Tag Archives: tanzania

Tanzania’s OGP Action Plan: what’s in the works?

Tanzania’s Open Government Partnership Action Plan is finally ready. You can download your own copy from the OGP website. Happily, you can also compare it to the draft plan which was prepared last year. Go here, and you’ll find it under the ‘introduction’ tab.

The draft had a few highlights. Access to information legislation was an obvious one, as was a pretty tight commitment on public officials’ asset disclosure.

Both the draft and final plan are succint – the commitments cover just two pages more or less. So let’s compare the stand out ones.

On access to information, the draft made this commitment

Study global best practice of freedom of information laws that enable citizens to readily access public information held by government, in the interest of preparing a potential freedom of information Bill by July 2012.

Daraja at the time described it as “so non-committal that it hardly deserves to be called a “commitment”.” It’s hard to argue with that.

So what does the final Action Plan say?

Study global best practice of freedom of information laws in order to generate inputs for preparation of a potential freedom of information Bill

I’ll let you be the judge as to whether that is a strengthened or a weakened commitment.

On the disclosure of public officials’ assets, the draft was robust:

Prepare legislative amendments and regulations to strengthen asset disclosures of public officials and make them accessible online by December 2012.

And the final Action Plan says?

Prepare legislative amendments and regulations to strengthen asset disclosures of public officials.

Not so much.

The draft was also surprisingly strong on land, committing to make available online details of all formally allocated plots, complete with ownership details and GIS coordinates. Perhaps not surprisingly, it has been pulled. I’d like to think it has been spiked for being over ambitious and costly.

The plan retains one anomaly – it still gives as a future commitment  the production of an “annual citizens’ budget document”. This is good news of course, and something that had been completed for this financial year last December. You can get your copy here.

Commitments in the social sectors are strong – indeed, these are what President Kikwete highlighted in his speech to the OGP Annual Meeting yesterday. Watch his speech here, from the 39 minute mark.

There’s plenty of useful stuff – publication of all sorts of data in machine readable format (and just on paper too, thankfully), but why limit it to health, water and education sectors? If tax exemptions in those sectors can be published quarterly, and tax exemptions to public officials are already published, then why not release all tax exemptions?

And will the various commitments to budget and expenditure disclosure, intra-government transfers and local level receipts and expenditure data combine to make a new way of doing business? I don’t know – but hopefully somebody reading this has the public finance management chops necessary to tell us.

And once again the lack of any commitments on extractive industries is a pity. All it needed was a paragraph recognising existing commitments under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. But it’s not there. With a gas, and possibly oil, bonanza around the corner, this is a big gap.

But open government is not  built on plans alone. Initiatives that address essential sectors, are driven by people pushing their government and pushing themselves may open doors too. What might that look like round where you are?

“Good Governance Pays” – Part le Pili

Crony 2012, posters by Will St. Leger, photographed by Darragh Doyle, 25 March 2012, Temple Bar, Dublin.

Those were the words of then Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern (pictured above….) in January 2008, addressed to Irish people living in Dar es Salaam. We applauded, enjoyed the booze and canapés and went home. Five months later, so did Bertie, resigning as his own party remained unable to protect him from the mounting evidence of his corruption and that of the wider political system.

I blogged his Dar speech at the time. It was too good to resist. Our venal leader at the plinth, praising his host President Kikwete for acting “decisively, openly and publicly” on the USD 130 million Bank of Tanzania fraud, was quite a sight.

And his venality was something we had all known about. Some months prior to his speech in Dar es Salaam, Bertie had completed his testimony to the Mahon Tribunal – an official inquiry into corruption in land planning and political financing from the late ’80s to late ’90s. His increasingly garbled accounts of his personal finances, the huge amounts of cash sitting in his office and being a Minister for Finance without a personal bank account left us in no doubt.

The Mahon Tribunal released its final 3,270 page report this week. It is amusing in the way in which it feels it has to lay out the first principals of accountability, transparency and combating corruption – in much the same way as your average ‘good governance’ consultant here might do preparing a report for either donors or the Tanzanian government.

But it doesn’t pull its punches in its pathology of Irish politics and public administration. “Corruption in Irish political life”, it tells us was “both endemic and systemic”. From Ministers down to local councillors, a “culture of impunity and invincibility” allowed this to happen.

Yet coming on top of the plea bargain between Britain’s Serious Fraud Office and British Aerospace over corrupt payments to secure business in Tanzania, donor country credibility on these issues has taken another hit. The average Good Governance Programme Officer’s job just got a little harder.

Bertie was a hugely popular politician working a system of patronage, strong arm political fundraising and, yes, cronyism. We all knew about it and we allowed it to continue.

But the upshot of that is a banjaxed (read: broken) economy and a disaffected populace. That is maybe the lesson that Tanzania can draw from the sorry affair. But the consequences of such disaffection here are more direct, for as we have seen, “there’s always a reason to riot in TZ”.

Very few readers in Ireland, so, if interested, a good place to start with coverage of the Mahon Tribunal is here, where you can find a link to the full report (63MB) and this useful introduction.

The posters pictured above are by Dublin “Mindful Vandal”, Will St. Leger, found through Darragh Doyle.

Raia Mwema on OGP: missed opportunity

Raia Mwema: usually one of Tanzania's more progressive and thoughtful newspapers

The long standing demand of good governance activists and those standing up to the secrecy surrounding public leaders’ wealth may be about to be addressed.

Raia Mwema has got its hands on a document proposing changes to the Public Leadership Code of Ethics Act including proposals to make wealth declarations public.

That, in translation, is Tanzania weekly Raia Mwema‘s opening paras on today’s front page splash, pictured above (online version is a week behind). They go on:

This document discusses the implementation of the Tanzania Open Government Partnership, to commence this year, similar to decisions made by the President of the United States, Barack Obama as well as by Brazil.

Raia Mwema is of course discussing Tanzania’s draft Open Government Partnership (OGP) plan. You can see it here,  on the central OGP website, or here on the Tanzanian government site  Any suggestion that they have some exclusive access is empty posturing. It has been out there for two and a half months. Pretence at exclusive access when discussing a download is common in the Tanzanian press.

So after all this time, what new insights has Raia Mwema to give us on the issue of leaders’ wealth declarations?

Our government sources say that some leaders opposed this proposal as they say it will cause trouble between the people and their leaders, while others who support the proposal say that those who got their wealth legitimately have nothing to fear.

With sources like that, Woodward and Bernstein can rest easy.

So what did Raia Mwema miss on the wealth declaration issue? Off the top of my head: any inquiry into the likelihood of it actually being implemented; any consideration of why Civil Society Organisations have been so quiet on these proposals; any thought given to support to these proposals from a couple of prominent politicians; any questioning of the appropriateness of proposed support from the Canadian government to the Ethics Secretariat.

It might have made for a good story – and it may have improved the quality of public dialogue on OGP, politicians and civil servants’ conflicts of interest and how we can move forward.

Discussion of Tanzania’s OGP commitments here have been uniformly pessimistic, but have sought to engage with the issues. By failing to do so, Raia Mwema has been truly cynical. And that makes me more pessimistic about OGP success in Tanzania.

Tanzania’s Draft OGP Plan: what’s new?

As promised at the December 7 Open Government Partnership meeting in Brasilia, Tanzania has made its draft plan available for comment. The actual commitments are to be found in the final three pages. The preceding six pages are a mind numbing litany of just about every ‘good governance’ initiative attempted in the past. Skip them.

The Open Government Partnership was designed to be a race to the top, rather than a stick for member countries to beat each other with. In that spirit, Obama used the opportunity of the OGP launch to announce the USA’s commitment to EITI. Similarly, Brazil cites OGP involvement as being a key driver in pushing through a Freedom of Information Act. Based on very recent history and look at the draft plan, it is difficult to see any headline grabbing OGP inspired initiatives emerging in Tanzania.

So where do we stand? In total 22 OPG commitments are in the draft plan. Some are rehashed existing commitments. Some are aspirational  (wouldn’t it be nice if…?). A couple are notable and potentially serious. Commitments around income declaration for leaders and freedom of information are potentially game changing. While others are notable by their absence.

Existing commitments? There’s at least a couple. The promised Citizen’s Budget – presenting the annual budget in layman’s terms – is promised for July 2012: that would be for the 2012-13 budget. That’s great, though I understand that the Ministry of Finance had already promised to produce one for the 2011/12 budget – and it hasn’t happened yet. So, in effect, we’re already late with a commitment that is still only a proposal, if you know what I mean.

Another commitment is to ” [r]eview existing [local government] Service Boards and Committees and take appropriate measures to strengthen them in order to function properly by July 2013.”, which sounds like ongoing management and support to me. There are a  number of such commitments to help local government do what it is meant to do. It’s not clear how the OPG special sauce will help.

As for the aspirational stuff, wouldn’t it be nice if…. we had a website that explained how public services work? It could even be called Nifanyeje? Kind of like Ireland’s  more prosaically titled Citizens’ Information. A great idea, but what’s the opportunity cost?

As for the serious proposals, there’s a couple of them: a Freedom of Information Bill to be drafted by July 2012; and public officials’ income and asset declarations to be made available online.

The Freedom of Information Bill is the big one. It’s not a new issue in Tanzania – there’s been an unsatisfactory bill floating around since 2006. The ‘commitment’ in the draft OGP plan – to look at good practice globally “in the interest of preparing a potential freedom of information Bill by July 2012″ – isn’t exactly a commitment per se. You think you’re in with a chance, but deep down you know that you’ll be getting a taxi home on your own again.

More concrete is the commitment to prepare legislative and regulatory amendments that would allow public officials income and asset declarations to be published online by December 2012. But this is not the first commitment to review the Public Leadership Code of Ethics Act. Nearly four years ago, in January 2008, President Kikwete made a high profile commitment to review the act in order to allow for the clear separation of politicians’ political and business interests. Concrete proposals were made and I understand, presented to Cabinet in May of last year. Nothing has been heard since.

And what has been left out? The obvious lacuna is any reference to EITI. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative requires oil/gas and mining companies to disclose payments to governments – and requires governments to disclose receipts. Tanzania signed up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in February 2009 and has yet to meet the basic compliance requirements. The latest deadline for compliance (after at least two were missed) is February 2013. Full details here, including the small matter of over $36 million in receipts being unaccounted for.

Best advice to open government advocates in Tanzania? Focus on one big thing and don’t be distracted by the 21 other issues. The Freedom of Information Bill is the obvious one. Insist on living up to commitments, from the small ones (a citizen’s budget) to the big ones (EITI). Don’t be surprised if there’s no great popular uptake on this in the short term. People aren’t rioting for access to information. And be prepared for it all to be sucked up into the upcoming constitutional review.

Details on how to submit commentary on the draft plan can be found here.

Other commentary from Daraja and Vijana FM can be found here and here.

Open Government Partnership in Tanzania – what went wrong?

It’s been a busy week in Dar es Salaam in the transparency game. Tuesday saw the launch of the Tanzanian government’s Open Government Partnership process. OGP is a multi-lateral US and Brazilian-led initiative. Yesterday and today saw the launch of the Make Budgets Public campaign, a big NGO led initiative to make budgets in particular more open.

The OGP initiative seeks to make government information more available, broaden civic participation, and ensure the highest standards in government administration all driven by the latest tech – social or otherwise. On each count, the OGP Tanzania launch has been a bit of a mess to be frank.

The launch involved government’s presentation of its draft action plan as well as the start of a consultation process. The plan was mostly a rehash of existing ideas. As Ben Taylor described it on the Daraja blog, it “was notable mainly for its lack of ambition”. No commitment to a Freedom of Information Act (though an imperfect bill has been gathering dust for over five years), despite the OGP itself telling us that:

an access to information law that guarantees the public’s right to information and access to government data is essential to the spirit and practice of open government.

Otherwise, the plan was mostly filled out with rusting ‘transparency’ ideas like village noticeboards, ministerial complaints desks and client service charters. The full plan – in Swahili – can be found here and sometimes here.

So what about the consultation process? The consensus is that it has been a mess. Submissions can be made in different ways. There’s SMS (on a number, 0658 999 222, that only sometimes works). There’s a resurrected and re-purposed website  – that hasn’t had a re-design of its works to take account of the new purpose – though the OGP logo has been pasted into the banner. These aren’t being wildly publicised, unless I’ve missed something.

And there’s the mysterious opengov.go.tz site, apparently designed to receive submissions, but with a range of links that don’t work and whose headings are unclear. Note to whoever is responsible – take it down. [update 19/4/2012: to be fair, it has now been improved and is to be seen here]

And there’s always the post. Send your entries to PO Box 9120, Dar es Salaam.

And bear in mind that the draft plan is to be submitted for discussion in just over two weeks.

That’s the easy bit out the way. Now it gets difficult.

There’s some goodwill out there. The Daraja blog is keen on encouraging supportive participation. The guys at vijanafm are also bullish, also calling for whole hearted participation and looking to source ideas. The most useful suggestions have been made on Mbwana Ally’s Afrinnovator blog – the informed views of an open data enthusiastist with an understanding of our realities in Tanzania. Must read.

The Twaweza project has been more engaged than most, briefing the President, Cabinet and Permanent Secretaries. You can download the presentation to Cabinet – it’s full of good implementable ideas.

So where has it all gone wrong? We can look at commitment to the process and ask how effective that is. And we can consider how appropriate the process is more broadly.

President Kikwete has made a public commitment to OGP – attending the launch, signing up Tanzania and delegating leadership of the process to the  Minister of State for Good Governance, President’s Office (yes, we have a junior minister for “good governance”…) not to mention calling for those briefings with Twaweza.

The measure of this commitment is the mess described above. There’s no reason to doubt the President’s personal commitment. But clearly that isn’t translating into anything substantial. Rakesh Rajani of Twaweza gives a graphic take on the management challenges being faced:

Everything is pretty fast paced compared to normal govt pace, and lots of other things are going on at same time involving the same people. So in the process a combination of old habits, circumstances, lack of clarity about good standards, errors, etc have made consultation process be far from ideal.

So is an indolent civil service the explanation? A more likely explanation is that government (Executive, Civil Service and ruling party) is distracted by an increasingly fissiparous struggle for power within the ruling party and allegations of systematic corruption and cover up that have now reached Ikulu itself, with Parliament calling yesterday for the resignation of the Chief Secretary amongst others in the light of a Select Committee inquiry into payments to politicians.

Under the circumstances – specific issues which have shaped our politics for at least four years now – it is hardly a surprise that the personal commitment has not been matched by a focused allocation of resources and smarts into making government more open. There’s other stuff going on.

So is it just immediate circumstances? What if we had waited a couple of months to let events blow over?

Again, I would suggest not. “Open Government” in the USA or the UK has very different implications to having open government in Tanzania or Jordan. OGP itself accepts the classification of those four countries as full democracies, a hybrid regime (that’s us) and an authoritarian regime. That’s quite a range. Opening government has very different implications in countries where the political settlement has been agreed compared to those where it has not. In the UK, that may be an iphone app that let’s you report potholes. In Tanzania it may be angry youth trashing a bus station. I’d say those in power in Tanzania know that. A cookie cutter framework like OGP just won’t work.

And suspicion of Northern led initiatives shouldn’t be discounted. The Obama honeymoon is long over – and there never was a Cameron honeymoon. Brazil’s Rousseff is there, but she has neither the name recognition nor the worldwide sympathy that Lula had.

So what can open government advocates do in Tanzania under the circumstances?

An effective and impressive action plan can’t be drafted by December 7. So non state advocates involved in OGP could call for a rescheduling – while still meeting next year’s deadline for the final plan.

Non state advocates of OGP need to intensively publicise the initiative – government won’t do so – through media, religious networks, CSO networks, whatever works.

And if that is to work, non state advocates of OGP need to see if there are any potential allies amongst the many individuals and organisations already working on opening government.

Which brings us back to the Make Budgets Public launch this week. Their decision yesterday to have an arms length relationship with the OGP initiative doesnt’ bode well for that last suggestion. If an effective coalition can’t be developed around OGP in Tanzania, it’s going nowhere.

….42….

In the Douglas Adams comic novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a computer called Deep Thought is tasked with identifying “The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything“. Frustratingly, the ultimate answer – 42 – is incomprehensible without knowing the ultimate question.

The importance of knowing what to ask sprang to mind after reading the newspapers a couple of weeks ago.  “Tanzanians most secure people in EA” spluttered the East African headline. It went on:

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation released a study that showed that Tanzania scored highly in both national and citizen’s personal security, an indication that the state is committing enough resources towards the safety of its people

And they had the numbers to prove it:

On people’s safety, Tanzania ranked high, scoring a fairly average mark of 49 with Kenya coming last with 31; Uganda had 46, Rwanda 40 and Burundi, 34.

No 42s, but not far off. So where do the numbers come from? In this case, the scores for Personal Safety are a mash up of existing and specially commissioned data for five sub-indicators. The score for Domestic Poitical Persecution is drawn from two US based projects, the CIRI Human Rights Data Project and the Political Terror Scale.  That for Human Trafficking comes from the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report. Scores for Social Unrest, Safety of the Person and Violent Crime come from research commissioned by the Ibrahim Foundation from the Economist Intelligence Unit.

What could possibly go wrong? Three things, mostly. Categorisation, actionability and control.

Firstly, there’s a confusion of categories. Average people’s likelihood of being a victim of crime – a break in, a mugging, a snatch – is in quite a different category from the likelihood of being persecuted politically – disappeared, tortured or killed extra judicially by the state. Both are of great importance and both, in different ways, tell us much of people, states and power. They may even involve the same agencies; but they are very different things that must be addressed discretely in terms of legislation, administration, community involvement and oversight. They don’t belong together.

Secondly, the data is obscure and doesn’t help identify how you might improve things. If Tanzania is to shift from 49 to 55, what should it concentrate on? Illegal migration routes transiting Tanzania taken by Ethiopians and Somalis mostly; internal trafficking of house maids; or community policing? Would any of the data gathered help in making those choices? I doubt it. Categories are important.

Thirdly, not everything measured is amenable to a solution in Tanzania. An upsurge in illegal Ethiopian and Somali migrants may lower Tanzania’s score but not be in Tanzania’s control.

Jason Lakin of the International Budget Partnership makes similar criticisms of how the Ibrahim Index measures accountability, also in The East African. Indeed his analyis was what sprung to mind when belatedly coming across the East African’s reporting of Ibrahim’s public safety scores.

Expect more such posts. The World Bank’s Doing Business 2012 came out ten days ago (yes, that’s 2012) and there’s plenty to talk about there. Let’s hope they knew what the question was.

From Queensway to Mtwara: what does Terminal 3 tell us about Tanzania?

Entering and leaving the airport in Dar es Salaam, it’s hard to miss the massive fence around a piece of ground that the Tanzanian government hopes will become Terminal III. On the fence in bold letters one can read “Investor: China International Fund, Ltd.” But peek behind the fence, as I did earlier this month, and you will see … nothing:  an empty piece of land without a hint of construction or machinery. Another example of the “talks big but doesn’t deliver” style that frequently characterizes the deals signed by this sleazy Hong Kong company.

Deborah Brautigam’s suspicions are confirmed today in Dar’s Guardian on Sunday, [site down today: link  when available] which reports a breakdown in talks between China International Fund (CIF) and the Ministry of Transport, and that European firm (Dutch?) Interbeton BV is now favoured. The mooted deal with CIF – Terminal 3, in return for mining rights for an unspecified mineral – was crude, if not unprecedented in other parts of the continent.

CIF as well, as its related companies (“the 88 Queensway Group”, named for an address they share in Hong Kong’s CBD), is the bogey man of Chinese efforts to source African natural resources. Based in Hong Kong they made their name, for better or worse, by cornering Angola’s oil exports to China. Further deals in Zimbabwe and Guinea, with coup leader Moussa Camara, cemented a reputation for dodgy dealing – questionable contract terms, conflicts of interest and unfulfilled commitments. See The Economist for a punchy summary or for more detail check this U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission report.

So if the Terminal 3 contract is not to be granted to CIF, is there any call for concern?

Probably yes. 88 Queensway firms has been sniffing around Tanzania since at least 2007. That was the year that Sonangol International was granted an option on oil exploration blocks in Rukwa Region – an  option that the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation said they never took up. Why they were offered them in the first place is not clear, though it is speculated that it was in return for a promised investment in state owned Air Tanzania Ltd. Like Terminal 3, that lead to nothing despite years of negotiation.

These are issues that go back some years. But one must question why CIF and related firms are still considered as potential business partners in Tanzania? This is of particular interest given the likely auction next year of deep sea oil and gas exploration blocks in Tanzanian waters on the back of considerable reserves being found by Ophir-BG and excited exploration from Petrobras and Statoil.

And there are few angels in the oil game. The potential for questionable contract terms, conflicts of interest and unfulfilled commitments. is not confined to Hong Kong based outfits. Italy’s ENI was implicated in bribing Ugandan ministers in the most recent wikileaks cables dump while Anglo-Irish outfit Tullow has been similarly accused in the Ugandan parliament more recently while the terms of its agreements with the Ugandan government remain sub rosa. ENI incidentally, last week announced the largest gas discovery to date in East African waters, in Mozambique. One can be forgiven for speculating as to how they got the licence.

Tanzania has committed itself at the highest level to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative’s (EITI) “principles, standards and values“. Since that commitment  was originally made in 2009, Tanzania has been unable to meet EITI’s benchmarks for transparency around company payments and government revenues.  The first attempt to do so last year, and published earlier this year, found over 30 million dollars unaccounted for – and that’s US, not Hong Kong.  So there are reasonable concerns as to how revenues may be managed.

The transformative potential of Tanzania’s gas reserves is considerable – it will certainly transform the southern port town of Mtwara, base for many of the deep sea operations. Dealing with that potential will be Tanzania’s biggest challenge so far this century.

As for Terminal 3, we’ll just have to keep waiting. Bitter news for the thousands evicted to make way for it.

The more things change….

The numbers on our life raft kept increasing until there must have been twenty of us, everyone pushing about so it seemed like an anthill. The life raft could hold our weight at the beginning, but by the end it was overwhelmed and started to sink below.

Who would be ready to make way, so that the life raft wouldn’t sink?

Nyaisa Simango’s account of the 1996 sinking of the MV Bukoba on Tanzania’s Lake Victoria is grimly captivating*.  He gives us quite a package: his account of how he came to be on the ferry and its sinking; a compilation of contemporary newspaper accounts; interviews with the bereaved; and finishing with his own reflections on how it had come to pass.

He identifies a lack of ethics at the individual level allowing dangerous overloading:

what overseer could allow loads of banana and other goods to be packed along with children, his hands in his pockets and a cigarette in his mouth?

A lack of planning by central government to cope with passenger demand:

were they really unable to see the year on year rising passenger demand and ensure that an extra boat or a larger replacement was made available?

But he concludes by lamenting the constrained nature of our public life:

It happens very rarely that people will ask questions that touch on the interests of their leaders without encountering some sort of trouble.

Unhappily, fifteen years on and we could probably give a similar analysis of the sinking of MV Spice Islander off Zanzibar nearly four weeks ago on September 9 2011.

It is too soon for a considered response such as Simango’s, but DVDs have already hit the streets. One, Nungwi: Kuzama Kwa MV Spice**, contains footage of the rescue taken by Zanzibar’s famous KMKM: Kikosi Maalum cha Kuzuia Magendo – the Anti Smuggling Task Force.

Picture courtesy of KMKM Zanzibar

Quite what the deal was there, I’m not sure. Otherwise it is mostly raw footage shot by Zanzibar Cable TV on the beach at Nungwi.

Given that Zanzibar Cable TV got the name of the ferry wrong and that the cover shows two ferries – one the MV Spice Islander, the other not – one suspects an attempt to profit at the darker end of the DVD market rather than anything more honourable.

For more on Tanzanian media’s woeful coverage of the disaster see The Wayward Press and Daraja.

*Nyaisa Simango (2009), Sitasahau MV Bukoba, E&D Publishing Ltd, Dar es Salaam. Available at TPH Bookshop on Dar’s Samora Avenue.

** Nungwi: Kuzama Kwa MV Spice, provenance unclear, available from your nearest DVD street dealer, maybe.

Distracted Diplomacy

There’s plenty of reading in this week’s Wikileaks dump. The Dar es Salaam cables can be found here. The investment climate, jaded donors and the charm of President Kikwete all feature. No doubt there’s much more – it will take time to go through it all.

But this, from February 2010, was unexpected:

Ambassador Lenhardt delivered reftel points to Foreign Minister Membe on January 25. Membe agreed distracted driving was an issue and promised to follow up with his colleagues in other relevant ministries.

We subsequently delivered the demarche to Omar Chambo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.

No doubt the two exchanges were as useful as most donor-government dialogue here. And how seriously will Mr. Chambo take representations from envoys in future after this case?

“Stop this half-nakedness in offices”

Cultured States – Andrew Ivaska’s exploration of nation building, gender and style in newly independent Tanzania – promises to be a fascinating read. Sixties Tanzania was a difficult place to be for a young woman, with a series of TANU Youth League ‘decency campaigns’ that stretched into the seventies. Mob imposition of strict dress codes – “ban the mini” – was not unusual in the capital Dar es Salaam or places such as Mwanza (h/t @katebomz na baba yake).

But let’s not consign these things to history. Just last Wednesday, the mini was banned in neighbouring Mozambique. To be precise, the Municipal Assembly of Lichinga, capital of Niassa province in neighbouring Mozambique issued a directive banning the mini skirt (h/t @hofrench).

And just last year Tanzania’s First Lady Salma Kikwete advised schoolgirls to maintain modesty at all times:

Girls! You must appreciate that you are pearls and do not hesitate to protect yourselves. Dress respectfully, do not carelessly display your pearls

She advised girls to keep their heads in their books, get a degree and not have their heads turned by older men with some money. She was speaking with her First Lady NGO hat on, touching on issues of transactional sex, self development and HIV and AIDS. But the message remains the same: put some decent clothes on and keep your head down.