Friday, September 08, 2006

Can We Be Smart, Just a Little?

Sometimes I just get mad at what is happening in Bongoland. Sometimes I just wish I could yank our leaders, magically, from the Internet photos I see and have a man-to-man conversation with them. That is due to the fact that they keep on making bad choices and unwise decisions. Sometimes I just silently scream in my brain, “how could this be!” How come our leaders are so blind?

May be they get mesmerized by foreign cuisine that they fail to think straight. May be they get fazed by high-rising building and languages in foreign countries that their brains stop working. Whatever it is, I can’t just put my finger on it. So before I get so immersed in generality, let me pinpoint the culprit. It is the other half of the Boyz II Men – the honorable PM.

He is still on his Asian tour and obviously; he is continuing to sell the country out. He may be meaning well, but from my angle, he is not doing Tanzanians any favors. The current news is that he is in Vietnam, [read the article here] where he has signed some sort of a bilateral agreement with the Vietnamese. According the agreement, in a nutshell, Tanzania will export cashew nuts, coffee, cotton, tea and oil seeds for a specified period of time before Vietnam assists the country to process the crops locally through establishment of own industries.

Just rewind a little and read again. Tanzania will export cashew nuts, coffee, cotton, tea and oil seeds for a specified period of time before Vietnam assists the country to process the crops locally through establishment of own industries.

Think for a minute. So we are giving up ours for cheap to the Vietnamese, before they give us anything. Folks, the bottom line is tunaliwa.

I don’t want to act like a super sleuth, capable of decoding hidden agendas across the world, but this agreement smells like a rotten fish all over. This is because I have written on this topic before. By the virtue of exporting raw cashew alone, Tanzania has lost about 30,000 jobs and $40 million in incremental revenue (please refer to my August 7, 2006 post under the heading “Ours is a Snoozing Government”).

It might look like the eventual receipt of a technical assistance from Vietnamese in processing these crops locally is a great idea. Nonetheless, it is just a bunch of crap. That agreement makes it sound like we have never processed these products ourselves. Ask yourself, where do you get our Green Label tea and Africafe coffee from? Aren’t these processed in Tanganyika? Oh, wait a minute; didn’t we have processing plants for cashew in Tanzania before some stupid managers killed them? So what’s the point of going to the Vietnamese to “teach” us how to process coffee, cashew and tea? You already know what I am going to say – it is stupid.

Furthermore, don’t we have a Sokoine University in Morogoro, established specifically to generate our own experts in agriculture? So what’s up with going to sell Tanzania to the Vietnamese in exchange for “expertise” that we already have in the country? Is it simply because the Vietnamese sounds too intelligent than our very own Ned and other who paid their dues at Sokoine University? What is the point of having Sokoine University then if we can't utilize them for even none-complex issues?

Given our poverty level, we ought to be in a rush, but intelligently. We have no time to waste. Furthermore, we have to be looking out for our interest before anybody else. It appears to me that this deal is benefiting the Vietnamese more than Tanzanians. This is because at the core of it, the Vietnamese have secured cheap raw materials to keep their industries running, while we are going to be on hold for a while. This isn’t a win-win deal; this is a win-lose for Tanzanians. While the Vietnamese are assured of 30,000 jobs in their food processing industries NOW, while we are waiting in line to the unknown future. The devil is in the details, so Americans speak.

I strongly believe that Tanzania must come to the point where bureaucrats are not making technical decisions. Instead technocrats should be heavily involved in the decision-making process. I am sure even SIDO in Tanzania can help out with processing raw cashew than some sleazy Vietnamese who are only looking out for their interest. Besides, we are only insulting our experts from Sokoine University, who are as good as the rest…

Can we get smart, just a little?

3 comments:

Sibala's Corner said...

Metty,

Maybe I’m wrong but I have a feeling that most of our leaders in TZ have reached a point of believing that development will only come through external aid, investments etc. I think it’s the beggar’s mentality and our leaders addiction to foreign aid etc that make them believe that we, ourselves, are not capable of bringing about development. I’m not sure whether leaders with such a mindset will move our people towards anywhere.
It’s high time that the govt should make use of our local experts in solving the problems we are facing. Instead of embarking on trips abroad, Mr JK and his team should sit down with our own technocrats and lay down strategies on how to move our people forward. As you pointed out, why bring the Vietnamese to process our cashew nuts while we have our own SIDO?

Anonymous said...

Huyu Jamaa aliondoka nyumbani bila agenda. Akifika kule anashangaa kila kitu halafu kwa vile ana msuri wa kisiasa anaagiza mambo yafanyike kwa mtindo wa zima moto. Kwanza kwenye safari yake ameambatana wataalamu wangapi wa fani ya kilimo na biashara?
Mambo mengi ambayo viongozi wetu wanashangaa nje ya nchi pale ni utaratibu mzuri na wala si kioja.

Kwa nini asishangae akarudi kwanza nyumbani kujadiriana halafu akatuma watalaam kwenda kuhakiki alicho kiona?
Vietnam ni ulimwengu wa tatu kama sisi. Wao walianza kuwa na exposure ya kubwa ya dunia ya kwanza ndiyo maana wanaonekana ni wajanja kidogo lakini kifupi hawana nyimbo.

Kama unataka kufanya biashara ya madini ni vipi unaomba ushauri kwa mshona viatu?

Kwa nini hawa jamaa wasiwapendelee hata wafanya biashara wa kwao tu kama Arusha na kuhangaika kutafuta masoko ya mazao kama korosho hata kama ni kuanza kwa kuuza kidogo sana?

Nadhani hawa jamaa ni Ma handsome kiasi kwamba watu wanawapigia debe kwa hisia kuliko kwa uwezo wao halisi.

Wanabangaiza hiyo miaka 10 hao wanaanza.

Najua Metty huna agenda za kisiasa lakini nakushauri uanze kujenga hoja ya kuingia ndani ya siasa.
Wewe na Lowassa mnachotofautiana yeye ana Mvi sana wakati si mzee na wewe huna. Hiiiiiii!

Dr NNH

Jaduong Metty said...

Waungwana,

I greatly appreciate your comments. I think you are both on point. It is clear that our government officials have no clue or too naive. But whatever it is, it is certainly driving the country to a wide ditch.

I mean, it doesn't make sense to sell your crops for cheap the Vietnamese while we have both the expertise and capacity to add value before selling for a higher price. If the Vietnamese can trick us, I wonder what the rest of the world is capable of doing to us. But the bottom line is that we are too stupid, because we have done the same mistakes over and over again.

Dr. NNH, this is my take: if we can get ONLY 10 serious guys to run the government, I can guarantee you that Tanzania will join the developed countries in less than 15 years. But it appears that Boys II Men are nothing more than just pretty faces...so the same painful story will continue for the next 10 years.