Tanzania News Online (7) - 10/9/97

Tanzania News Online (7) - 10/9/97


Edition #7 9 October 1997

Subscribe to Tanzania News Online

A fortnightly update of news from Tanzania


In this edition:














Following drought and a bad maize harvest, an estimated 1.5 million people could be threatened by starvation in Tanzania. In order to try to prevent this catastrophe, the Tanzanian government is pulling out all stops.

With this disaster looming, President Benjamin Mkapa met the heads of diplomatic missions in Tanzania in mid September to brief them on the food situation. He appealed for food donations from concerned agencies, estimating that 1.5 m Tanzanians would be in serious need of relief aid. This follows a preliminary request made by the government in April when countries which included Germany, Australia, Canada and Belgium donated 11,000 tonnes of grain through the World Food Programme (WFP).

The briefing was made a few days after a nation-wide address highlighting government efforts to stem the growing grain deficit in the country, including a waiver on customs duty and sales tax on maize imports. Mr Mkapa noted that there was a danger of importing rotten grain after customs duty was removed, with another spate of doubtful grain consignments flooding the market. He added that dishonest businessmen were likely to capitalise on the food deficit to import grains unfit for human consumption to make a quick buck.

Apart from the drought, there are those who have described the government policies as discouraging to farmers. Mr Walter Susuma, an exporter, called on the government to review its policies on the production of grains to ensure a long term solution to food problems in the country. He said that farmers find it difficult to invest in food production because of arbitrary orders against export of grains.

"People are not encouraged to invest in grain production because government policies and directives change at whim," stated Mr Walter. He added, "Today you invest in maize so as to sell at the highest price and tomorrow the government comes with a directive not to export maize. So how will such an investor be encouraged to invest in maize?". He stressed that if the government wanted to retain local produce for strategic grain reserves, it should be obliged to purchase it at export prices. Exempting customs duty and sales tax on maize would automatically lead to a fall in the price of grain, affecting production in the coming season.

Most farmers will be discouraged about investing in maize once again, he stated. He said that even the little maize produced is stolen by traders, trafficking in the crop to neigbouring countries, northern Kenya being the most favoured destination. All this is done under alleged police complicity, despite warnings given by high ranking authorities.

Most of the food produced in the Kilimanjaro region ends up in Kenya and Somali markets. Situated in the north east of Tanzania, the Kilimanjaro is a fertile region around Mt.Kilimanjaro, on the common border of Tanzania and Kenya. A recent survey done by a local newspaper revealed that between 15 to 30 trucks, with a tonnage capacity ranging from 3 to 40 tonnes, cross the border daily into Kenya loaded with maize and other cereals despite the government crackdown on illegal cereal traders. The trucks cross the Tanzanian border to Kenya through illegal routes, 'cat routes,' as they are called, scattered all along the border covering an estimated 60 kilometers. Most of the trucks wait in Tanzanian villages during the day and cross the border at night.

In mid September, the public authorities in Kilimanjaro region seized 1,600 bags of maize each weighing 100 kilograms, from traffickers. The prime minister Mr Frederic Sumaye has ordered regional and district authorities to control smuggling at border points, but little efforts have been made at district level, allegedly because police officers cooperate with illegal traders.

The maize smuggled to Kenya and Somalia reaches lucrative markets. In Somalia, the cereals fetch maximum prices and in Kenya the maize is sold as far away as Mombasa and Nairobi. While a bag of maize is sold for between TSh 9,000(US$150) to TSh 11,000 (US$180) in Tanzania, the same bag is sold at nearly twice and three times the price in Kenya and Somalia.

To confront the crisis threatened by the shortage of grain, the government has created a committee to coordinate imports. The committee members have been drawn from the prime minister's office and from the treasury, health and agriculture ministries. According to Mr Njelu Kasasa, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives, the committee was created to deal with the standard, quality, storage and machinery of distribution of imported grain.

On the other side, a group ofbusinessmen have put together a nine-man coordinating committee. This team, however, was not formed to coordinate-ordinatethe importation of grains, but to discuss and put forward suggestions to enable the government to take into account what the importing companies wish to get done. The business committee mentioned problems like the lack of availability of rail transport and a poor machinery of distribution. The government asked them to form their own committee responsible for sounding out suggestions to improve the situation. Mr Kasasa insisted that everything else would be coordinated by the government. He stressed that food offered bydonor agencies was not really ëfree,í as the money gained has to be entered in the ministry's account. It has then to demonstrated to donors that the proceeds had been used indevelopment activities, he pointed out.


Representatives from the business sector have asked government for an extension ofa three months tax waiver, declared by the president on maize imports, to enable the country to fully benefit from the tax break.

They said that the tax exemptions were not likely to have an immediate impact on business stocks as the traders would be busy trying to clear the present stocks still flooding the market. According to traders,the food shortage threat was real but the tax holiday that started in September would simply mean importing and storing the maize up to December when the food shortage impact was likely to be much more strongly felt.

ìWith our poor storage facilities, it becomes uneconomical to keep the maize up to the critical moment of food shortage,î the director of Export Trading Company, Menish Shah, told the press. Export Trading Company is one of the main traders in maize in the country.For many years, commercial maize imports for domestic consumption were unheard of in Tanzania. However, in the face of the persistent problem of food distribution from areas with a surplus to those with a deficit, there has been increasing pressure on the country to import maize to meet the shortfall.

Menish Shah said his company had sent its officials to maize producing regions to assess the crop position before considering importing maize. Fida Hussein & Company, another local company dealing in maize, would like the government to grant a special transport subsidy on importedmaize to keep the price of the commodity at an affordable retail price. ìThe shortage cannot be easily felt for the time being and we think importation of maize at the moment is a bit expensive until later in December,î Mehboob Fazal, the company's managing director said. He added that the tax waiver should also include other staple foods such us pulses, wheat, rice and beans so as to effectively curb the food shortage problem.


Foodstuffs in Tanzania are taxed at 30 per cent import duty and 10 per cent sales tax. However, maize imports were not contributing to the government coffers as the country did not have to import maize on a commercial basis. Whenever there was a maize shortage, mainly due to drought, the imports were only in the form of donations which were exempt from tax.

Now, however, the Grain Reserves (SGR), have slumped to 81,000 tonnes. The normal tonnage ranges between 150,000 and 300,000. The three months tax waiver is aimed at cushioning the shortage of 103 600 tonnes of maize needed for normal food requirements and another 20,000 tonnes of maize to replenish depleted SGR stocks for emergency purposes in 13 regions.

Domestic food production for 1997/98 is estimated at 5,5 million tonnes, or 88 per cent of the country's requirements. The 12 per cent shortfall translates into 960,000 tonnes of maize, 79,000 tonnes of rice, 28 tonnes of wheat and 49,000 tonnes of sorghum.The Bank of Tanzania monthly economic review bulletin for August puts the food requirements for 1997/98 at 7 million tonnes for various crops 4.3 millions grains and 2.7 million of others food crops.

In a live broadcast to the nation in mid September, President Benjamin Mkapa said that in the absence of adequate rains in the immediate future, the country would have to import 910,000 tonnes of foodstuffs to cover the deficit. The current food shortage has been assessed jointly by the government of Tanzania and UN Agencies - the UN food-aid unit and the World Food Programme (WFP). The present food crisis is reminiscent of the 1974 food shortage caused by prolonged droughts.


Indian Prime Minister Dr Inder Kumar Gujral, was in Tanzania in September on a two-day state visit.

As well as discussions with Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and the government authorities, Dr Inder Kumar inaugurated a block at the International and Technical University (IMTU) campus and pledged to extend assistance to the college. Mr Jakaya Kikwete, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, said at the college opening ceremony that it symbolized the new partnership between India and Tanzania. It was an example of south-south cooperation, he stated.

In a key address, the prime minister said that a nation's progress was not only measured by its gross national product, but by the health standards and literacy levels of its population. Dr Gujral met with Tanzanian businessman and industrialists, many of whom are of Indian descent.

Tanzania shared India's experience of cottage industries in the 1970s which it promoted as small-scale industries, under the Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO), which created industrial estates in every region. The Indian Prime minister said south-south cooperation had proved skeptics wrong as it had dramatically changed the world order. He said India was cooperating with countries of the south through the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC), which provides 1,000 training opportunities every year. ìFrom Tanzania alone we have so far provided training to 800 people under the programme,î he said.

As with other East African countries, Tanzania has a very large Indian community. Indians in Tanzania play a key role in the country's economy and dominate the business sphere in Tanzania.


The thriving smuggling trade between the Isles and Mombasa has resulted in business complications for the governments of Zanzibar and Kenya. This was recently revealed by the minister forAgriculture,Livestock and Natural Resources, Brigadier General Adam Mwakanjuki to reporters. He said the smuggled products were fruit, vegetables and fish such as octopus.

The red tape involved in getting licenses, in price control, high taxes and duties on some goods, had forced traders from the Isles into smuggling. Zanzibar loses millions in taxes on commodities, the minister stated. He said, however, he was in touch with the Ministry of Industries and Trade to look into the reduction of certain taxes, burdening farmers and businessman in Zanzibar.


The TSh 900m/- (US$1.43m/-) case in which two major opposition leaders are involvedis preoccupying the Tanzanian political scene.

Accused in the case are Augustine Mrema, the chairman of NCCR, and his advisor Dr Masumbuko Lamwai. NCCR is the main opposition party in Tanzania. In recent developments, Dr Lamwai supported the dismissal of applications submitted by his co-accused,Augustine Mrema, who had asked the court to dismiss the charge.

Dr Lamwai had asked to join in Mr Mrema's applications for a review of the proceedings by the High Court and argued in his written submission that the applications and objections were intended to abuse the judicial process by ëcarting politics into the matterí. Mr Mremea had demanded the case be dismissed since it was already prejudiced by public remarks made by President Benjamin Mkapa who is the appointing authority of the judiciary.


Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, recently inaugurated a new market in Dar es Salaam. Makumbusho Market has been built for so-called petty traders, so that they can sell their wares somewhere other than directly on the streets.

The construction of the Tsh 364.7m/- market was funded by UNDP, the Swedish Development Corporation and the government of Belgium and Tanzania and jointly supervised by the National Income Generating Project(NIGP), and the city commission. Speaking at the opening, NIGP board chairman Richard Mariki said the market would be able to provide space for over 1,000 petty traders to do business.

NIGP studies show that the informal sector provides a livelihood to over 2.4 million Dar es Salaam residents.


NCCR Mageuzi national chairman and leader of the opposition, Augustine Mrema, restated recently his partyís stance against the demolition without compensation of houses along Morogoro Road.

Mrema said at a rally held in Kimara Motel on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam that it was not true that people had built illegally. Mr Mrema described as illogical the governmentís claim that people had built illegally, since donors had offered to fund the expansion of the road. ìWhere was the government when people where putting up the structures? Who gave them the permits,î he asked, insisting that innocent people should not fall victims to the governmentís negligence and.

He challenged president Benjamin Mkapa to emulate the retired President Julius Nyerere, who in 1966 allowed compensation to the people who had built along Kilwa road.


The Zanzibar President, Dr Salim Amour, has banned jeans and ornaments worn by secondary and primary school teachers, saying these were indecent and gave a bad example to children.

Dr Salim made the call recently when he was officiatingat the free education festival in Pemba. He said that the teachers' dressing in the Isles typified a great deal of moral erosion.

The president also expressed disappointment over the recent examination results which contained a majority of second and third class passes and ordered teachers and students to double their efforts to improve this. He urged them to seriously compete and use extra time to promote educational standards in the Isles. The Zanzibar government would extend an invitation to the State House for a tea party for all students who scored first class results in the future.

He also said that the government plans to build a university in the Isles to promote education as the world enters the 21 century.


About 350 Tanzanian underprivileged children have been promised a trip of a lifetime. They will fly to Northern Tanzania where there will see Mt. Kilimanjaro.The passengers of the British Airways ëFlight of my Lifeí were chosen by UNICEF.

After the flight, in the company of Tanzania's first lady, Mrs Anna Mkapa, the youngsters will be guests at a party in the grounds of the Equal Opportunities For All Trust Fund, near Tanzaniaís State House. Before the flight, the children will gather in Dar es Salaam for a ërecreational and educational activity day,í organised by UNICEF, including a flight briefing by British Airways which put the plane at disposal of UNICEF. British Airways sees the ë Flight of my Lifeías a way of giving something back to a country with which it has had a healthy association for many years.

A fund has been set up to assist the organisations looking after the children. The money collected will be allocated by UNICEF for the purchase of badly needed items for children's home and schools, said a representative of British Airways.

(Businesses or individuals who wish to sponsor a child for $30 are welcome to send their donations to the British Airways office in Dar es Salaam.)


From: (Africa_news Network) Date: Thu, 09 Oct 1997 12:12:27 +0200 Subject: TANZANIA NEWS ONLINE #7 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific