Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Govt threatens to ban Mwananchi

By The Citizen Reporter
Dar es Salaam.
The government has threatened to deregister the leading Kiswahili national newspaper, Mwananchi, for allegedly covering the fourth phase administration negatively.In a letter – Reference ISC/N.100/1/VOL.V/76 – sent to the Mwananchi managing editor, the government warns that it will not hesitate to take appropriate measures should the newspaper continue publishing what it refers to as “inciting news” against it.

“Upon receiving this letter, you are required to forthwith stop publishing inciting and humiliating news, which tarnish the country and the government, in the name of the freedom of expression stipulated in the Constitution.

“Should you continue publishing the articles, the government will not hesitate to suspend or deregister your newspaper as per the laws of the land,” reads part of the letter signed by Mr Raphael Hokororo, on behalf of the Newspapers Registrar, on October 11, 2010.

The letter written in Kiswahili and headed, “Karipio Kali kwa Kuandika Habari Zenye Mwelekeo wa Uchochezi wa Kudhalilisha” – a strong warning for writing inciting news bent on tarnishing the government’s image – is the second to the newspaper in less than a month.

The director of Tanzania Information Service (TIS), Mr Clement Mshana, wrote the first letter on September 24, 2010, demanding an explanation from Mwananchi for allegedly covering the government negatively.
Mr Mshana asserted in the letter (Ref No. ISC/N.100/1/VOL.V/70) that Mwananchi had only been publishing negative stories on the government, as if there was nothing commendable the current administration had done for the wananchi.

“For quite a long time now and during this election campaign period, in particular, your newspaper has been writing negative stories about the government. Such stories have been reproaching the incumbent fourth phase government,” the letter reads in part.

MCL, the publishers of Mwananchi, Mwanaspoti and The Citizen, said in its response that it could not understand the basis of the government’s allegations, which lacked examples of the disputed articles.

“After reading your letter thoroughly, it has been difficult for us to ascertain the basis of the government’s allegations towards the newspaper because there is no example of stories to support the so-called long-term allegations compounded by the ongoing campaign period,” reads the MCL letter, Ref. No. MCL/RN/09/VOL.1.27, signed by the managing editor, Mr Theophil Makunga.

Mr Makunga says in the letter that the campaign coverage basically involved all political parties, querying the reason why Mwananchi newspaper’s coverage is being considered negative, while the newspaper published news on the candidates on the tickets of different parties for the people to make informed decisions when they cast their ballots.

“For your information, Mwananchi newspaper has since the ongoing campaigns were flagged off on August 20, 2010, not received a single complaint from any of the political parties taking part in the General Election campaigns.
“Mwananchi basically reports what the different candidates say or do during their campaign rallies,” the MCL letter to the Registrar of Newspapers reads in part.

Mwananchi further asked the Registrar of Newspapers to clarify the government’s involvement in election campaigns for it to believe the newspaper was covering it negatively. The Registrar responded in his latest letter, saying that the MCL’s response was not satisfactory and that his office was not satisfied with the defence.

“Your newspaper has decided to make inciting and humiliating coverage against the incumbent government as its ‘house style’,” reads the letter.

In its warning, the government asserted that front-page photographs and news articles were deliberately exaggerated to incite wananchi to hate the government for failing to deliver. Reacting to the government warning, Mr Makunga said he was shocked that the government could take such a position without giving specific cases where the newspaper might have gone astray.

Said he: “The registrar did not cite any clause in media law(s), headline or article to prove that, indeed, Mwananchi was all out to cover the government negatively.”

According to him, the registrar’s decision amounts to an affront to press freedom, especially during this election period, where various groups in the society need to respect one another’s views. Following the misunderstanding, MCL has registered its concern with the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), hoping that it will carry out a thorough investigation into the matter.

Mr Makunga added that MCL publications were guided by an editorial policy aimed at championing professionalism and integrity.

“Accuracy in reporting news is an integral part of our editorial policy and we do not entertain both internal and external pressures. Mwananchi will continue publishing what it believes to be true, fair and accurate in the context of the Editorial Code of Ethics for the development of our nation,” he said.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Itching to kill that family member

By Deogratias Kishombo & Eias Mhegera
Dar es salaam

A spate of intra-family killings in Tanzania whose trend borders on the fashionable has shocked observers, leaving them flabbergasted as to what has befallen the family institution.

At least ten cases related to intra family killings have been reported since July 1, 2010, fourteen days ago. Reports have been coming in from all over the country.

There have been all sorts of violence reported. Men killing their wives, mothers poisoning their kids, children killing their parents or at best choose suicide as a last resort. The coincidence of the deaths prompted The Express, to conduct a quick survey.

A doctor and lecturer at the Hubert Kairuki Memorial University (HKMU), who however, did not want his name to appear in print said that there are many factors which have contributed to this sad upsurge. He attributes this trend to the lack of psycho-social counseling centres.

The doctor asserts that many people whom we work and live with have mental illnesses. These illnesses can include diseases or conditions affecting the brain that influences the way a person thinks, feels, behaves or relates to others and his or her surroundings.

He admits that unfortunately the community in general and the government specifically has not done enough to help this group of people at their time of need.

He further adds that while the government has failed to deal with people with apparent mental illnesses, it is even more difficult to deal with those who have milder forms of mental aberrations.

“Although the symptoms of mental illness can range from mild to severe and are different depending on the type of mental illness, a person with an untreated mental illness often is unable to cope with life's daily routines and demands,” said the doctor.

He attributes the recent trend to the fact that lifestyle and intra-family conflicts are complicated by hardships in life, while there are no emergency “shock absorbers” to calm down the affected.

He elaborated that although the exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, it is becoming clear through research that many of these conditions are caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors.

One thing is for sure, he says, mental illness is not the result of personal weakness or a character-flaw but is a multifaceted problem. For example it can be hereditary: many mental illnesses run in families.

His point of departure is that some families admit this problem and take it seriously, while other families tend to hide it because they think it might bring dishonour to the family.

“It is true that families might know the problem, but they would prefer to keep it secret. The case is the same as that of other inherited cases like sickle cell anemia. “Who is prepared in Tanzania to lose bride price simply because his daughter is an anaemic (sickler)?” questioned the doctor.

Genes contain instructions for the function of each cell in the body and are responsible for how we look, act, and think. But, just because your mother or father may have a mental illness doesn't mean you are bound to have one.

Hereditary just means that you are more likely to have the condition than if you didn't have an affected family member.

Experts believe that many mental conditions are linked to problems in multiple genes—not just one, as with many diseases—which is why a person inherits a susceptibility to mental disorder, but doesn't always develop the condition.

The doctor suggests that disorder itself occurs from the interaction of these genes and other factors—such as psychological trauma and environmental stresses—which can influence, or trigger, the illness in a person who has inherited a susceptibility to it.

“Biologically,” goes on the doctor, “some mental illnesses have been linked to an abnormal balance of special chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other”.

He further says that if these chemicals are out of balance or are not working properly; messages may not make it to the brain correctly, leading to symptoms of mental illness. In addition, defects in or injury to certain areas of the brain also can be linked to some mental conditions.

Assistant lecturer in psychology and counselor from the University of Dar es Salaam, Chris Mauki says that it is evident that the scarcity of counseling centres is a major contributor to these sad events.

“We need special skills in order to handle desperate people in their time of mental lapse, but in most cases there are no immediate intervention, and the immediate relatives are prone to be affected if they do not know how and when to intervene,” says Mauki.

He says that due to difficulties a good number of people with whom we work and share many things are likely to undergo mild forms of mental illness. He adds that in cities like Dar es Salaam where the life is fast coupled with the heat such cases are most likely to supersede other regions.

Apart from economic hardships Mauki cites excessive aggression to be another cause of intra-killings. He says that people differ on how they tackle external confrontations to the extent that those with excessive aggression are likely to behave wildly once they are provoked.

He also considers social factors to be important due to the fact that educated people have less chance of homicidal or suicidal tendencies. This is due to the fact less-educated people tend to be affected more by prejudices, unfounded beliefs and superstitions.

Family conflicts due to fights for meagre resources like inheritance could turn out to be a real war in a family where off-springs are not well prepared to handle their future lives in the absence of parents.

From the Institute of Social Work Daud Chanila who is an assistant lecturer and the coordinator of the HIV/Aids counseling centre at the institute says homicide is a multifaceted process.

“In the first place there is close relationship between suicide and homicide, those who can kill others can just as well kill themselves at their time of mental lapses,” says the social worker-cum-counselor.

People do kill because there are no preventive measures in place and because we do not intervene in their time of need. Therefore, prolonged psychological traumas, loss of hope, and lack of intimacy could lead the victims to kill their closer relatives, siblings and even life partners.

He quotes the sociologist David Émile Durkheim to have identified intimacy as one of the basic demands just like food, shelter or water. Therefore, children from separated families are the most affected because they cannot get the double intimacy of both parents.

Single parents are always much too preoccupied by the search for daily bread which in a way denies their siblings intimacy that is after all a basic right. He claims that those who were denied intimacy in their early childhood are most likely to develop aberrant behavior in their later lives.

Moreover lifestyle, media, films or videos could create an artificial life style, leading to “copy and paste” crimes, experts assert.

Terror stabs East African Community’s soft underbelly

By Deogratias Kishombo

It is obvious that the East African region is not safe. It is now no secret that the leaders from the member states should react aggressively against terrorist attacks from Somalians who had pledged to conduct more blasts after the Kampala twin bombings last week.

Alternatively, all entry points in the EAC have to remain strict in order to make the region safer and a better place for free movement of people, capital and labour to make the common market a reality.
The Sunday night attacks that claimed lives of at least 74 and injured a dozen of soccer fans watching World cup final in Kampala had disappointed most of us due to the fact that the terrorists have even forgotten that the region is a refuge for war victims in Somalia.

Ironically, we have been told by an Al Shabaab spokesperson that more bombings would continue until Uganda and Burundi withdraw troops from the AU force which is trying to help Somalia end two decades of disputes.

However, this warning should be taken seriously by all EAC people because the target would affect not only the two nations. With the common market, Tanzanians will be operating their businesses in Uganda or Burundi and Kenyans partly in Rwanda, Burundi and vice versa.
The foreign media was aggressive last week after the blast as the Reuters called the incident an “Al Qaeda Somali allies take bloody push onto world stage” on Tuesday. The agency said the prospect of an al Shabaab campaign is especially worrying since the group contains several al Qaeda men who have contributed to global networks and anti-West campaign.

The region has been the target since the twin blasts in 1998 when al Qaeda men bombed US Embassies in Dar re salaam and Nairobi respectively. Many people died during the incident and it has left a scar in the minds of many.

Furthermore, Tanzania is more at risk due to the fact that the country is receiving a big number of illegal immigrants from North Africa who are mostly Somalians. The Tanzanian authority had confirmed recently that the country was a hub for illegal immigrants from the Horn of Africa.

Friday, December 18, 2009

RC orders miners out of Mwanza site

By Paulina David, Mwanza

Small-scale miners will be evicted from the Mwanangwa diamond mine to pave the way for a large-scale investor, the Mwanza regional commissioner, Mr Abbas Kandoro has said.

He told the Mwanza Regional Consultative Committee (RCC) meeting here that a fresh arrangement was being made for them to secure an alternative mine in which to operate.

They were evicted a fortnight ago as a precaution
against the swine flu outbreak in the area. They, however refused to vacate the mine unless the large-scale investor
and his workers were also evicted.

The small-scale miners has also accused police officers assigned to guard the mine of returning to the site and stealthly of extracting diamond at night.

"The small-scale miners should be forbidden from working at the mine until the area of the large-scale miner is demarcated," Mr Kandoro explained during the meeting.

He promised that the small-scale miners would be provided with the remaining area. The miners wounded a village executive officer (VEO) while he was enforcing the regional
commissioner's order last Wednesday.

The (VEO) accompanied the Misungwi district commissioner,
Ms Mariam Lugaila, and police officers from the district.
Reports from the village, which were confirmed by the acting
Mwanza regional police commander, Mr Elias Kalinga, said miners hurled stones at the Veo, DC and law enforcers as they protested against the eviction.

Mr Kandoro directed the miners to disperse from the mine to avoid swine flu infection, as over 140 Ilula Primary School pupils and villagers had by then tested positive to the contagious disease.

Church plans agriculture varsity
Beatus Kagashe

The Roman Catholic Church in the country is planning to establish an agriculture university in Ruvuma Region in collaboration with the Daughters of Mary Immaculate (DMI). Cardinal Polycarp Pengo said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the church was in the process of acquiring 3,000 hectares of land on which the university would be built.
Speaking at the inauguration of a new building at St Joseph College of Engineering and Technology, Cardinal Pengo said the move aimed to complement government efforts to modernise agriculture. Cardinal Pengo was the guest of honour at the inauguration of the four -storey building named after him, which would serve as a hostel for students at the college.
The Sh800 million building can accommodate 1,300 students. St Joseph Group of Institutes official Thomas Ananth said experts from India were expected in the country next January to survey the project site ahead of the institute?s construction.
"We expect the construction to have started by March, next year, and the registration of the first intake of students in August,"said Mr Ananth, adding that Ruvuma had been picked because its weather was conducive to agriculture.
The college will have five departments, namely horticulture, crop science, animal science, integrated farming systems and aquaculture, "which will expose thousands of Tanzanians to the best farming practices".
"The college will provide students with the best agricultural techniques, and this will help in implementing the 'Kilimo Kwanza' initiative by producing many experts," Mr Ananth said. Cardinal Pengo said the establishment of the university would go a long way in addressing challenges in the agricultural sector.
The aim was to make agriculture lucrative and encourage people to move from urban to rural areas. The Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) is currently the only institute in Tanzania offering first degree, master?s and PhD courses in agriculture, forestry and nature conservation, science and veterinary medicine. Tengeru, Liti, Uyole, Morogoro and Ukiruguru are among institutes offering diplomas in agriculture-related fields.
They also serve as agricultural research institutes. Cardinal Pengo criticised the approach in the 'Kilimo Kwanza' initiative, saying it would not bring about the desired success quickly. He said there was a need to focus on farmers themselves instead of concentrating on farming.
Cardinal Pengo said the initiative should have been called 'Wakulima Kwanza' (Farmers First), and geared at providing farmers with appropriate knowledge and equipment to enable them to transform their lives. He warned that 'Kilimo Kwanza' would attract many foreign investors to the country, and sideline the locals.
"It should have been called 'Wakulima Kwanza' because it would put more emphasis on educating farmers than emphasising on farming itself," he said. Cardinal Pengo said the government should have started with 'Wakulima Kwanza' and 'Kilimo Kwanza' would have followed automatically because people would have been empowered to modernise agriculture. "How can we say 'Kilimo Kwanza' when farmers don't have proper education on farming? The initiative will not work because it has not paid much attention to educating the farmers on how to change their way of farming."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Is the country loosing its direction or fallen apart?
By Deogratias Kishombo
As the nation eyes the general election in the forthcoming year 2010, last week various political stakeholders and analysts of different circles raised their concerns quoted as saying ‘Kikwete administration has loosen focus or drift apart’ therefore there is a need to revisit fundamentals in the Arusha Declaration.

They argued that the so called ‘values’ is now remained a rhetoric in Tanzanian politics among the government officials saying that the core of the problem emerged after abandoning the pillars in the Arusha Declaration of 1967 as the late father of nation Julius Nyerere being the ‘architect’ of the publication saying that though ‘we have to go with times, there are some of fundamentals issues which still relevant today, said a lecturer and columnist from the University of Dar essalaam school of Journalism and Mass communication (UDSJM) Ayub Rioba on Friday

If not enough other analysts went far by saying that the current political trend in the country is ‘politics for money’ as most of politicians especially in the ruling party have entered into politics to make money and safeguard their ‘business interests’ added a journalist Mr Joseph Mwamunyange of The East African newspaper during a journalistic panel broadcasted by TBCI on Friday under the theme: The state of the nation in the media perspective.

Loose of patriotism
It was said that most of leaders in the fourth phase government of Jakaya Kikwete most of leaders have betrayed their nation saying that the recent scandals that had locked the government in mining contracts, grand corruption in public sectors and other menaces had shown lack of patriotism and there is no option ‘we should come back to Arusha Declaration’ said a lecturer of philosophy at the University of Dares salaam Dr Azavel Lwaitama as he was quoted saying last week.

Conflict of interests
It was also revealed that the current ‘fracture’ within the ruling party has never been in four decades after independence saying that there is a big difference and serious’ war’ among the ruling party due to the so called conflicts of interests as the business people in the party are busy trying to safeguard their business ambitions and the poor crying to revisit the party’s values and disciplines saying that the exchange of bitter words on the spot among the government officials the ruling party and the government the country is not ‘safe’ added Rioba.

“The government has full of hypocrites leaders who normally pretend to quote form Nyerere’s speeches and cheat citizens that they are clean, this is wrong” said Mwamunyange. He said that it has been difficult to know who is ‘telling the truth’ since everybody in the government was quoting from Mwalimu’s values but no vivid examples of implementation from their doings.

However, some of analysts believe that in order to rescue the government from falling apart they propose public debate and majority views on what they called ‘what basis the government should follow or new direction or what philosophies should guide’.

Think of donors?
It is a shame down the road in 48 years of independence for the government keeps on singing a song of ‘donors’ and actually this language does not makes sense saying we should take deliberate action to do for ourselves said Mr. Finnegan Wasimbeye. However, others political analysts said it was also a shame for the government wasting time to call foreign investors come and invest in agriculture the sector which Tanzanians can do for theirs.

“The government has reached a point where its people had been turned consumers of foreign products pretending that by doing so is the sign of modernity, this is fallacy” added another analyst who preferred anonymity.

Constitution reforms

Professor of politics at the University of Dares salaam, Mwesiga Baregu said that the government is falling apart due to constitution gaps and loopholes in the current document as the majority of people have been left aside in decision marking therefore most of African presidents as far as Tanzania as concern, the leaders are violating the laws making countries ‘ungovernable’

“We have to revisit our constitution and give powers to citizen who will be able to participate fully in decision making and the constitution that will serve the interests of the many” he said.

He said that many countries in Africa fought for independence in order to liberate the continent but few selfish leaders have turned the continent into absolute poverty and conflict because of their selfishness saying that failure to revisit our constitutions the situation would become worse rather than during colonial era.

The recognition of Karume government

Though other analysts said the decision for the CUF general secretary Seif Sharifu Amad declared few months ago to recognize the Karume government was a good sense of move but others had doubt that the agreement was between ‘individuals’ not parties saying that the solution reached was not for majority, therefore the impulse has yet solved.

“We saw violence among CUF supporters after Amadi’s declaration to recognize Karume’s government at a public rally, I think that was mutual agreement between the two people and the failure to consult many others will spark other misunderstanding in future “said Wasimbeye.

However, the analysts said though many media houses have been played a commendable job in boosting the government forward by unearthing grand corruption scandals, good governance, and human rights then still there is also few media houses which have been trying to safeguard business people who have entered in politics to protect their interests.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Firm sues Government on mining contracts

By Bernard James

A constitutional petition has been filed in the High Court, seeking to have all the mining contracts entered into by the government without Parliament's approval declared null and avoid, in an effort to curb the plunder of the country's natural resources. A Dar es Salaam-based environmental and human rights activist, Mr Rugemeleza Nshala, and a company called Mtetezi Limited, have sued the minister for Energy and Minerals and the Attorney General.
They want the court to immediately stop the operations of the holders of special mining licences and mining companies that have signed Mining Development Agreements (MDAs) with the government "because their activities are unconstitutional". The petitioners claim that the powers conferred on the minister for Energy and Minerals to sign MDAs are unconstitutional, as they interfere with the duties of other ministries, councils, agencies and departments.
The petitioners are challenging the Mining Act No 5 of 1998 that gives the minister powers to sign MDAs on behalf of the government. They now want the court to declare that all the MDAs signed with the holders of the special mining licences, which were not approved by Parliament in line with the mandatory requirements of articles 63 (3) (a-e) of the Constitution, be scrapped. The article gives the National Assembly powers to deliberate on and ratify all treaties and agreements to which the United Republic of Tanzania is a party, and lists provisions, which require ratification. It also empowers Parliament to put any questions to any minister concerning public affairs.
The petitioners are accusing the energy minister of granting mining concessions to foreign mining companies of unlawfully, and allocating large areas that were initially owned by villagers and artisanal miners to foreign firms. They assert that the allocations are responsible for the forceful displacement of millions of agriculturalists, peasants, pastoralists and artisan miners from their lands, in total disregard of their land and property rights enshrined and protected in the Constitution. The petitioners want the court to order that all the people displaced to pave the way for large-scale mining be resettled on their land and paid compensation.
"We feel that our country's mineral resources are being squandered, as the current exploitation is only benefiting the foreign mining companies and yet the current mining and its taxation legal regime are not only illegal, but also unconstitutional," they argue. The petitioners are also arguing that the granting of mining concessions to foreign companies through local affiliates under the guise of Section 10 (1) and (2) of the Mining Act No 5 1998, not only grants unconscionable incentives to those firms, but also purports to supplant the laws of the land, and curtail the legislative powers of Parliament.
The section prevents Parliament from passing any law that might in "one way or another interfere with their tax, social and economic obligations that they found at the time they came to invest in the country". The petitioners argue that "the curtailment of the parliamentary powers is not only wantonly violates Article 13, which calls for equal treatment under the law, but also the entire democratic framework enshrined in the Constitution." Article 63 (3) (a) to (e) grant Parliament powers to oversee, monitor and supervise the workings and operations of the government, including the ratification of all agreements signed in the name of the United Republic of Tanzania.
"Yet the respondents have never presented any Mining Development Agreement (MDAs) signed with foreign mining companies to Parliament for deliberation, review, ratification or rejection." The petitioners are also accusing the government of granting "generous and unwise incentives", including tax-holidays, tax exemptions, "unlimited immigration quotas for their so-called experts", and the fuel levy, all of which, they claim, have led to the plunder the country's mineral resources.
To back up their petition, the petitioners are citing the tax-free sale of several mining companies. These include Lusu gold mine, which was sold by Samax Resources of Canada to Ashanti Goldfield in 1998, at $213 million, the Bulyanhulu gold mine disposed of by Sutton Resources of Canada to Barrick Gold, at $348 million in 1999, and Nyabigena and Nyabirama mines in Tarime district that were sold by East Africa Gold Mine to the Placer Dome at $252 million.
During the hearing, the petitioners say they will demand that the minister and the AG produce in court all the documents on the sale of those assets by the foreign mining companies. They say they will also to rely heavily on the findings of commission on mining management (the Bomani team) appointed by President Kikwete in 2007. According to the Bomani report, while the foreign mining companies were raking in millions of dollars from Tanzania?s mineral resources, they paid no income tax and still enjoyed a lot of tax waivers.
The petitioners will show to the court how six foreign mining companies were granted an Excise duty waiver of Sh39.8 billion and Sh59.0 billion in 2006/07 and 2007/08, respectively. The petitioners also challenge Section 10 (1) and (2) of the Mining Act No. 5 1998, which allows the minister to limit environmental management responsibilities of the holders of special mining licences, the obligations of which are demanded by sectoral environmental legislation and the Environmental Management Act No 20, 2004. Mr Nshala and the company are also challenging the dispute settlement procedure by way international arbitration, as set out in the Mining Act 1998.
It is their contention that the procedure voids the jurisdiction of domestic courts in determining mining investment disputes, contrary to Article 107 (1) of the Constitution, which vests in the Judiciary the powers to hear and determine all disputes arising in the country.
The petitioners are accusing the government of abdicating its responsibility of policy design, formulation and implementation and becoming an agent of the World Bank, implementing the latter's dictates, including the Strategy for African Mining, 1992, which paved the way for enactment of the Mining Act, No 5, 1998.