17 December 2011

Tanzania rejects United Nations' call to repeal statutes that criminalize same-sex sexual activities, in violation of international human rights law

Overview; Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Situation in Tanzania

Laws that criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults, including same-sex partners, have long been found to constitute a clear violation of international human rights law.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in October 2011 at its meeting in Geneva completed a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights situation in Tanzania (for information about the UPR process, refer to this). At this UPR, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) publicly urged Tanzania to repeal its statutes that criminalize same-sex sexual activities. The UNCT said in paragraph 27 of its report,
Homosexuality is considered contrary to cultural norms; same sex sexual relations are criminalized. Group arrests in connection with peaceful assemblies, non-attendance to HIV patients, as well as forcible evictions of persons due to their sexual orientation by local and religious communities have been reported. Moreover, representatives of the groups and other human rights defenders may not be willing to make public statements in favor of tolerance and decriminalization for fear of reprisals.
Tanzania flatly refused (paragraph 87 on page 23). Mathias Meinrad Chikawe, the Tanzanian Minister of State and Good Governance, said in Geneva (beginning at 2:42 time stamp),
There was an issue raised on same-sex marriages, etc. It is true we do not have a law allowing same-sex marriages in our country, and that I say again, due to our own traditions and very cultural strong beliefs. Although activities involving same-sex do take place, but they do take place under cover, so to say, and like I said when I was presenting our report on the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights], that if one were to exhibit such a behavior in public, one could be, actually be stoned by the public itself. It is a cultural thing. It's not yet acceptable. So the government ... it would be very strange for the government to propose a law towards allowing that; so, it's just that maybe time has not come for us to consider such freedoms in our country.
The Tanzanian Penal Code has three sections regarding same-sex sexual activities.
Section 154: Unnatural offences.
(1) Any person who -
(a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or
*   *   *   *
(c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature,
commits an offence, and is liable to imprisonment for life and in any case to imprisonment for a term of not less than thirty years.
Section 155: Attempt to commit unnatural offences.
Any person who attempts to commit any offences specified under [Section] 154 commits an offence and shall on conviction be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than twenty years.
Section 138A: Gross indecency.
Any person who, in public or private commits, or is a party to the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any person of, any act of gross indecency with another person, is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than one year and not exceeding five years or to a fine not less than one hundred thousand and not exceeding three hundred thousand shillings....
Since the UPR concluded, Tanzania has not softened its policies or rhetoric. In October 2011 at the Commonwealth Head of Government's meeting in Perth, Australia, the prime minister of the United Kingdom (UK), David Cameron, said that the UK may withhold or reduce aid to governments that do not reform statutes criminalizing homosexuality. In response, Tanzania's minister for foreign affairs, Bernard Membe, said:
Tanzania will never accept Cameron's proposal because we have our own moral values. Homosexuality is not part of our culture and we will never legalise it.... We are not ready to allow any rich nation to give us aid based on unacceptable conditions simply because we are poor. If we are denied aid by one country, it will not affect the economic status of this nation and we can do without UK aid.
In the Tanzanian parliament on 11 November 2011, the Tanzanian prime minister, Mizengo Pinda, responded to a question from a parliament member about whether the government was prepared to lose aid from the UK. He said,
You are not being fair to me as the government has already made its stand clear on the matter … but since you want to get my opinion, I would like to say that homosexuality is unacceptable to our society. We need to look critically on these issues. To me this is unacceptable. Even animals can’t do such a thing.
International Law

In 1994, the UNHRC confirmed in Toonen v. Australia that laws criminalizing consensual same-sex activity violate both the right to privacy and the right to equality before the law without any discrimination, contrary to Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (hereafter "The Covenant"). Those laws interfere with privacy rights, regardless of whether they are actively enforced, and "run counter to the implementation of effective education programmes in respect of HIV/AIDS prevention" by driving marginalised communities underground.  Tanzania has ratified the Covenant.

The UNHRC subsequently affirmed this position on many occasions, either urging countries to repeal laws that criminalize consensual same-sex activity or commending them for bringing their legislation into conformity with the Covenant by repealing such provisions. (See, e.g., Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations: United States of America, A/50/40, 3 October 1995; Cyprus, CCPR/C/79/Add.88, 6 April 1998; Ecuador, CCPR/C/79/Add.92, 18 August 1998; Chile, CCPR/C/79/Add.104, 30 March 1999; Lesotho, CCPR/C/79/Add.106, 8 April 1999; Romania CCPR/C/79/Add.111, 28 July 1999; Australia, A/55/40, 24 July 2000; Egypt, CCPR/CO/76/EGY, 28 November 2002; Kenya, CCPR/CO/83/KEN, 28 March 2005; United States of America, CCPR/C/USA/CO/3, 15 September 2006; BArabdos, CCPR/C/BRB/CO/3, 11 May 2007; Chile, CCPR/C/CHL/CO/5, 18 May 2007.)

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in April 2004 found that arrests for being homosexual or for engaging in consensual homosexual conduct are, by definition, human rights violations. The arrests constitute an arbitrary deprivation of liberty in contravention of Article 2, Paragraph 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of Article 2, Paragraph 1 and Article 26 of the Covenant. The Declaration is part of international law and is, therefore, binding on Tanzania.

This position is consistent with other regional and national jurisprudence, including the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (Dudgeon v. United Kingdom, 1981; Norris v. Ireland, 1991; Modinos v. Cyprus, 1993), the Constitutional Court of South Africa (National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality v. Minister of Justice, 1998), the United States Supreme Court (Lawrence v. Texas, 2003), and the High Court of Fiji (McCoskar v. The State, 2005). The South African court said,
Privacy recognises that we all have a right to a sphere of private intimacy and autonomy which allows us to establish and nurture human relationships without interference from the outside community. The way in which we give expression to our sexuality is at the core of this area of private intimacy. If, in expressing our sexuality, we act consensually and without harming one another, invasion of that precinct will be a breach of our privacy.
Anand Grover, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, reported in April 2010 that laws criminalising sexual conduct between consenting adults impede HIV education and prevention efforts and are incompatible with the right to health. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (commonly known as UNAIDS) has a similar view.

The international obligations of countries to respect the human rights of all persons, irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity, were articulated in 2006 in the "Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity." The Principles were developed and unanimously adopted by a distinguished group of human rights experts, from diverse regions and backgrounds. Principle 2 ("Rights to Equality and Non-Discrimination") affirms that everyone is entitled to enjoy all human rights without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and specifically obligates countries to,
repeal criminal and other legal provisions that prohibit or are, in effect, employed to prohibit consensual sexual activity among people of the same sex who are over the age of consent, and ensure that an equal age of consent applies to both same-sex and different-sex sexual activity.
Principle 6 (the "Right to Privacy") affirms the right of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to the enjoyment of privacy without arbitrary or unlawful interference, and confirms the obligation of countries to:
b) Repeal all laws that criminalise consensual sexual activity among persons of the same sex who are over the age of consent, and ensure that an equal age of consent applies to both same-sex and different-sex sexual activity.
c) Ensure that criminal and other legal provisions of general application are not applied to de facto criminalise consensual sexual activity among persons of the same sex who are over the age of consent.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, in a statement to a High-level Meeting on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at the United Nations on 18 December 2008 affirmed:
The principle of universality admits no exception. Human rights truly are the birthright of all human beings. Sadly, … there remain too many countries which continue to criminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex in defiance of established human rights law. Ironically many of these laws, like Apartheid laws that criminalized sexual relations between consenting adults of different races, are relics of the colonial era and are increasingly becoming recognized as anachronistic and as inconsistent both with international law and with traditional values of dignity, inclusion and respect for all…. It is our task and our challenge to move beyond a debate on whether all human beings have rights – for such questions were long ago laid to rest by the Universal Declaration – and instead to secure the climate for implementation.... Those who are lesbian, gay or bisexual, those who are transgender, transsexual or intersex, are full and equal members of the human family, and are entitled to be treated as such.
Source: Based in part on Submission for the Universal Periodic Review of the United Republic of Tanzania, which was submitted by ARC International, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, and ILGA-Europe.

12 September 2011

Odd rush to expand the East African Community

The East African Community (EAC) currently consists of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. The EAC is very roughly analogous to the European Community. One of the long term goals is the formation of the East African Federation, which would be the political union of the member states into a single sovereign country.

Sudan recently submitted a formal application to join the EAC, while Somalia, The Comoros, and the newly independent South Sudan have expressed a strong interest in joining. Tanzania has indicated that it would be in favor of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, and Zambia joining. Sudan's application was tentatively rejected at a high level meeting of EAC officials last week, ostensibly because Sudan is not geographically connected with any other EAC member.

This rush to expand the EAC is odd given its unpopularity with the Tanzanian public. All land was nationalized in 1976 by Tanzania's socialist government. While the current land ownership situation is complicated and unclear, land at least nominally remains owned by the government.  This would conflict with the EAC's goal of allowing citizens of any member state to own land in any other member state. Many believe that the true motive of Kenya (especially), Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi is grabbing Tanzanian land for its citizens, as all four have experienced great unrest because of land shortages. The 2008 violence in Kenya was at least in part caused by conflicts over land. One commentator said,

[T]he land debates are ... a reflection of residual historical animosities combined with Tanzania's weaknesses vis-à-vis its more dynamic, capitalist neighbours. Lower skill levels, including language skills, and lack of business experience pitches the Tanzanians against the better educated and better trained Kenyans. Kenyans come back from Tanzania with raised eyebrows at the slow pace in its post-socialist neighbour, and they are typically perceived as a threat. In some sense, quite rightly so, argues David Robertson, who represents the East Africa Association, a business association of foreign investors, in Tanzania. He acknowledges that differences in language skills and business culture present an initial obstacle.... And, he argues, foreign investors will look for someone who fits the mould to run their company -- so most Tanzanians would not be considered, and income disparities would increase as a consequence. A vicious circle results: As Tanzanians feel left out from opportunities that foreign direct investment can create, their latent opposition to these new market entrants increases, who will then find another reason not to consider Tanzanians for managerial positions.

While Tanzania is publicly in favor of the EAC, officials of other member states privately doubt Tanzania's commitment. They believe that Tanzania has not learned from its disastrous experiment with socialism and is on the road to another economic disaster. At one point, Uganda went on record as saying that economic integration should proceed without Tanzania, leaving the latter to catch up whenever it is politically ready.

"Tanzania: Slowing Down EAC Integration over Land Concerns?," Ratio Magazine, 15 January 2009.
"Comoros, Somalia seek EAC membership," The Daily News, 12 September 2011.
"Sudan's attempt to join EAC blocked," The Daily News, 12 September 2011.

15 August 2011

Tanzanian government drags its feet: unconstitutional laws infringing on press freedoms will remain in force

Article 18 of the Tanzanian Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, although its wording is admittedly awkward:

Every person:
(1) has a freedom of opinion and expression of his ideas;
(2) has out right to seek, receive and, or disseminate information regardless of national boundaries;
(3) has the freedom to communicate and a freedom with protection from interference from his communication; 
(4) has a right to be informed at all times of various important events of life and activities of the people and also of issues of importance to the society.

Yet, "The Newspapers Act, 1976" is a very broad restriction on the freedom of the press and makes it a serious crime to commit many actions that would be protected in the United States, Australia, most western European countries, and many other democracies. Section 25 authorizes the minister responsible for newspapers to require a newspaper to cease publication whenever it is the minister's opinion that "it is in the public interest or in the interest of peace and good order so to do." Section 27 of the same law authorizes the President of Tanzania to prohibit the importation of any publication when he believes, "in his absolute discretion," that importation would be "contrary to the public interest." Section 32 makes it a crime to utter any word with a "seditious intention" or to print, distribute, import, or possess any "seditious publication" (an undefined term). "Seditious intention" is very broadly defined and includes, among other things, "an intention to ... excite dissatisfaction against the lawful authority" of the government or "an intention to raise discontent or dissatisfaction amongst any of the inhabitants" of the country. Sections 38 and 41 say that a person commits libel, a criminal offense, when the person publishes a "defamatory matter" concerning another person unless the defamatory matter is true and "it was for the public benefit that it should be published." According to Section 39, "defamatory matter" means "matter likely to injure the reputation of any person by exposing him to hate, contempt or ridicule."

Although The Newspapers Act was enacted 35 years ago, it is not a dead letter. For example, it was used 3 years ago to suspend the MwanaHalisi newspaper that, according to the government, intended to cause conflict between the President of Tanzania and his son and thereby "create misunderstanding within the president's family." In October 2010, the government threatened to suspend MwanaHalisi again and to suspend the Mwananchi newspaper for the first time. In a letter to Mwananchi, the government said that the newspaper must "immediately stop publishing inciting and humiliating news, which tarnish the country and the government." In the period immediately before the 2010 presidential elections, the government threatened several newspapers with suspension because they were publishing "negative stories about the government." For more information about governmental actions that infringed on press freedom in 2010, refer to Chapter 3 of the Media Council of Tanzania's State of the Media Report, 2010.

There are many other laws that restrict the freedom of the press. For example:

The Tanzanian minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports (IYCS), Dr. John Nchimbi, said in Dodoma, the Tanzanian capital, on 11 August 2011 that journalists should adhere to professional ethics and have "national interest at heart in their reportage." Without defining what he meant by "instigative," the minister also said that the news media should not be source of crisis by reporting "instigative news" but rather be a bridge between the people and other stakeholders "in pursuit for peace, tranquility and development of the nation."

A day earlier, Nchimbi said that the government's legislation to reform the restrictive regulation of media services and, for the first time, make governmental information open to the public (analogous to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act) would not be ready for parliamentary action during 2011. This is despite President Jakaya Kikwete's promising of the legislation in 2006. The delay could jeopardize continuing support from international donors who have said that passage of the right-to-information legislation is a condition for financial support in the next fiscal year, along with legislation protecting whistleblowers and legislation about the ethical responsibilities of government officials.

According to The Citizen, "Part of the delay has been blamed on arriving at levels of media freedom, with parties haggling around a totally free media but others, including MPs and those in government rooting for stiff sanctions against journalists and media owners who unreasonably misuse their power by attacking public figures." While debating the IYCS ministry's budget request for the next fiscal biennium, Mohammed Seif Khatib said, "During elections, media houses and journalists should register and openly declare which parties they support." Khatib is an influential member of Parliament from Uzini and a member of the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi. He is also the Minister in the Vice President's Office for Union Affairs.

"Several repressive laws are suffocating the freedom of Tanzanian media," Expression Today, 16 June 2010
"Government threatens press in pre-election Tanzania," Tom Rhodes, Committe to Protect Journalists, 28 October 2010
"Government threatens to deregister two newspapers," International Freedom of Expression Exchange, 27 October 2010
"Newspaper suspended for 'seditious article'; security forces summon editor for questioning," International Freedom of Expression Exchange, 14 October 2008
"The Newspapers Act, 1976," Parliament of Tanzania
"Media legislation to wait longer," The Citizen, 11 August 2011
"Stick to ethics, media urged," The Daily News, 11 August 2011.

29 July 2011

Tanzanians living with disabilities

According to its website, Shia is "an umbrella organisation within the disability movement which works at the request of 30 member organisations. Together we run international development co-operation in ... Tanzania. The goal for our joint work is to strengthen the local sister organisations’ possibilities for running effective advocacy work for the rights of their members. Shia’s role is to provide administrative support for our member organisations. We also work with quality assurance of the projects. Our vision is a society where the equality and the rights of everyone are respected."

This post highlights information from Disability Rights in Tanzania, a document co-produced by Shia and last updated 30 January 2011.

International treaties and Tanzanian law

Tanzania in 1991 ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which includes the rights of children living with disabilities. The government also in 2009 ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. According to Shia, however, "the political will to mainstream and actual implementation of the adopted frameworks remain limited and institutional checks and balances are too weak to change this. The rather active civil society, the media and the parliament have not yet been able to challenge the current system."

Aside from these international treaties, the Tanzanian constitution prohibits discrimination against people living with disabilities (PWDs). Tanzania also has statutes to "ensure access to vocational training, employment and care for PWDs. The Ministries of Education, Justice, and Labour are responsible for enforcing the protection of rights of persons with disabilities for education, legal claims, and labour rights, respectively whereas The Department of Social Welfare, located within the ministry of Health and Social Welfare, carries responsibility for coordinating all disability issues." In 2010, Tanzania enacted the Disability Law, which authorizes the establishment of the National Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities. This council has not yet been established, however.

The National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty 2005-2010 recognized disability as a major cause of poverty, but this was ignored when the subsequent national budgets were prepared.

Tanzania's Health Policy guarantees free access to health services by PWDs. But "since it is not stated how PWD can benefit from the services, many PWD have limited access to the services. In reality this can be due to number of reasons including knowledge on the procedures to follow to access the free services; services are not enough/number of health facilities, specialists, medication, etc; lacking of communication skills for deaf and deaf blind persons."

Plight of persons living with disabilities

The Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics estimates that 9 percent of the Tanzanian population is living with a disability. The rate is somewhat higher in rural areas than urban areas, and is slightly higher in mainland Tanzania than on the island of Zanzibar.

"According to the 2008 Disability Survey, access to health information and services is a huge challenge for persons with disabilities, in particular for women ... in relation to sexual and reproductive health services. [D]isabled mothers are two or three times more likely to suffer from poor services than other women looking for pre-natal and ante-natal services...." Refer to the report entitled The Tanzanian Survey on Disability: Methodology and Overview of Results.

The Tanzania Commission for AIDS says that 9 percent of PWDs tested in 2009 were HIV-positive. 40 percent of those "claimed to know a PWD who had been raped." Refer to the report entitled The Forgotten: HIV and Disability in Tanzania.

PWDs "suffer from frequent violation of rights – often by the police, district officials and the legal system itself. A recent example of human rights violations is the killing of more than 45 persons with albinism—of a total population of about 17,000 people in Tanzania. They have been killed due to widespread belief in witchcraft, which makes wealthy people ready to pay several thousands of dollars for albino body parts ... to ensure ... good luck."

When the United Nations Human Rights Committee reviewed, in 2009, Tanzania's implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the "investigations of the albino killings was noted as an issue for immediate action together with addressing men’s violence against women, which is also widespread in Tanzania. International and national studies show that women with disabilities are more often subject to such violence than others."

The 2008 Disability Survey found that "four out of ten children with disabilities between 7 and 13 years [of age] attend school in Tanzania. When it comes to secondary [high school] and tertiary [college] education for PWD over 15 years [of age], only 5% had attended secondary school and less than 1% attend tertiary education. However, these figures seem to be unrealisticly high. There are 16 special schools in Tanzania, and 159 special units integrated into regular schools. [Only] 2% of children with disabilities are said to attend these schools."

Tanzanian organizations working for disability rights

MKUKUTA Disability Network - established in 2005 to monitor the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (commonly known by its Kiswahili acronym MKUKUTA). Tries to ensure that PWDs are included when implementing MKUKUTA and other development policies.

Tanzania Federation of Disabled People's Organizations - known in Kiswahili as SHIVYAWATA, its purpose is to unite all disabled people's organizations and the pro-disability organizations "for effective lobbying and advocacy work."

Tanzania Association for the Disabled - known in Kiswahili as CHAWATA.

Tanzania Albino Society

Tanzania League of the Blind

Tanzania Association of the Deaf - known in Kiswahili as CHAVITA.

Tanzania Society of the Deaf-Blind

Tanzania Association for the Mentally Handicapped

Tanzania Users & Survivors of Psychiatry Organisation

Kilimanjaro Association of Spinal Cord Injuries

Source: Disability Rights in Tanzania, by NIDS/MSC, Shia, and Annika Nilsson, 30 January 2011.

24 July 2011

Attempted suicide still a crime in Tanzania

Under Section 217 of the Tanzanian Penal Code, a person who attempts suicide is guilty of a misdemeanor. A secondary school student was charged in Ilala District Court with violating this law after taking ten antibiotic pills. State attorney Sakina Sinda told the court that on 3 July 2011, the student attempted suicide after her mother told her to spend money carefully because the family was having financial difficulties.

The student denied the charges against herself and wept in the courtroom as she pleaded with the judge to set her free on grounds that she is a student and wants to go back to school. ''It is not true that I tried to kill myself. I pray to this court to release me because I did not commit any crime,'' she told the court while in tears.

The judge, Wilbaforce Luhwago, adjourned the case until 4 August. The accused remains in jail after failing to secure bail.

Why does Tanzania fail to recognize that imprisoning someone after a suicide attempt solves nothing? Someone who wants to end his or her life is hardly going to be deterred by a potential prison sentence should the suicide attempt fail.

Source: "Student Charged with Attempted Suicide," The Daily News, 24 July 2011, http://dailynews.co.tz/home/?n=22059

14 June 2011

Tanzania statistics from UNICEF

Total population (2009): 43,739,000 (314,659,000 USA)
Percent of population living in urban areas (2009): 26 percent (82 percent USA)
Population under 18 (2009): 22,416,000 (77,319,000 USA)
Population under 5 (2009): 7,792,000 (21,823,000 USA)
Population annual growth rate, 2000-2009: 3.1 percent, doubles every 23.2 years (1.1 percent USA, doubles every 65.5 years)
Number of births per year, per 1,000 population (2009): 41 (14 USA)
Number of deaths per year, per 1,000 population (2009): 11 (8 USA)

Average number of births (2009): 1,812,000 (4,413,000 USA)
Life expectancy at birth (2009): 56 (79 USA)
Probability of dying before age 1 (2009): 6.8 percent (0.7 percent USA)
Probability of dying before age 5 (2009): 10.8 percent (0.8 percent USA)

Gross national income per capita (2009): $500 ($47,240 USA)
Percent of total national income earned by the lowest 40 percent of income earners: 19 percent (16 percent USA)
Percent of total national income earned by the highest 20 percent of income earners: 42 percent (46 percent USA)
Average annual inflation rate, 1990-2009: 14 percent (2 percent USA)

Adult literacy rate (2005-08): 73 percent

Adult (age 15-49) HIV infection rate (2009): 5.6 percent (0.6 percent USA)
Number of people living with HIV (2009): 1,400,000 (1,200,000 USA)
Adolescent and young adult (15-24) HIV infection rate (2009): 2.8 percent (0.2 percent USA)
Adolescent and young adult male (15-24) HIV infection rate (2009): 1.7 percent (0.3 percent USA)
Adolescent and young adult female (15-24) HIV infection rate (2009): 3.9 percent (0.2 percent USA)
Number of children (0-17) orphaned by HIV/AIDS (2009): 1,300,000

Percent of population using improved drinking water sources (2008): 54 percent (99 percent USA)
Percent of urban population using improved drinking water sources (2008): 80 percent (100 percent USA)
Percent of rural population using improved drinking water sources (2008): 45 percent (94 percent USA)
Percent of population using improved sanitation facilities (2008): 24 percent (100 percent USA)
Percent of urban population using improved sanitation facilities (2008): 32 percent (100 percent USA)
Percent of rural population using improved sanitation facilities (2008): 21 percent (99 percent USA)

Sources: UNICEF, Tanzania, United Republic of, Statistics, http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/tanzania_statistics.html#78; UNICEF, United States of America, Statistics, http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/usa_statistics.html#79.

05 June 2011

Protecting the right of independents to run for political office

Tanzania has been sued for the first time in the African Court on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR).

Articles 39, 67, and 77 of the Tanzanian Constitution prohibit a person from running for political office unless the person is a member of a political party. Tanzania is the only country in the East African Community (EAC) that does not allow independent candidacies. The other EAC members, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, allow people to run as independents or as party members. Tanzania's highest court, the Court of Appeal, upheld those prohibitions in 2010.

The plaintiffs in the ACHPR case are the Tanganyika Law Society and the Legal and Human Rights Centre, with assistance from the East Africa Law Society and the Pan African Lawyers Union. They claim that the Tanzanian Consitution violates Articles 2 and 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (the "Charter") as well as Articles 3 and 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Tanzania is a party to both of those international agreements.

The ACHPR is based in Arusha, Tanzania, but is part of the African Union. The court has jurisdiction to enforce the Charter and "any other relevant human rights instruments."

Source: "Govt challenged over independent candidacy," by Lusekelo Philemon, IPPmedia.com, 3 June 2011, http://www.ippmedia.com/frontend/index.php?l=29745

Links: The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights can be found here. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights can be found here.

22 May 2011

Gay Tanzania - Silence in Africa

The following are some excerpts from a moving article entitled Gay Tanzania - Silence in Africa by Richard Ammon. He wrote the article in February 2008. The full text can be found at this website.


"We were afraid you were a Tanzanian trying to expose us so we were not sure if we should respond. You know, it can be dangerous because we are not yet strong enough in our groups to confront the homophobia of the police, our families and our employers." So began my first interview with one of the leading Tanzanian lesbian activists as Ashura (not her real name) and I talked over lunch in central Dar es Salaam (Dar, for short) on the east coast of this central Africa country. 

I had traveled across the entire vast green expanse of Tanzania--about a thousand miles--before I met Ashura and other activists. At first they were not easy to find. My e-mails and text messages went unanswered, and I was afraid I’d leave the country without seeing any lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) folks here or gaining any understanding of the "scene." Finally, Ashura came through by cell phone, and we agreed that our first meeting would be just the two of us to reassure other LGBT people that I was not a lawman or a spy.

The hesitation to trust a stranger is understandable. Homosexuality in Tanzania is a crime punishable by 30 years to life imprisonment for "offenses against nature." (The law was revised upward from 14 years imprisonment in 2002.) Nearly every day, I read in the several English language newspapers about suspected thieves being lynched or clubbed or burned to death by local vigilante mobs of men taking the law into their  own hands. There have been no reports of anyone getting killed for being gay, but the impulsive readiness of mob violence evokes a steady cautiousness in LGBT people to maintain constant vigilance.

"The Association" is a pseudonym for the one and only lesbian organization in the country. All groups have to register with the Tanzanian government, and this one is no exception. Of course, disclosing their true identity would be risky, so the women present themselves as a women's empowerment group under a different name, which I have named The Association. It currently has more than 100 highly invisible members across the country. Invitation to join is spread by word-of-mouth around town, including in the several gay and gay-friendly bars and clubs in Dar, a sprawling city of 3 million.

Ashura said one of the significant challenges is to get different classes of women to operate together. Tanzania is economically class-conscious with middle and upper class women reluctant to socialize with women in lower socioeconomic levels. There are different venues in Dar that tend to separate out the classes with each patronizing their favorite club. Often the flavor of a club is determined by the owner who caters to a preferred type of customer: some venues are gay male friendly, some are lesbian-friendly, some are mixed along with some hustlers and sex workers.

It's not easy developing a grass-roots LGBT organization here because of the criminal status of homosexuality. The movement is fledgling, cautious, and still finding its way. Most of Tanzania is agricultural with most work done by peasant families and workers with only primary (eighth grade) education and not a whisper of awareness about human rights, gender, or sexuality issues. There is no precedent for gay activism here and many LGBT members and leaders do not have the independence, finances, or time to go to leadership seminars or organizational meetings outside Tanzania.  Occasionally, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission sends a consultant, as does HIVOS from Holland or Astrea Lesbian Fund.

Lack of money is a chronic problem. Tanzania, as an independent country, is hardly that: it depends on foreign government aid for over 40 percent of its gross national income. Hundreds of NGO's, UN agencies, and religious/charity organizations help keep the nation afloat with their donations and/or missionary health and education services across the country (indeed, across the whole continent). But since The Association and CPSS (the men’s organization; more later) don't yet have strong organizational presence or an impressive list of achievements or any reliable friends in high places, they can only compete modestly for international funding. And they have to walk a fine line of discretion as an LGBT organization, careful to couch their full truth within wider missions such as women’s rights or HIV/AIDS education or local sponsors of community arts and sports events. In return, pro-gay donor countries such as Norway and Holland also must be discreet so as not to be seen as funding an organization that is illegal in Tanzania.

Nevertheless, inside the city limits of Dar there is a quietly thriving LGB community with interconnecting circles of friends meeting privately in homes or in the half dozen venues that are gay or gay friendly. Still, a dense population is no guarantee of privacy or indifference. In 2007, a lesbian couple were forced out of their apartment in Dar when neighbors highly suspected they were gay and became threatening and vocal in their disapproval, protesting their presence, and creating a scandal that reached the local (unfriendly) newspapers. Another incident that scandalized gays in 2007 happened when two lesbians, socializing with a dozen other friends at Mango Club, had too much to drink and were found fondling in the ladies room, which soon blew up into another moment of media hysteria. It resulted in The Association being thrown out of their office.

The Association's troubles have emboldened Ashura and the membership—as women in a patriarchal society and as lesbians in a homophobic culture. Their set goals are to bring awareness to an unenlightened country (at least the major cities) by offering health programs and educational discussions about women's issues (power, equality, sexual protections) at the local community level, and about more generalized awareness regarding diseases such as malaria and teaching about improving water quality.

In this manner, The Association integrates itself in local affairs, and neighbors get to know the women not as lesbians but as charity caring workers for the common good. Slowly, as friends, they can be known, if others ask, for who they are: women helping women. Those who want to know more are free to ask The Association further questions about the members, but more commonly much is understood without words.

In addition to women's social and education work, The Association focuses quietly on health care workers who deal with HIV testing and counseling. Many health workers are uneducated about gay men and lesbians and the variant sexual details of disease transmission among this population. There is always a need for more trained HIV-test counselors who can deal with same-sex behavior in a mature manner since homosexuality for many does not exist and is therefore not targeted in the national prevention programs. It is hoped in the future to lobby the Ministry of Health on behalf of lesbians and gay men to increase awareness of gay issues since these people already receive HIV care in hospitals and clinics throughout the country. Research for this purpose has been offered by Norway but so far only gay men are included in the proposal. The Tanzanian health ministry has not agreed to include lesbians in this work since "lesbians don't exist" here.

As if this were not enough to keep The Association busy for several years, Ashura said they want to do research and write documentation about sexual abuse of women, especially lesbians, that can be passed on to Tanzanian human rights organizations-- which is awkward because some of them are not known to be friends of LGB citizens. Even the former director of Amnesty International-Tanzania, who was somewhat supportive, has not shown any interest in bringing about awareness change in official circles. Even though the Tanzanian constitution prohibits discrimination against anyone, it is an abstraction that has little influence on the streets where people live and work and mask their truth with silence and smiles. Even in the respected University of Dar es Salaam, not a single professor is willing to offer LGBT human rights leadership or support, including anyone from the law faculty.

Ashura said there is a strong call for legal, medical and organizational assistance from international rights organizations and NGO's to help give forceful and weighty guidance in this direction. When a respected Dutch consultant from HIVOS came to Tanzania to lecture and discuss with other NGO's about LGBT human rights there was polite but clear denial and resistance to his visit (e.g., "it's not an issue here because there are very few homosexuals in Tanzania").


I also spoke with two leaders of the men's Community Peer Support Services (CPSS), the only gay men's organization in Tanzania. Claiming over 475 members throughout this country of 35 million people, CPSS has ten sub-groups or zones across the land. Allan is the chairman of CPSS, and Jon (not their real names) is the program coordinator. Together in Dar, they design programs intended to advance equal rights, increase awareness of diversity, and educate people about HIV preventions and care. It is claimed that 40 percent of Tanzanian men engage in sex with other men, with 100 percent denial. Many of these men are married which complicates the heterosexual HIV/AIDS transmission problem: how does one publicly address denied and secretive sexual behavior? And how does a wife protect herself with condoms without implying or directly accusing her spouse of taboo but common extramarital activity?

Like many gay organizations in repressive homophobic countries, CPSS does not present itself as a gay but rather an an HIV education and awareness program offering community-based activities  and information as a means of helping others and becoming a familiar local helping hand—not unlike the women’s Association.
As well as serving others, such charitable activity also helps qualify CPSS to receive some limited funding from international donors who must, in turn, be sensitive to the laws of recipient countries. In Tanzania, homosexuality is a criminal offense which forces funders from liberal pro-gay countries such as Holland and Norway to find ways of spiriting money to groups without offending authorities. As part of their protective guise, CPSS has established a "cover" organization with a different name through which foreign donations can be received—a common tactic throughout homophobic Africa.

Such cautiousness, I asked Allan, is it really necessary? Has anyone actually been busted? "Yes," he replied, "last year a man in Zanzibar was caught in a sexual relationship. He was jailed, tried, and sentenced to 34 years in prison. The term was later reduced to 30 years."
Similar to the women's Association, CPSS focuses on charity and health work to increase their local visibility and become integrated into neighborhoods in all ten zones. Their most recent event was a sports bonanza, "Mukasi 2007," co-sponsored by CPSS and a non-gay organization that offered competitions in 10 sports and attracted about 500 kids in various age groups. In the process of having fun, the kids received age-appropriate information about health issues including HIV, self-respect, personal hygiene, and the importance of education.

Another focus for CPSS is the local environment. They engage with residents of neighborhoods for clean-up days to improve living conditions, eliminating trash and stagnant water (to reduce mosquitoes). "This is the way we want to work, as a community organization so people come to know us as their friends first and then only maybe later, if it comes up, about our sexuality. By then we hope we are known as good helpers and educators and sports sponsors and not as a label of 'gays' that scare people and turn them against us. We don’t push a gay agenda," said Jon, "we do it the African way."

As with lesbians, the gay men in Dar function in a lively yet closed social network of intersecting friendship circles in private homes, gay-friendly venues and at CPSS meetings. Needless to say, the entire network is virtually invisible from the outside as homophobia always threatens to unmask or arrest people. Allan should know. He narrowly escaped capture last year when he was dating a younger man whose parents found out about them and called the police. When the officers showed up at Allan's residence, he was not at home and the cook said Allan was out of town. But he was only three doors away. Afterwards, the cook reported to Allan who immediately left town for several months until the heat was off. Sadly the young man is now estranged from his family and Allan does not go near the parents’ neighborhood even though they do not know his face. "I'm always nervous," he said. "You cannot imagine how it is to always feel threatened by such a legal rule."

Jon said the consequences for being "outed" are dire. Jobs, reputations and family honor are at stake. Allan attributed this to poor education, the conservative culture, narrow-minded religion, and rigid adherence to heterosexual traditions, all which inhibit personal freedom and cast a shadow on the progress of pro-gay efforts.
Despite being in a major metropolitan city, gay men still operate within a society that is filled with anti-gay negativity, harmful gossip, and rumor that can humiliate and ridicule vulnerable people, destroy reputations and careers, and break up families. That said, if a gay Tanzanian is discreet and doesn't make a public scene or act inappropriately, a man or woman can have a moderately comfortable and safe life with a partner and gay friends in Dar, Zanzibar City, Arusha, or Mwanza--Tanzania's other major cities.

But not in rural villages. Outside the city limits, where the vast majority of Tanzania's people live, peasant farmers raise families to help work the land, planting rice, and harvesting corn or coffee. Education for many ends at 14 due to lack of secondary schools fees. Sexual identity and personal expression are far down the list of privileges. Any budding same-sex desire dissolves into adherence and loyalty to one’s family and tribe and into minimal-education work, such as tending goat herds, furniture making, or delivering charcoal fuel by ox-cart. Of course, sexual desire does emerge and carnal combinations happen, but for rural gay men and lesbians, the connection is usually without any understanding of sexual orientation or same-sex romance and is internalized as "just something that happens."

However, if a person does understand they are "different," a private gay life can be lived in an invisible manner with carefully crafted masks and socially acceptable disguises, the most common of which is marriage and kids, whether out of self-ignorance or deliberate deception. Dar’s millions of denizens provide anonymity and a highly cosmopolitan mix of foreigners, professionals, UN personnel, NGO employees, and an educated and prosperous middle class. In Arusha and Mwanza, the next largest cities, there are scattered members of The Association and CPSS but clearly no visible "scene" to be found in the streets and markets of either city.

In Dar, Allan said he has lived most of his adult life in the city. Allan's entire family of seven siblings knows about his orientation. For twenty years, he lived with his beloved Abdul whom he originally met at the bank where they both worked—until it was discovered they were a gay couple in 1996 and fired because they were a "bad example," with no recourse to legal action. It was their dismissal that gave impetus for their starting (with Jon) CPSS in 1997 as a charitable health NGO as a means of supporting themselves, doing charity work, and helping isolated and alienated gay men with no place to turn. The initial funding came from the three founders. There was no LGBT group anywhere in the country at the time. Since then, CPSS has grown slowly and secretly; they use code words to identify themselves.

Unfortunately, Abdul succumbed to AIDS in 2005—more accurately, from incompetent homophobic medical treatment than from the virus.

Jon originally worked for a government agency that approved construction projects during the socialist period after independence. But eventually, the ministry was made redundant as privatization replaced state controlled agencies and industries. More recently he has been engaged on occasion as a contractor in Dar, building residential buildings. He also has seven siblings, two of whom—brothers—are also gay. In 2005, he campaigned for a seat in parliament and learned the hard way about corruption, greed, and turf wars among government ministers and MP's with not-so-hidden agendas for manipulating power and money to their favor.

Gay and lesbian Tanzanian activists have a great challenge ahead of them, to begin a delicate dialogue with the government to reconsider the criminal status of same-sex behavior and open a small window of tolerance in a culture that is ignorant and prejudiced against sexual difference within its population.


Suraka is a 23 year old Tanzanian heterosexual receptionist at the Sunset Bungalows in Kendwe village on the west coast of the island. With a ready smile and a soft masculine bearing, he checked us and showed us to our modern and stylish room near the beach along azure blue water. A couple of days later, I approached him and asked if he knew any homosexuals in Zanzibar. His reaction was calm as he thought for a moment and said he didn't know anyone directly but knew there were some in Stone Town and knew that others worked in the various resorts along Zanzibar's coast.

GG: What is your opinion of these people?
I don't know why they want to do that. It's not a good way to be for them, I think.

GG: If a friend of yours said he was gay. would you still be friends?
I don't think so. It is strange for them that way. I don't know why they act to be that way. Maybe the parents did not advise them in a good way. Maybe they are confused and do not have normal friends with girls.

GG: Would the family reject the gay person?
Maybe, or maybe say nothing or make them be married. I don't know.

GG: Do you have a strong bad feeling about gay people?
Not strong but yes a feeling, more like feeling sorry for them; they are not right and maybe they need advice to correct their way. But if they are famous and everybody knows, then it doesn't matter. It's okay and people accept that.

GG: There are gay people here?
Yes, I think so in the tourist areas there are such people who look for sex, for man or woman. We know this and it happens in the tourist sections—like in Mombassa (Kenya). But not so in the small villages away from here. There it is not good, not allowed to be that way. Local people don't understand this and will not accept it.

After a pause, Suraka seemed puzzled by his own lack of knowledge about homosexuality and his inability to explain better the issue in his country. "I will put my head down and think about this and give you a better opinion later," he said. It was obvious he had never been asked about homosexuality and had little understanding of it—not unusual for the vast majority of straight Tanzanians.


It's not a polished place, with picnic benches for dining tables and several stand-up drinking tables; half a dozen TVs for watching sports events; two bars offer dozens of alcohol drinks; the food menu offers the usual chicken-beef-fish with rice oR chips; open to the sky with upstairs and downstairs seating; and a guesthouse with a couple dozen rooms ranging from backpacker bunks to oversized "executive" rooms; an en suite single is US$45.

About 9 PM, the place starts to liven up as friends and strangers show up in singles, couples, or small groups looking for a chat, a smoke, a drink, or a meal. On this particular night, under a full moon in February, by 9:30 PM there were distinct "types" gathered at tables and bars. The most visible were the prostitutes with their stylishly tight outfits, movie-star make-up, and an ever-ready "halloo" on their lips.

Across the room were several men, in couples or threes or fours meeting after work at the numerous embassies, NGO's, and commercial offices in the area, both European whites and local blacks chattering at each other above the house music. Another cluster was "tom boys"—young women with lean figures dressed in jeans and shirts looking very butch. Near them was a heterosexual couple obviously entangled in a cat-and mouse conversation of nonsense verbal foreplay. This was clearly a mixed place with cross-currents of interest: lesbians, gay men, straights, and variations in between.

The energy level was bubbly and appeared free of the paranoia I had heard about for two days during my interviews with activists. This was a person-to-person local LGB/straight pick-up and cruise scene where people were left to their own choices without risk of being busted by police. And this was only 9PM; by eleven or midnight the crowd increases and the night's dark shadows provide cover for discreet or indiscreet liaisons that satisfy hidden desire with little risk.

The scene repeats itself nightly and Tanzanians in need of contact live out their night lives as counterbalance to the required restraint of daylight, professions, and domestic responsibilities.

23 April 2011

Scientists predict the so-called miracle HIV cure will have long term consequences

Some health experts have expressed concern about the Tanzanian government's silence on the "miracle" herbal concoction being administered by retired pastor Ambilikile Mwaisapile. He claims that the herbs can cure ailments like HIV/AIDS, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. The herbal "cure" attracts thousands of people each day to the pastor's home in the remote Samunge Village. Administratively, the village is in Digo-Digo Ward, Loliondo Division, Ngorongoro District, Arusha Region. The village is located west of Lake Natron near the Tanzania-Kenya border.

Dr. Benet Fimbo, a consultant with the Tanzania Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and a former head of Information and Communication at the National AIDS Control Programme, told a meeting in Dar es Salaam on April 20, 2011, that the government's silence was a time bomb which will heavily impact ongoing efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. Dr. Fimbo said some People Living with AIDS (PLWA) have abandoned their antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). "The issue is not about the toxicity of the herb used by Rev. Mwaisapile, but the scientific proof that it cures the disease." He said that scientists will be blamed for failing to raise the alarm on the need for scientific proof. He said those who have stopped taking ARVs and decide to resume when things go wrong might develop viral resistance and die.

He was supported by an anonymous participant who works at a Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre in Dar es Salaam. He told the meeting that the centres were being flooded by people seeking to be tested for the virus. "Previously PLWAs were coming to check for their CD4 counts but a good number are now seeking HIV status service." Instead of checking their blood counts to see if their ARVs are still effective, PLWAs are wanting to be tested to see if they have been cured by the herbal concoction, i.e., gone from HIV positive to HIV negative.

Dr. Hadji Mponda, the Minister for Health and Social welfare, has repeatedly stated that the government has not said the herbs were capable of curing HIV, diabetes, or any other disease. On April 6, Dr. Mponda insisted that the herbal concoction has yet to be endorsed, contrary to some media reports. "All we said is that initial tests have proved that the herbal drink issued by Pastor Mwaisapile was not toxic and thus fit for human consumption." He said that the tests conducted by the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), the Tanzania Foods and Drugs Authority, and the Chief Government Chemist were simply aimed at ensuring the safety of persons consuming the herbs. "This is a very sensitive matter and media should not mislead people. The fact that we said the Loliondo herbal concoction was not toxic should not be taken as if my ministry had admitted that the herbal cocktail was an effective remedy." Dr. Mponda said NIMR and the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences were still working on the follow-up tests for the herbal "cure" to determine its potency.

In March 2011, Tanzanian news outlets reported the deaths of more than 50 patients while en route to Loliondo, while queuing to see Mwasapile, or shortly after receiving the "cure." Dr. Fimbo said that no hospitals have confirmed that anyone has become HIV negative after drinking the herbs. In May 2011, The Citizen reported that 5 HIV positive residents of Sunya village in Kiteto District, Manyara Region died after abandoning their ARVs in favor of the herbal concoction.

Samunge Village is littered with empty plastic containers and human waste, as people queuing have no sanitation facilities. Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda has promised to supply tents and build a dispensary in the village to treat patients needing medication before or after getting the herbal drink. He further directed local government authorities to be on alert against possible outbreaks of communicable diseases.

Sources: "5 Kiteto Villagers Die of Aids After Abandoning ARVs," The Citizen, 2 May 2011, http://thecitizen.co.tz/news/4-national-news/10549-5-kiteto-villagers-die-of-aids-after-abandoning-arvs.html; "Authorities Urge Caution on Popular 'Cure-All' Herb," PlusNews, 4 April 2011, http://allafrica.com/stories/201104050096.html; "Scientists query 'Babu' cure," The Daily News, 23 April 2011, http://dailynews.co.tz/home/?n=19153&cat=home

19 December 2010

New currency being printed for the first time in 7 years

The governor of the Bank of Tanzania, Professor Benno Ndulu, has announced that new versions of Tanzanian currency will begin circulating in January 2011. The new notes will be harder to counterfeit and will continue to be issued in 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 shilling denominations. Despite the 10,000 shilling note being equal only to approximately U.S.$7, he claimed there is no need for a higher denomination note. "We will only consider introducing new denomination if the shilling depreciates sharply - the currency is not in such a bad situation." The 10,000 shilling note was introduced in 1995 and has lost more than 45 percent of its purchasing power just since 2001. This is the first printing of Tanzanian currency since 2003.

Sources: "National Consumer Price Index (NCPI) for November, 2010," National Bureau of Statistics, Dar es Salaam, released 15 December 2010, http://www.nbs.go.tz/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&view=category&id=67:inflation&download=499:cpi-release-november-2010&Itemid=106; "BoT issues new banknotes," Daily News, Dar es Salaam, 17 December 2010, http://dailynews.co.tz/home/?n=15561&cat=home

16 December 2010

Long overdue introduction of English as the medium of instruction in elementary schools

Unlike its East Africa neighbors, Tanzania uses Kiswahili as the medium of instruction in public elementary schools and then abruptly switches to English in secondary school. Most children do not continue their education in secondary school, most for financial reasons but many because their English language skills are insufficient.

This is going to change in three years. The minister for education and vocational training, Dr. Shukuru Kawambwa, announced during a speech on 15 December 2010 at the Tanzania Education Authority that the country would begin English language instruction in the equivalent of third grade. This long overdue change will take effect in 2013.

Source: "Tanzania Opens Doors to English Teachers," The Daily News, 16 December 2010, http://dailynews.co.tz/home/?n=15468&cat=home

Police set up roadblocks to solicit bribes

Police roadblocks are ubiquitous on major roads between Tanzanian cities. According to the Centre for Economic Prosperity in Dar es Salaam, bribes paid to police at those roadblocks total between U.S.$767,000 and U.S.$1,020,000 per year (exchange rate of 1,500 Tanzanian shillings per U.S. dollar). But based on data provided by the East African Business Council and the Tanzania Truck Owners Association (TTOA), the bribes total close to U.S.$15,000,000 per year. The executive director of TTOA, Zakariah Hans Poppe, said, "Truck owners now include in drivers' allowances money to bribe traffic police officers."

Source: "Police Sign Pact to Remove Roadblocks," The Citizen, Dar es Salaam, 14 December 2010, http://allafrica.com/stories/201012150144.html

10 December 2010

Donors to Tanzania weigh in on budget problems

Svein Baera, an official at the Norwegian embassy in Dar es Salaam and a representative of major donors to the Tanzanian national government, spoke on 6 December 2010 at the National Policy Dialogue meeting in Dar es Salaam. He blamed the government's budget problems during the current 2010/11 fiscal year on overly optimistic revenue forecasts, excessive expenditures, and a failure to prioritize expenditures in advance should revenues fail to meet expectations. He claimed that the government deliberately avoided talking with donors, which "calls into question the quality of our policy dialogue and partnership." The Tanzanian minister for finance and economic affairs, Mustafa Mkulo, declined to respond.

Roughly 36 percent of Tanzania's revenues are provided by donors. Those who are represented by Norway are expected to provide U.S.$534 million to Tanzania during this fiscal year, which is a decrease of U.S.$220 million from the previous fiscal year.

Donors encouraged the Tanzanian government to reduce tax exemptions so that they are more consistent with those granted in other countries. The exemptions for fiscal year 2009/10 were equal to 2.3 percent of gross domestic product, compared to 1.0 percent in Kenya and 0.4 percent in Uganda.

Source: "Donors - Why Dar es Salaam Suffers Huge Deficit," The Citizen, Dar es Salaam, 7 December 2010, http://allafrica.com/stories/201012070234.html

National statistics

Miscellaneous national statistics (2008, except where indicated):

Population: 42.48 million
Population growth rate: 2.9% per year (doubles every 24.8 years)
Life expectancy at birth: 56 years
Births per woman (lifetime): 5.6
Births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19: 130

Child mortality rate (under 5 years old): 1.11%
HIV infection rate (15-49 population): 6.2% (2007)

Gross domestic product (GDP), per year: U.S.$20.76 billion
GDP per capita, per year: U.S.$488.70
GDP annual growth rate: 7.4%
Inflation, annual rate: 10.4%
Development assistance from abroad, annual: U.S.$2.331 billion
Military expenditures, as percentage of GDP: 1.0%

Cell phone usage rate: 31%
Internet usage rate: 1.2%

Source: The World Bank Group, http://ddp-ext.worldbank.org/ext/ddpreports/ViewSharedReport?&CF=&REPORT_ID=9147&REQUEST_TYPE=VIEWADVANCED

Education statistics:

Literacy rate: 78.2%
Literacy rate, males: 85.9%
Literacy rate, females: 70.7%
Average years of formal schooling: 2.7
Elementary school age children not attending school: 604,378
High school age children not attending high school: 95.2%
Pupil / teacher ratio, elementary schools: 55.86

Source: NationMaster, http://www.nationmaster.com/red/country/tz-tanzania/edu-education&b_cite=1&b_define=1&all=1

Health statistics:

HIV+ population who are females: 54.62%
HIV+ population who are male: 45.38%
Tuberculosis infection rate, population: 0.34%
People per physician: 50,000
Smoking prevalence, women: 1.3%
Smoking prevalence, men: 23%

Source: NationMaster, http://www.nationmaster.com/red/country/tz-tanzania/hea-health&b_cite=1&b_define=1&all=1

Transportation statistics:

Air transport, passengers carried per year: 262, 534
Driving side of the road: left
Highways, paved: 2,302 miles
Highways, unpaved: 52,515 miles

Source: NationMaster, http://www.nationmaster.com/red/country/tz-tanzania/tra-transportation&b_cite=1&b_define=1&all=1

Government statistics:

Corruption: 90th worst in the world, out of 160
Parliament: unicameral, 274 members, 5-year terms
Parliament members, female: 16%
Parliament members, male: 84%
Legal system: common law
Highest court: Court of Appeals
Chief of state: President
Prime minister: appointed by the President
Cabinet: appointed by the President from Parliament members

Source: NationMaster, http://www.nationmaster.com/red/country/tz-tanzania/gov-government&b_cite=1&b_define=1&all=1

Taxation statistics:

Corporate marginal tax rate, highest: 30%
Personal marginal income tax rate, highest: 30%
Personal marginal income tax rate, highest begins on income over: U.S.$5,740

Source: NationMaster, http://www.nationmaster.com/red/country/tz-tanzania/tax-taxation&b_cite=1&b_define=1&all=1

09 December 2010

2010/11 national budget

The Tanzanian national governmnent was projected to collect U.S.$3.13 billion (based on an exchange rate of 1,500 Tanzanian shillings per U.S. dollar) in revenues during the 2009/10 fiscal year. (Tanzania's fiscal year begins on July 1.) That is U.S.$270 million below the amount budgeted, which was U.S.$3.40 billion. Despite this shortfall, the government is budgeting revenue collections of U.S.$4.00 billion during the 2010/11 fiscal year. Just how realistic is this 17.6 percent increase? Not very. During the first three months of the 2010/11 fiscal year, the government has missed its revenue collection target by a whopping 18 percent. Worse, international donors to the government have cut and delayed their donations.

Tanzania experienced gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6 percent in 2009, after accounting for inflation ("real" growth). GDP in 2010 is projected to be U.S.$20.8 billion, compared to U.S.$1.14 trillion in Texas alone in 2009. The 2010/11 budget assumes a real GDP growth rate of 7 percent per year. Per capita income in 2009 was U.S.$419 per year, a 10 percent real increase over 2008.

Budgeted revenues for 2010/11 (in billions of U.S.$):
National government collections...................................... 4.00
Donations............................................................................. 2.18
Borrowing............................................................................ 1.42
Local government collections........................................... 0.10
Privatization proceeds...................................................... 0.02
.....Total revenues.............................................................. 7.72

Total revenues are budgeted for expenditure in the following key areas:
Education................................................................. 18%
Infrastructure......................................................... 13%
Health....................................................................... 10%
Agriculture............................................................... 8%
Water........................................................................ 3%
Energy and minerals.............................................. 3%

For more information, refer to:

"Crossroads of Change: Budget 2010/2011," PriceWaterhouseCoopers, http://www.scribd.com/doc/33045925/Budget-2010-2011-Summary

"Government Meets Donors as Budget Deficit Widens," The Citizen, Dar es Salaam, 6 December 2010, http://allafrica.com/stories/201012060587.html

"Gross Domestic Product by State," Bureau of Economic Analysis, http://www.bea.gov/regional/gsp/action.cfm

05 December 2010

Current and future housing crisis

Virtually all (99 percent) Tanzanians build their houses with savings instead of mortgage financing. As a result, an average of 5-10 years is needed to complete a house. The money invested in unfinished housing is bigger than the total deposits in all Tanzanian banks.

According to the Tanzania National Housing Corporation (TNHC), the country had an estimated housing shortage of 3 million units in 2007. The current annual demand for housing in the country is 200,000 units. Urban area population is growing at 35.7 percent per year. Clearly, a housing crisis is imminent.

One of the problems is that only 1 percent of all loans by Tanzanian banks is for house financing. But the TNHC has a 5-year plan to improve the situation. Beginning with Dar es Salaam next year, TNHC will build 50,000 houses in urban areas, which will increase total home lending from $50 million to $950 million. That would equal 4 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product, compared to 75 percent in the United States and 25 percent in Europe.

For more information, refer to 'The Secret Behind Dar's Posh Homes," The Guardian on Sunday, Dar es Salaam, http://www.ippmedia.com/frontend/index.php?l=23741

28 November 2010

More nationwide electrical generating woes

According to a media report published 28 November 2010, the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO) has announced a nationwide electric power shedding program that will last at least one week. The causes: (1) the breakdown of Songas turbines at Ubungo; (2) a shortage of oil that runs the Independent Power Tanzania Limited plant; and (3) low production of power at the Pangani Hydro Power Plant due to falling water levels. TANSECO's power generating capacity is 595 megawatts compared to demand of 787 megawatts. Demand is growing at 15 percent per year, or doubling every 4.8 years. But there are no comprehensive power generating plans, which means the excess of demand over supply will continue to increase and likely lead to more frequent and prolonged periods of power shedding. Refer to "Painful days ahead as Tanseco announces power shedding, " The Guardian on Sunday, Dar es Salaam, http://www.ippmedia.com/frontend/index.php?l=23520

Just in Austin, Texas, peak demand was 2,660 megawatts, or 338 percent of the demand in the whole country of Tanzania. In the portion of Texas under the jurisdiction of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, peak demand was 66,867 megawatts or 8,496 percent of Tanzania's nationwide demand. Refer to "Monday was the Hottest Day of the Year So Far, Set Records for Energy Use," Austin American-Statesman, Austin, Texas, USA, 1 August 2011, http://www.statesman.com/news/local/monday-was-hottest-day-of-the-year-so-1682207.html

Tanzania is 150 percent as large as Texas with 175 percent of Texas's population.