Friday, March 20, 2009

What is [the source of] our problem...and your solution?

1. Madhara ya ukoloni
2. Ufisadi
3. Uvivu
4. Mipango na sera mbovu za uchumi na maendeleo
5. Hatuna uzalendo
6. Tumelaaniwa
7. Uongozi mbovu
8. Kutokuwa wajasiriamali
9. Kuridhika na umaskini
10. Kutaka kufanikiwa kwa njia za mkato
11. Kuendekeza uchawi
12. Kuendekeza dini sana
13. Kuendekeza demokrasia
14. Mfumo mbovu wa siasa, uchumi na biashara wa dunia
15. Elimu duni
16. Ukoloni mamboleo
17. Hali mbaya ya hewa(harsh terrain, unpredictable weather)
18. Kutoheshimu sheria, taratibu na ustaarabu wa kibinadamu
19. Kuzubaa kupita kiasi
20. Hatusaidiwi vya kutosha na wafadhili
21. Tunataka kusaidiwa kila kitu na wafadhili
22. Ukosefu wa maadili ya kijamii
23. Utapeli, fitna, majungu
24. Hatuna wawekezaji
25. Tunaibiwa na wawekezaji
26. Kuendekeza siasa
27. Mfumo mbovu wa utawala wa nchi
28. Tulirudishwa nyuma na siasa ya ujamaa
29. Tunarudishwa nyuma na siasa ya ubepari
30. "Hivi ndivyo ilivyoandikwa iwe"

Tanzania economy: Outlook - Facing macroeconomic challenges


Having achieved a measure of macroeconomic stability and strong growth in recent years, the main challenge for the President Jakaya Kikwete-led government is to translate these successes into a noticeable increase in employment and improvements in welfare. This will become more difficult at a time when high inflation is perceived to be eroding incomes and a tighter global economy limits access to finance. The government will seek to boost expenditure in line with the priorities outlined in its medium-term, five year national strategy for growth and the reduction of poverty (NSGRP; usually referred to by its Swahili acronym, Mkukuta), which runs to June 2010. It will also try to ensure that projects outlined in the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party's election manifesto are implemented and will look to promote private-sector growth by improving infrastructure, reforming the weak legal system and reducing corruption.

However, there are still concerns about government policy. The administration's commitment to private-sector reform has been questioned in view of its renegotiation of the mining tax regime, its backtracking on some state privatisations, and its refusal to allow citizens to participate in the initial public offering of a Kenyan mobile-phone operator, Safaricom. A further concern is the government's erratic progress in reforming agriculture. It has shied away from the fundamental reforms--such as changes to the complex laws surrounding land ownership--which will be necessary to boost the commercial agricultural sector's overall growth. This is unlikely to change over the remainder of the president's first term: although he is committed to market-orientated reforms, his agenda will not be best served by some members of parliament and civil servants, who will remain more closely aligned with Tanzania's socialist economic past.

The twin themes of the first budget presented by the finance minister, Mustafa Mkulo, in mid-June were increasing domestic revenue collection and reducing dependence on donor funding. Although these are laudable goals, the reality is that donors will probably continue to provide around 40% of government revenue for the foreseeable future. The government's options will be reduced in the current tight global financial climate, which will delay plans to issue a sovereign bond. Whether the government can meet its ambitious goal of boosting domestic revenue collection by 31% in fiscal year 2008/09 (July-June) is not clear. However, if economic growth remains strong and the government succeeds in widening the tax base and improving tax administration, it will not be far from this target. The Economist Intelligence Unit expects a budget deficit equivalent to 2.1% of GDP in 2008/09 and 1.9% of GDP in 2009/10, financed largely by concessional external borrowing.

The central thrust of the monetary policy of the Bank of Tanzania (BoT, the central bank) in recent years has been to control the growth of the broad money supply, while allowing for strong real GDP growth and an expansion in credit growth to the private sector to meet a clear inflation target. It is likely that the BoT will just miss its inflation target of 7% by June 2009, largely as a result of high food price inflation. However, we expect inflation to ease throughout 2009-10, as prices for food and fuel moderate.

As part of its efforts to fight inflation, the BoT tightened monetary policy in the middle of 2008, when there was no apparent slowdown in the inflation rate. However, since early October the rise in rates has slowed significantly, with the BoT apparently indicating that it is unwilling to allow further rises, as this would undermine the government's ambitious economic growth targets. In late November the BoT opted to increase statutory reserve requirements on commercial banks. While this confirms its willingness to be proactive in the fight against inflation, it is not clear how effective this will be, as most commercial banks already hold statutory reserves above the existing minimum levels.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dead Aid?

One of the reasons that this piece interested me is that I was there (at TED conference in Arusha, in June 2007) when Bono and Andrew Mwenda went mano-a-mano. The author exaggerate the notion that Bono's used profane language. He simply strongly argued his case against Mwenda's misrepresentation. When Mwenda went on stage, he trashed the idea of aid and challenged the audience to name one country - just one - that has benefited from foreign aid. Bono, in the audience, raised his hand and said "my country, Ireland". And explained how the European Union assisted Ireland to transform its economy from that making potato chips to making computer chips. Then, Mwenda said "alright, alright, may be there is only Ireland, and that it is". Bono stood up again and said "Germany". And explained how the Marshall Plan (which was a foreign aid program), transformed Germany's economy. Then Mwenda got confused.

Anyway, the article below, which reviews a book by Dambisa Moyo, can be a source of a good debate on the role of aid in our countries. I have not read the book myself but I have questions about the thesis (that aid is a source of Africa's problem, and the way to cure our problems is to stop aid). Anyway, enjoy the article! January

Daily Mail, UK 10/03/2009


By Christopher Hart.

Red Nose Day is one of the high spots of the TV year, with our best-loved stars raising millions for charity. But a provocative new book by a black academic argues the billions Africa receives in aid are the very reason it’s trapped in poverty.

WE ARE accustomed to bizarre outbursts and posturings from multimillionaire celebrities, especially when they spot a chance to portray themselves as concerned philanthropists with almost painfully big hearts.

Their favourite method is to drop in for a few hours at some televised charity event — Comic Relief, Live8 and Live Earth.

Perhaps the best-known, and certainly the loudest among them, is U2’s Bono. His efforts have won him an honorary British knighthood, no fewer than three Nobel Prize nominations and the adulation of Tony Blair. Yet one of Bono’s most significant outbursts — rude, heckling and laden with expletives — took place away from the world’s TV cameras at a small conference it Tanzania recently.

Bono had been enraged by a Ugandan writer called Andrew Mwenda, who was presenting a powerful case that international aid, far from helping lift Africa out of poverty, might in fact be the very cause of its troubles.

Even the suggestion that this might be the case sent ‘ Saint’ Bono into a foul-mouthed rant, accusing Mwenda of being a comedian rather than a seriby ous contributor to political debate.

For his own sake, then, one can only hope that the pop star never comes face to face with the author of an incendiary new book. Called Dead Aid, its very title is a bitter mockery of that great institution and celebrity bandwagon, Live Aid.

But what it contains — particularly at a time when people are generously giving time, money and enthusiasm to this week’s Comic Relief fundraising events — is even more provocative. It argues that for 50 years the West has been giving aid to Africa — and in so doing has ruined the continent it professes to help. The author of Dead Aid is no lightweight courting controversy for its own sake. She is a highly qualified economist. More importantly, she is herself African — and what she has to say is as unsettling as it is important.

After years of listening to Western ‘experts’ such as Bono, Bob Geldof or Angelina Jolie pontificating about what Africa needs, here is a refreshing voice from Africa itself.

Dambisa Moyo was born in Zambia, where her family still live. She has a doctorate in economics from Oxford, a masters from Harvard, and for several years worked for the World Bank in Washington DC.

She is now head of research and strategy for sub-Saharan Africa at a leading investment bank. But here, you feel, is one banker who is still worth listening to, not least as she has witnessed the way her home country has become blighted by poverty. At independence in 1964, Zambia was a fresh, optimistic young nation, eager to embrace the future. Its GDP was around a quarter of the UK’s.

Today it is one-26th, and the country is mired in corruption, poverty and disease. So what went wrong?

One by one, Moyo examines the usual lame excuses for African backwardness, and dispatches them with ruthless efficiency. Africa has a harsh, intractable climate, with huge natural barriers such as jungle and desert? Well, so does Brazil, or Australia.

Many African countries are landlocked, always an obstacle to economic growth? That hasn’t done Switzerland or Austria much harm.

African countries are too ethnically and tribally diverse? So is India, and its economy is booming.

Africa lacks democracy? So China, Thailand and Indonesia, Asian tiger economies.

As for any lingering mutterings about Africans simply not being up to it, or inherently lazy, she doesn’t even consider them. She herself is eloquent proof of the idiocy of such Victorianera racism. No, the problem can be summed up in one short word — aid.

Aid isn’t Africa’s cure, she believes. It’s the disease.

Let’s be clear, though, Moyo is scrupulously fair about distinguishing between three different types of aid. There is emergency relief for famine, which many of us support through donations or charitable fundraisers, which is not only well-meaning but absolutely necessary at times of international crisis.

Then there is the everyday work of the charities themselves, about which she appears neutral, although she quotes one cutting comment from a senior economist: ‘ They know it’s c**p, but it sells the T-shirts.’

This year, it is Stella McCartney’s Comic Relief T-shirts — featuring images of The Beatles and of Morecambe and Wise — that have become the must-have accessory of those who like to wear their conscience on their sleeve.

DESPITE the cynics, it is worth remembering that since its creation in the mid-Eighties, Comic Relief has generated £600 million — roughly two-thirds of which has gone to fund charities working on the ground in Africa (the other third goes towards charities in the UK).

That is an awesome achievement that has made a genuine difference towards alleviating suffering on a local scale in some of the most deprived nations on Earth. No one should belittle that work.

But charities are ‘small beer’ compared to what Moyo perceives to be Africa’s real problem: the billions of pounds’ worth of aid poured into the continent by Western governments.

Consider the figures. In the past 50 years, the West has pumped around £ 35 trillion into Africa. But far from improving the lives of ordinary Africans, the result of stateadministered charity on such a colossal scale has, argues Moyo, been ‘an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster’.

The effects are easy to see, yet always ignored. Over the past 30 years, the economies of the most aiddependent countries have shrunk by 0.2 per cent per annum.

Yes, in the UK we have been in recession for six months or so now, but countries like Malawi and Burkina Faso have been in recession for three decades. How is this disaster related to thoughtless Western aid? Directly. And Moyo cites a brilliant example of how the whole concept is flawed.

Imagine there’s an African mosquito-net maker who manufactures 500 nets a week. He employs ten people, and this being Africa, each of those employees supports as many as 15 relatives on his modest but steady salary. Some 150 people therefore depend on this thriving little cottage industry, producing a much-needed, low-cost commodity for local people.

Then, Moyo writes: ‘Enter vociferous Hollywood movie star who rallies the masses and goads Western governments to collect and send 100,000 mosquito nets to the afflicted region, at a cost of a million dollars. The nets arrive and a “good” deed is done.’

The result? The local business promptly goes bust. Why buy one when they’re handing them out for free? Ten more people are unemployed, and 150 people are without means of support.

Like all such aid hand-outs, it’s an idiotically short-sighted way to treat a complex problem.

And that’s not all. In a year or so, those nets will have sustained wear and tear, and will need either mending or replacing. But the local net-maker is no longer around.

So now those previously independent and self-sufficient Africans have to go begging the West for more aid. Intervention has actually destroyed a small part of Africa’s economy, as well as its spirit of enterprise. Thus aid reduces its recipients to beggary in two easy moves.

Yet despite this ongoing disaster, we still have the celebrity harangues, the self-applauding rock concerts, ‘making poverty history’ from the comfort of your private jet.

At some point in the Eighties, as Dambisa Moyo observes, ‘Public discourse became a public disco’, reaching its eventual nadir, perhaps, with Madonna addressing her audience at Live Earth as ‘motherf***** s’ and declaring: ‘If you wanna save the planet, jump up and down!’

Moyo is blisteringly critical about the ‘Western, liberal, guilt-tripped morality’ that lies behind these jamborees, about the tax-avoiding Bono lecturing us all on poverty and advising world leaders at summits, and Blair’s craven admiration for him.

Ordinary Africans do not, on the whole, have much admiration for Western pop culture at its noisiest and most foul-mouthed.

So what do they make of the bizarre spectacle of some ill-qualified Western pop star moralising with such supreme arrogance on ‘what Africa really needs’? Africans themselves have ideas about what they really need, if only someone would listen. But as one such African comments: ‘My voice can’t compete with an electric guitar.’

Another effect of aid, well known in the West and yet consistently and shamefully ignored, is that it props up the most thuggish and kleptomaniac of Africa’s leaders.

That parade of grotesques who have filled our TV screens almost since independence, it seems — Idi Amin in Uganda, Mobutu in Zaire, Mengistu in Ethiopia, the ‘ Emperor’ Bokassa in the Central African Republic — were always the greatest beneficiaries.

Bokassa spent a third of his country’s annual income on his own preposterous ‘coronation.’ The genocidal Mengistu benefited hugely, it is said, from the proceeds of Live Aid.

TODAY we have Mr Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace, 40 years his junior, going on £ 75,000-a-time shopping trips to Europe or the Far East, while her people starve, inflation runs at 230 million per cent, and Zimbabwe’s Central Bank issues $100 trillion banknotes.

Such tales echo Mobutu’s reign of terror in Zaire. He once asked the West for a reduction of his country’s colossal debt. The West, feeling guilty, promptly granted it.

Mobutu’s response? He hired Concorde to fly his daughter to her wedding on the Ivory Coast. In all, Mobutu may have looted £ 3.5billion from his country’s coffers. Nigeria’s President Sani Abacha stole about the same.

Even the World Bank itself reckons that 85 per cent of aid never gets to where it’s meant to. ‘When the World Bank thinks its financing an electric power station,’ says one jaundiced commentator whom Moyo quotes, ‘it’s really financing a brothel.’

So the aid industry causes poverty, corruption and war. Yet it continues. Why? Could aid just be something the West indulge in to buy itself an easy conscience — regardless of what effect it has on Africa?

Whatever the case, we should turn the taps off immediately, says Moyo.

Would this mean the end to the building of new roads, schools, hospitals? No. They’re mainly built by investment, not aid.

Would it be the end to many a kleptomaniac despot? Most certainly. But would millions would die of hunger within weeks? Of course not.

The aid we send doesn’t reach them anyway. Life for them would in the short term be no different, but in the longer term immeasurably better.

What makes Dead Aid so powerful is that it’s a double-barrelled shotgun of a book. With the first barrel, Moyo demolishes all the most cherished myths about aid being a good thing. But with the second, crucially, she goes on to explain what the West could be doing instead.

We all share the well-meaning belief that ‘the rich should help the poor, and the form of this help should be aid’. The first part of this is plain morality. But the second part, as she so forcefully demonstrates, is false — lethally false.

We shouldn’t be giving aid to Africa. That’s not what Africa wants. We should be trading with it, and idle chatter of ‘economic imperialism’ be damned. She has no time for such Left-liberal pieties. Of course we should be using Africa’s vast pool of cheap labour to make our clothes, assemble our cars, grow our foodstuffs. In fact, one country already is — it’s called China.

China is building roads in Ethiopia, pipelines in Sudan, railways in Nigeria. It’s buying iron ore and platinum from South Africa, timber from Gabon and Cameroon, oil from Angola and Equatorial Guinea. China is pouring vast sums of capital investment into the continent, enriching both itself and Africa in the process.

Dambisa Moyo is not much bothered by Western concerns that China does nothing to further democracy in Africa. An villager with six children doesn’t lose sleep over not having the vote, she loses sleep over what she will feed her children tomorrow.

Address poverty first, says Moyo, and democracy later.

The greatest example for Africa today, she believes, could be the Grameen Bank, which means, ‘The Bank Of The Village’, in Bangladesh. Moyo hopes that, in time, the nations of Africa can develop such a bank for themselves. For it is an extraordinary and heart-warming success story.

It was devised by Muhammad Yunus, who quite rightly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his efforts. Yunus’s inspiration was to ask: ‘Where lies the wealth of the typical Bangladeshi village?’

A village may not have money, goods or assets. Yet it is a wonderfully tightknit, loyal little community, where nobody locks their doors at night, nobody steals, everyone knows each other. This is a tremendous kind of wealth — but how to translate it into money for these impoverished, decent, hard-working people?

YUNUS realised you could lend money to such a community and be sure of getting it back if you worked according to a plan — a plan with the simplicity of genius. You lend not to an individual but to a group, but only one member at a time. So you might lend one woman £20 (and an amazing 97 per cent of the Grameen Bank’s customers are women. That’s enough for her to buy a new sewing machine, and so start a thriving little tailoring business.

A year later, she repays the amount, with interest. At which point, the original £20 is passed on to the next person in the group.

But if she doesn’t repay the loan — and here Yunus saw how to turn the village’s ‘social capital’, its trustworthiness and deep-rooted sense of community, into economic value — then the next person in the group, quite possibly her next-door neighbour, her sister or cousin, doesn’t get it either.

The result? This humbly named Bank Of The Village now has 2.3 million customers, and a portfolio worth a colossal £170 million— in one of the poorest countries on Earth.

There is something deeply moving about it, especially when you learn that the reliability of the Grameen Bank’s customers has proved to be virtually 100 per cent.

No greater contrast between our own inept but limitlessly greedy banks and Bangladesh’s Bank Of The Village could be imagined.

The failed fat-cat Cityboy still awards himself a £500,000 bonus for his own incompetence, while these trustworthy women care for every single cent of their precious £20 loan.

More than that, though, it is a humbling example of the way that trade — not aid — can help Africa lift itself out of poverty. Certainly, there is still much that we can do to help Africa help itself. We should act, and fast. But pouring billions more in aid won’t change a thing.

Moyo concludes her book with a wise old African proverb. ‘The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.’

By all means give to Comic Relief when the fun gets under way this Friday. It is a worthwhile humanitarian cause that makes a real difference to people in desperate circumstances. But as for a long-term solution to Africa’s immense problems — that may require a new way of thinking.

DEAD AID by Dambisa Moyo(Allen Lane, £14.99). To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720

Geopolitical Intelligence Report

Obama's Diplomatic Offensive and the Reality of Geopolitics

The Obama administration is only one and a half months into the job, but between pressing “reset buttons” with the Russians, reaching out to the Europeans, talking about reconciling with the Taliban, extending invitations to the Iranians and rubbing elbows with the Syrians, this is already one of the most diplomatically active U.S. administrations in quite some time.

During the campaign, now-President Barack Obama made the controversial statement that he was prepared to speak to adversaries, including countries like Iran. This position was part of a general critique by Obama of the Bush administration, which Obama said enclosed itself diplomatically, refusing to engage either adversaries or allies critical of the United States. Now, Obama is sending emissaries across the globe to restart dialogue everywhere from Europe to the Middle East to South Asia to Russia. For Obama, these conversations are the prelude to significant movement in the international arena.

From a geopolitical perspective, that people are talking is far less important than what they are saying, which in turn matters far less than what each side is demanding and willing to concede. Engagement can be a prelude to accommodation, or an alternative to serious bargaining. At the moment, it is far too early to tell which the present U.S. diplomatic flurry will turn out to be. And of course, some of the diplomatic initiatives might succeed while others fail.

Nevertheless, as the global diplomatic offensive takes place, we must consider whether Obama is prepared to make substantive shifts in U.S. policy or whether he will expect concessions in exchange for a different diplomatic atmosphere alone. Since Obama and his foreign policy team are too sophisticated to expect the latter, we must examine the details of the various conversations. In this case more than others, the devil is very much in the details.


The Obama administration has made clear to Russia its desire to reset its relations with Russia, with Clinton even presenting a red “reset button” as a gift to her counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on March 6 at a NATO summit in Geneva. But the Russians want to clarify how far the Americans really intend to rewind the tape. The 2004 Orange Revolution and NATO’s reach to the Baltics crystallized Moscow’s fears that the United States intends to encircle and destabilize Russia in its former Soviet periphery through NATO expansion and support for the color revolutions. Since then, Russia has been resurgent. Moscow has worked aggressively to reclaim and consolidate its influence in the Russian near abroad for its long-term security while the United States remains preoccupied in its war with the jihadists.

The Russians are pushing for a grand deal that guarantees a rollback of NATO expansion to Georgia and Ukraine, scraps plans for U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD), maintains some semblance of Russian nuclear parity in post-Cold War treaties, and ensures Western noninterference in a region that runs from the Baltics down through Eastern Europe and across the Caucasus and Central Asia — what Russia views as its rightful sphere of influence. Only then can Russia feel secure from the West, and confident it will remain a major player in Eurasia in the long run. In return, the Russians theoretically could make life easier for the Americans by cooperating with Washington against Iran and increasing support for U.S. operations in Afghanistan through the expansion of an alternate supply route — two key issues that address the most pressing threats to U.S. national security interests in the near term, but which may not be entirely worth the strategic concessions Moscow is demanding of Washington.

So far, the Obama administration has responded to Russia’s demands by restarting talks on the START I nuclear armaments treaty in exchange for Moscow allowing U.S. nonmilitary goods bound for Afghanistan to transit Russia and Central Asia. The Russians responded by permitting some supplies bound for Afghanistan to pass through the former Soviet Union as an opening toward broader talks. The United States then privately offered to roll back its plans for BMD in Central Europe i f Russia would pressure Iran into making concessions on Tehran’s nuclear program. But the Russians have signaled already that such piecemeal diplomacy will not cut it, and that the United States will need to make broader concessions that more adequately address Moscow’s core national security interests before the Russians can be expected to sacrifice a relationship with a strategic Middle East ally.

At the Geneva NATO summit, Clinton upped the offer to the Russians when she signaled that the United States might even be willing to throw in a halt to NATO expansion, thereby putting at risk a number of U.S. allies in the former Soviet Union that rely on the United States to protect them from a resurgent Russia. This gesture will set the stage for Obama’s upcoming trip to Russia to meet with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, but the Russians will be watching closely to see if such gestures are being made for the sake of public diplomacy or if the United States really intends to get down to business.


In Europe, Obama is dealing with allies rather than adversaries, but even here his administration’s work does not get any easier. The willingness of Obama to talk with the Europeans far more than his predecessor is less important than what Obama intends to demand of NATO, and what those NATO members are capable of delivering.

A prime example is how Washington is requesting the Europeans to commit more NATO forces to the war in Afghanistan now that the United States feels ready to shift gears from Iraq. Despite their enthusiasm for Obama, the Europeans are not on the same page as the Americans on NATO, especially when it comes to Afghanistan. The U.S. argument for strengthening NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan is that failure to do so would recreate the conditions necessary for al Qaeda to rebuild its ability to carry out transcontinental attacks against the West, putting both European and American cities at risk. But the Europeans (for the most part) view a long-term war effort in Afghanistan without a clear strategy or realistic objectives as a futile drain on resources. After all, the British — who currently have the largest European contingent in Afghanistan — remember well their own ugly and drawn-out efforts to pacify the region in three brutal wars in the 19th and early 20th centuries, each won by Afghan tribesmen.

This disagreement goes beyond the question of Afghanistan to a long-standing debate over NATO’s intended security mission. NATO was formed during the Cold War as a U.S.-dominated security alliance designed to protect the European continent from internal and external Soviet aggression. Since the end of the Cold War, however, NATO’s scope has widened, with only limited agreement among members over whether the alliance should even be dealing with the broader 21st century challenges of counterterrorism, cyberattacks, climate change and energy security. More important, NATO has pushed up against Russia’s borders with its expansion to the Baltics and talk of integrating Georgia and Ukraine, worrying some states that they may need to bear the burden of Washington’s hardball tactics against the Russians. Germany, which is dependent on Russians for energy, has no interest in restarting another Cold War. The French have more room to maneuver than the Germans in dealing with a powerful player like Russia. But the French can only work effectively with the Russians as long as Paris avoids getting (permanently) on Moscow’s bad side, something U.S.-dominated policy of trying to resurrect NATO as a major military force could bring about.

Before taking any further steps in Afghanistan, the Europeans, including those Central and Eastern Europeans who mostly take a hard-line stance against Moscow, first want to know how Obama intends to deal with the Russians. Even with the Poles going one way in trying to boost NATO security and the Germans going the other in trying to bargain with Russia, none of the European states can really move until U.S. policy toward Russia comes into focus. The last thing the Poles would want to do is to take an unflinching stance against Moscow only to have the United States cancel BMD plans, for example. Conversely, the United States is unable to formul ate a firm policy on Afghanistan or Russia until it knows where the Europeans will end up standing on NATO, their commitment to Afghanistan and their relationship with Russia. Add to this classic chicken-and-egg dilemma a financial crisis that has left Europe much worse off than the United States, and the gap between U.S. and European interests starts to look as wide as the Atlantic itself.


Talking to Iran was a major theme of Obama’s campaign, and the first big step in following through with this pledge was made March 5 when Clinton extended an invitation to Iran to participate in a multilateral conference on Afghanistan, thereby recognizing Iran’s influential role in the region. There is also an expectation that after Iran gets through elections in June, the United States could move beyond the multilateral setting to engage the Iranians bilaterally.

The idea of the United States talking to Iran is not a new concept. In fact, the United States and Iran were talking a great deal behind the scenes in 2001 in the lead-up to the war in Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban and in 2003 during the precursor to the war in Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein. In both of these cases, core mutual interests brought the two rivals to the negotiating table. Iran, facing hostile Sunni powers to its west and east, had a golden opportunity to address its historical security dilemma in one fell swoop and then use the emerging political structures in Iraq and Afghanistan to spread Persian power in the wider region. The United States, knocked off balance by 9/11, needed Iranian cooperation to facilitate the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions to uproot al Qaeda and intimidate al Qaeda state-sponsors into working with Washington.

U.S.-Iranian relations have been rocky (to say the least), but have reached a point where it is now politically acceptable for both openly to discuss U.S.-Iranian cooperation on issues related to Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Iranians hold influence and where the United States is still engaged militarily.

Iran knows that even with the United States drawing down from Iraq, Washington will still maintain a strategic agreement with Baghdad that could be used as a launchpad for U.S. designs in the region as it works to protect Sunni Arabs from Iranian expansionist goals. At the same time, Washington has come to realize that its influence in Baghdad will have to be shared with the Iranians given their geographic proximity and clout among large segments of the Iraqi Shia.

Though U.S. and Iranian interests overlap enough to the point that the two cannot avoid working with each other, negotiating a power-sharing agreement has not come easily. In Iraq, Tehran needs to consolidate Shiite influence, contain Sunni power and prevent the country from posing a future security threat to Iran’s western frontier. In addition, the Iranians are looking for the United States to recognize its regional sphere of influence and accept the existence of an Iranian nuclear program. The United States, on the other hand, needs to defend the interests of Israel and its Sunni allies and wants Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions (or at least place real curbs on its nuclear program) and end its support for militant proxies. Though Washington and Tehran have made some progress in their diplomatic dialogue, the demands of each remain just as intractable. As a result, the U.S.-Iranian negotiations start and stop in spurts without any real willingness on either si de to follow through in addressing the other’s respective core demands.

In reaching out to Iran over Afghanistan, the Obama administration is now trying to inject more confidence into the larger negotiations by recognizing Iran as a player in Kabul in return for intelligence sharing and potential logistical cooperation in supporting the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. But as much as Iran enjoys the recognition and shares an interest in preventing jihadist spillover into its territory, the Iranian regime is not about to offer its full cooperation on an issue as big as Afghanistan as long as the United States avoids addressing issues that the Iranians deem more central to their national security interests (e.g., Iraq.) Complicating matters further at this juncture is Iranian displeasure over U.S. talk of speaking to the Taliban, a long-time enemy of Tehran that the Ir anians will fight to keep contained, but with which the United States needs to engage if it has any hope of settling Afghanistan.

The Taliban

Obama told the New York Times in a March 6 interview that the United States is not winning the war in Afghanistan, and that in addition to sending more troops, his strategy for the war might include approaching elements of the Afghan Taliban. While he acknowledged that the situation in Afghanistan is more complex, he related the idea to the successful U.S. strategy of reaching out to Iraqi Sunni nationalists to undercut the al Qaeda presence in Iraq.

The idea of negotiating with the Taliban to split the insurgency has been thrown around for some time now, but just talking about talking to the Taliban raises a number of issues. First, the United States is fighting a war of perception as much as it is fighting battles against die-hard jihadists. So far, Obama has approved 17,000 additional U.S. troops to be deployed to Afghanistan, but even double that number is unlikely to convince Taliban insurgents that the United States is willing or even capable of fighting this war in the long run. The Taliban and their allies in al Qaeda and various other radical Islamist groups are pursuing a strategy o f exhaustion where success is not measured in the number of battles won, but rather the ability to outlast the occupier. Considering that Afghanistan’s mountainous, barren terrain, sparse population centers and lack of governance have historically denied every outside occupier success in pacifying the country, the prospects for the United States are not good in this war.

Talk of reconciliation with the Taliban from a U.S. position of weakness raises the question of how the United States can actually parse out those Taliban members who can be reconciled. It also raises the question of whether those members will be willing to put their personal security on the line by accepting an offer to start talks when the United States itself is admitting it is on the losing side of the war. Most important, it is unclear to us what the United States can actually offer these Taliban elements, especially as Washington simultaneously attempts to negotiate with the Iranians and the Russians, neither of which want to live next door to a revived Taliban and both of which must cooperate with the United States if Washington is to be able to fight the war in the first place.


After exchanging a few words with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in Egypt on March 2, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dispatched two emissaries in what was the highest-level U.S. delegation to Syria in four years. The March 7 visit came on the heels of a British announcement that London will be resuming talks with Hezbollah’s political wing — a move likely made in close coordination with the Americans.

The Americans want Syria to end its support for militant proxies like Hezbollah and stop interfering in Lebanese affairs. But Syrian dominance over Lebanon is non-negotiable from the Syrian point of view. Lebanon historically has been Syria’s economic, political and military outlet to the Mediterranean basin, allowing Syria to play a prominent role in the region. If Damascus is not in control of Lebanon, then Syria is poor and isolated. Even though the Americans and the Syrians are holding talks again, it is still unclear that Washington is willing to accept Syrian demands regarding Lebanon. And unless the United States is, these talks are guaranteed to remain in limbo.

That said, there may be more to these talks then meets the eye. Instead of rushing to cater to Syrian demands over Lebanon, the United States is probably more interested in using the Syrian talks (largely a Turkish-backed initiative) to send a positive signal to Turkey — a resurgent regional power with the ability to influence matters in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Balkans. Turkey is beginning to throw its weight in the region around again, and will have a major say in how the United States interacts with states that Ankara perceives are in the Turkish sphere of influence (Syria and Iraq, for example). The United States will need Turkish cooperation in the months and years ahead, particularly as it reduces its military presence in Iraq and attempts to deal with another resurgent power, Russia. It comes as litt le surprise, then, that one of Obama’s first major trips abroad will be to Ankara. Rather than revealing any true U.S. interest to accommodate the Syrians, the U.S. diplomatic opening to Syria is more likely a gesture to the Turks, whose agenda for the Middle East includes reshaping Damascus’s behavior through negotiations with the United States and Israel and containing Iran’s regional ambitions.

Back to Reality

Obama has put into motion a global diplomatic offensive fueled by a dizzying array of special envoys designed to change the dynamic of its relations with key allies like the Europeans and adversaries like the Russians, the Taliban, the Iranians and the Syrians. This diplomatic blitzkrieg may spin the press into a frenzy. But once we look beyond the handshakes, press conferences and newspaper headlines and drill down into the core, unadulterated demands of each player in question, it becomes clear that such a diplomatic offensive actually could end up yielding very little of substance if it fails to address the real issues.

This is not a fault of the administration, but the reality of geopolitics. The ability of any political leader to effect change is not principally determined by his or her own desires, but by external factors. In dealing with any one of these adversaries individually, the administration is bound to hit walls. In trying to balance the interests between adversaries and allies, the walls only become reinforced. Add to that additional constraints in dealing with Congress and the need to maintain approval ratings — not to mention trying to manage a global recession — and the space to maneuver becomes much tighter. We must also remember that this is an administration that has not even been in power for two months. Formulating policy on issues of this scale takes several months at the least, and more likely years before the United States actually figures out what it wants and what it can actually do. No amount of power delegation to special envoys will change that. In fact, it could even confuse matters when bureaucratic rivalries kick in and the chain of command begins to blur.

Whether the policymakers are sitting in an Afghan cave or in the Kremlin, they will not find this surprising. As is widely known, presidential transitions take time, and diplomatic engagements to feel out various positions are a natural part of the process. Tacit offers can be made, bits of negotiations will be leaked, but as long as each player questions the ability of Washington to follow through in any sort of “grand bargain,” these talks are unlikely to result in any major breakthroughs. So far, Obama has demonstrated that he can talk the diplomatic talk. The real question is whether he can walk the geopolitical walk.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Nyerere and IMF: Will Our Leaders Deliver in the Summit?

In March 10th 2009, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Tanzanian government will co – host a high – level summit, “Changes: Successful Partnership for Africa’s Growth Challenges”. The overall objective of this summit is for the IMF to come up with a solution on how to maintain economic stability that Sub Saharan Africa has experienced since the turn of the 21st century (2000). While there is undeniable success story about the stabilization of Tanzania economy from macro perspective (low inflation, fiscal discipline, and lower interest rate), on the micro level the story is quite different. The majority Tanzanians (over 70% of population who still live in rural areas) are still poor as they were in 1985 when IMF came in sabotage the Tanzanian. This is why, throughout his life, Nyerere, fought tirelessly to protect the poor from these big monsters. For instance Nyerere rejected the idea of ‘unfair‘integration of the poor into the global economy; he also rejected IMF’s interventions that were ideological and political biased. For instance just because traditional free market solution includes currency devaluation, reckless privatization of state owned enterprises and trade liberalization, Tanzania had and still has to abide to this conditionality or else be denied access to development finance.

Since 1985, all these IMF/World Bank policies have been implemented and the results have been obvious - lack of access to healthcare for the majority of Tanzanians, an increased informal sector due to high levels of unemployment in the country, inefficient education system, and more poverty among majority of Tanzanians (especially in rural areas).

It is such an honor for Tanzania to host this high - level IMF summit especially given the fact that Nyerere was the first African leader to criticize its foul play in poor countries. We should all concur that the summit will only be meaningful to an average Tanzanian in Kilwa who is still wondering why he can’t sell his cooking oil made out of coconut just because the IMF/ World Bank requires the Tanzanian government to liberalize its economy regardless of the consequences to an average Tanzanian. Therefore it is more than a responsibility for our presenters in this summit (his excellence President Jakaya Kikwete, BoT Chief Ndulu (PhD) and honorable Minister of Finance Mustafa Mkullo), to carry Mwalimu’s views during the summit for two major reasons. One Nyerere’s views represent the concerns of the majority of Tanzanians today. Education (not just increase in enrollment rates as it has been praise by the WorldBank/IMF and Tanzanian government, but more primary school graduates, more opportunities in secondary and high schools, and more access to University education that is relevant to the job market conditions), electricity (only 1% of the rural population have access to electricity, a figure no different from 1985), healthcare ,clean water and employment opportunities (since the privatization of the former state parastatals and massive layoffs in the public sector, the majority of Tanzanians still don’t have access to decent jobs).

And two, the IMF has not really changed since 1985. IMF/WB have attempted to rename the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) to Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP),following years of criticism on how the SAPs were just ideological and political tools of the IMF/World Bank to advance the interest of rich countries instead of making SAPs be determined by the real needs of the poor countries. Despite this sugar coating on SAPs, many NGOs and scholars, in both poor and developed countries have argued that this change (from SAP to PRSP) only relieve pain but does not cure the illness i.e. they don’t lead to a sustainable reduction in poverty. The fundamentals of SAPs have largely remained unchanged (e.g. fiscal discipline, trade, and finance liberalization, privatization of state parastatals etc) In the past, it was common practice for IMF to prepared speeches for poor countries’ officials. For instance, there was an incidence in 1980 when Amir Jamal the then Minister for Finance of Tanzania whereby he was given a speech prepared by IMF officials in advance, whom he strongly rejected). Let us hope this won’t be the same for President Jakaya Kikwete, Hon. Ndullu (PhD) and Hon Mkulo. We all wish Nyerere was one of the delegates to the summit because his speech still lives today. Nyerere’s speech would have been the only presentation for us Tanzanians to show the IMF that when we say we need change in the global capitalist system, we really need change.

You’re Excellencies Dominique Kahn, IMF Managing Director and President Jakaya Kikwete, Professors Ndullu and Migiro, Honorable Mkullo and Kofi Annan, and other delegates from Africa and the international community, please deliver us from poverty and also please make Nyerere smile in heaven. In the debate, you can do all the talk as long as your perdiems allow you to do so. But please, at the end of the day, Tanzanians are waiting to hear and read in the next day newspapers your response on two fundamental issues:

  • How can Tanzania best manage her relationship with the IMF, World Bank and the donor community so as to maximize the benefits that can be derived from this relationship while also minimizing the costs inherent in it, including notably the disadvantages that are often a consequence of the power imbalance which is embedded in it, something that Mwalimu Nyerere tirelessly fought against?

  • We are tired of hearing that Tanzania has experienced a sustainable economic growth averaging over 7% since 2000. We want to hear on how we can ensure that this growth is not pursued at the expense of more poverty for the majority of the Tanzanians. It is obvious that this growth only benefit the connected few – Multinationals and a few urban elites. How should we deal with competing objectives of efficiency/economic growth and social justice/poverty reduction?

We will end with an extract from President Nyerere's New Year Message 1980 to the Diplomats accredited to Tanzania. It is time for us to contemplate.

Beginning of Nyerere’s speech:

“Your excellencies: Tanzania needs peace-in Africa and elsewhere. But the major economic problems which have preoccupied us in recent months, and which darken the coming year, were not caused by the war against Amin's Uganda, nor the African struggle for freedom. These make things worse; they added to the strain on our resources and deflected our attention at an important time. But we were experiencing inflation before October 1978; our balance of payments was in serious deficit before that war; oil price increases have nothing to do with events in East or southern Africa.These externally caused problems are obvious, and so is our need for an injection of balance of payments support.

What recently became equally obvious to me but nevertheless strange and repugnant was the attempt by the International Monetary Fund to exploit those difficulties in order to interfere with the management of our economy.

The IMF always lays down conditions for using any of its facilities. We therefore expected that there would be certain conditions imposed should we desire to use the IMF Extended Fund Facility. But we expected these conditions to be non-ideological, and related to ensuring that money lent to us is not wasted, pocketed by political leaders or bureaucrats used to build private villas at home or abroad, or deposited in private Swiss Bank accounts.

We also accepted that we could justly be asked how we were planning to deal with the problem in the medium or longer term. We could then have accepted or rejected such conditions, but we would not have felt it necessary to make a strong and public protest.

Tanzania is not prepared to devalue its currency just because this is a traditional free market solution to everything and regardless of the merits of our position. It is not prepared to surrender its right to restrict imports by measures designed to ensure that we import quinine rather than cosmetics, or buses rather than cars for the elite.

My Government is not prepared to give up our national endeavour to provide primary education for every child, basic medicines and some clean water for all our people. Cuts may have to be made in our national expenditure, but we will decide whether they fall on public services or private expenditure. Nor are we prepared to deal with inflation and shortages by relying only on monetary policy regardless of its relative effect on the poorest and less poor.

Our price control machinery may not be the most effective in the world, but we will not abandon price control; we will only strive to make it more efficient. And above all, we shall continue with our endeavours to build a socialist society.

When an international institution refuses us access to the international credit at its disposal except on condition that we surrender to it our policy determination, then we make no application for that credit. The choice is theirs-and ours. But such conditions do reinforce our conviction about the importance of the Third World demand for changes in the management structure of the IMF. It needs to be made really international, and really an instrument of all its members, rather than a device by which powerful economic forces in some rich countries increase their power over the poor nations of the world.

There was a time when a number of people were urging that all aid to the Third World countries should be channeled through nternational institutions. They honestly believed that such institutions would be politically and ideologically neutral. I do not know whether there are now people who honestly believe that the IMF is politically or ideologically neutral. It has an ideology of economic and social development which it is trying to impose on poor countries irrespective of their own clearly stated policies. And when we reject IMF conditions we hear the threatening whisper.

'Without accepting our conditions you will not get our money, and you will get no other money'. Indeed we have already heard hints from some quarters that money or credit will not be made available to us until we have reached an understanding with the IMF.

When did the IMF become an International Ministry of Finance? When did nations agree to surrender to it their power of decision making?

Your Excellencies: It is this growing power of the IMF and the irresponsible and arrogant way in which it is being wielded against the Poor that has forced me to use my opportunity to make these unusual remarks in a New Year Speech to you. The problems of my country and other Third World countries are grave enough without the political interference of IMF officials. If they cannot help at the very least they should stop meddling.I have made it repeatedly clear to my own countrymen, however, that whatever decisions are made by us, and by our friends, 1980 is going to be a very difficult year for Tanzania. I believe that when they understand the problem our people will respond to this economic challenge as they have responded to other challenges in the past.

I believe they will bear the further sacrifices, and further burdens, which present conditions impose upon us just as long as they are assured that we are doing our best to share the burdens equitably, and continuing to pursue our own policies.”

(Prepared by Iddy Mwanyoka & Mpoki Mwambulukutu)

Sunday, March 1, 2009


This sucks. Am talking about what has become the common word in our continent, which some people want to vomit everytime they hear it. Yea!, it's that 'L' word again. LEADERSHIP.
I just wanted to say something little quick before we're totally over it. Some of our trademarks (hate to say this!) like poverty, diseases, hunger, wars, dependency e.t.c, well, are about to get or already got a brother, Leadership. Bad leadership is becoming another face of Africa. And yes, as if we don't have enough problems, already!. It's a shame to know that, that's the core and the cause of all our problems and it's simply because our leaders have become our BFF's, we're in no-end-contract with them, it's a marriage which can not un-last with all the kasheshes they brought us. But, I wonder if we're the ones to blame too, or have been brain washed to the point of thinking that it's normal, it's okay, after all there's nothing we can do. By the end of the day it's just politics and business as usual.

Same shit different day right? not big of a deal anymore, tushawazoea cha ajabu ni nini?
But, what comes next? entitleness, and all kinds of crap which comes with the package. There was a piece in the Daily News the other day that Prez. Kikwete was to make a trip to Bunge to exhorts legislators to visit their constituents, and remind them to fulfil their promises before the next election. Really? they have to be reminded? I thought...that's their job discription? isn't it something they need to do everyday, get in contact and knowing the problems of their people, be involved, visible and hands on, head in, or head in first and hands later, doesn't matter really what goes in first as long as the work is done!, Seriously people, is this what we call 'uongozi', what the fudge?
We're supposed to go uphill but, whoever is there to lead the way, they're missing in action and am scared we'll be heading downhill. We have a fundamentally disagreement with them when it comes to their "beliefs" (Chao ni chao na chetu ni chao pia) but, at least we should trust them albeit we don't agree with them. I thought we need a firm hand on the wheel. With this croaking economy tutafika kweli?

This lack of visionary leaders over a long period of time is costing us major time and money. It weakens their ruling parties's moral authorities and undermines their intergrity. They fail to deal with our trademardk problems and instead they become obsessed with gaining patronage, power and resources for individual gain rather than for the common good. Political power is seen as a way to wealth, rather than public duty.It's always in twofolds with our viongozi, they either handpick someone to succeed them or they're ousted by another leader. The new Kenyan prime minister (a.k.a used to be the next prez of Kenya) suggested that Kenyan style settlement (also Zimbabwe) offer a solution to political impasses in Africa. (Was he f...king serious?)
By the way that moron in Zimbabwe just had his 85th birthday, on to which his supporters had to raise $ 250,000 for the the bash while there's an ICU which needed $ 30,000 to resume its operation after he ruined the country. And he said he's not going to change his land reform or indigenization program. (Game Theory my friend, what do you have to say about this if we forget politics for one second and think about Zimbabwe in a humane way?)

When it comes to uongozi, our African leaders just can't relinquish power, period. I just hope it's not another form of slavery crawling to us. They're doing totally opposite of what they're supposed to do and relatively inefficient. In the previous post, "The spirit of Kigali" Che Solasi wrote, "...I was puzzled with questions and doubts as to the implications of that meeting...the observations, recommendations and propositions were made with no counterweight in substance..." he continued, (my favorite) " can we have intergration without uniformity of just the basic methods of governance?"
May be we need to be nihilisms and completely rebuild our society, cause, their leadership is being marred by their failure to clean out the augean stable of their administration.

The other day the US attorney General panned for his comment about the country being coward when it comes to race. Am saying it the way it is, we're the continent of cowards. And I think our leaders made us to be and look that way. On his speech to their viongozi, the other day, Prez Obama said, "the weight of this crisis (economy) will not determine the destiny of this nation" and I thought to myself, what do we have to say about ourselves, what is our destiny? despite of our sick economy, is it going to get any better? even if it doesn't happen in our time, can we start to build something for our next generation and change the status quo...really...!