Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ours is a Snoozing Government, Seriously. (2)

I love it when I get different perspectives on issues I reflect on. I believe that it is through listening and absorbing other point of views that one can grow. So Mr. Ned, this is post is dedicated to your comments, which obviously differed from my original thought.

Despite your majibu mazuri mheshimiwa, I would like to clarify some things. I have posted some of my clarification points in your blog site. I stand to be corrected if I am wrong, but what I gleaned from your message is that we shouldn't blame the government for the fall in agricultural output or other issues for that matter. I agree with your point of view, particularly on each Bongoland responsibility in making economic strides.

While it could be enticing to jump on that band wagon, because truly kila mtu anastahili kubeba mzigo wake mwenyewe, we ought to remember the fact that our political leaders vied for these positions with a promise to make Tanzania better. We are obligated to question, critique and challenge when our leaders are not delivering. It is our civic right.

But the most compelling reason of all is the fact that, and I quote Ned's own blog post "the government creates the environment & the infrastructure that will support production....". I am glad that Mr. Ned has acknowledged that, because that is the basis for my argument. Given Mr. Ned's own acknowledgement as to the government's responsibility, the question of the day is: has the Tanzanian government done enough to ensure that there is an environment and infrastructure that will support not only production, but aggressiveness in trade? My conviction is that has not happened. The Tanzanian government has not done enough.

So when we talk about "environment" in this specific case what are really talking about? We are talking about a plathora of things. We are talking about setting up a legal framework that will create a business environment conducive for walalahoi (try getting your business licence in Tanzania and tell me if you can achieve that easily) , business educational programs to educate the mass, loan guarantees, etc.

Let's get real. The majority of folks in Tanzania do not have adequate education. May be we have forgotten the fact that even enrollment in secondary schools shot up less than five years ago. So why would one think that a Form IV certificate holder is equipped enough to understand the complexities of international markets? I don't think so. We shouldn't also forget that the majority of our folks live in rural areas. Some of these folks (farmers) do not know even how to read and write. We are talking about folks who think that Dar-es-Salaam is the best City they have ever been to. So try to imagine if such a person has enough skills to penetrate the international market. As such, it is the government's responsibility to step in and educate wananchi. That is called empowerment. That's what they are elected for.

It is due to wananchi's lack of education that folks who have been "educated" (the South Africans and some other wazungu) can easily identify opportunities in Tanzania, while our own kind cannot. It is a given fact that folks with the best information succeed most of the time. One could disagree with me, but it is the responsibility of the government to provide an environment where the majority will be educated and exposed to opportunities they have. It is not fair to ask the wananchi do to what they don't know. It is unfair to ask the wanachi to pursue markets they don't know exist.

Contrary to what the Tanzanian government is doing, other government plays a bigger role in creating an environment for the private enterprise to flourish. The Small Business Administration in the United States of America (http://www.sba.gov), is set up to ensure that small businesses thrive. In addition to providing education, SBA also guarantees loans to small business borrowers, conducts seminars and training sessions on best business practices. Given these examples, I don't think it is wrong to challenge the Tanzanian government to do the same. The government is ought to fill in where individuals, on their own, are limited. That is called empowerment.

Even each individual state in America is serious about helping businesses in their states to thrive. The State of Ohio, for instance, has set up an Internation Trade Department, which is mandated to " promotes the export of Ohio products and services to strengthen Ohio's economy and advance its leadership position in the global marketplace" ( http://www.odod.state.oh.us/itd/). And the way the Ohio IDT accomplishes that is not by blah blah, they have set up offices in various places, including South Africa. Only a serious government would do that. And these are the little things that we demand our Tanzanian government to do. And that's why they collect taxes, not for their fancy rides. I wonder if our ambassador Mr. Daraja in Washington, DC regards his office as an economic embassy, in addition to everything else.

It is disgusting to even mention the word infrastructure when it comes to Tanzania. We all know the condition of roads in Tanzania. Even worse, we know what Mr. Mramba, who is incharge of that area, recently did. The Mramba's saga only proves that fact we need to slam the serikali. We know the importance of realiable infrastructure in production and trade growth, so I am not going to dwell on that. But the question of the days is whether the government has done enough in setting up appropriate strategies and plans in place to ensure that production and trade grows in the country. The answer to that is obviously a big "NO". And that's why we hold the government accountable.

This is my take. Leaders are elected to take the ordinary folks somewhere. They lead towards a certain destination, be it social or economic. When folks are not motivated or lack certain skills, it is the responsibility of leaders to motivate and to empower wananchi. It the responsibility of the government to draft policies and laws, create educational programs, charge appropriate tax rates, build roads, and provide other tools that put wananchi in a position to succeed. Unless that is done, it wouldn't be fair to blame wananchi. And you and I know for sure that the Tanzanian government has not done enough, given the level of education and exposure of the majority. Let the government provide a good envoronment first, then we can change our "songs". But the way things are currently, let us be real - it ain't happenin'.

An update to my post:
According to Daily News (http://www.dailynews-tsn.com/page.php?id=2665), the government is set to do the following in 2006/2007 fiscal year with regards to what we have been discussing:

  • Wrap up a policy and strategy on local crop markets in addition to improving collection, sorting and distribution of market information to stakeholders
  • Publish a list of crop buyers and processors. It would also enlighten stakeholders on how to to exploit EAC, SADC and European Union (EU) markets [Metty's notes: enlighten is a key leadership word there]
  • Looking for honey and wax markets in Oman and the Emirates (villages in Singida and Tabora regions have been mobilised to exploit the market) [Metty's notes: mobilize is a key leadership word there]
  • Tanzania envisages opening further business frontiers to enable the private sector to grow
I have to commend the government for doing exactly what we have been desiring.


ned said...

Well Metty,
This is good... discussions in a civilized manner. IT is 2:20am here, and will have to make it short and sweet.
1. No get out of jail free card for the government yet! - It still has a role to play. My whole argument was based on the fact that, it is not exactly fare to hand the government the entire bill on who is to blame. The government has its share of blames… but so are we.

2. Has the government done everything that could be done to create the environment that will support and encourage wazawas’ entrepreneurship... absolutely no. But I believe it has done something. There has to be something for those wazungu to be able to perform. If nothing is there... even those wazungu would have no way of reaping what they are reaping right now.
You want some supporting info to this argument: http://allafrica.com/stories/200608071447.html

3. Education? If by education you meet the class thingy..., you will agree with me to the fact that there are countries that their people are far less educated than us (according to the world fact book) and yet they are better off economically.
On the other hand if by education you mean experiences and exposure + the "I can do it" attitude - then yes we are way behind. Here in America…we do have lots of high school drop outs who ends up making it big… primarily because of their attitude, but also because of their deep conviction to the fact that, “I am responsible to prepare my own bed” That, no one (and that includes the government) will come set up a comfy mattress for me.
Even the SBA you mentioned...(which I agree was set and relies on government $$), But believe me, they are not in a business to dish out $$ to any small timer who feels like starting a business… I tried and their conditions are pretty much like getting a loan form the bank. As a mater of fact, there is a research that showed the fact that the proportion of small business owners helped by SBA to start is so small… there is an out cry for SBA to focus mainly in finding markets for those businesses. Majority of startups here are privately funded… not bank or SBA.
By the way in Tanzania we do have organs similar to the US’s SBA, we do have chambers, we do have CRDB which the expectations was to help farmers. Kitu ambacho wabongo inaelekea hatukipendi, ni ile kulazimishwa kuwa na mipango inayoeleweka kabla sijakupa $$ zangu. Watu wanatoka wapewe mbegu za bure, mbolea bure nk.. na kwamba huko ndipo kusaidiwa na serikali. My opinion is, that kills our inherent desire to produce and maximize profit.

Metty... real goal of trying to present a different opinion, is to allow for people to see the alternatives. You see, provided one has s'one to blame - he/she has no reason to seek ways to change his/her current situation. Now I am not saying this kind of a person will not change.. just that it is relatively difficult to find motivation to change.
Got to go.... will write more later:)

Jaduong Metty said...


I think we're on the same page, just not agreeing on what should come first. I strongly believe that the government should build the foundation first, and then let us talk about the people next.

I agree with you that our attitudes have not been "endelevu", and that's why I even blogged on that. You and I can even talk about these things because we have been enlightened. I can tell you that even my own siblings do not understand me at times, because they think my ideas are not achievable in a Tanzanian environment. That is a wide ignorance problem that can only be eradicated systematically, through education and other empowerment tools.

I know you think the issue is attitude, but I am convinced that the issue is ignorance. I believe that Tanzanians want to very much to succeed, but they don't know how. Unless someone gets enlightened, they will always do what they know - which in most cases not that good.

You can't take the alternative route if you don't know that such an alternative exists. That's where "education" or information helps.

I can seriously tell you that had it not been for an American "education", I would have been as ignorant as my brothers and sisters in Bongoland. I can tell you that I now see opportunities in Bongo that I could have not otherwise seen if I had just "grown" there.

And that is the difference.

Jeff Msangi said...

While I agree,in most terms,with both of you,I think both,the government and citizens have a good portion of blame as far as our country's economies are concerned.
A little reflection convinces me that once upon a time (During Nyerere's regime) the government was committed in making sure that Tanzania develops.The economic strategies were okay as far as I know and believe.However,two things happened, attitudes and lack of empowerment.Attitudes from wananchi and lack of empowerment from the so called viongozi of that time.Tanzania saw itself under only one man-Nyerere.Everyone else wanted to just feed their bellies.For gods sake he couldn't do everything himself.May be his haambiliki philosophy also contributed,may be his fellow's tamaa ya kuwa new colonialists was the issue.But what I know is that he needed leaders who understood what he meant and wananchi who were eager to achieve.That never happened and it has been like a curse since then.

Today we have leaders who are just wakora and still have wananchi who cares less about the direction the country is heading towards.The psychological effects of being constantly told they are poor seems to have done mass damage like Katrina.People are now just waiting for miracles,waiting for mzungu to bring misaada.

We therefore need to change both the attitudes as well as be receptive to empowerment from all other sources as it is open secret that "we don't have leaders yet".The so called leaders of today are still suffering from the curse.No wonder they steal even from projects that could benefit even their own kids.

To conclude I should say,gentlemen,you are all right.Both sides gotta something to work on,got assignments waiting.