TANZANIA’s SAD PLIGHT
<<You have spoken highly of Mwalimu. I admired him too. Very sadly though a very short epitaph I could think was 'He freed the Ugandans from the shackles of a tyrant. But His people are still in the shackles of poverty'. Perhaps it is harsh but a sad fact of the real world .. >>
The worst effect the Uganda war had on us was that it shattered our economy. It led to inflation which keeps soaring and the $ escalating, from TShs 7a $ to 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 800 and today it's more than 1000. Mwalimu's socialist policy could not sustain the inflationary trend and crumbled. It gave way to Mwinyi's liberalization but inflation knew no mercy. Worse, corruption which had gained ground during Mwalimu's tenure was the name of the game. From nowhere nobody became somebody and with it the emergence of the nauveau riche society. It comprised the semi literates, mediocrities and crooks who held sway over the economy.
Through injudicious and unscrupulous means plots got allotted and bungalows and sky scrappers started appearing everywhere. Also the relaxation on foreign exchange control eased their problems and the US $ became as good as legal tender. Obviously the exorbitant rentals quoted in $.
Corruption was just a matter of routine. I recall once on my way back when i landed up at Dsm airport i found an old Arab passenger at the 'Health Check Up' being rebuked by the Health Officer for not having his Cholera Certificate. The Arab fellow retorted "Sasa una hamaki nini, wewe shidda yako nini? Shidda yako pesa, utapata pesa." Everyone around there, including the officer himself, bursted out laughing.
Yes, the masses are poor, extremely poor. Our per capita income is one of the lowest in the world. Ask any ordinary person how much would it cost to run a family in Tanzania and his reply would be shs. 500,000 ($500) to shs. 1,000,000 ($1000) per month and yet the minimum wage is a meager Shs. 48,000/ ($48) per month. That is Tanzania. It's normal to see the posh limousines lined up outside ‘Balis’, 'Chicken Tikka Inn' and 'Barbeque Village' where the billing gets done in hundreds of thousands while outside beggars queue up to grab a morsel (a la Raj Kapoor films of the 50s and 60s). What a disparity!
Honestly speaking it is very confusing here and one can not reason out right from wrong or good from bad. It's a very complex society and sadly we form part of it.
<<When I was in Phoenix Arizona, I met a lot of Asians from Tanzania over there. They used to call this harassment of Asians "crackdown". I heard stories like peolpe being locked away on trumped up charges for "hoarding" two tubes of toothpastes in their house!>>
Somewhat there is a mix up. The 1972 events in Tanzania that you talk about must be the 'nationalization of houses' phase. The 'crackdown' was in 1983. No doubt, it was a horrifying experience. We even had to dump our collection of pens, cassettes and children's toys. Sadly people like us with such petty items and a couple of toothpaste tubes were victims of circumstances. The real culprits were those greedy 'dukawalas' whose tendency of hoarding necessities and selling them at hiked up prices led to the eventual 'crackdown'.
Nyerere's 'ujama' policy might have been a failure as far as the plight of under privileged was concerned but the 'nauveau riche' Asians made hay. The liberalization policy widened the disparity. Those with devious and dubious means became filthy rich while the masses with no purchasing power lived below subsistence level. Today the South Africans seem to have grabbed the economy and it is under the clutches of the 'Wakaburus'. It is a sad plight. I may sound socialistic but let us not display deluge of emotions. Reality is harsh but it is a fact that Asians are no angels.
|Last updated November 2007
|Copyright © Abdulrazak Fazal 2007 - All Rights Reserved