Radio Tanzania Archives

A trip to  Saba Saba – Dar es Salaam’s annual trade fair, held in July – is incomplete without calling in at Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation’s (TBC) pavilion. Their collection of musical and other recordings is a treasure trove of  East Africana. Countless Nyerere speeches and the occasional radio commentary on classic Yanga v Simba encounters can be found. But understandably, most make for the music and its comprehensive collection of dansi music – East Africa’s signature big band sound. Dar es Salaam Jazz Band, Western Jazz Band, Atomic Jazz; Vijana Jazz; and of course DDC Mlimani Park and Ottu Jazz – it’s all there, and it’s all available on CD or casssette by request, for a fee. And it all draws on the hours of music recorded for broadcast since the 1970s that sit in the TBC archives, slowly deteriorating. You can even pick up some stuff by Tancut Almasi Orchestra. Great stuff – though problematic, as we shall see.

The Tanzania Heritage Project is hoping to change that. They are looking to digitise the archive and give this remarkable collection a new lease of life. And if you have a credit card, you can donate to help them do so.

But who owns the music? TBC has been selling cassettes and later CDs since the nineties. When a state broadcaster does so openly and for such a long time, one would expect that either they hold the rights or are paying the rights holders.

Not so, says musician John Kitime*. In a letter to the Minister for Culture, John Nchimbi, he claims that no effort has been made by TBC to ensure that performers get their rightful share of the sales proceeds. And he presents as evidence a tax receipt for a CD of tracks by Almasi Tancut- for which he can be seen playing rhythm guitar above. In translation:

It doesn’t take great wisdom to see that blatant theft has been underaken by a government agency, as there is even a receipt – our own government itself has been engaged in musical piracy. And this scandal went on even after the passing of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights  Act of 1999.

Kitime’s letter goes on to relate a litany of public administration SNAFUs: unimplemented legislation, competing ministries, lost documentation, and a drunk at a gig claiming to be a tax official sent by State House to clear up matters. Most of that will be familiar to anyone dealing with public policy issues.

The above should not discourage the Tanzania Heritage Project – their website indicates good relations with TBC. If anything, it illustrates the depth of knowledge that  they can draw on, as well as giving a sense of the scale of the challenge. Agreeing on rights, defining a business model and ensuring payments will depend on building sound relationships with the musicians’ community and the bureaucrats alike – and they have already started on that.

Music was central to the forging of a Tanzanian national identity and the legitimacy of the state. It would be dishonourable if that same state were to deny those same musicians recognition of their contribution – and the payments that come with that.

*John Kitime is one of Tanzania’s more prominent public figures. He can be seen in the video above  on rhythm guitar and sporting Curtis Mayfield type glasses. He now leads Kilimanjaro Stars – one of Dar’s more popular live bands. He has two blogs. The letter referred to above is from Tanzania Artists’ Rights – a serious minded look at rights and related legal issues. He also has Kijiwe cha Kitime, where he curates a delightful collection of pictures, memories and music.


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.

“There’s always a reason to riot in TZ”

So said a twitterer this week in a brief exchange on Tanzania’s series of riots over the past year. There are plenty of reasons: rising unemployment, increasing inequalities and a dismal education system come to mind.

For the past year, to go with the reasons, we have had plenty of riots. It is worth reminding ourselves of the extent of the trouble.

January saw two rioters killed in trouble surrounding a  banned demonstration in Arusha by opposition party CHADEMA.  Mwanza has seen trouble twice – in July and September, with over 130 arrests in July’s ruckus. Mbeya erupted in November, as did Tabora to a lesser degree, both incidents involving the army. Violent mass incidents have been markedly limited in Dar es Salaam, with the occasional half hearted demonstration at the university, though in the past 18 months  I have three times found myself in the middle of unhappy and seemingly spontaneous mobs in Dar es Salaam.

This all comes on top of the perennial violence at rural mining operations. This peaked in May of this year with over 1,000 involved in clashes with police and Barrick security at Barrick’s North Mara Gold mine that left five dead. Trouble is a daily occurence there. Tanzanian mining investors are not immune either, with one ruby miner’s trucks impounded by angry villagers in Dodoma Region the other day.

Proximate causes vary: party political activism; street trading disagreements; religion; student grants; natural resource rents; and, in Tabora, a soldier’s refusal to pay for a pair of trousers down the market.

This won’t have escaped the attention of political and security forces leadership. No doubt the CCM District level Political Committees have fascinating dossiers on the causes, patterns and implications of the unrest.

Certainly , security  forces and local governments will need to better understand these things – in order to predict, deal with them and maybe prevent them. Political parties already understand these dynamics, and the power that large groups of young men can have in both town and village. Chadema’s youth support can shut down public transport in Arusha, while their Red Guard militia face off against the Green Guard of CCM at every by election. There are few things as intimidating as a truckload of young men kicking up dust and insisting on a good reception as they roll through the village.

Parties may be happy to use young men purposively, but a with demographic bulge not matched by opportunity, that may backfire. It is unclear if  the parties have considered this.  Whether the state has the capacity to deal with the uncertainty is another matter. But the sooner we start seeing things through the lens of the demographic bulge, the better.

If nothing else, expect more riots.

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 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.


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.