Friday, February 27, 2009

The "Spirit of Kigali!"


- High Level Retreat adopts “Kigali Spirit” towards a more efficient and effective regional organization -

EAC Headquarters, Arusha, 14 February 2009: A Strategy Retreat for Key Organs and Institutions of the East African Community was held in Kigali, Rwanda at the Serena Hotel on 9-10 February 2009. The Retreat, the first of its kind brought together the top leadership, Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Heads and Senior Officials of Government, EAC Organs and Institutions; and representatives of the business community and civil society. The Retreat was convened by H.E. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Chairman of the Summit of Heads of State of the East African Community who officially opened the Retreat on 9 February.

The Retreat was held against the background of deepening EAC integration with the ongoing operation of the Customs Union, which was established in 2005, and the advanced progress towards the establishment of the Common Market, which is expected to be in place by January 2010. The EAC recognizes the need to constantly keep a step ahead in maintaining harmonious working relations among its organs and institutions to meet the new challenges and expectations of regional integration within the fast evolving world economic and social order.

Over 100 participants attended the Retreat, including Ministers, Members of the EAC Council of Ministers, the Speaker and Members of the East African Legislative Assembly, Judge President, Principal Judge, Registrar and Senior Officers of the East African Court of Justice; the Secretary General and Deputies Secretary General of the East African Community, Heads of the EAC Institutions ( Inter-University Council for East Africa, Lake Victoria Basin Commission, East African Development Bank, Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization and the Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency) , Senior Government and EAC officials; representatives of the business community and civil society; and the Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth.

The Strategy Retreat with the theme “Collaborative Work Culture in the EAC organs and institutions for a Stronger East Africa”, focused on a review of the current operations of the EAC organs and institutions, sharing of views and insights on their effectiveness against their mandates under the EAC Treaty, which was signed in 1999; and drawing of lessons from other regional efforts in terms of collaborative work ethic among the EAC organs and institutions and between them and the Partner States.

In his Keynote Address to the Retreat, H.E. President Kagame said the vision of regional integration was a voluntary and dedicated political partnership based on pragmatic building blocks and time-bound milestones and targets. He said the organs and institutions of the Community should strive to improve their collaboration and strengthen their sense of shared purpose to perform better, individually and collectively, in order to realize the benefits of regional integration. He said that among the benefits of regional integration were larger markets, economies of scale, larger pools of human, financial, and physical capital. East Africa, he said, had the advantages of a rich legacy of socioeconomic, political and cultural interactions. He said these advantages should be consolidated by strong, first rate formal institutions embracing a learning attitude, continuously internalizing new knowledge, innovation and good practices to drive the East African integration process.

At the conclusion of the Retreat, the delegates made far reaching observations and recommendations under what they dubbed the “Kigali Spirit” that would guide the operations of the EAC organs and institutions to a more rapidly achieving regional organization in the new era.

In their recommendations, the delegates emphasized the need for a re-affirmation of commitment to the spirit of regional integration requiring deliberate efforts by the EAC Partner States, organs and institutions as well as civil society and business community to prioritize the regional integration agenda within their respective national agendas.

The delegates called for a professional and ethical re-orientation of the EAC establishment to build an East African spirit among the staff of the East African Community. The delegates proposed the establishment of an EAC Public Service Commission, EAC Parliamentary Service Commission and EAC Judicial Service Commission. They proposed the introduction of standard terms of service for staff of all the organs and institutions of the Community and institution of a system of motivation and rigorous performance evaluation of staff on the basis of undivided loyalty to the Community and contribution to the realization of its vision and mission.

The delegates called for streamlining and strengthening of internal and external communications of the EAC to involve systematic, continuous consultations among the Heads of the organs and institutions of the Community and structured regular meetings to plan, review, monitor, and coordinate their programmes and exchange views on the implementation of the regional projects and programmes. They proposed the establishment of a strengthened central public information and communications office at the EAC Secretariat that would coordinate dynamic public information flow from the organs and institutions of the Community, utilizing advanced communication media, including print and electronic media and the Internet.

The delegates proposed measures to ensure effective implementation of EAC decisions and to this extent the need to set up regional mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of EAC Council of Ministers decisions at the regional and national levels; monitoring and evaluation of implementation of EAC Acts passed by EALA at the national levels; and establishment of clear political leadership and responsibility for regional projects and programmes by clarifying the role of the Council of Ministers , including assigning specific portfolios to the Members of the EAC Council of Ministers.

On Budget issues, the delegates proposed urgent review from the current system whereby of equal contribution by Partner States and over-reliance on external funding of regional projects to a more sustainable and self reliant sourcing of funds for regional projects and programmes.

The delegates resolved to sustain the “Spirit of Kigali” and, to this extent, proposed that the EAC Strategy Retreat be institutionalized into an annual event and include holding of quarterly meetings of the Heads of EAC organs and institutions, biannual meetings of the Heads of the organs and institutions of the Community with the Chairperson of the Summit; and establishment of a Task Force to follow up the implementation of the recommendations of the Kigali Retreat. The full report and recommendations of the Kigali Retreat will be submitted to the Council of Ministers and Summit of Heads of State for consideration and decisions.

With all this I am more puzzled and engulfed with questions and doubts as to the implications of the meeting. It seems more observations, recommendations, and propositions were made with no counterweight in substance to really address the nature of the meeting. While this was honorable gesture of having solidarity for common goals and a show of some level of commitment, I wonder when will we be able to come to grips with the peripheral issues that need to be at the forefront before all this can really be full scale and operational!

How can we have integration without uniformity of just the basic methods of governance? What can be implemented without the proper authority with effective power to actually execute those implementation since each country is more or less looking to it's own benefits and not responsibilities? And I also wonder if there's a misplaced commitment to the things that even though are important to the whole idea, are being neglected by other member states for the sake of appeasement and coexistance, for example Rwanda and Uganda involvement in DRC?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Geopolitical Intelligence Report

Sorry people, I was cut off from GIRs (si mnajua "global credit crunch"). Now I am back.

Internal Divisions and the Chinese Stimulus Plan

Due in large part to fears of dire consequences if nothing were done to tackle the economic crisis, China rushed through a 4 trillion yuan (US$586 billion) economic stimulus package in November 2008. The plan cobbled together existing and new initiatives focused on massive infrastructure development projects (designed, among other things, to soak up surplus steel, cement and labor capacity), tax cuts, green energy programs, and rural development.

Ever since the package was passed in November, Beijing has recited the mantra of the need to shift China’s economy from its heavy dependence on exports to one more driven by domestic consumption. But now that the sense of immediate crisis has passed, the stimulus policies are being rethought — and in an unusual development for China, they are being vigorously debated in the Chinese media.

Debating the Stimulus Package

In a country where media restrictions are tightening and private commentary on government officials and actions in blogs and online forums is being curtailed, it is quite remarkable that major Chinese newspaper editorials are taking the lead in questioning aspects of the stimulus package.

The question of stimulating rural consumption versus focusing the stimulus on the more economically active coastal regions has been the subject of particularly fierce debate. Some editorials have argued that encouraging rural consumption at a time of higher unemployment is building a bigger problem for the future. This argument maintains that rural laborers — particularly migrant workers — earn only a small amount of money, and that while having them spend their meager savings now might keep gross domestic product up in the short term, it will drain the laborers’ reserves and create a bigger social problem down the road. Others argue that the migrant and rural populations are underdeveloped and incapable of sustained spending, and that pumping stimulus yuan into the countryside is a misallocation of mo ney that could be better spent supporting the urban middle class, in theory creating jobs through increased middle-class consumption of services.

The lack of restrictions on these types of discussions suggests that the debate is occurring with government approval, in a reflection of debates within the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the government itself. Despite debate in the Chinese press, Beijing continues to present a unified public face on the handling of the economic crisis, regardless of internal factional debates. Maintaining Party control remains the primary goal of Party officials; even if they disagree over policies, they recognize the importance of showing that the Party remains in charge.

But, as the dueling editorial pages reveal, the Party is not unified in its assessment of the economic crisis or the recovery program. The show of unity masks a power struggle raging between competing interests within the Party. In many ways, this is not a new struggle; there are always officials jockeying for power for themselves and for their protégés. But the depth of the economic crisis in China and the rising fears of social unrest — not only from the migrant laborers, but also from militants or separatists in Tibet and Xinjiang and from “hostile forces” like the Falun Gong, pro-Democracy advocates and foreign intelligence services — have added urgency to long-standing debates over economic and social policies.

In China, decision-making falls to the president and the premier, currently Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao respectively. They do not wield the power of past leaders like Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping, however, and instead are much more reliant on balancing competing interests than on dictating policy.

Party and Government Factions

Hu and Wen face numerous factions among the Chinese elite. Many officials are considered parts of several different factional affiliations based on age, background, education or family heritage. Boiled down, the struggle over the stimulus plan pits two competing views of the core of the Chinese economy. One sees economic strength and social stability centered on China’s massive rural population, while another sees China’s strength and future in the coastal urban areas, in manufacturing and global trade.

Two key figures in the Standing Committee of the Politburo (the center of political power in China), Vice President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Li Keqiang, highlight this struggle. These two are considered the core of the fifth-generation leadership, and have been tapped to succeed Hu and Wen as China’s next leaders. They also represent radically different backgrounds.

Li is a protege of Hu and rose from the China Youth League, where Hu has built a strong support base. Li represents a newer generation of Chinese leaders, educated in economics and trained in less-developed provinces. (Li held key positions in Henan and Liaoning provinces.) Xi, on the other hand, is a “princeling.” The son of a former vice premier, he trained as an engineer and served primarily in the coastal export-oriented areas, including Hebei, Fujian and Zhejiang provinces and Shanghai.

In a way, Li and Xi represent different proposals for China’s economic recovery and future. Li is a stronger supporter of the recentralization of economic control sought by Hu, a weakening of the regional economic power bases, and a focus on consolidating Chinese industry in a centrally planned manner while spending government money on rural development and urbanization of China’s interior. Xi represents the view followed by former President Jiang Zemin and descended from the policies of Deng. Under that view, economic activity and growth should be encouraged and largely freed from central direction, and if the coastal provinces grow first and faster, that is just fine; eventually the money, technology and employment will move inland.

Inland vs. the Coast

In many ways, these two views reflect long-standing economic arguments in China — namely, the constant struggle to balance the coastal trade-based economy and the interior agriculture-dominated economy. The former is smaller but wealthier, with stronger ties abroad — and therefore more political power to lobby for preferential treatment. The latter is much larger, but more isolated from the international community — and in Chinese history, frequently the source of instability and revolt in times of stress. These tensions have contributed to the decline of dynasties in centuries past, opening the space for foreign interference in Chinese internal politics. China’s leaders are well aware of the constant stresses between rural and coastal China, but maintaining a balance has been an ongoing struggle.

Throughout Chinese history, there is a repeating pattern of dynastic rise and decline. Dynasties start strong and powerful, usually through conquest. They then consolidate power and exert strong control from the center. But due to the sheer size of China’s territory and population, maintaining central control requires the steady expansion of a bureaucracy that spreads from the center through the various administrative divisions down to the local villages. Over time, the bureaucracy itself begins to usurp power, as its serves as the collector of taxes, distributor of government funds and local arbiter of policy and rights. And as the bureaucracy grows stronger, the center weakens.

Regional differences in population, tax base and economic models start to fragment the bureaucracy, leading to economic (and at times military) fiefdoms. This triggers a strong response from the center as it tries to regain control. Following a period of instability, which often involves foreign interference and/or intervention, a new center is formed, once again exerting strong centralized authority.

This cycle played out in the mid-1600s, as the Ming Dynasty fell into decline and the Manchus (who took on the moniker Qing) swept in to create a new centralized authority. It played out again as the Qing Dynasty declined in the latter half of the 1800s and ultimately was replaced — after an extended period of instability — by the CPC in 1949, ushering in another period of strong centralized control. Once again, a more powerful regional bureaucracy is testing that centralized control.

The economic reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping at the end of the 1970s led to a three-decade decline of central authority, as economic decision-making and power devolved to the regional and local leadership and the export-oriented coastal provinces became the center of economic activity and power in China. Attempts by the central government to regain some authority over the direction of coastal authorities were repeatedly ignored (or worse), but so long as there was growth in China and relative social stability, this was tolerated.

With Hu’s rise to power, however, there was a new push from the center to rein in the worst of excesses by the coastal leaders and business interests and refocus attention on China’s rural population, which was growing increasingly disenfranchised due to the widening urban-rural economic gap. In 2007 and early 2008, Hu finally gained traction with his economic policies. The Chinese government subsequently sought to slow an overheating economy while focusing on the consolidation of industry and the establishment of “superministries” at the center to coordinate economic activity. It also intended to put inland rural interests on par with — if not above — coastal urban interests. When the superministries were formed in 2008, however, it became apparent that Hu was not omnipotent. Resistance to his plans was abundantly evident, illustrating the power of the entrenched bureaucratic interests.

Economic Crisis and the Stimulus Plan

The economic program of recentralization and the attempt to slow the overheating economy came to a screeching halt in July 2008, as skyrocketing commodity prices fueled inflation and strained government budgets. The first victim was China’s yuan policy. The steady, relatively predictable appreciation of the yuan came to a stop. Its value stagnated, and there is now pressure for a slight depreciation to encourage exports. But as Beijing began shaping its economic stimulus package, it became clear that the program would be a mix of policies, representing differing factions seeking to secure their own interests in the recovery plan.

The emerging program, then, revealed conflicting interests and policies. Money and incentives were offered to feed the low-skill export industry (located primarily in the southeastern coastal provinces) as well as to encourage a shift in production from the coast to the interior. A drive was initiated to reduce redundancies, particularly in heavy industries, and at the same time funding was increased to keep those often-bloated industrial sectors afloat. Overall, the stimulus represents a collection of competing initiatives, reflecting the differences among the factions. Entrenched princelings simply want to keep money moving and employment levels up in anticipation of a resurgence in global consumption and the revitalization of the export-based economic growth path. Meanwhile, the rur al faction seeks to accelerate economic restructuring, reduce dependence on the export-oriented coastal provinces, and move economic activity and attention to the vastly underdeveloped interior.

Higher unemployment among the rural labor force is “proving” each faction’s case. To the princelings, it shows the importance of the export sector in maintaining social stability and economic growth. To the rural faction, it emphasizes the dangers of overreliance on a thin coastal strip of cheap, low-skill labor and a widening wealth gap.

Fighting it Out in the Media

With conflicting paths now running in tandem, competing Party officials are seeking traction and support for their programs without showing division within the core Party apparatus by turning to a traditional method: the media and editorials. During the Cultural Revolution, which itself was a violent debate about the fundamental economic policies of the People’s Republic of China, the Party core appeared united, despite major divisions. The debate played out not in the halls of the National People’s Congress or in press statements, but instead in big-character posters plastered around Beijing and other cities, promoting competing policies and criticizing others.

In modern China, big posters are a thing of the past, replaced by newspaper editorials. While the Party center appears united in this time of economic crisis, the divisions are seen more acutely in the competing editorials published in state and local newspapers and on influential blogs and Web discussion forums. It is here that the depth of competition and debate so well hidden among the members of the Politburo can be seen, and it is here that it becomes clear the Chinese are no more united in their policy approach than the leaders of more democratic countries, where policy debates are more public.

The current political crisis has certainly not reached the levels of the Cultural Revolution, and China no longer has a Mao — or even a Deng — to serve as a single pole around which to wage factional struggles. The current leadership is much more attuned to the need to cooperate and compromise — and even Mao’s methods would often include opportunities for “wayward” officials to come around and cooperate with Mao’s plans. But a recognition of the need to cooperate, and an agreement that the first priority is maintenance of the Party as the sole core of Chinese power (followed closely by the need to maintain social stability to ensure the primary goal), doesn’t guarantee that things can’t get out of control.

The sudden halt to various economic initiatives in July 2008 showed just how critical the emerging crisis was. If commodity prices had not started slacking off a month later, the political crisis in Beijing might have gotten much more intense. Despite competition, the various factions want the Party to remain in power as the sole authority, but their disagreements on how to do this become much clearer during a crisis. Currently, it is the question of China’s migrant labor force and the potential for social unrest that is both keeping the Party center united and causing the most confrontation over the best-path policies to be pur sued. If the economic stimulus package fails to do its job, or if external factors leave China lagging and social problems rising, the internal party fighting could once again grow intense.

At present, there is a sense among China’s leaders that this crisis is manageable. If their attitude once again shifts to abject fear, the question may be less about how to compromise on economic strategy than how to stop a competing faction from bringing ruin to Party and country through ill-thought-out policies. Compromise is acceptable when it means the survival of the Party, but if one faction views the actions of another as fundamentally detrimental to the authority and strength of the Party, then a more active and decisive struggle becomes the ideal choice. After all, it is better to remove a gangrenous limb than to allow the infection to spread and kill the whole organism.

That crisis is not now upon China’s leaders, but things nearly reached that level last summer. There were numerous rumors from Beijing that Wen, who is responsible for China’s economic policies, was going to be sacked — an extreme move given his popularity with the common Chinese. This was staved off or delayed by the fortuitous timing of the rest of the global economic contraction, which brought commodity prices down. For now, China’s leaders will continue issuing competing and occasionally contradictory policies, and just as vigorously debating them through the nation’s editorials. The government is struggling with resolving the current economic crisis, as well as with the fundamental question of just what a new Chinese economy will look like. And that question goes deeper than money: It goes to the very role of the CPC in China’s system.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Changing the Paradigm

Last week, I was challenged to conclude that the current neo-liberal paradigm, that is the basis of organisation of our polities and pursuit of development, has failed and that we ought to think of other way of running our countries and economies.

What has been the result of more than 30 years of neo-liberalism? The failure of markets to deliver, jembe la mkono hadi sasa, wealth concentrated in the hands of the few despite general increase in prosperity, democratic deficit in many aspects, violence, creation of a welfare state, incapacity to reign in curable diseases, moral decadence, etc - you name it.

Even in developed countries, it is all the same. Without even mentioning the current wave of market failure, whether it is a Reagan or a Clinton or a Thatcher or a Blair in office, you have an underclass caught between welfare and low wages, a heavily indebted middle class increasingly subject to job and pension insecurity and a new class of the super rich who escape all rules of taxation and community.

The challenge is whether we will be able to organise a society in a manner that will enable us to escape this trap. Or, there is simply no alternative - that things are somehow "meant" to be the way they are (in fact, to emphasize the supremacy of neo-liberalism, Margret Thatcher coined the acronym TINA - There is No Alternative [to neoliberalism).

Some, including Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, say that actually there is an alternative, and for us in Africa, it is what they call a "Developmental State" (others say a 'Democratic Developmental State' but that is a debate for another day). The idea here is to dump what has held sway since mid-80s...that markets are everything, a "weak state" is the most facilitative of liberty and freedoms, that democracy as an ideal and an end should be pursued at any cost, that contentious politics have to institutionalized (in that the state ought to be challenged by strong media, strong labour unions, and NGOs) - this irrespective of the society's institutional and "sociological" capacity to handle contentious politics).

Anyway, what has happened since we adopted this model: more newspapers in newsstands (but not necessarily advancing the cause of free expression), the plague of the political-economy of disorder (everything goes in Bongo despite the elaborate superstructures of governing politics and social transactions), bigger but weak state (in that it is always not able to enforce laws and create order), rent-seeking tendencies by the private sector and the state. Of course, there has been improvement in the quality and delivery of social services and there has been growth in the economy but there has not been sustained and rapid growth and transformation of the economy. It may be too early to say that we have reached a "dead end", but others, including Prime Minister Zenawi have concluded so.

Now...what is needed: (i) A new focus on managerialism in public that the state, rather public affairs, has to be managed competently. To this end, for a start, a culture of meritocracy has to be inculcated. The pull for entry into public politics or in civil service...and the basis of which we assess our public servants has to change.

(ii) We need to rethink our overemphasis on crafting these elaborate participatory processes, or elabotate modes of inclusiveness, representation and accountability...basically a new look at the whole "hassle of democracy". While all these are important, they are not a panacea for deep-rooted deficiencies in the philosophical underpinnings of the pursuit of our development. Fine, it may be important that people participate in deciding their priorities but getting people to say what they want is different from availing the resources for actualising those needs or ensuring the quality of delivery and perfomance of public service...

(iii) Also, I think it is critical that, before we think of "economic development", basically, as currently popularly defined, assurance of material wellbeing for majority of the people, we should think, first and foremost, of the acquisition of "social development", in that there has to be a consensus on the values and norms that the society hold dear, and to use those values to reaffirm our identity and underpin our collective effort. Others call this the development of "social capital"....the creation of a blend of norms, values and rules to govern the society, ensure stability, reduce uncertainty and cost of "social transactions". What are those values and norms, as far as Tanzania is concerned?

Anyway, I am digressing. I will continue with this later.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Helps too Little to Boost Tanzania Economic Development

During late 1980s economist came with the argument that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is one of the way of developing African stagnate economy. They argued that FDI represented about 60% of foreign exchange raised in all developing countries. FDI represents combination of capital, stock, know-how and technology (Della 1997). Majority of FDI orthodoxy continue to believe FDI is the only potential source of bridging the gaps in capability development, exploitation of resources and participation in the international markets. However, the argument is inconclusive. To be fair through FDI there is potential direct contribution to economic growth and technological improvements. However, such potential contribution depends on the type of FDI. For developing countries such as Tanzania, FDI suppose to be a means of acquiring a new technology, however there is more evidence that in Tanzania FDI is not an essential element for industrial and technological improvement.

The cheerleaders of FDI once argued that through privatizations (acquisition) of local firms to the foreigners, we will be able to rehabilitates those firms to be productive again. They argued that FDI will inject new technology and spillovers the know-how knowledge which will resuscitate stagnant industry. However, they missed the point when it comes to upgrading of local industries; it can only happen into two ways. First, by knowledge transfer to acquired firm, and second, by creation or upgrading of linkages with domestic economy. Research shows that FDI tend to increase out put/ productivity through introduction of new technology. However, that is not the case to majority of the foreign firms which acquired our local firms. We saw in TTCL, the company which acquired it didn’t upgrade TTCL into more advanced technology, instead it layoff massive amount of people; bring the so called management guru from Canada and that was the end of the story. When it comes to Tanzania majority of FDI came for the purpose of Natural Resources. They’re extracting these resources and ship them to their countries as raw materials, and that disprove the whole theory of FDI link to development of domestic economy. If Barrick cares a lot about Tanzania, why they’re not processing gold to a finished product in Tanzania?

FDI suppose to boost domestic economy through job creations or creation of supporting industry such as supplier and etc. However, the case is difference in Tanzania. For instance, Vodacom is one of the giant cell phone providers in Tanzania; however it employed less 800 employees (according to Vodacom Investor Newsletter of 2008). Also most of Vodacom suppliers are from South Africa and that kills the all idea of FDI. Apart from that most of their employees are located in the urban area such as Dar es Salaam. So, that raises the question how will FDI transform Tanzania economy while majority of the population located in the rural area?

The core center of Tanzania economy is agriculture which composite about 40% of Tanzania GDP, however there is less foreign investor who are eager to invest on that sector, and that bothered me so much. I asked my self over and over if FDI is so important then why not agriculture sector?

The FDI orthodox will always take you through the income statements of different companies which accepted FDI, and show you how profit improved. However, they will not discus about how human capital has improved. FDI is not supposed to be a new way of imperialism, or a new slave trade era. The notion that desperate Tanzania citizen are better off earning a dollar a day than no dollar at all, will not transform us to a better economy.
In conclusion, we need to stop thinking that foreigner will transform our economy to a more advance one. There is a need of renewing our patriotism toward our country, we were better off in 1970s than today. I don’t mean through looking at skyscrapers or more choices in the menu. But I mean through education standard, healthcare and economic growth.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Challenge of Leadership

It has been a while since I posted here but I am happy that others have kept this thing going.

One of the things I have spent time during the past few weeks contemplating about, and discussing with friends and colleagues, is the whole leadership thing. It seems to me that, in situations such as ours, the kind of leadership we have, or at least we build, will make or break for us. I have spent a few weeks researching and thinking about this matter, particularly the challenges for the next generation of leaders in Tanzania. So, I will do a couple of posts on this matter. But for today, I am posting what the Washington Post posted few days ago as The 10 Best Leadership Books of All Time. Enjoy:


The task here at the Leadership Playlist -- to share must-reads from the world of leadership -- just got easier, thanks to The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, out this month from Portfolio. The authors, Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten, who run the business book publisher and website 800 CEO Read, list and review the 10 best leadership books.

And how did they choose them? "We had three litmus tests," Sattersten told me in a phone interview. "Was the book accessible and well written? Are its lessons applicable today? And, third, would we apply the insights in our own business?"

Of the 10 leadership books that made the cut, four were authored by On Leadership panelists. Authors Covert and Sattersten gave me a quick, Twitter-style run down on each.

1. On Becoming a Leader, by Warren Bennis. "His message is, you can't be a leader until you know who you are. It's that simple," said Sattersten. "Once you know, you have amazing ability to lead successfully."

2. The Leadership Moment, by Michael Useem. "It's a book you read for the stories, not because you're looking for a solution," Covert told me. "I think the stories sit in the back of your mind, and when you reach a crisis situation -- which so many people are right now -- you can call on them." (And yes, I am related the author, he's my dad.)

3. The Leadership Challenge, by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. "It's the first book your read on leadership because it offers such a compelling model for thinking about leadership," said Sattersten. "You can use it as a basis for looking at everything else you encounter."

4. Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will, by Noel Tichy and Stratford Sherman. The book, about Jack Welch's leadership at GE, is the story of "the great corporate turn-around story of the 20th century," said Sattersten. And not because GE was faltering when Welch took charge -- on the contrary, said Sattersten, GE at the time was running "an acceptably profitable business," and yet still Welch was able to implement major changes. "It's like Tiger Woods changing up his golf swing at the top of his game," added Covert.

The other books on their list are:
Leadership is an Art, by Max De Pree
The Radical Leap, by Steve Farber
Leading Change, by John Kotter
Questions of Character, by Joe Badaracco
The Story Factor, by Annette Simmons, and
Never Give In! Speeches by Winston Churchill.

Covert and Sattersten also said they'd add recently published Tribes by Seth Godin to this list if they could update it.

With many saying Wall Street has witnessed a massive failure of leadership, I asked Sattersten and Covert if they'd like today's leaders to read these books. Answered Sattersten: "Yes, I'd like them to read the books. But what I'd love more is for someone to actually lead us."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ready for Change?

A post by John Mashaka


It is no longer a question of when, but question of how deep the current global economic meltdown will entrench itself. The meltdown is rooting itself deeper on the global economies, and the impact is unequivocally spreading amongst the economically elite, while hitting harder amongst the economically disadvantaged.

Not an American or the Western mantra anymore, it is global. Central Banks across all continents have pumped enormous amounts of money to stimulate their economies in vain; there is a slow growth across the board, and there is little a common man can do to avert or reverse the trend, except being able to adjust to this inevitable and unwanted change. Economic CHANGE, that is.

Multinationals are laying-off massively, across all sectors. Announcement of retrenchments have become a routine, as companies are no longer able to maintain expensive payrolls, which have in turn affected consumer spending (consumption) and battered economies around the globe. Basically, people are holding tight their savings to counter any eventualities, if at all they have anything to hold on to

Healthcare sector which is normally resilient to most recessions has finally been infected by this economic virus. Merck, a global pharmaceuticals giant for example, is laying-off 15% of her workforce in order to adapt to the economic CHANGE -consumer reduction of non- essential spending must bear the blame- and this could just be the beginning of a long trend in the sector, caused by the shaken labor market which is tightening even more

Around the month of October, 2008 a client and a friend, who ran a two generation family business he inherited 25 years ago from his father, had to shut the company doors, and letting go of his 56 loyal employees. 35million dollars, of the company that was invested through a hedge fund firm melted away.

The man could not live to reconcile with a reality of orchestrating the demise of once, a healthy and prosperous company. He shouldered the responsibilities and regarded himself as a traitor to his predecessors who handed him a growing company, and to his children who were the future heirs to the multimillion dollar company. He decided to take his own life this past weekend, becoming one of the casualties of the current economic crisis

Recently, a Tanzanian living in West Virginia, wrote me a very convincing letter, in which he claimed to have known me and my family back in Tanzania, and was requesting a small help of $300 he needed –his two month portion- to pitch into the monthly pool of $750 shared amongst five roommates. I made an effort and visited him; and his story could not be more painful.

His family in Tanzania including his mother who is ailing from diabetes, kissed goodbye the monthly allowance of $500 he has been sending for the past 4 years, 3 months ago. The Youngman is now worried not only for his mother who may die at any time, but also for his own future.

With his four other roommates hailing from West African nation of Gambia, they are bonded and supporting each other under the umbrella of African brotherhood, in the middle of racially sensitive town of Kay moor. These five African immigrants share something in common; they are all jobless, and none has a prospect of securing a job any time soon, despite the fact that, they are able, and ready to do any kind of work.

They were laid-off 5 months ago, from a coal plant where they met and worked. They have now depleted their savings, and neither one is in position to send money back to Tanzania or Gambia. All they are doing at this point is finding how to survive, and adapting to the new CHANGE of economic hardship.

Similar stories are everywhere. In Mumbai India, once lucrative American service centers that employed hundreds of thousands are closing. In New-York, and elsewhere within the US, joblessness, and homelessness among undocumented immigrants and Americans is Intimidating; some of the once highly paid professionals in different sectors are also in the jobless pack. In Japan, the so called economic elites are struggling to pay their bills, in South Africa, the poor are sinking deeper into economic quandary, even in Dar es Salaam, I believe millions are experiencing the pain, and things are not getting any better.

There is no need to panic; things are going to turn around in not too distant future, but in the meantime, we need to make adjustments necessary to cope with this inevitable and unprecedented economic CHANGE. Tanzanians in Diaspora remits millions of dollars a year back home to support their families, and at this time when some of their Western employers are worried about themselves too, cloud of uncertainty hangs over their employment future. As such, need to prepare psychologically for the inevitable is a matter of urgency.

Negative effects of either reduction or a complete halt to the remittance, may have some undesirable consequences to the people of Tanzania and the economy as a whole. In reality, I tend to see a dwindling and perhaps economic hardship of different proportion both to our fellow citizens abroad and those at home. Lifestyles across all social divides are going to be affected, because we all depend on each other for one reason or another.

I am therefore, counseling my people to adjust to the impending economic CHANGE by re-aligning their spending habits. Unnecessary spending must be avoided. Extreme extravagancy and flashy lifestyles must be controlled or put be put on hold for the time being. Nonetheless, we must not stop from going about our daily business while holding tight whatever little we may have. This should be the time for our national motto of brotherhood to shine by holding each other wherever we are, especially the economically vulnerable.

Although the current hardships bear hallmarks of a 1930 great depression, it will be farfetched to describe the current economic debacle as a depression, because there are some elements missing to call it a full blown depression. However, should the matter continue in the same pace, we will soon enter into a depression, whose effects will be tragic and devastating.

The 1930’s, great depression shook both rich and poor, it wiped savings, trimmed earning power of millions, and shut down well established businesses. Government agencies across the world suffered acute revenue shortages. The depression brought about horror and hopelessness amongst millions of pensioners in different nations, while thousands committed suicide because they could not bear the brunt, and never prepared themselves psychologically to deal with the harsh economic CHANGE.

Naturally, change is received with mixed feelings; in normal circumstances, some will resist it, while some will embrace it, depending on whose interest is at stake. But in extreme “situations” such as now, everybody willingly or unwillingly, MUST accept it. No one can resist it.

While I remain optimistic on the economic recovery, I am at the same time, cautioning those who believe that Tanzania is immune to these challenges to think twice; it is a matter of time before every single person directly or indirectly, feels the pain of the economic dilemma we are in. We must also be mindful of the fact that, whatever affects one directly, for some reasons, affects all of us indirectly, especially economically.

Even though I categorically acknowledge, and respect the existence of legitimate, ideological and philosophical differences, I am rather, urging prudence and rational reasoning from all us while debating this issue based on its substance and national importance, as opposed to personal differences that may exist.

Are we ready to face the coming economic CHANGE, and how?

Mungu Ibariki Tanzania

By John Mashaka

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Winners and Losers

A post by our own Salama Cooper.....


So, the week ended with some competitions and games were played. Some rough and dirty, some smooth and clean, some just ugly!, yes, there's really ugly games out there which plays with human lives. Happens in Zimbabwe.

But first, I would like to congratulate the Liverpool fans (for those who like soccer) and Pittsburgh Steelers fans (those who're into American Football). Pole sana Chelsea and the Cardinals. And that's all I know, please don't ask me more.

I couldn't believe it when I read that, Morgan Tsvangirai is giving in and is joining a coalition gov. as a prime minister with President Robert moron. When is this giving in going to stop?, Is it really the true spirit of wanting to save our people or is it just a wish for the prominent position? According to him (M.Tsvang) he said that it's for cognizant of the poverty and the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. Yea! but, there's completely no way, none, whatsoever, to remove that antediluvian? Democracy has failed but there's some other ways right? The freaking thing is 84 yrs old for heaven sake!, he also once declared that Zimbabwe was his?? (oh! puh leez, give me a f..king break) what in theWorld does he still want? he probably want to be like Benjamin Button. But, geez!, dude, that's a disease, it's not like it's fun!. He definetely need to disappear somewhere out of this planet and rest his old ass. Or may be he wants to die in the middle of the cabinet meeting to be known as a hero. However, that will just give people extra work of putting together his old skeletons instead of making important decisions for the country and the downtrodden.

The Cholera epidemic is spreading from cities to rural areas, more than 60,000 people have gotten the disease and more that 3,100 have died. The country's economic crisis has worsened so sharply that the number of people needing food aid will raise by next two months from 5million to 7million of the country's 12 million people. Unbelivable!

Some political analysts doubt that a coalition between unlikely partners can last. According to NY Times, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, Sydney Masamvu said that, "It's a question of when, not if, this thing will collapse" It also reported that, some African leaders think this behavior of allowing leaders to keep power through negotiated deals after fraud-ridden elections set a terrible precedent.

It was Dec 2007, when Kenya slid into chaos. As poll results favored the challenger Raila Odinga, an official from the pro democracy group that administered the poll, later explained in the media that, he believed that the results would promptly be made public as a check against election fraud by either side. But then his superiors said the poll numbers would be kept secret, apparently, his institution succembed to political pressure from the western super powers. Little we knew that poor Raila Odinga was viewed differently as not one of them. He was educated in East Germany and named his son after Fidel Castro. Now, if it wasn't for pressure from those who decides what kind of lifestyle Africa should lead, and if polls were released in Kenya, a huge difference would've made and even lives would've saved.

This power sharing aren't the way to go. Does this mean that everytime the ruling party senses the loss in election, it should manipulate the outcome so that they can stay on power?

This makes me asking myself, when I we going to stop bending over?