The new minister was given the unusual task of investigating the activities of the national laboratory and its handling of COVID-19 testing.
These appointments give the real impression that loyalty to the president is very important in Tanzania. Dissenters are not tolerated. It’s no surprise that the official leader of opposition in parliament was rebuffed when he extended an offer to work with the government to fight the virus.
Civil society organisations have also been sidelined. But faith-based organisations have been won over by the government’s decision to keep places of worship open. Religion has been framed as a more appropriate response to COVID-19 than science.
History of intransigence and excesses
In 2017, Magufuli banned pregnant school girls from continuing school despite calls to the contrary. As a result the World Bank delayed the release of a $500 million education loan.
Eventually, Magufuli bowed to the pressure and lifted the ban.
Another example of Magufuli’s intransigence was his reaction to a planned countrywide protest organised by the opposition Chadema party. The police threatened to use force to stop citizens from participating. Eventually, the opposition called off the demonstration after faith leaders and civil society called for dialogue.
To date, there has not been any dialogue between the government and Chadema.
The absence of dialogue, and discrimination against Chadema and other opposition parties, has led to further polarisation between the Magufuli administration and dissenters.
The state response to COVID-19 is well within Magufuli’s playbook. He acts unilaterally, while polarising the nation and consolidating power in the presidency. This is often to the detriment of the Chama cha Mapinduzi ruling party. Power is centralised in the executive. Party organs and members do not have the agency to hold the president to account.
The executive’s autocracy has forced the opposition party to strengthen its institutions from the ground up. It now appears that Chadema is becoming a stronger party institutionally. In response, the ruling party has resorted to using force to maintain its grip on power.
To understand how Magufuli centralised power, one structural move he took in the beginning of his administration is illustrative. He removed the Regional Administration and Local Governments office from the office of the prime minister and put it in the office of the president.
The office is responsible for administering education, health, and development projects within local districts across the country.
Thus, local government matters are reported directly to the president’s office and are managed from the very core of the executive branch. This structural change has diverted revenue collection to the central government. The president has also used local government political appointees to silence dissenters.
It is apparent, therefore, that he will decide whether cases of COVID-19 in Tanzania have declined or increased, no matter what the science says.
The real fate of the country, however, is in the hands of Tanzanians. Only they can take their power back.
Big Brother Africa winner, Idris Sultan is facing cyberbullying charges for laughing at an old picture of President John Magufuli.
His lawyer Benedict Ishabakaki told BBC that the 2014 Big Brother Africa winner is accused of contravening the Cybercrimes Act 2015 against cyberbullying.
The law states: “A person shall not initiate or send any electronic communication using a computer system to another person with intent to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause emotional damage.”
If convicted of the charges levelled against him, Idris faces paying a fine of not less than Tsh5 million($2,161.21) or imprisonment for a term of not less than three years or both.
According to Ishabaki, the charges facing Idris stem from a video he recently shared laughing at an old photo of Magufuli.
“In short, the police claim Idris used the internet to harass the president,” he said.
Idris who also doubles as a comedian was arrested on May 19 after heeding summons from the police but is yet to be arraigned in court.
According to Idris’ lawyer, their request for bail was denied as police said they needed him in custody while they follow up on leads.
Avocados have become Tanzania's latest green gold, bringing in at least $12 million (Sh27.6 billion) annually, up from zero five years ago, a new report reveals.
Less than ten years ago, avocado exports never existed.
But, data from Tanzania's private sector horticultural apex body, the Tanzania Horticultural Association (Taha), as well as the Avocado Catalogue 2020 report, show that avocado exports jumped from 1,877 tonnes in 2014 to 9,000 tonnes in 2019, fetching the country $12 million last year.
Taha's chief development man-ager, Mr Anthony Chamanga, said that farm-gate prices also rose from Sh450($0.19) per kilogramme in 2014 to Sh1,500($0.65) in 2020 courtesy of Taha's painstaking efforts to develop the avocado value chain in the country.
It is understood that the government and Taha jointly worked to establish a state-of-the-art facility in Njombe where farmers can store their fresh produce and is also a hub to connect with buyers.
"Again, driven by dynamics in a global surge in prices and demand, the cultivation and trading of avocados is rapidly gaining traction among the local farmers, replacing coffee production in some areas," the report says.
Taha data shows that over 10,000 farmers in the country are involved in avocado production, triggering its export surge by 380 percent in a span of five years.
The majority are exported to Europe as its consumption of avocados reached one million tonnes a year - with the World Avocado Organisation (WAO) predicting a growth rate of 50 percent: between 500,000 and 700,000 tonnes for Europe in the next ten years.
The EU market represented 85 percent of Tanzanian avocado exports in 2018, whereby France imported 3,133MT; the Netherlands: 2,304MT, and UK: 1,193MT.
Based on 2018 data, Tanzania is the second largest producer of avocado fruit in Africa after Kenya. The latter produces about 190,000 tonnes per year of which between 5,000 and 10,000MT are exported.
Recently, Agriculture minister Japhet Hasunga vowed to fast-track protocol with China to pave the way for local avocado exporters to access Beijing's niche market.
Data from China Customs indicates that China's avocado imports are value at $105 million per annum, presenting a huge poten-tial market for Tanzanian growers.
However - given the stringent phytosanitary issues that restrict imports of local avocados into China - exporters have never been able to access that lucrative market, basically for lack of bilateral arrangements between the two countries.
The process requires the Tanzania government to declare quarantine pests for the China authority's assessment before that country opens up the market to Tanzanian avocados.
The same information should also be presented to AQSIQ: the relevant authority in China where the Beijing market access applications are processed.
The harvest periods for avocados in Tanzania are from January to March, and May to August. The fruit is mainly grown in Kilimanjaro, Mbeya, Njombe, Songwe, Iringa Kigoma, Tanga, Kagera and Morogoro Regions.
Avocado plantations are set at altitudes ranging from 1,100 to 1,900 metres ordinance datum, with an annual rainfall of around 800 to 1,200 mm. Surface areas are also on the up in this part of the country, - especially in zones enabling earlier harvests.
The majority of growers of avo-cados are small and medium scale farmers.
The main varieties produced are Hass and Fuerte and local varieties.
The first two varieties are mostly for foreign markets.
Global production of avocados has increased by 178 per cent, rising from 891,000 tonnes in 2011 to 2.5 million tonnes in 2018 - mostly driven by high demand in the US and Europe.
Credit: Citizen Tanzania
The fifth Phase Government's efforts to open up remote areas of tourism attractions in terms of investment is now being augmented heavily by the private sector, with transformed investment of 3m US dollars.
In a move that would tangibly contribute to the growth of Tanzania's economy by initial support to local people and the 'Friedkin Conservation Fund', Mwiba Holdings have invested over that amount in Tanzania by building three new camps to operate in the north and west of the Serengeti National Park as well as Maswa Game Reserve.
That will see a new age of sustainable development in remote regions of northern Tanzania with investment from Legendary Expeditions, with Mila Camp opening its doors today, followed by two new mobile camps that will be moving with the footsteps of The Great Migration.
The Managing Director of Mwiba Group and Friedkin Group, Mr Jean Claude, reveled on Friday that the substantial investment has been focused within Tanzania, employing over 120 local craftsmen to create new fabrics, tents, furniture, décor and structures to allow the camps to welcome international guests and boost tourism in the remote areas.
Mwiba Holdings is a conservation company driving sustainable tourism in important ecological areas within northern Tanzania.
The camps will add more than 50 beds to the Tanzanian tourism industry and through conservation and community fees give much needed support to the region as well as utilize the vast wilderness areas that are protected through the Friedkin Conservation Fund.
"Building new camps such as Mila while expanding our experiences that now include various helicopter charters and tours in northern Tanzania, shows our continued commitment to Tanzania as well as its people," said Mr Claude.
He noted that Mwiba Holdings is a proud partner of Tanzania; would continue drive awareness on a global stage for tourism and bring renewed growth to the regions in which it operates.
He said the company has a responsibility to the people of Tanzania as well as the wildlife and land to make the tourism venture viable, hence maintain integrity and transparency.
Credit: Daily News
In the past few weeks there have been unofficial reports that some people in Tanzania, including one in Dar es Salaam, had died of what was suspected to be Ebola virus disease. As we know, there is an ongoing outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in which thousands have died.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has criticised Tanzania for failing to provide details about suspected cases of Ebola in the country. While Tanzania insisted it had no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola, it did not directly address the case of the woman mentioned by the WHO and provided no further information.
The reports are a cause for concern because they followed earlier cross-border Ebola cases and fatalities in neighbouring Uganda which were clearly linked to the DRC outbreak. The ongoing concern is that the disease might spread in the region, and potentially even globally.
The DRC outbreak was declared a global public health emergency in July and regional countries were advised to proactively monitor the situation and report any suspected cases of Ebola.
The cases in Tanzania, if confirmed, are also highly likely to be related to the ongoing outbreak in the DRC.
What is different and a departure from international norms in Tanzania’s case is the lack of transparency, and information sharing. No clinical data, investigation results, contact tracing and laboratory tests performed have been shared by the government.
Why the government has taken this route is unclear and some observers are alleging a cover-up in which for whatever reason, the authorities in Tanzania seem deliberate about not providing the information that have been requested for by WHO. Fear and concerns among international travellers are spreading fast.
One possible explanation might be that the government is reluctant to give out details for fear of alarming the public and the international community. Providing information could spread panic while also affecting international travel, tourism and business.
The problem with this thinking is that it means missing the opportunity to contain the outbreak before more people are exposed. When this happens, a much better response is needed. And panic, as well as travel and business disruptions, may end up being even greater.
Why information matters
The importance of sharing information cannot be over-estimated. Ebola can spread at a phenomenal speed – as was shown in the 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa. The only way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to provide information to the public, stakeholders, put service providers on high alert, provide necessary suppliers, and ensure a functional laboratory capacity is in place. Those who have come in contact with people who have contracted the virus need to be isolated while the infected need supportive care.
Getting all stakeholders on board lessens the burden of containing an outbreak. For example, in Ebola outbreak situations we have seen before, the WHO is often willing and ready to provide technical capacity where these are lacking. These include personnel, laboratory and supplies. No such requests have been made in this case.
The WHO provides extensive guidance on a range of issues. These include definitions of suspected Ebola virus disease cases, setting up surveillance systems, contact tracing, infection prevention among health care providers and handling deaths. Under the International Health Regulations, Ebola is classified as a notifiable disease. This means that countries are obligated to report suspected and confirmed Ebola cases.
The first action on any suspected case of Ebola is to isolate the person and to provide supportive treatment. At this stage, samples are taken to a reference laboratory for testing. The next step is to trace all the people with whom the person had contact with and to try and establish whether they are showing symptoms or not.
Most of the outbreaks that have caused lots of infections and deaths have been as a result of a poor response in identifying and isolated early cases. For example in Guinea it took about three months to establish Ebola as the cause of the epidemic. This usually happens where health systems are weak, as was the case with the west Africa outbreak and in the DRC. Insecurity is an additional layer to the challenges of containing the outbreak in the DRC.
The Ebola virus is transmitted through body fluids. Risk of exposure is high in particular settings. These include health facilities such as laboratories, during burial rituals involving the washing of corpses, and other intimate acts such having sex with an infected person. The web or network of exposed people can grow quickly from one case if steps aren’t taken early on to avoid further onward transmission.
Research has shown that the number of new cases generated from a single case in the absence of control measures can be as high as two. Given the relatively short incubation period of two to 21 days, several new cases can develop and a full blown outbreak may manifest.
In the event that Ebola cases are confirmed in Tanzania, the logical thing to do is to act fast to stem further spread. Isolation of infected people and their contacts is critical.
New vaccines are being tried in the DRC and Uganda especially among front line health workers who are more likely exposed to virus through attending to patients. This could also be considered to protect those at the highest risk of exposure.
The WHO and other UN agencies discourage countries from imposing travel bans. The WHO argues that travel bans are detrimental and ineffective in the control of Ebola outbreaks. Nevertheless, there is usually nervousness among potential travellers which ultimately affects businesses and normal life.
Tanzania expects to raise cashew nuts production by 33.5% in the year to September 2020, helped by favourable weather conditions and increased plantings, its agriculture minister said on Saturday.
Output in 2019/2020(October-September) is seen reaching 300,000 tonnes, up from the 225,000 tonnes produced in the 2018/2019 season.
"We expect to get a bigger harvest in the coming season, with our cashew nut production likely to rise to more than 300,000 tonnes," the minister, Japhet Hasunga, told Reuters.
"This forecast of increased output is attributed to good weather, widespread availability of farming inputs and increased plantings."
Last year, the government blocked traders from buying the crop from farmers after they could not meet the minimum indicative prices set by the president, and bought the entire crop itself.
President John Magufuli had ordered a 94 percent hike in prices, arguing that farmers were receiving too little for the most valuable of Tanzania's crop exports.
He then deployed the army to collect the entire crop of over 200,000 tonnes of cashew nuts from farmers.
But in November he sacked two ministers, saying they had failed to secure buyers.
Hasunga told Reuters that the government had eventually sold the 2018/2019 crop to a Vietnamese firm, but would allow private traders to resume buying in 2019/2020.