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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fungate la Uwekezaji na Migogoro ya Maslahi

Fungate la Uwekezaji na Migogoro ya Maslahi Escrow

Ufisadi wa Escrow ni ishara kuwa sasa tumemaliza rasmi fungate la uwekezaji Tanzania. Harusi tuliyofunga kwa chereko na nderemo nyingi na wawekezaji katika miaka ya 90 imegeuka shubiri. Kama wahenga wetu walivyonena, “kukopa harusi, kulipa matanga”.

Kwa hisani ya wafadhili wetu tulijiingiza kwenye sera za Serikali kukopa, kukodi, kununua, kuuza, kuwekeza na kuingia ubia kwa kutumia fedha za (mashirika ya) umma bila kuzingatia kwa kina dhana ya mgogoro wa maslahi katika mapana yake. Hivyo, kupitia Azimio la Zanzibar lililolizika rasmi Azimio la Arusha tumeishia kuwa na wanasiasa ambao wanavaa zaidi ya kofia moja. Japo sio vibaya kuwa na nyadhifa au shughuli zaidi ya moja ni hatari pale zilizo binafsi zinapogongana na za umma.

Mtu anaweza kuwa mwanasheria wa Serikali na wakati huo huo akapata ‘gawiwo’ litokanalo na hisa zilizopo kwenye kampuni inayochunguzwa na Serikali. Pia mtu anaweza kuwa mbunge, mmiliki wa kampuni binafsi na mwanasheria wa kampuni ya umma inayochunguzwa na Kamati ya Bunge. Kama hili haliwekwi wazi na kutatuliwa lazima mgongano wa maslahi unaoleta au unaoulinda ufisadi kama wa Escrow utokee.

Ni katika muktadha huu swali la kama fedha zilizochotwa katika akaunti ya Escrow ni za umma au za binafsi linapokuwa na uwili usio na tija. Ziwe za umma ama zisiwe za umma ukweli ni kuwa uchotaji wake ni zao la mgogoro mkubwa wa kimaslahi na kiuchumi. Hata kama Serikali itaweza kutumia uprofesa wa hali ya juu kututhibitishia pasipo shaka kuwa ni za binafsi, bado haiwezi kuepuka ukweli kuwa fedha hizo hawajapewa watu binafsi tu bali na wale ambao wana dhamana katika mihimili mikuu mitatu ya Serikali.

Hata hao watu binafsi wamegawiwa fedha hizo katika mazingira holela ya utoaji fedha na uhujumu uchumi. Inawezekana kabisa kuwa ‘utakatishaji wa fedha haramu’ na uingizaji huo wa fedha nyingi kiasi hicho kwa kasi hiyo katika mzunguko wa fedha wa nchi ndio umechangia kwa kiasi kikubwa kuongezeka zaidi kwa mfumuko wa bei katika kipindi hiki. Kama alivyosema mchangiaji mmoja katika mtandao wa kijamii, hali hii inafanana na Mansa Musa wa Mali alivyopitisha dhahabu nyingi Misri na kudidimiza thamani yake nchini humo. Tofauti ni kuwa hakuwa Mmisri na wala hakuwa mtuhumiwa wa ufisadi.

Tatizo linalojitokeza katika mjadala wa Escrow ni wachangiaji wengi pia kugawanyika katika uwili huo – za binafsi au za umma. Na ni uwili huo huo unaopelekea kwa kiasi kikubwa ‘mashabiki’ wa kila upande kuvutia kwao na kupata tabu kukubali hata hoja yenye ‘mashiko’ kutoka upande mwingine. Pengine tutumie mfano wa Mbunge wa Jimbo la Mtera ambaye hoja na vioja vyake vimeacha gumzo kubwa mitaani na mitandaoni.

Pamoja na kuwa uwasilishaji wake uliomfanya ajulikane kwa jina la utani la ‘Kibajaji’ wakati wa kampeni za uchaguzi mdogo wa jimbo la Arumeru Mashariki unawakera watu wengi wenye staha, tunahitaji uvumilivu wa kutuwezesha kuchambua na kutenganisha mchele na chuya. Hapo chuya  ni lugha yake isiyo ya ‘kistaarabu’. Mchele hapo ni hoja yake ya msingi kuwa kuna makundi kadhaa yenye maslahi katika mjadala wa Escrow.

Waziri mmoja anayetajwa kuwa miongoni mwa wenye nia ya kugombea Urais mwakani aliguswa na bainisho hilo na kujenga hoja kuwa mgombea Urais hapaswi kuwajengea zengwe wagombea wengine waondoke kwenye kinyang’anyiro bali anapaswa kuwa tayari kushindana na wenzake katika uchaguzi. Lakini hilo ni tamanio tu la kisiasa, hali halisi inaonesha kuwa mbinu nyingi hufanyika ili kuhakikisha wagombea, hasa wale wenye nguvu ya umma au ya ufisadi, hawapati fursa ya kupitishwa kuwa wagombea na hivyo kutumia nguvu hizo kushinda uchaguzi wa kuteua mgombea katika vyama vyao.

Lakini kundi mmojawapo lililotajwa na Kibajaji ambalo pengine ndilo linaloelezea kwa ufasaha dhana ya fungate la uwekezaji na migogoro ya maslahi ni lile linalohusiana na ufanyabiashara. Hapa tunaona makampuni na hata nchi ambazo baadhi ya makampuni hayo yanatokea zikijaribu kujipenyeza kwenye michakato na mijadala inayohusiana na uwekezaji katika sekta ya umeme kulinda maslahi ya nchi zao na raia wao. Ndiyo maana mabenki kadhaa ya nje yamekuwa sehemu ya mjadala wetu wa sakata la Tegeta Escrow.

Ili kuelewa hii hoja iliyojifichajificha katika vioja vya Kibajaji na dhana ya CSC katika uwekezaji ni vyema turejee maneno ya Mwenyekiti wa Kamati ya Kudumu ya Bunge ya Mahesabu ya Serikali wakati anajumuisha hoja kuhusu Escrow. Ameitaja kwa jina benki mojawapo kubwa ya nje na kusema kuwa iliwahi kuja na balozi wa nchi yao [ambayo ni mfadhili mkubwa wa bajeti ya nchi yetu] ‘kulobi’, yaani kushawishi, ili tuwaachie tu wachukue hela za Escrow, ikabidi ampigie aliyekuwa Waziri wa Sheria kuhusu uvunjaji huo wa protokali/taratibu za kidiplomasia.

Sasa tujiulize kwa makini sana ni wanasiasa na viongozi wangapi wanaofuatwa na taasisi hizi za kifedha/kibiashara zinazohusika kwa namna moja au nyingine na uwekezaji katika sekta zetu za umma?Mara ngapi? Wangapi hukubali ushawishi wao badala ya kuhoji uvunjaji huo wa taratibu zetu na mgongano wa maslahi? Tutegemee tu ujasiri na kuamini(a) tu uadilifu wao wa moyoni utakaowapelekea kuvijulisha vyombo vyenye dhamana ya kulinda sheria au uzito na ‘ujeuri/ukali’ wetu wa kitaasisi na kidiplomasia wa kuzuia uingiliaji wa taasisi zetu za umma?

Fungate la uwekezaji hakika limeisha. Harusi ya wanasiasa na wawekezaji imezalisha migogoro mingi ya maslahi. Wakati wa ku(wa)tenganisha (wana)siasa na (wafanya)biashara ni huu.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tofauti Kati ya Ripoti ya Escrow na ya Richmond

Tofauti kubwa kati ya ripoti ya uchunguzi wa RICHMOND na ya ESCROW ni kuwa:

Ya kwanza ilitolewa na KAMATI TEULE ya BUNGE ambayo ilikuwa na MUDA mwingi sana na RASILIMALI nyingi mno za kufanya UCHUNGUZI uliohusisha hadi ZIARA za kwenda NCHI za MBALI kufuatilia KAMPUNI hiyo ILHALI hiyo ya pili imetolewa na KAMATI YA KUDUMU YA BUNGE ambayo ilikuwa na MUDA mfupi sana na RASILIMALI chache mno za kufanya UCHUNGUZI ambao ulihusisha kupitia/kuchambua/kuhakiki/kujumuisha TAARIFA za UCHUNGUZI wa CAG n.k. pamoja na kuwahoji wakuu wa TAKUKURU, TRA, CAG et al.

Kilicho muhimu sasa ni kuhakikisha haturudii makosa yaliyogusiwa hapa chini kuhusiana na MAAZIMIO ya BUNGE:


Tusirudie makosa kwenye maazimio ya #Escrow,tujikumbushe maazimio ya #Bunge kuhusu #Richmond ambayo hayakutekelezwa:http://mnyika.blogspot.com/2012/01/taarifa-ya-hoja-kuhusu-utekelezaji-wa.html …


Tujikumbushe maazimio ya Bunge kuhusu Richmond ambayo hayakutekelezwa ili tusirudie makosa kwenye maazimio ya Escrow: http://www.-----------.co.tz/richmond_kufunga_mjadala_bunge ni_ni_kukejeli_umma …


New Infographic on Women's Land Rights

Tuzo Mpya ya Kiswahili ya Fasihi ya Kiafrika

Friday, November 21, 2014

New Book on Nyerere & Building a Peaceful Nation

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tatizo la Tanzania ni Waziri Mkuu?

Tatizo la Tanzania ni Uwaziri Mkuu?

Sakata la Zanzibar kujiunga na OIC na G55 kudai Tanganyika irejeshwe lilisababisha Waziri Mkuu abadilishwe. Mchakato wa utoaji wa zabuni ya uzalishaji wa umeme wa dharura kwa kampuni tata ya RICHMOND ulipelekea kujiuzulu kwa Waziri Mkuu. Ugawanaji wa fedha za akaunti tete ya ESCROW unaweza kumuondoa Waziri Mkuu.

Kwa nini Tanzania ilianzisha cheo hiki cha Waziri Mkuu? Ilikianzisha ili iweje ilhali kuna Rais Mtendaji? Nini kilipelekea hilo ukizingatia kuna Katibu Mkuu Kiongozi?

Majibu ya maswali haya yanaweza kutusaidia kubaini kwa nini tunashindwa kutatua matatizo ya utendaji na ufisadi nchini. Karibu kila mara kunapokuwa na mgogoro mkubwa wa kiutendaji au kiufisadi suala la Waziri Mkuu linajitokeza. Pengine tatizo kubwa tulilo nalo ni nafasi ya Waziri Mkuu. Kama ni hivyo ‘tuutatue’ Uwaziri Mkuu.

Tovuti ya Ofisi ya Waziri Mkuu inaonesha kuwa tumekuwa na Mawaziri Wakuu 10 toka sehemu moja ya nchi yetu ilipopata uhuru mwaka 1961. Mawaziri Wakuu wawili wa kwanza – Julius Nyerere mwaka 1961 na Rashidi Kawawa mwaka 1962 – hawakuwa chini ya Rais yeyote. Wao ndio walikuwa watendaji na wawajibikaji wakuu wa Serikali.

Utaratibu wa kuwa na Rais ulipoanza baada ya kuwa na Jamhuri, nchi ilikaa kwa miaka 10 bila kuwa na Waziri Mkuu. Hivyo, kati ya mwaka 1962 na mwaka 1972 kulikuwa na Rais, makamu wake, na mawaziri pamoja na makatibu wakuu wao. Siri ya kwa nini Tanzania iliamua kuwa na Waziri Mkuu aliitoboa Rais wa kwanza wa Tanzania wakati alipokuwa akishinikiza kujiuzulu ama kufukuzwa kazi kwa Waziri Mkuu mwaka 1994.

Hivi ndivyo Nyerere alivyoitoboa siri hiyo katika kitabu cha Uongozi Wetu na Hatma ya Tanzania: “Narudia: kumbadili Waziri, hata Waziri Mkuu, si jambo la ajabu. Anaweza kujiuzulu, anaweza kufukuzwa na nchi isitikisike. Lakini huwezi kumtikisa Rais wa nchi bila kuitikisa nchi yenyewe.” Ni dhahiri Uwaziri Mkuu ulikuwa ni wa kumkinga Rais.

Nyerere utaratibu huo ulimfaa. Japo humo anasema kuwa Kawawa hakufanya kosa lolote ila akambadili tu kwa kumweka Edward Sokoine, muktadha wa wakati huo unaonesha alifanya mabadiliko hayo kuzuia mtikisiko. Mwaka 1977 nchi ilikuwa inajiandaa kuingia vitani ikiwa katika hali ngumu ya kiuchumi – Kawawa akamhamishia Wizara ya Ulinzi kuchukua nafasi ya Sokoine. Na Sokoine huyo huyo alimtoa kwenye Uwaziri Mkuu miaka mitatu baadaye, yaani 1980, na kumweka Cleopa Msuya kisha akamrudisha tena Sokoine katika nafasi hiyo mwaka 1983 mara tu baada ya jaribio la baadhi ya watu kumpindua Rais mwaka 1982 na wakati wa operesheni dhidi ya wahujumu uchumi.

Lakini, je, nafasi hiyo bado inahitajika hasa katika kipindi hiki cha mfumo wa vyama vingi?  Katika zama hizi za ufisadi nafasi ya Uwaziri Mkuu inausaidiaje Urais? Je, inausaidia katika upambanaji na ufisadi au inaukinga na uwajibikaji dhidi ya ufisadi?

Wapo wanaoona kuwa muundo huu ni kichaka cha kuficha na kukuza ufisadi. Katika mjadala wa Waking’oka na yeye ango’ke? kwenye mtandao wa kijamii,  mtoa mada anasema hivi: “Kashfa ya akaunti ya Escrow ni miongoni mwa kashfa zinazotokana na watawala kuwadhania, kuwachukulia na kuwatenda Watanzania kwa ujinga. Kashfa kama hizi zinaishia mawaziri kung'oka, watu kushtakiwa na hata baraza la mawaziri kuvunjwa lakini chama kilichounda Serikali kinaendelea kwa kuruhusiwa kuingiza sura mpya. Tungekuwa na mfumo wa kumwajibisha Rais pale mawaziri wake wanapovurunda basi Baraza la Mawaziri linapovunjwa na yeye mwenyewe anaondoka nao na haruhusiwi kugombea na anapoteza mastahili yote ya ustaafu! Wangekuwa wanaogopa hata kudokoa ndotoni! Hata mawaziri wanaojiuzulu wangekuwa wananyang'anywa mafao yao na mali yote yenye utata kufilisiwa. Wangeona hela za umma chungu.” Kweli zingekuwa shubiri.

Ila mtoa mada huyo, ambaye amewahi kutuhariria na kutuwekea mtandaoni chapisho lote la Nyerere lililonukuliwa hapo juu, anaonekana kusahau maneno haya yaliyomo humo:  “Ni vizuri jambo hili likatamkwa wazi wazi na likaeleweka sawa sawa. Maana watu wengine wananong'onanong' ona kuwajibika kwa Rais kana kwamba ni jambo la mchezo mchezo tu. Kulazimika kumchukulia hatua Rais wa nchi ni mkasa na balaa kwa nchi yoyote ile. Ndiyo maana tunatakiwa kuwateua na kuwachagua marais wetu kwa uangalifu mkubwa; na ndiyo maana wakishakuchaguliwa, wanatakiwa wajiheshimu na kuwa waangalifu sana.” Ndiyo, tuwe waangalifu mno kwenye uchaguzi wa mwaka 2015.

Chapisho hilo la Nyerere linaendelea kusisitiza kuwa: “Ni jambo muhimu kabisa, kwa kweli la kufa na kupona, kufanya kila jitihada ili kujenga na kuimarisha utaratibu na mazoea ya kuchagua na kubadili Rais wa Nchi yetu kwa njia ya kupigiwa kura, baada ya Rais anayetoka kumaliza kipindi chake kimoja au viwili kwa mujibu wa Katiba. Utaratibu mwingine wowote haufai, na ni lazima tufanye kila lililo ndani ya uwezo wetu kuuzuia. Mnapolazimika kuutumia, ni jambo la kufanyaje, si jambo la kurukia.”

Escrowgate inatosha kutufanya tulazimike kuutumia utaratibu huo? Bunge na wabunge wana  mori na motisha wa kulirukia, achilia mbali utashi na ujasiri wa kulifanya, jambo hilo? Nchi na wananchi wapo tayari kumtua Waziri Mkuu zigo la kashfa zote za ufisadi utokanao na uzembe wa watendaji na viongozi wakuu wa Serikali na kumtwika Rais?

Au ni yale yale yaliyopelekea nchi isitikisike baada ya aliyekuwa Waziri Mkuu wa awamu wa nne kwa miaka miwili kunena haya bungeni na kuachia ngazi bila kumwathiri Rais aliyemteua na Bunge lililompitisha: “Nadhani tatizo ni Uwaziri Mkuu. Kwamba ionekane Waziri Mkuu ndio amefanya haya, tumwondolee heshima au tumwajibishe”?

Gharama za demokrasia hakika ni kubwa. Lakini matokeo ya demokrasia yanapaswa, si kurudisha gharama hizo tu, bali pia kuzalisha faida, yaani, maendeleo yetu ya kijamii, kiuchumi na kisiasa. Kuwa na Serikali ambayo inalazimika kuvunja baraza la mawaziri na kubadili viongozi mara kwa mara katika kipindi kifupi cha miaka 10 tu ni demokrasia ghali. Kodi za wananchi wenzao zinawagharimia chakula, mavazi na malazi pamoja na posho za ujuzi wanaoupata katika semina elekezi na ziara za mafunzo ila hata kabla hatujaona matunda ya utendaji wao wanatoka kutokana na ufisadi wao au wa wengine.

Basi imetosha. Tusiwe na Waziri Mkuu. Rais awajibike mwenyewe. Katiba isimike hilo.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Before IPTL & Beyond RICHMOND: From EPA to ESCROW

"Prior to the completion of the Kidatu project the maintenance problems of TANESCO were exacerbated by the need to run all generating systems at near maximum capacity, in order to meet the demands for electrical power. In fact, that was not entirely successful because TANESCO was forced to make frequent power cuts when demand exceeded supply, resulting in a loss of production in many industries, particularly in Dar es Salaam. Secondly, machine breakdowns became more frequent because many power units had foregone routine maintenance owing to the pressures upon TANESCO to maintain power supplies. The net results was often the need for more extensive (and more expensive) repairs. One reason for the purchase of the controversial gas turbine generator at Ubungo at a cost of Shs 14 million was to meet the shortfall in generating capacity while awaiting completion of Kidatu. It was intended to cover peak demands only, but TANESCO was forced to operate it for 24 hours per day, because of breakdowns in other parts of the power supply system. No other type of generator could have become operational in the space of three months from the decision to buy (diesel engines take at least 6-9 months to install and hydro-stations more like 4-5 years). However, even the gas turbines (which was purchases second-hand) was not without its breakdown problems, and moreover, it seems that its installation was faulty. One of the crucial bearings was incorrectly aligned, thus allowing the turbines blades to make contact with the outer casing, which lead to considerable losses of power and excessive fuel consumption. Tanzania, therefore, paid dearly for a lack of forward planning to ensure that expansion of power supply corresponded with the expansion of industrial activity..." - J.V.S. Jones on 'Resources and Industry in Tanzania: Use, Misuses and Abuse' published in 1981 by the then Tanzania Publishing House (TPH): Page 32-33.

Friday, November 14, 2014

New Book on the Hidden Story of Ujamaa

Dear Friend and Prospective Fellow Reader....

...What a moving story and also very relevant as when compared to the current social and political dynamics in the 50 years old Tanzania of today....

....what are the lessons to extract from what has been described as 'An astonishing story of grassroots power and creativity told by a man who lived it......

.....Who and where are our Ntimbanjayos of modern state Tanzania of 21st century.....

.....This is one toolkit to be added to your collective understanding of the evolving story of Tanzania as the nation population strives to fight and eradicate poverty, diseases, ignorance and above all, the cancer of grand corruption within our society and creating and building lasting useful wealth for current and future generation.....

Ralph, a demonstrably and vividly selfless person, a highly principled man, whom I respect and have a rare privilege to call a friend, now lives in Scotland and had spent a good part of his life in rural post Independent Tanzania; he has shared a story that I believe is close to his heart and by doing so, helps passing the torch to the next generation. Salute!

Get yourself a copy or in case of any further questions you can get in touch with Louise Johnstone - rudatanzania@hotmail.co.uk . Please also share with your possibly interested friends, colleagues and family.

[Few papers have been written by some scholars but this I believe is an authoritative narration by the man who lived it, from its genesis and painfully and sadly saw the unfortunate efforts by some senior officials to get RDA efforts completely derailed anf frustrated....

A true account that will leave a reader with few avenues for possible "what ifs"....what if the grassroot movement was embraced wholeheartedly by the state machinery....would the villages grow into vibrant self reliant towns?....propagate across the south or entire nation?....

One is better to get ones own copy and extract some useful lessons for our today's challenges.

Ujamaa is not such a bad word afterall, with hindsight I dare say!]

Regards

Apollo Temu

---
"To our many sponsors and supporters who would like to know more about the original RDA and the background to our ongoing committment to the Ruvuma region of Tanzania, RUDA's founder Ralph Ibbot's book "Ujamaa: the hidden story of Tanzania's socialist villages" is now published, and is available from Crossroads Books at a pre-publication price of £14.99. See www.crossroadsbooksonline.net . It is described as 'An astonishing story of grassroots power and creativity told by a man who lived it.' All royalties from the book will be used to help build a library/research centre at our school, so by buying a copy you will be helping us to further develop the Ntimbanjayo Memorial School..." - Louise Johnstone

Hidden Voices: Violence Against Older Persons

Hidden Voices: Violence Against Older Persons

Leila Sheikh

WE ASSUMED that violence against older persons, women mainly, is confined in Mwanza and Shinyanga regions in mainland Tanzania based on the number of elderly women killed after being accused of witchcraft practice. 

Witchcraft practice is defined as causing famine, drought and foot and mouth and disease among cattle. It is mainly associated with illness among small children for example rickets, diarrhea, and infant death which medical science would easily prove were caused by typhus fever or gastroenteritis, which did not get the correct medical treatment. But there has to be a 'witch' who causes such 'misfortune'. The witch is invariably a woman, over the age of 65, who most likely owns a tract of land that a member of her family covets and so, the witch has to be disposed of.

Between 1999 and 2001, over 500 elderly women were murdered in Shinyanga and Mwanza regions, women who were accused and tried and judged and murdered for 'practicing witchcraft' (source: Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) and Police records). In 2009, it was recorded that 60 elderly women were killed in Mwanza region after being accused, tried by secret Clan Tribunals, found guilty and killed by being hacked to death or by soaking them in kerosene and then burning them. These are some of the cases recorded by the police after bodies or limbs of the women were found. Mind you, the witch does not deserve burial or funeral rites. She gets murdered and is left to be eaten by carrion birds or by hyena.

For nearly 12 years, we activists have focused our attention and energy on preventing and on stopping the killing of elderly women in Mwanza and Shinyanga regions. It hasn't stopped, but it has gone underground. Elderly women disappear and there is a communal conspiracy in the affected areas to 'bury' the secret of the disappearing women whose own families are the complainants, the judge and the jurists and who convene Clan Tribunals to pass the judgement of the death penalty.

After reaching the Verdict of 'guilty', they could decide to give the 'accused' a fast death without torture or they could give her a slow death of cutting her limb by limb while she is still alive. They might decide to burn her over a slow fire so that she feels the pain over a longer period. They might even decide she should be hanged from a tree so that villagers could spit on her dangling corpse. 

Such is the savagery practiced in parts of Tanzania against elderly women who are invariably accused by a family member of being a witch and the Clan Tribunal is converged to decide her fate. The judgement is always 'guilty of witchcraft' and the sentence is always death. How the death sentence is carried out depends on the mood of the Tribunal.

From research conducted by TAMWA between 1999 and 2002 and subsequent research by HelpAge, we were able to conclude that the murders of elderly women are based on land ownership and ownership of other resources which leads to witch hunts so that members of the women's families, oftentimes their own children, would access ownership of the land and the resources. 

Women's low status in the ethnic groups of those two regions, especially elderly women who are no longer productive or reproductive, makes it so much easier for their murders to get the Clan Tribunals to pass the verdict of guilty and the judgement of death.
This is happening in our country, over 50 years since independence from the colonial administration, and after ratifying international charters on human rights and the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in our Constitution!

Because the focus of Social Justice Defenders was confined to the killing of elderly women who are accused of witchcraft in Mwanza and neighboring regions for over 10 years, it was only recently, when we learnt that violence against older persons is taking place all over the country but it is a hidden secret. A secret so much hidden that the Voices of Older Persons are not heard, let alone heeded over the practice of violence by their families, often their own children, who commit heinous acts against older persons in their families.

This writer was once invited to make a presentation on domestic violence in a women's organization of a Tanzanian Asian community. After the presentation on spousal violence and during the tea break, I was approached by several elderly women who invited me to sit with them and share the plate of sandwich while being watched by the hawk eyes of several younger women. We discussed the quality of the tea and sandwich and when I got up to collect my laptop and projector, one elderly woman gave me her hand to shake and I felt and heard the rustle of paper and then she disappeared. I put the piece of paper in my bag and read it when I got home.

This is what was written by hand in a school notebook paper, in a mixture of English, Swahili and some Gujarat words: "Please inform the authorities about the plight of older persons in our community. Our children have appropriated our pensions/homes/finances by making us sign transfer deeds under duress and with threats that we would be thrown out and live in the streets. Some of us were threatened with being incriminated in false crimes and of being put in jail if we do not sign over our properties or monies to our children.” The note ended with a cry for help as “they get beaten, denied food and medical treatment, are kept in isolation and some fear for their mental health and some for their lives".

What was most surprising was the charade played out when I went to make my presentation. I had seen several elderly women wearing faded but clean clothes seated on one side, not talking, but also not being given attention by the younger women while the middle aged women looked anxious whenever they glanced at the elderly women. I had given it a passing thought that the elderly might be suffering from poor health. What I read in the handwritten note made me sit up. I realized the anxiety demonstrated by the middle-aged women was brought by fear that my assistant and I might find out about the plight of older persons in their community.

A week later after I had made several enquiries, I made contact with two of the elderly women who had sent another note and a phone number through a domestic worker. 
They had asked their children for permission to attend a religious ceremony in their temple and were accompanied by Asha, the domestic worker who showed a marked degree of empathy for the two elderly women.

The following is the narrative from the two women which was corroborated by Asha.
"There is elder abuse and mistreatment of older persons in most communities in urban areas. Out there, the authorities are not aware that it is taking place and society has not given older persons abuse the due recognition. Older persons experience neglect, isolation, abandonment, social exclusion, denied medical treatment, denied respect and sometimes get physically beaten. The oppression and violation is done by our own family members, our children, or our nephews and nieces and the community leaders are aware it is taking place but have not done anything to stop it. We are denied the right to participate in community life, often kept indoors, lest we get support from activists and from the authorities."

One of the ladies, Aunt Fatima said her son appropriated her property after the death of her husband and made her sign over all the properties to his name. Her daughter in law denies her medical treatment although Aunt Fatima suffers from diabetes. The daughter in law prescribes medicines for her and buys them over the counter. The other, Mama Yasmin said her son and his wife slap her when she demands her husband's pension. She said her granddaughter is kind and gives her food when her parents are away. I made an attempt to inform the leaders of their community who were totally noncommittal and refused to take action.

That is when a group of social justice defenders decided to find out how widespread older persons abuse takes place and what we found out is shocking. Older persons abuse cuts across social, economic and ethnic lines and is not confined among Mwanza and Shinyanga regions but takes place in a vast number of families throughout the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized the need to develop a global strategy for the abuse of older people and has conducted research in eight countries including Sweden, India and Kenya. The ensuing report has underlined physical abuse by inflicting pain and injury, psychological and emotional abuse which causes mental anguish, financial and material abuse through the illegal and improper exploitation of misuse of funds and other resources, sexual abuse of older persons by family members through nonconsensual contact, neglect, denial of dignity and respect, isolation and social exclusion. The WHO has estimated that by 2025, the global population of older persons from the age of 60 and above will double to 1.2 billion. The scenario should include the gender component. Women are the majority of older persons while 58 per cent are in the developing world.

In Tanzania, taking into account the cultural context and the low status of women, especially older women who are no longer productive and the fact that their reproductive years are over, the fate of older women is worse than that of older men, although reports from various ethnic groups in Tanzania have shown a marked degree of ageism even against older men and the traditional respect for elders, especially male elders has been grievously eroded.

Mzee Jonas, in his 70s and retired from being a schoolmaster says he gets more respect from his former pupils who he taught geography years ago, than from his own children. His children either ignore him, or tell him to talk nonsense when he gives opinion on social issues. He complained that they take away his pension and when the batteries of his radio stopped functioning, his children took away his radio. He says that saddened him a lot and made him feel even lonelier because the radio kept him company. "They laugh at me when I wear a tie to church. They do not understand that I want to look smart", said Mzee Jonas. A former pupil of his bought him another radio set and a batch of batteries to last for six months.

Older persons in Tanzania are at risk of being evacuated from their homes, and of having their properties grabbed by uncaring family members. Mama Teresia, Mama Mwajuma and Mzee Issa say; "it is the emotional abuse, the lack of respect, the neglect which is most painful". These are so firmly entrenched in the current cultural norms that few acknowledge their presence!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Two New Books on Tanzania's (Political) Economy


Andres Coulson's review of the books is accessible at:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Conference on the Voice of Social Science


Monday, November 10, 2014

STOP Violence Against Domestic Workers



STOP Violence Against Domestic Workers

Leila Sheikh


In Tanzania's urban areas, an estimated 87-89 per cent of domestic workers are female, ranging in age from 12 to 45.  Most female domestic workers are from poor, impoverished backgrounds, mainly from rural communities. They have been put in the position of seeking employment as domestic workers because of poverty within their immediate families and the cultural environment of putting the girl child in a subordinate position compared to male children who are given more opportunities for education.

Some of them run away from abusive households where they are battered or sexually molested by male relatives who are in a more powerful position than theirs, while others are 'sold' by their families to human traffickers who pay a certain amount of money known as kichwa/head to the girl's family and the girl is taken away from her natal home to be 'rented out' to an employer in urban areas where she has to work like an indentured laborer with the agent who 'bought' her from her family taking away at least a quarter of her wages.



It is said the agents' racket is widely spread in all parts of Tanzania and quite organized and when a girl attempts to run away or does manage to run away, the employer makes a phone call to the agent who spreads a net to catch her. Those who manage to evade 'the net' end up working as sex workers which also places them at the mercy of pimps and madams who put them in a stable like work horses to either walk the streets or to work in brothels where they are caged and watched so that they do not run away.

The agent who brought the girl to the employer would then have to go to rural areas to get another girl to work as a domestic worker. The vicious circle keeps churning without mercy for girls from poor, rural based families.

The female domestic worker is the least respected female worker in Tanzania. They have no status to speak of. They have no bargaining power to be able to demand better conditions and better wages. They are the first to wake up and the last to go to sleep.

They rarely have formal contracts, which should protect them against slavery, give them Terms of Reference (TOR), and specify their wages and annual leave. 

Often, the employers discourage them from forming friendships with neighbors. Loneliness is one of the abuses they undergo. In a survey made by this writer in Dar es Salaam in a sample of 65 female domestic workers, the majority - 92 per cent gave testimony to loneliness.

Another is on being overworked, while all respondents in the survey said they are not given respect, nor is their dignity as humans acknowledged. They are seen as beasts of labor. They are not allowed to have self-esteem by employers who believe that if domestic workers were given the awareness to have dignity and self-esteem, they would inevitably refuse to do domestic work.


The respondents spoke of emotional abuse from members of the family they work for. Some said they get sexually harassed while at least 57 per cent testified that they have been beaten, pushed, shoved, locked in dark store rooms, denied food, denied medical treatment when they fall ill, denied rest and are treated like sub humans.


There are those in the Insider/Outsider status who are poor relatives of the employing family. These are amongst the most downtrodden of domestic workers. They are introduced to outsiders as family members but within the household, they take on the role of unpaid domestic workers. They cannot even save money and go away because they are not paid any wage. What they get is payment in kind in the form of shelter, food and hand-me-down clothes.

Sadly, some of the employers who are the perpetrators of such abuse are women! Women who ought to know the pain the domestic workers undergo. When the male head of the household tries to seduce the domestic worker, some women employers have been known to use verbal or physical abuse against the domestic worker who is often a minor, below the age of 15 and who needs protection against sexual assault.

Domestic workers are the most disempowered group of girls/women in the labor force. We do not have specific legislation for domestic workers. The trade unions for domestic workers are under capacitated, under budgeted and unstructured.

This is in contrast to countries like India, South Africa, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Brazil and Venezuela where domestic workers have organized into cohesive movements and formed trade unions. This has given them the Voice and the Muscle to demand better working conditions, better wages, protection against sexual harassment or rape, and protection against emotional and physical violence.

In the UP state of India, domestic workers have gone on strike against employers to demand protection against verbal and physical violence. In the Gulf countries, domestic workers who are often from the far east have demanded protection against sexual assault from male members of the employing family.



But in Tanzania, we talk, nay, we shout about women's rights and yet when we get home, we treat our domestic workers as a subhuman species. What needs to be done is to start national conversations on the rights of domestic workers so that domestic work is given legal and societal recognition as a Bona fide profession.
We should stop employing child domestic workers.

We should introduce structures to protect domestic workers against sexual, verbal and physical violence.


We should lobby for specific legislation for domestic workers which would make it mandatory to have contracts, TORs, pension scheme, health insurance and maternity leave.


We should respect the Human Rights of people who are marginalized because of poverty.


We should track the agents, the human traffickers who bring girls who are still children from rural communities to work as child domestic workers.


Human Trafficking is a criminal offence and both the trafficker and the buyer are criminally liable.

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