Early signs of resource curse in Tanzania: Can we pay some little price now to avoid heavy losses in future?

January 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

Early signs of resource curse in Tanzania are emerging and I simply do not see ourselves picking up these signs and taking immediate measures to avoid the impending crisis. Politicians focus on short term goals and we have allowed them to take a stage in determining how should we benefit from the abundance of natural resources. The debates on natural resources now are characterized by political camps, either you are on the opposition side or the ruling party side. This is denying Tanzanians a grand opportunity to debate and finally determine how these resources shall be utilized.

It is sad and actually a tragedy for our country. Peace is maintained not guaranteed, the popular saying that Tanzania is an island of peace is almost a fallacy nowadays. It doesn’t make sense at all. Why? Negative factors are coalescing together and will be the source and course of change in how we run our country. We have a popular Swahili saying, ‘Mtoto huanza na mimba’ life begins at pregnancy. We don’t seem to take these signs seriously but they are adding up. A day is coming sooner than we can imagine when a volcanic change is going to happen. We have a choice now to smoothen it or leave it to happen without a spec of control. Factors leading to change are speedily adding up and Tanzanians are not that silly, it will reach a point they’ll say NO and at that moment NO any known force except force majeure will stop them.

The list can’t be exhausted:

  1. Plundering of natural resources which are meant to benefit us all. For example the shoddy deals entered into to favor foreign companies under the auspices of attracting foreign investors
  2. Grand corruption in the ministry of energy and minerals which has denied Tanesco ability to operate independently and effectively, and for minerals bad contracts signed leading to dismal contribution in alleviating poverty.  The leaders who did this are out of power now.
  3. Suppression of people’s freedom to associate and curtailing of press freedom
  4. Extra judicial killings happening during political rallies and attempts to silence individuals who seem to be critical to the status quo.
  5. Poor quantity and quality of social services (education, water and health services)
  6. Land given to ‘foreign investors’ who happen to have some strategic alliances with the ‘locals’ and inappropriately or sometime forcefully or treacherously taken from the citizens.
  7. The growing gap between the haves and have nots. No one seems to care about this gap. The leaders and those close to them are using their influence and positions to amass wealth openly, shamelessly and without fear.

The list isn’t exhaustive. I have not spoken of misuse of funds in local government and parastatals, grand corruption and stashing of inappropriately earned money in foreign accounts, illegal wild animals trade, etc are part of burden placed on the shoulders of poor Tanzanians. We can avert violent change by looking for satisfactory answers to these challenges and demonstrating that we have genuinely addressed them and those responsible are punished. We can pay a little price now to avoid heavy losses in future. The choice is ours!


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