Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vision 2025: Yeah Right...

I am fighting the temptation to go back on the globalization debate, but I will refrain from it. That is mainly because I don’t see strong of an argument for the claim that African’s pathetic state of economic condition is MOSTLY contributed by the Western tactics and colonialism. I am yet to see a clear and articulated way the Western has contributed to that. I am also yet to be shown why Africa’s own self-destruction is being completely taken out of the picture.

I am a strong believer in the power of one’s mind (mindset, attitude and what have you) of acting as a guiding campus towards one’s goals. I strongly believe that a less educated person who sets him or herself to hard work and perseverance can do wonders compared to an educated person who is lazy. You can clearly tell the difference in mindset when two individuals face similar adversities – one can chose to rise up and the other can elect to crumble.

It is all in the mind and willpower.

So Tanzanians have this wonderful goal of eradicating abject poverty by 2015. You know what? I really commend the CCM folks for having a vision and a goal that is clearly stated. Nonetheless, it is one thing to set goals and another to follow through. It is one thing to draw “intellectual” strategies and it is a different animal to see the practical side of what you are trying to accomplish.

The reason I’m touching on this is because we have only 8 years to 2015. That is a very short period of time given that Tanzanians typically drag their feet. But the most interesting aspect of it all is that the government is showing signs of panic. Just read the Prime Minister’s reaction to the slow pace in achieving the goal. Well, on the other hand the PM’s reaction is sign that the government is “concerned”, but from my end, that is just a bunch of crap. These guys are professional politicians and certainly he is trying to pull some tricks to build political equity.

The government is simply not serious. There is no willpower to make progress.

May be seriousness in Tanzania is equated to coming up with fancy words alone. What about seriousness that is accompanied by deeds? I just think that a serious government would not spend tons of shillings on expensive sports utility vehicles (which are not part of your poverty eradication strategy) at the expense of infrastructure or education, for instance. But again, that is just how I see it.

I would like to hear all those wonderfully crafted excuses as to why Tanzania failed to accomplish her goal of eradicating poverty come 2015. I won’t be surprise if someone will tell us in 2015 that we failed to reach our goal because of colonialism or effects of colonialism. You think I am kidding? Just read the comments in my previous posts. Some folks actually believe that Africans’ problems are mainly due to some Western game, while our own mental attitude has nothing to do with the current state of affairs.

There is no way we can get to year 2015 as a “rich” country. You know why? How can we get there while we are currently struggling with even very basic things? Ask yourself this: how can we eradicate poverty while we can’t even collect trash in our own towns and cities? Seriously, do we need EEU or Japanese help for trash collection? May that is also the effects of colonialism, or may that there are some Western tricks that are prohibiting us from collecting trash and ensuring steady electric and water supply.

Take it from me. As long as we keep on doing the same crap, we will continue getting the same crap. As long as Tanzanians keep electing crappy leaders, nothing will change. The cycle will continue unless we get someone in the State House who has the right mindset. Until that happens, we can continue to be poor year 2025 and beyond. I know the thought of that stinks, but until “miracles” happen, that is the reality.

Vision 2025. Yeah right…
Photo credit: Mjengwa


hj said...

I agree with you that it is inaccurate to generalise and say that all of Africa, specifically Tanzania's problems have been a product of the colonial or neo-imperial agenda. However, I also think it is equally wrong to not take into account the major issues that we suffer today due to colonial or post-colonial influence. That is not to say poor leadership has been a major issue, nor does it mean that we should be caught in the stem of a 'colonial hangover'. Let us acknowledge the past and current problems of the Western agenda in Africa; Cultural intrusion, resource exploitation, SAP's, Bretton Woods organisations, Capitalist predation, stereotyping, and the list can go on and on.

I do think reaching the MDG's on time is unlikely, I think MKURABITA is falling behind because of irrelevant beuraucracy and the sheer stupidity of our current president.

The reasons are many and complex. Thanks for discussing it.


Jaduong Metty said...

I have acknowledged so many times that there are might be some "ukoloni" effects. But I am yet to see, from proponents of the "blame the west" mantra, the extent to which our history is affecting Africans today.

I grew up post-"ukoloni". I really don't know how life was during the colonial times. My mindset and my aspirations are rooted in the independent Africa.

Most of the ministers in the current TZ government are either my age or younger than me. I would really like to know how their decisions are affected by colonial influences, while my thinking (a person who grew up in the same era) is not affected by the same.

I would like to suggest this: our attitude and other internal factors contribute to 90% of our problem, while 10% comes from external factors.

wayne said...

The very term “eradicate poverty” is a bit of a red herring: It is not possible to eradicate poverty – even the richest countries in the world (top three = Luxumberg, Norway, Switzerland) have some number of people living in poverty. A more attainable goal is to reduce poverty. I use the term attainable knowing that goal is very difficult, but is worthy goal.
According to most economists one of the lead in factors to reducing poverty is good governance. This goes back to the whole corruption (leaky buckets) issue. I find it interesting that the top three countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita are also in the top ten (with Norway & Luxemburg in the number 1 & 2 spots) of the corruption index put out annually by Transparency International. Tanzania, which ranks 9th from the bottom in the poverty indicators (GDP / person) also ranks very low (2.9 on a scale of 0 to 10) in the corruption index.
So the question begs: which came first – the chicken or the egg. Yaani, does poor governance cause poverty or does poverty cause poor governance? That is a question that is best answered by people with far more expertise than I, but I do think the indicators do make a very strong inference of connection between poverty reduction and good governance. So, no matter which country we are talking about, it seems to me that leadership would do well to focus first and foremost of the things they can do something about (if they have the will) – that is; to “clean up their own house first, then ask wananchi to work hard and take advantage of opportunities. The problem in Tanzania is they are putting the cart before the horse, and then simply allowing the horse to eat from the bucket of oats without doing the job that the horse is expected to do.
As to the comments made in the post titled “Leaky Buckets” about the strategy (or perhaps better put – lack thereof) of the government of JK (and WBM before him) to deal with the corruption embedded in the system, it is interesting to note that the countries mentioned above (with some of the lowest poverty levels and some of the highest transparency in government rankings, also have some of the toughest laws (and ARE ENFORCED VIGOUROUSLY) dealing with government corruption. In those countries doing well on both fronts, there is a zero tolerance policy for those government officials who get caught “stealing” (one way or another) from wananchi. The investigations and prosecutions usually do not stop with the lowest tier government worker being arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned. They almost always look to the next level above the government worker to see who allowed this crime to take place – that person is also almost always prosecuted. To plead ignorance about what is going on among your subordinates is not accepted – yaani – accountability means exactly what it says!!!
The lack of will, across the board, to deal with these issues in Tz comes from the fact that almost always, these acts of corruption will always lead one up the ladder to near the top.
The former PM of Tz now enjoys a life of luxury in the US bankrolled by the money he stole from wananchi. Will he ever be made to answer for his thievery? Absolutely not because that would lead to a trail of corruption and thievery that goes all the way to the top of both former and current leadership. I do not hear wananchi crying for investigation, prosecution or the return of their money. To do nothing is to endorse the current, broken, system.
My point is this – if Tz wants to reduce poverty (given that eradication is impossible), they must start at the top of political leadership and work their way down. Transparency & honesty will go a long way to inspiring hope among the poor of Tanzania. There is too much at stake and Tanzania has too much to offer to the world and her own people to do nothing but pay lip service.

Jaduong Metty said...

Thanks for pointing out the "top-down" influence. I've been telling some Tanzanians that change in attitude and in all other areas will only happen IF and ONLY IF the country gets someone at the top who is strong enough, smart enough, and dedicated enough to bring about the change.

I strongly believe that there are plenty of capable folks in Tanzanian to fill those shoes. Nonetheless, the political system - which seems to favor incompetents, seems to sideline appropriate people.

But you are absolutely right, cultural change must start with the guy at the top.

J-View said...

Yaani Wayne, I know you are a Muzungu from here but the way you broke it down it seemed like you have been in the Tz system and you know what exactly Tz needs right now... its just so hard to admit the truth and to start working on it given the fact that many leaders are in the system kuchota and leave when its time, their fathers did it why not them? and mostly that's what they have been told..."this country is not your mothers' so get what you can and leave some for your son..." that is the honest truth...

wayne said...

yes I am mzungu, but when I left Tz in Dec '06 I left a very big piece of my heart there. Some of my very best friends on this earth are church leaders in the villages surrounding Masasi & some of the friends I had to leave in what is now DR Congo (back in 1990). As to "understanding the system" - I guess some things are universal (politicians kuchota tu!!) One only needs to follow the Wash DC news for a few days or weeks to see that is true in the US, as well.
I need to follow up and point out that I did not intend to imply that the only or main thing to do in reducing poverty is to clean up government - there are many, many other parts to a large and complex issue such as poverty reduction. My own country has a nearly 1/2 century experience in failed attempts to reduce or eradicate poverty - most of those have been utter failures which cost wananchi millions & millions of tax diollars. I think Metty has made the point on more than one occassion (if I am mis-quoting, please tell me) that on of the more important things one can do is to take personal responsibility and stop the blame shifting. Then one can move from a personal level to a higher social level and affect change.
When one looks at the poverty issue in Tanzania, it truly is a large, complex puzzle and anytime any one of the major pieces is missing (kwa mfano - ulaji rushwa badala ya good governance) it distorts and hampers the completion of the "poverty puzzle".
Business development, agricultural development, development and utilization of natural resources base, N.K. are all important pieces of the puzzle.

stephen said...

Metty Let me begin by commenting on why many people in africa continue to blame the west and colonialism for africa's current problems. I have not studied history much, but in high school, we had the opportunity of being taught by probably one of the best history teachers in Tanzania. This man helped me find the answer some of the questions you are asking through this blog. You see it is important to look into how africa has existed in the world through out time.

Before slavery there is evidence of trade between different african societies, you remember the trans saharan trade right? Similar trade patterns existed in central and southern africa, such trade systems were highly lucrative and contributed to the development and rise of many socities and city states throughout the african continent.

Contact with traders from europe and other other parts of the world changed that prosperity and trade became exploitative, and shifted the balance of power. Trade before this was more beneficial, it mainly involved barter trade, but in some societies such as in Ethiopia currency was used. Then with the slavery period, trade patterns changed intra african trade collapsed and africa trade away its most precious resources....human resources. It was significant because all this resource went away and built the US and European economies, wildlife and gold was also exported. Developed and developing societies literally collapsed. Human capital which is fundamental to the development of any nation was literally wiped out.

Colonialism then turned african economies into raw material suppliers, and markets for colonial countries, which is still the problem today. Most of the things we export are commodities. Colonialism also had a psycological effect, assimilation policies in french colonies, brutal german colonial expansion, and the divide and rule policies each still have profound effects on the young nations of africa today. For example the way the french west africans and the english west africans think is different, you need to hang out with people from these backgrounds and you will know what I mean. But also you can also observe the way they govern and their policies

The cold war also messed up African development, the civil wars, the dictators and the bad idealogical experiments are visibly traced to cold war powers desperate to impose influence on the continent.

Having observed all of this it is clear to see that young african nations have been through hell, either imposed from outside the continent or imposed from within but with foreign backing. That is why the arabs fight foreign intrusion with zeal, because usually it is not for the benefit of the populace.

Current challenges governments face in this era particularly Tanzania, is to first and for most, develop and maintain a tax base, at the same time build,develop and maintain infrastructure as well as impose good governance, meaning establishing a good regulatory environment , enforcing law, providing security and assist, direct and encourage people to be productive and pursue wealth.

I dont think that having a" right minded" person at the top will bring about change. You see the government can do everything, but at the end of the day it is up to you and me and the Tanzanian families to "change our mindset" and strive to be productive and inevitably to seek wealth. The government in my view is striving to provide the an environment whereby you and I can actively seek wealth, and own it. If you look at the current budget that is meant to "build roads" and at other reforms going on all over business environment, the government is doing its bit. Sisi jamani sasa inabidi tuamue kuamka.

Nyerere's years made it sinful to own and purse wealth and this really damaged our mentality towards, entrepreneurship. The socialist environment dented our management thinking. Ndo maana Wakenya wengi wako capitalist minded and adept in business management, and entrepreneurial skills in comparison to us. But I do believe that we do have skills within us we just need to find them and put them into action. Also the government needs to identify those that are making strides and deliberately assist them, in w´anyway possible. But in the end it is up to you and me to utilize whatever knowledge we have, to become productive. And this should start in families, kila mtu awe productive jamani! The It sector in India started in the late seventies early eighties simply because Indians who studied and were living abroad came back and set up IT companies,which has spill over effects to the entire Indian the gov just assisted with policies, it is about time that we should go back and influence the development back home.

hj said...

@ Stephen
I think some of your comments do have a potent truth to them, however, I will say that I feel your views are slightly misguided or presumptuous in some ways (maybe i am just playing devil's advocate).

Firstly what do you mean by pre-slavery there was established trade within Africa? I believe it is very difficult to pin point a time pre-slavery. Before slavery was adopted by the Western powers it existed within Africa by Africans. Yes, we started the slavery, however the West was just more enterprising in exploitation and cruelty and was able to achieve a lot more out of it. That is besides the point however, I understand the point you were trying to make.

As for your view on Tanzania having their lack of capitalistic drive because of Nyerere's socialist policies, I will concede to that. I will also concede that Kenyans are much more enterprising in amassing wealth. I will however draw the line at saying they are better off for it. I think the insight and leadership Nyerere provided and our current ability of hindsight to progress from the failures of some his policies put us a step ahead of the rest. I think what we got under Nyerere far exceeds anything we would gotten under a greed-oriented, Western-style Capitalistic democracy.