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Sunday, November 5, 2017

How bad is President Magufuli's Populism?


How Bad is President Magufuli's Populism?

Dastan  Kweka


Many journalists and analysts have ascribed a populism label to President Magufuli's actions - or inactions, over the last two years. However, few have bothered to define the concept, and often, commentators have written from a negative point of view. But, is populism always bad?

Nic Cheeseman is notable for having written a thought-provoking piece about Magufuli's populism, in which he alluded to his conception of the term. He writes:

“The problem with populism is that leaders rarely follow due process. Instead, they build reputations that are explicitly based on their willingness to break down institutional barriers in order to achieve their goals. Magufuli’s approach exemplifies this tendency.”

The author writes elsewhere in the same piece that, “The main problem with populism is that the early gains secured by leaders like Magufuli are rarely sustained.”
So, according to Cheeseman, failure or unwillingness to follow due process is a character of populist leaders. It is a view shared by Francis Fukuyama, who suggests that there are 3 main factors associated with the term i.e. (a) selection of policies that are popular in the short term but not sustainable in the long run, (b) a discourse that defines people/citizens in a restrictive way, for instance, on the basis of ethnic affiliation, and, (c) a focus on building a cult of personality. Moreover, Fukuyama anchors his analysis on the character or behavior considered to be normal to a 'modern state' (possibly as opposed to 'primordial' state). He (Fukuyama) argues that the modern state is, in treatment of its citizens, expected to uphold rule of law as well as democratic accountability.

Cas Mudde defines populism “as an ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogenous and antagonistic groups” – “the pure people” and the “corrupt elite.” Unlike Cheeseman, whose article gives an impression that populism is totally bad, Mudde points to its positive side, which is the idea that it brings to the limelight issues that matter to the majority, but that may not necessarily please the elite. And that its downside is that, it “is a monist and moralist ideology” that “rejects the legitimacy of political opponents.”
So, how bad is President Magufuli`s populism? The clue may lie in the actions he has taken, and examples that his critics have singled out. This takes me back to Cheeseman's article. He writes that;

“Many of his most celebrated acts, such as dismissing corrupt or ineffective government employees, did not follow due process. Instead, institutional rules for reviewing performance and removing staff were ignored in favour of presidential directives.”

It is important to remember that President Magufuli came to power when actions against the corrupt or irresponsible were rare, and when they happened, an exception. Therefore, “institutional rules for reviewing performance and removing staff” were in place, but their application was lax. For instance, instead of being fired for having committed a gross misconduct, an official would be re-assigned. Restoration of (institutional) discipline was key and a signal that the times have changed, had to come from the very top. 

Unfortunately, this has had to happen across the entire government. In addition, these actions have not culminated into replacement of regular procedures. Isn't a temporary 'outside'  intervention justified? What the sackings do is that they raise the cost of complacency – which is something needed to compel office holders to take action or be shown the door.
How about restrictions on political activity? Restriction, and harassment, does not seem to originate from (outright) rejection of opposition's legitimacy. Instead, it stems from a sense of political vulnerability, embodied in a relatively narrow victory that brought him to power. On this aspect, rules have (continuously) been ignored, since at least Mkapa's era. A question remains whether treatment will be different after 2020, if he will be serving his final term. Moreover, a sense of dissatisfaction, which has been attributed to the austerity policy, may be an equalizer. An upcoming by-election offers an opportunity to check the extent to which complaints over difficult living conditions may have undercut the President's popularity.
Reforms in extractive industries show a clear focus on strengthening the enforcement of existing rules and formulation of new ones. The recent appointment of Professor Luoga – a seasoned tax expert – as the next Governor of the Bank of Tanzania (BOT) also points in the same direction. It remains to be seen whether the involvement of the Presidency will decline, once a settlement has been achieved.

The ability of the current regime to sustain 'popular' policies such as tuition-free education and large investment in infrastructure will depend on the nature of the financing (debt or internal sources) and overall performance of the economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) rates the risk of 'debt distress' for Tanzania as low.

Although elites have been bruised by a crackdown on corruption and inefficiency, the 'masses' have not always had a good day. For instance, while unplanned settlements were demolished in Dar es Salaam, the President urged a 'human face' in Mwanza, because they voted for him. Many will recall controversial government response to the earthquake in Kagera, especially the decision to bar direct support to (poor) victims, and rerouting donations to rehabilitate government institutions. Some analysts have even wondered whether this is, really, a regime that cares about the poor. 
The few examples above show that Magufuli's populism isn't a typical case of pure masses, against the corrupt elite, or a total focus on ignoring rules, and pursuing unsustainable policies. He has worked to address institutional weaknesses, in some sections, while taking advantage of systemic (read constitutional) gaps that allow him to consolidate power. His approach is characterized by many contradictions and, informed by diverse incentives. This understanding may help explain why “criticisms do not seem to have much effect on the citizenry who continue to support and defend” him. Many still believe that he means well for the country. May it be the case.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Initiating Local Content in Agriculture?

Localizing (Local) Content in Agriculture or Locating One's Name in It?

Dastan Kweka



Local content in extractive industries (oil and gas) seems to have become a buzzword less than a decade since Tanzania discovered significant quantities of natural gas. While there is work to do to improve regulation - and consultation - there is, also, a room to explore linkages with other sectors, especially agriculture. Nevertheless, assuming that local content is non-existent in other sectors (read agriculture), just because there is no sector-specific policy, amounts to starting off on the wrong foot.

The Natural Gas Policy (2013) defines local content as; “added value brought to Tanzanians through activities of the natural gas industry.” The policy adds, “These may be measured and undertaken through employment and training of local workforce; investments in developing supplies and services locally; and procuring supplies of services locally.” 

Moreover, the Local Content Policy (2014) defines local content as:

“The added value brought to the country in the activities of the oil and gas industry in the United Republic of Tanzania through the participation and development of local Tanzanians and local businesses through national labour, technology, goods, services, capital and research capability.”

Although both definitions are relatively narrow – confined to oil/natural gas, the (natural gas) policy recognizes the importance of establishing linkages with 'other strategic sectors', such as agriculture – a sector that employs more than 67 percent of the population and accounts for one-third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

Other actors have, notably, recognized the importance of going beyond linkages. For instance, the Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACCT) and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Research Organization (STIPRO) - are already calling for a sector specific local-content policy. In advancing its agenda, the ACT position paper observes that: 

“The development of local content policy in many countries has advanced mainly in the oil and gas sector, and less so in the agricultural sector. However, for Tanzania whose economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, and where the government is making deliberate attempts to attract foreign investment into the sector, it is important to have a local content policy that will ensure that foreign investment results in a broad-based agricultural growth. This is especially considering the fact that close to 80% of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods.”

Indeed, Tanzania is making deliberate attempts to attract Foreign Directive Investments (FDIs) and has continued to perform relatively well. See the map below:


FDIs are, generally, built on the promise of (maximizing) local content benefits i.e. jobs, business opportunities, skills transfer and capacity building etc. Take the example of  the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) on jobs: 

“The SAGCOT Investment Blueprint, states that the GoT [Government of Tanzania] seeks to attract US$2.1 billion of new agribusiness investment over the next 20 years in order to bring at least 350,000 additional hectares into commercial production incorporating Tanzanian smallholders into internationally competitive supply chains. Much of this will be expanded smallholder production. In the process, the SAGCOT Program aims to create at least 420,000 new jobs and lift more than 2 million people out of poverty.”

And in terms of technology transfer, SAGCOT's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Geoffrey Kirenga, notes:

“We observed with satisfaction, for example, that smallholder farmers are very receptive to new technologies. Our efforts to give them appropriate support have enabled potato, soya and dairy farmers to enjoy a significant increase in productivity.”

The promise of (cheap) labour – a basic form of local content - features constantly in SAGCOT presentations on opportunities for investors in the corridor, and the project's blueprint is explicit on opportunities for suppliers. It is, therefore, surprising that SAGCOT's Head of Policy, Neema Lugangira, who describes herself as a local content expert, is bragging about “initiating” local content in agriculture (or within the corridor). Can efforts to ensure there is a “robust local content in place”, as she claims, amount to initiation? 

Corporate investment in agriculture is risky, and, smallholder farmers – often a weaker party in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) configuration, end up with fewer benefits (if any) than anticipated. The famous BioShape case in Kilwa district is a case in point. In light of this situation, we should ask the 'champions' and 'initiators', whose local content are you advocating? Maybe the answer is in SAGCOT's 2016 report, especially a statement from the chairman of its Board, Salum Shamte, as excerpted below:

“Our investment in new opportunities broke ground on a significant expansion of investment by many of our partners. To mention a few, we are proud of Asas Dairies Unilever, YARA, Seed-Co, Syngenta, Mtanga Farms, Kilombero Plantation Ltd., and Silverlands. We have also seen increased investment by many of our SME partners such as Darsh Industries, Litenga Holdings, Rafael Group, Beula Seeds and many others. We are also very encouraged by the response of smallholder farmers. Many of them have demonstrated willingness to learn and work together. Associations and cooperatives are learning new ways to work efficiently and increase production and productivity.”

So, while new (business) 'partners' are investing or going for expansion, smallholder farmers are being taught 'new ways of work', as SAGCOT seeks to achieve “responsible commercialization of agriculture.” 

It is important to highlight the issue of (and potential for improving) local content in agriculture. And if done well, names will be earned! But ignoring facts, and exaggerating one's role, is not a better way to do it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Poetry Evening with Irish Poet at Soma Book Cafe


Uteuzi wa Gavana na Njozi ya Rais kuhusu Benki Kuu

Uteuzi wa Gavana na Njozi ya Rais kuhusu Benki Kuu


Chambi Chachage

Uteuzi wa 'kushtukiza' wa Profesa Florens Luoga kuwa Gavana Mteule wa Benki Kuu ya Tanzania (BOT) umeibua mjadala mkali nchini. Wapo wanaoona kuwa uamuzi huo ni wa ghafla na ni ishara kwamba Gavana wa sasa, Professa Benno Ndulu, ametumbuliwa. 

Pia wapo wanaoona kuwa kumteua Mwanasheria badala ya Mchumi kama ilivyozoeleka ni tatizo. Hali kadhalika wapo wanaoukubali uteuzi huo japo hawakubaliana na ulivyofanyika.

Uchambuzi ufuatao umejikita katika hoja ya kwamba Rais amechanganya majukumu ya BOT na Mamlaka ya Mapato Tanzania (TRA) ambayo alishamteua Profesa Luoga kuwa Mwenyekiti wa Bodi yake. Hoja hii, inayoshadadiwa na wachumi na wanamabenki, inatokana na uelewa wa Benki Kuu kama chombo kilichojikita zaidi katika sera pana za kiuchumi na kifedha.

Hivyo, kwa mujibu wa hoja hii, viatu vya ugavana havimtoshi Profesa wa Sheria za Kodi. Hata kifungu cha sheria kinachoonesha kwamba Gavana anaweza kuwa mwanasheria hakitoshi kutuliza mtima wa wabobezi hawa wa sekta ya kiuchumi na kibenki. Pia maelezo haya ya Rais John Magufuli hayatoshi kukidhi kiu yao:


Ni rahisi kutafsiri maneno hayo ya Rais kama ishara kwamba malengo ya uteuzi huo ni kuchanganya masuala ya TRA na ya BOT. Lakini katika hotuba hiyo hiyo Rais anatoa maelezo haya:


Swali la kujiuliza ni: Je, nani hasa anapaswa kutekeleza hiyo sheria anayoizungumia Rais? BOT? TRA? Jibu lipo katika kipengele cha  'Usimamizi wa Benki' cha tovuti ya BOT ambacho kimeipachika Sheria ya Fedha za Kigeni ya Mwaka 1992 inayoitaja Benki Kuu ya Tanzania kama mhusika muhimu katika udhibiti huo kisheria.

Lakini ili kupata muktadha zaidi wa kihistoria wa kwa nini Rais ameamua kumteua Mwanasheria aliyebobea katika udhibiti wa fedha, kwa mujibu wa wasifu wake uliopo mtandaoni, hebu tuirejee hotuba yake ya mwaka 2016 katika Jubilee ya Miaka 50 ya BOT:

"Hivi sasa Benki Kuu ya Tanzania ina jukumu kubwa moja nalo ni kudhibiti mfumuko wa bei na kujenga mfumo thabiti wa fedha kwa ajili ya ukuaji endelevu wa uchumi wa taifa letu. Benki Kuu, na hata taasisi zingine za fedha, hazijihusishi moja kwa moja kwenye masuala ya ukuzaji uchumi. Lakini ukiangalia historia katika nchi zilizoendelea, kama Marekani, Uingereza, Japani, Korea Kusini utaona Benki Kuu zilitoa mchango mkubwa katika shughuli za uchumi hususan kwenye kilimo, miundombindu, viwanda na kadhalika. Ingefaa basi nieleweke kuwa ninaposema Benki Kuu kushiriki kwenye shughuli za kiuchumi sina maana ni lazima Benki Kuu ishiriki moja kwa moja. Benki Kuu inaweza kubuni mkakati na kutengeneza mazingira mazuri yanayoweza kuwezesha taasisi za kifedha nchini kama mabenki binafsi na [mifuko] ya hifadhi ya jamii kuona umuhimu wa kushiriki katika shughuli za kiuchumi." 

Wigo wa BOT kwa maono ya Rais pia unaonekana katika nukuu hii:

"Maendeleo ya sayansi na teknolojia yameleta mageuzi makubwa kwenye sekta ya fedha, ikiwemo huduma za kielektroniki kama vile mashine za kutoa fedha, ATM, na huduma za kibenki kwa ajili ya simu za viganjani, kwa mfano TIGO-Pesa, M-Pesa na kadhalika. Matumaini yangu..Benki Kuu mmejipanga vizuri katika kuhakikisha kunakuwa na usalama wa huduma hizo. Lakini...pia si usalama tu, lakini pia Serikali ni lazima ipate mapato yake stahiki. Ninafahamu katika transaction iliyofanyika kwenye mwezi wa tatu, kwenye fedha zilizotumwa katika nchi hii kwa kutumia mitandao ya simu, transaction iliyofanyika, kwa rekodi niliyonayo, ilikuwa na thamani ya trilioni 5.5. TSh. Je, Serikali imefaidika na nini na transaction hiyo? Kwa hiyo Benki Kuu mnatakiwa mjipange vizuri  katika masuala haya. Bila hivyo, Serikali haitapata fedha lakini patakuwa na business ambazo Benki Kuu haizijui na kuiletea hasara kubwa - na kuleta matatizo mengine makubwa ya kiuchumi. Kwa mfano, Benki Kuu mkishirikiana vizuri na TCRA ambapo hata ule mtambo wa Revenue Assurance bado haujafungwa mpaka leo, ambapo hata wale wanaohusika na simu sana sana wana-declare kwamba kila siku ni hasara. Kujua mapato yanayopatikana kule ni lazima wao waseme. Benki Kuu mnatakiwa mjipange....Bila hivyo, tutaendelea sisi kuwa wasindikizaji wakati Benki Kuu ndicho chombo kikubwa ambacho tunakitegemea. Na ninaposema Benki Kuu maana yake na Hazina lazima mjipange. Katibu Mkuu wa Hazina unafahamu mchezo ambao umekuwa ukifanyika kule ambao umetufanya sisi hata tushindwe kuingia ndani ya East African Community kwa umoja wetu kwa sababu ya hilo suala tumechelewa, katika masuala ya revenue assurance, kwamba palikuwa na utapeli wa ajabu."

Uteuzi wa Mwanasheria Nguli wa Biashara za Kimataifa pia inawezekana umelenga kutekeleza hili suala alilolisitiza Rais:

"Suala lingine ni kuhusu usimamizi wa vyombo vingine vya fedha, mfano, maduka ya kuuza fedha za kigeni, Bureau de Change. Ni vyema BOT ikaimarisha usimamizi wake. Ni lazima tujue kila fedha inayobadilishwa kule - uhalali wake na matumizi yake. Ili zisije zikatumika hizi Bureau de Change kama eneo lingine la kutoroshea fedha na kufanya uchumi wa nchi yetu uharibike. Ili hizi Bureau de Change pia zisitumike kuingizia fedha za madawa ya kulevya na fedha zingine ambazo si halali. BOT ni lazima mjipange vizuri."

Njozi ya Rais Magufuli, walau kwa kupima na maneno yafuatayo katika hotuba hiyo kwa BOT, ni kuhakikisha nadharia za kiuchumi zinatekelezeka katika uhalisia wa maisha ya kawaida ya Mtanzania:

"BOT ni lazima mjipange vizuri. Tunapozungumzia juu ya inflation kwamba iko single digit, imetoka asilimia 30 - 28 hadi asilimia 5.2, ni kitu kizuri, tunashangalia. Kwa ninyi wasomi wa BOT na baadhi ya wataalamu wengine tunaelewa maana yake. Lakini ni kweli hii inflation ya kutoka asilimia 30 mpaka 5.2 imekuwa reflected kwa wananchi wa kawaida? Je, ukizungumza kwa mwananchi wa kawaida kule kijijini kwenu, Profesa, ukasema sasa inflation imetoka asilimia 30 mpaka 5.2, imekuwa reflected kwa maisha yake? Hilo ndilo suala la kujiuliza. Hii inflation kwamba imerudi kwenye single digit iwe reflected kwa wananchi maskini! Na hapo ndipo tutakuwa tumejibu hoja za wananchi tunaowaongoza. Bila hivyo tutabaki na data zinazokaa kwenye matakwimu mazuri, tunashangilia inflation imeshuka from 30 to 5.2 lakini in the reality wananchi wanaona inflation kama imepanda kwa asilimia 70. Ni lazima iwe reflected hata kwenye bidhaa wanazozinunua. Kwamba kwenye miaka ya 90 inflation ilikuwa 30 percent na sasa hivi tunazungumzia is 5.2 percent, je, bidhaa wananchi wa kawaida walizokuwa wakizinunua mwaka 90 uki-compare na bidhaa wanazozinunua sasa hivi zina-reflect  hiyo calculation ambayo tunaitumia sisi wanauchumi kwamba kuna inflation imerudi kwenye single digit?"

Hivyo, hoja kuu ya Rais inaonekana ni hitaji la kuwa na uwezo wa kujenga  mifumo ya kisheria na kiutaratibu ya kulinda maslahi ya nchi katika ulimwengu unaohitaji sheria na akili. Na, kwake, BOT inaonekana ni sehemu muhimu ya kusimika hilo ikishirikiana na TRA na taasisi zingine. Na hata sheria inalitambua hilo, ndiyo maana kisheria Gavana wa BOT ni mjumbe wa Bodi ya TRA

Mwanamuziki mmoja wa enzi za 'Zilipendwa' aliwahi kuimba: "naelewa mazoea yana taabu." Pengine uwoga uliotukumba kutokana na uteuzi wa Profu Luoga unatokana na mazoea tu. 

Mabadiliko tuliyoyalilia sana mwaka 2015 si ndiyo haya 'jomoni'

Can Being Bayesian Save Us from Inconsistency?

Can Being Bayesian Save Tanzanians From Internal Inconsistency?

Chambi Chachage

I read with great interest Constantine Manda's (@msisiri) response to my blog post on the recent results from the Pew Surveys. Thanks to the ABCs of Bayesian Analysis that I picked up from Casper Troskie at the University of Cape Town (UCT, I managed to follow the argument and model. And I agree that we need to be Bayesian.

What I found particularly intriguing is the way Manda supports one of his "take aways" therein i.e. that the results "on Tanzania of the Pew Research survey are largely internally consistent and highly correlated." He virtually compares everything but shies away from doing so in regard to the main crux of the argument in my article that is actually drawn from Pew's own take on two key indicators:

"Attitudes about the functioning of democracy are closely tied to publics' trust in their national government. People who are satisfied with how democracy works in their country also tend to say they trust the national government to do what is right for their country"  - Pew

What I really expected is to see Manda actually correlating the fact that 41 percent of us said  we "somewhat" do "trust the national government to do what is right for our country" yet 79 percent of us said we are "satisfied with the way democracy is working in" our "country." By doing so, he would have proved - at least to the layman econometrician in me - the internal consistency and high correlations for the two (interrelated) indicators. Instead, he first restates what Pew said about figures from these (dual) indicators:

"When respondents were asked about the trust they have that their governments will do what is right for their countries, Tanzania, solely sits at the top of the heap with 89 percent of respondents reporting that they either trust their government a lot or somewhat trust them to do what is right for Tanzania. Of course, almost half of these 89 percent of respondents only “somewhat” trust our serikali to do what is right for our country. However, 48 percent of Tanzanian respondents trust their government “a lot” to do what is right for our nchi, and this is second only to Ghana where 51 percent of their respondents trust their own government a lot" - Manda

Then Manda reiterates the economic rationalization from Pew:

"There is an economic explanation behind all of these views. For instance, respondents from countries whose economies are the fastest growing tend to report trusting their governments more than respondents from slower-growing economies. Interestingly for Tanzania, our respondents trust their government more than would be predicted from this relationship between economic growth and trust in government. And in fact, this over-prediction is highest among all countries in the sample.... Further, among those who say the economic situation in our country is good, 94 percent of them trust our government to do what is right for our country" - Manda

But, as Manda is aware, my main query is not on that relationship, which as we all know, has been a bone of contentions as the debate on whether the consistent growth of our economy at an average rate of 6 to 7 percent over the decade or so has been trickling down to the majority of Tanzanians. Even some seemingly pro-regime and respected economists, such as Marc Wuyts and Blandina Kilama, aptly argue that what we have been having is "jobless growth."

I am confident that, as someone who is well versed in Mathematical Statistics, Manda can help me grasp how it is high correlating and internally consistent that 79 percent of Tanzanians said we are "satisfied" with the way democracy is working yet only 48 percent of us say we trust our government "a lot" to do what is right for our country. There was this moment when, well, I felt he would do so:

"He [Chambi Chachage] also questions what people mean when they say they “somewhat” trust their government and points to possible contradictions in respondents’ views across different sets of questions that are conceptually related" - Manda

Apart from these two (connected) indicators, I expected Manda to also correlates the "53 percent of...Tanzanians" who "hold the view that representative democracy is good" with the  39 percent who say "a system in which a strong leader can make decisions without interference from parliament or the courts" is "total[ly] good." This would help me know for sure that what we are satisfied with is representative/parliamentary democracy and not something else.

An astute an analyst as Manda would clearly see that my issue is not with Pew per se let alone the current regime determined to spur economic growth but on us, analysts, and probably we, Tanzanians, who seems to be capable of upholding contradictory stances on the same thing. Some say it is pragmatism - the ability to say "yes" and "no" simultaneously or "I know" and "I don't know" concurrently.

I wonder what Bayes would call that. Inconsistency? Hypocrisy?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Andika na Soma: Shindano la Hadithi Fupi


From a Visiting Student at an African University


I was a bit surprised when I did a few "guest lectures" for a UDSM [University of Dar es Salaam] politics option course, "Legislatures and and legislative processes in Africa", that the lectures I listened to were all about Hobbes and Locke. For the few weeks I was part of it, I was the only one to talk about an African institution. It struck me that there was something odd going on there. 

Now teaching "comparative government" back in Oxford, I can also appreciate how African scholars (or even Africanist scholars for that matter) are almost entirely unrepresented in the syllabus. To illustrate, here's what the week on colonialism looks like:
It's not just that particular reading list, though. This exclusion is baked into political science as a discipline, how scholars are trained and how work is rewarded. Those who succeed, who get into top journals and land plush jobs at high ranking universities increasingly tend to adopt a particular theoretical angle (e.g. rational choice institutionalism) and use a particular set of methods (mostly quantitative). These are only taught to the requisite standard at a select set of institutions (mostly American and some, not all, European). Meanwhile, comparative historical and political economy analysis is underrepresented. This imbalance (in my view) impoverishes the discipline in general, but certainly is one way to keep it very Euro-America focused. 

So, in sum, the "study of Africa" (and the study of politics/social sciences perhaps most especially) definitely calls on us to "open the disciplines", to Africanise them, pluralise them, whatever you want to call it. My own background in African Studies, admittedly taught in the UK and with some clear limitations, has nevertheless probably helped make this more obvious than it might otherwise have been, so perhaps African Studies can serve as an incubator, a launch pad from which we can take on the disciplines themselves.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Are All African Intellectuals Studying African Studies? An Auto-Critical Response to Issa Shivji

Are All African Intellectuals Doing African Studies?


Chambi Chachage

It is difficult, indeed redundant, to respond to someone or something you almost fully agrees with. However, when a point of disagreement close to one’s own heart, no matter how small, emerges, one is bound to respond. So, here I am, responding to Shivji’s take on African Studies.

Shivji presents a profound personal and collective “auto-critique” of African intellectuals. In doing so, however, he singles out a “few, brilliant ones” who “migrate to the North joining ivy leagues.” Although he does not name names, one can sense that the example par excellence is none other than his friend and colleague during the heydays of the radical Dar es Salaam School of the 1970s, Mahmood Mamdani, currently based at Columbia and Makerere. Shivji queries:

 
Karim Hirji, another colleague of Mamdani during the famed Dar es Salaam School, shares Shivji’s nostalgic sentiments. However, Hirji is more overt as he does not shy away from naming names. In his recent book on The Enduring Relevance of Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, he devotes a whole section on Mamdani as “an instructive example”:


Contrast that with what Shivji lamented about in 2003 on Mamdani’s apparent metamorphosis:

This background enables us to see where Shivji is coming from when he thus laments in 2017:


As someone who has studied African Studies in both the ‘Global South’ and the ‘Global North’, I find it difficult to agree with Shivji’s rhetorical question that seems to imply that all our studies are African Studies. For instance, to study Sociology in Africa does not necessarily makes one study African Studies. Its ‘holy trinity’ remains Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Marx Weber and not Ibn Khaldun, W.E.B. Dubois and Ida B. Wells. In my erstwhile discipline, Psychology, it is the same story – we start with the likes of Sigmund Freud and Carl Rogers rather than Frantz Fanon and Chabani Manganyi. An African student in the Philosophy department may graduate knowing the German George Hegel without having heard of the Ghanaian Anton Wilhelm Amo who taught and published in German universities in the 18th century way before Hegel. As Ernest Wamba dia Wamba reminds us, the “foundation of African scientific research is still based on a philosophy of returning to the Western sources.” Shivji himself has captured this intellectual predicament in regard to his discipline elsewhere:


So, no, we are not all doing African Studies. However, all African intellectuals ought to do it irrespective of our disciplinary boundaries. Harry Garuba has consistently made a case for this by highlighting that the study of Africa has not yet been fully integrated in the traditionally Western disciplines. The “study of Africa”, he aptly notes, “was calling upon us to open the disciplines rather than adopt and justify their self-admittedly fragmentary understandings of the world.” It is what he refers to as the “blinkers of the inherited disciplines” that needs to be fully smashed. What is a better way of doing it than ‘Bringing back African Studies to Africa’?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Book Launch: Taken for a Ride - 6 November 2017


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

We are Satisfied with Democracy in Tanzania But...

The Majority of Tanzanians are Satisfied with the Way Democracy is Working in our Country But...

Chambi Chachage


I have been particularly annoyed with the ways some of our compatriots have been using the corporate Western media to portray the purported decay of democracy in Tanzania. "Upheaval in Kenyan, Ugandan politics as Tanzania cracks down," one such outlet purports in an article entitled: Brawls, Autocratic Moves Threaten East African Democracy. But is the situation that bad?
It was thus refreshing to read Professor Ian Bremmer's tweet indicating that Tanzania, alongside India and Sweden, has the highest percentage of people (i. e. 79%) who are "satisfied with the way democracy is working in their country." The dose of skepticism from Tanzanian critics and wall of defensiveness from supporters of the regime has sent me back to the original source.

Indeed the Pew Research Center's survey on 'Globally, Broad Support for Representative and Direct Democracy' released on October 16, 2017 indicates that we are way up there. "Majorities in Tanzania, Ghana, Senegal and Kenya", it asserts, "say their democracy work well" (p.14). But that is not the end of the story.

In terms of how much we "trust the national government to do what is right for our country", the 79% is virtually halved as 48% said "a lot" whereas 41% said "somewhat." Since my interest in this blog is to simply - and gullibly - interpret Pew's results in their own right, here is their standard interpretation of such glaring differences:

"Attitudes about the functioning of democracy are closely tied to publics' trust in their national government. People who are satisfied with how democracy works in their country also tend to say they trust the national government to do what is right for their country" (p. 16).

Interestingly, Pew adds the 48% of those who say they were satisfied a lot and 41% those who say they were somewhat satisfied  to get a total of 89%. One can only but wonder what we - the ever cautious Tanzanians - actually mean when we say "somewhat."

Ironically, only "53% of... Tanzanians hold the view that representative democracy is good" (p. 20). This makes one to even wonder what type of democracy, then, are the 79% satisfied with?
Is it another version, one that makes 39% of us say "a system in which a strong leader can make decisions without interference from parliament or the courts" is "total[ly] good" (p. 26)? Of course, 57% of us responded by saying it is "total bad" and 39% said it is "very bad" (Ibid.) But is isn't 39% more than a third of Tanzanians?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Contemporary Art Exhibition: Home


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Kutoka Makavazini: Utumbuaji, Uteuzi, Uwaziri


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Simulizi Mijini/Urban Narrative: 27/09/2017


Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Attempted Assassination of Lissu as Terrorism

The Attempted Assassination of Tundu Lissu as Terrorism


Chambi Chachage

Tanzania is in a state of shock. Unknown assailants have shot the maverick politician and advocate, Tundu Lissu, multiple times. As he battles for his life, the nation is hoping and praying for him.

Conspiracy theories abound about this attempted on his life. Such speculations are beyond the scope of this article. Evarist Chahali and Mzee Mwanakijiji have already presented us with possible scenarios of who might be responsible and for what purpose.

What this article wants to underscore is the implications of what has transpired. This was not simply an attempted assassination  It is an 'act of terror'. The loaded phrase is fitting, whether this has been attempted by the so-called rogue elements in the 'deep state', 'agent provocateurs' in the corporate world or 'political rivals' in the race for the 2020 presidential elections. It is an apparent continuation of violent acts directed toward activist politicians and human rights advocates, not only to kill but also to instill terror in survivors.

The late Professor Seithy Chachage's novel, Makuadi wa Soko Huria (Pimps of the Free Market), artistically captures this in its narrative of the ambush of activist journalists. "You think you are heroes?" one of the terrifying assailants asked rhetorically. "All heroes are dead," he then told the terrified activists sarcastically.

I have known Lissu personally since the times when he was not  into party politics. His was an environmental activist who was a thorn in the flesh of exploitative multinationals. As early as 2001, Lissu and a colleague were subjected to intimidations for pursuing allegations that 52 artisanal miners had been buried alive to give way to a Canadian mining company in "a World Bank guaranteed gold mine." The Center for International Environment Law (CIEL) stressed that their "efforts are not criminal, they are courageous."

Hence, it is ironic that Lissu is now accused of being in consort with the very same corporations he has been spending his lifetime fighting against. In a country with a dearth of courage, there are those who come once in a generation. Such a society cannot afford to lose them easily, especially when its aim is to root out corporate exploitation and build strong legal institutions to curb corruption.
We may not like Lissu's political affiliation as a key member of the leading opposition party. I, for one, have a lot reservations with the way he played a crucial role in embracing a politician whom they had characterized as the face of corruption in the country. Up to now I am ambivalent about his position on the Union. However, I cannot deny his heartfelt role in defending the downtrodden. One only has to read Maxence Melo's tribute to him to get a feel of this.

Nor can I overlook his role in strengthening the legislative arm of the state as an independent watchdog of the executive organ. When he finally became a Member of Parliament (MP) in 2010, I recall asking him why shouldn't he vie for a position in the parliamentary committee responsible for mining given that it is the area he has been closely monitoring. His response did not make sense to me then: 'I want to be in the committee responsible for parliamentary standing orders, privileges, ethics, and powers to ensure that the parliament does it job of oversight.' Of course, I am paraphrasing him. What matters is that what he said is exactly what he has been doing since then to extent that he seems to be a troublemaker.
Take for example, his contribution in the parliamentary debate on the very day that he was shot. He queried the celebratory speed in which the otherwise patriotic Bill on Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) was tabled and passed only for the Act to be returned for amendment within a space of two months. For him, such 'acts of fiat' are loopholes that multinationals exploit and thus rip us off when summoned for arbitrations in international courts.

One can thus see why virtually anyone could have attempted to silence Lissu. He surely has many enemies inside and outside of the country. But one thing should be very clear: Whoever attempted to assassinate him was also attempting to terrify the courage out of us.

As we celebrate Doctor John Magufuli as arguably one of the most courageous presidents, let us also remember how much we need the likes of Lissu. We need to raise more courageous citizens. After all, as they aptly say, "cowards die many times before their deaths."

Courage is probably the most important ingredient that we need in the tough "economic war" that our Commander-in-Chief, President Magufuli, has declared. A century or so ago, a young courageous woman penned the call below, out of which when the words "the world", "sin", and "men" are to be substituted with 'our country', 'corruption', 'men and women', captures Tanzania's pressing need:

Bon Courage Tundu Antiphas. Long live Lissu. Amen.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Wizi Mkuu Wa Kiingereza Afrika?

"Hii ni Insha inayonuia kuhimiza, kushangilia na kuendeleza mchango wa Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o katika mjadala muhimu unaohusu swala la lugha barani Afrika. Lengo kuu hapa ni kusema kwamba hoja ya majadiliano kuhusu lugha ya Kiingereza katika akademia inabidi isibaki tu kwenye ubishi kati ya swala la umilikaji -aidha Kiingereza ni lugha ya Mwafrika au si lugha ya Mwafrika lakini isonge mbele na iangalie kwa makini swala la mizigo, gharama, na hasara za kuchukua Kiingereza tunavyokichukulia barani Afrika. Hatuna budi kujiuliza kwanini Kiingereza kinaendeleza ubaguzi, ubinafsi, na udanganyifu kuwa lugha za wenyeji Afrika hazihitajiki katika maswala ya elimu na maisha ya kisasa. Insha hii inajaribu kubainisha kati ya ‘Vertical English’ yaani ‘Kiingereza fasaha na cha kitaaluma’ ambacho ni Kiingereza maalum na tena teule ambacho ndicho kinatumika katika kazi za kisomi zikiwemo harakati za kujifunza, kufundishia, kutahini na kufanyia utafiti. Kwa upande mwingine ‘Horizontal English’ yaani ‘Kiingereza cha watu wa kawaida’ ambacho kimetanda kote Afrika ambako Kiingereza ni lugha rasmi. Kiingereza hiki pamoja na lugha zetu havithaminiwi. Hoja ni kwamba Kiingereza hicho fasaha (kimuundo na kimatamshi) ndicho pasipoti ya kupanda ngazi kielimu, kutambulikana kisomi, na kuwa mwanachama mheshimiwa katika klabu cha wanataaluma duniani. Kiingereza hicho kinatoa fursa hizo kwa Waafrika wachache mno na kuwanyima nafasi hizo wote wale ambao hawakimudu. Tamko ‘heist’ linamanisha ‘unyang’anyi’ na usemi ‘The great English heist’ una maana ya ‘wizi na unyang’anyi mkuu unaohusu Kiingereza’ katika masomo ya Kiafrika. Maana ya kutumia neno hili ‘heist’ unyang’anyi/wizi ni kushtaki jinsi ambavyo elimu na ujuzi wa mwafrika unavyokusanywa, kujadiliwa, na kuhimarishwa kwa lugha zetu za asilia na Kiingereza cha watu wa kawaida zikiwemo pijini, lakini kusahaulika makala zinapochapishwa. Kile kinachokosekana na kusahaulika katika mchakato huu ni mchango mkubwa wa lugha hizi katika akademia ihali wale walio wachache wakinufaika kwa tuzo, umashuhuri na kupanda ngazi. Basi wakati mwingi mchango wa mwafrika hauonekani wala kuchangamkiwa ila kupitia lenzi za wasomi walio wachache wanaomudu Kiingereza fasaha" - John Mugane

Calls for Research on Urbanization in Tanzania

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

International Literacy Day at Soma Book Cafe


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tanzania at the T-Junction

Tanzania at the T-Junction

Chambi Chachage

The protagonists of the recently premiered film, T-Junction, are a marvel to watch. Although dubbed “An Amil Shivji’s film”, it is a collaborative work that brings Tanzanian talents as they attempt to make sense of our society. What is particularly impressive is the way the scriptwriter who also happens to be the director has juxtaposed the role of the starring.

There is the young Fatima (Hawa Ally) who seems to be the starring. But this feeling does not last long when Maria (Magdalena Christopher) enters the scene. One then gets a sense that Maria could be the ‘alter ego’ of Fatima as she struggles to come to terms with the contradictions of her society. As such, her experience embodies Tanzania’s crossroads. 
These crossroads include the questions of race, state power and economic (dis)empowerment. As a daughter of the later Iqbal Hirji, whom we never get to see in the film, Fatima has what one may call ‘Indian heritage.’ But Mama Fatima (Mariam Rashid) was his African domestic worker prior to their marriage. Whereas the widow deeply mourns the loss of someone whom she believes loved and accepted her irrespective of ‘class and color lines’, the orphan hardly finds solace in a memory of an “estranged father” who probably drunk himself to death.

That is as far as we can get in unpacking the mystery of why T-Junction opted to start with the funeral of Fatima’s father. What we can surmise is that the film is attempting to tell those of us, who tend to view the ‘Indian Community’ in Tanzania as generally wealthy, that not all is rosy. The ‘Iqbals’ lived in a modest house though the funeral services took place in a prominent mosque. Yet ‘their house’ does not seem accessible to Africans probably because it appears to be in the areas that were historically – i.e. ‘racially’ – designated for Indians.

Thus, the only people who came to comfort Fatima and her mother were from Tanzania’s ‘Indian Community’. To buttress this point, the film ensures that Fatima is asked if she does not have any friends who will come. We thus encounter Fatima making her first friend in the film when she goes to the hospital to seek treatment and enquire about a death certificate.

This is when she encounters Maria who narrates to her about the story of the T-Junction. In a nutshell, it is a ‘surreal’ narration of how the state apparatuses bulldozes those who attempt to eke out a living through ‘street vending’ in what some theorists refers to as the ‘informal sector.’ It is also an account of what a young African girl, i.e. Maria, can encounter when she works for an Indian woman who seems to be related to Fatima’s father. To add nuances, the film indicates that even a seemingly exploitative Indian businesswoman who hires an African domestic worker can also be subjected to the gendered violence that emanates from patriarchy.
 
Though it may seem coincidental, it is interesting to note that there is a real Fatima Bapumia who has published her research on Rationalizing violence Domesticizing Abuse: South Asian Experience in Tanzania. Therein she unpacks how what happens in the ‘private sphere’ of Tanzania’s ‘Indian Community’ is hardly noticed in the ‘African community.’ T-Junction thus gives us a rare chance to peek into that sphere in relation to what transpires in the public.

Then there is what is hardly coincidental. As the film premiered, we witnessed another round of demolition of houses and business premises in Dar es Salaam. This time it is not only the downtrodden in the informal sector who are bearing the brunt, but also the ‘middle class’ in the formal sector. In this sense, T-Junction is not a corner out there where ‘the poor’ struggle for a ‘right to the city.’ Rather, it is at the very heart and soul of a society in search of solace.

Karibu kwenye ulingo wa kutafakari kuhusu tunapotoka,tulipo,tuendako na namna ambavyo tutafika huko tuendako/Welcome to a platform for reflecting on where we are coming from, where we are, where we are going and how we will get there

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