Flag of Tanzania

Tanzania is home to the highest point  in Africa – snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, which can be climbed by walkers without mountaineering equipment – as well as to Olduvai Gorge, where some of the oldest human remains have been found. It also contains most of the Serengeti region, which hosts a dazzling array of animal, bird and plant life and sees the annual migration of 200,000 zebras and more than a million gnu and gazelles in search of water. Ever-increasing numbers of tourists are drawn to these attractions, as well as to the exotic Zanzibar and Pemba islands which lie off the eastern coast, with their exquisite beaches and blend of ancient Persian and African culture and architecture.

From the 16th century onwards, these islands changed hands between British and Portuguese colonialists and Arab kings. In 1964, following a rebellion by its African population against Arab rule, Zanzibar merged with the newly independent former British colony of Tanganyika to form the current United Republic of Tanzania, with Julius Nyerere as its first president.

Nyerere was among the most inspirational and respected of the first generation of African leaders. His 1967 Arusha Declaration was a ringing statement of an alternative path to development based on socialism and self-reliance. He introduced ujamaa – a form of collective farming based on African village traditions. While ujamaa largely failed, Nyerere’s emphasis on education transformed the country, boosting literacy rates from 15 per cent when the British left to an estimated 91 per cent by the time he stepped down as President in 1985. 

The Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Party, which in 1972 emerged from the union of Nyerere’s Tanganyika African National Union and Zanzibar’s Afro-Shirazi Party, remains in power and is still the dominant player in politics. Under Nyerere it was the only political party allowed but multi-party elections have been permitted since a change in the constitution in 1992.

Nyerere was a strong opponent of the IMF and World Bank’s structural adjustment programmes, but these were embraced by his successors as President, Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Benjamin Mkapa. The Government has undertaken a privatization programme of major parastatals (state-owned corporations), although this is often criticized for being mired in corruption and hastily implemented.

Tanzania’s steady economic growth (averaging seven per cent a year between 2001 and 2007), market reforms and regular multi-party elections have since the early 1990s enabled it to access huge donor assistance, and to qualify for HIPC debt relief in 2000. Yet 57 per cent of Tanzanians live on less than a dollar a day. Public healthcare has been deprived of funds by the Government’s increasing privatization of health services; the poor still have to pay user fees for healthcare imposed in the 1990s as part of IMF/World Bank adjustment.

The President since 2005, Jakaya Kikwete, has maintained the neoliberal and pro-privatization policies of his predecessors. He served as foreign minister in past governments and is widely respected in Africa – Tanzania has long been an active mediator for peace in the region. But he has pussy-footed about the lingering issue of the relationship between mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, which feels marginalized and wants greater autonomy – the rising friction between the two has become a threat to what has hitherto been among the most politically stable countries on the continent.

*Wairagala Wakabi*

Map of Tanzania

Lions poisoned in protest

Angry farmers evicted from Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park in advance of November’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting have taken to poisoning wildlife in retaliation, killing hordes of lions and hyenas. Scientists say it will take two decades to reverse the damage done in just 15 months.

According to veterinarian Ludwig Siefert, more than 80 per cent of the park’s hyenas have been killed and all the leopards along the Nyamusagani river have been poisoned. ‘We have also lost at least 11 lions,’ he told local media. Experts say the lion population in the park has decreased from 94 in 1999 to 39 today.

Wilson Okaali of the Basongora Group for Justice and Human Rights said authorities used excessive force in the evictions, and most of the land to which the Government advised the 8,000 displaced to move was already occupied.

In the capital Kampala, police claim to have arrested 600 people on charges of being ‘idle and disorderly’ in efforts to rid the city of ‘undesirables’ ahead of the Summit. Several kiosks and other ‘illegal’ structures were destroyed in the so-called ‘beautification exercise’.


Giacomo Pirozzi / Panos

A small landlocked state in central Africa, sandwiched between its vast neighbours Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi has suffered as much from ethnic conflict as its other (equally tiny) neighbour, Rwanda. Yet while the 1993 Rwandan genocide continues to commandeer international attention, Burundi’s travails tend to slip under the radar.

An independent kingdom from the 16th century, Burundi was colonized by Germany in 1903 – and fell under Belgian control after the First World War. The roots of the conflict between the Hutus (around 85 per cent of the population) and the Tutsis lie in the rigid classification of the two peoples by the Belgians, who issued ethnic identity cards to all in 1933.

Independence in 1962 saw an attempt at joint Tutsi-Hutu government but in 1965 the assassination of the Hutu prime minister led swiftly to a succession of Tutsi-dominated military coups. An attempted rebellion of Hutus in 1972 led to the massacre of 100,000 by the Tutsi élite, and a further 20,000 died in 1988. Conflict is estimated to have claimed a further 300,000 lives since 1993 when the country’s first democratically elected president, Melchior Ndadaye, was assassinated. His successor Cyprien Ntaryamira was killed in April 1994, along with his Rwandan counterpart, Juvenal Habyarimana, in a plane crash – the trigger for the Rwandan genocide. The cycle of military coups was renewed in 1996, bringing sanctions.

A semblance of stability has returned to Burundi since August 2005 when Pierre Nkurunziza – Hutu leader of a rebel group – was elected President after an internationally brokered peace agreement, following years of painstaking work, first by Julius Nyerere and then by Nelson Mandela. In September 2006, Nkurunziza signed a peace agreement with another rebel group, the National Liberation Forces (FNL), which had continued guerrilla activity in the Bujumbura Rurale and Bubanza areas. But the rebels are yet to surrender their arms and integrate into the national army, and accuse Nkurunziza of refusing to fulfil his obligations under the peace agreement.

In the less than two years he has been head of state, Pierre Nkurunziza has claimed at least three foiled coups d’état. At the end of April 2007, Hussein Radjabu, former head of the ruling party, was arrested over accusations of destabilizing the Nkurunziza Government. Scores of politicians from parties in coalition with Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD-led Government have been arrested, or dismissed from office.

The continued conflict has proved utterly disastrous in terms of human development. The UN gives Burundi the ninth-worst rating for human development, while the country’s gross national income per capita is the lowest in the world at just $100 – half its level in 1980.

There are few foreign investors in the country, with most having fled during the civil war. Belgian airline SN Brussels, whose predecessor Sabena cancelled flights to Burundi in 1999 when its plane was shot at during landing in Bujumbura, in April 2007 became the first Western airline to return to the country.

At the end of May the third donor roundtable on Burundi was held, following on two previous ones that raised pledges of more than a billion dollars for Burundi’s economic recovery. Much of this money was not released, as fighting continued just after the conference was held six years ago. The country needs $1.3 billion to fund a three-year poverty reduction plan. As if the process of de-mining and rebuilding the infrastructure ravaged by war were not challenging enough, Burundi is also in the process of repatriating up to 400,000 of its nationals now living in DR Congo and Tanzania.

Democratic Republic of Congo

At Kinshasa International Airport, perhaps the most chaotic airport in the world, it is common for passengers to disembark with bundles of chickens tucked under their arms, or pulling along heavy loads of merchandise. Sometimes the strongest passengers, or those that can run fastest, are the ones that get seats on domestic flights during peak times at this, the main airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Quite often, one will have to bribe an airline official, or an airport security official, in order to get a seat on an overbooked flight.

Corruption runs deep in Congo and the breakdown of law and order that began under the rule of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko remains palpable. Before he was ousted in 1997 by a force led by the late Laurent Kabila and supported by Rwanda and Uganda, Mobutu governed the former Belgian colony like a personal fiefdom.

He locked up opponents, used public funds as he wished, including on a palace in his village at Gbadolite and on European shopping sprees, while neglecting social infrastructure and leaving public servants – including soldiers and police – unpaid for years. That bred corruption as public servants sought to find their own salaries. It also led to civil war, which between 1997 and 2006 resulted in the deaths of an estimated four million people, mainly from famine and disease.

Now, however, Africa’s third largest country appears to be turning a corner: perhaps at no time in its post-independence history has its future looked as bright as it does today. This despite the fact that some politicians maintain personal armies, rape and plunder are rampant, huge swathes of the country are not under governmental control and teem with insurgents from neighbouring countries.

Joseph Kabila was last October elected president in the DRC’s first democratic poll in four decades. He has just named a 60-member cabinet led by veteran politician Antoine Gizenga, a former aide to the country’s post-independence leader Patrice Lumumba. Mobutu’s son François Joseph Nzanga Mobutu, who took fourth place in the first round of presidential voting, has a cabinet post too, and parties that rallied behind Kabila in the run-off are also represented.

The widespread violence many had predicted during the polls did not materialize, despite the fact that Kabila’s main challenger Jean-Pierre Bemba, former leader of the Uganda-sponsored rebel group Movement for the Liberation of Congo, had a personal army in Kinshasa. Bemba’s army has since been relocated from the capital, at Kabila’s bidding.

Occasional fighting, mainly involving government troops and local militia, continued until late 2006 in parts of eastern Congo. And many areas remain beyond government control. But General Laurent Nkunda, the last warlord to hold sway in the eastern North Kivu area, at the end of 2006 agreed a truce under which his forces will be integrated into the national army and he will take asylum outside Congo.

The current stability has whetted the appetites of such big names as AngloGold Ashanti, BHP Billiton and De Beers to inject more funds into the country’s burgeoning mining industry; while gas exploration, fishing and infrastructure development are also attracting greater investor interest. Besides being a net exporter of minerals, Congolese music enjoys great popularity across sub-Saharan Africa and beyond: the Exuberant music genre has been a hallmark of the country since the 1960s. Exuberance has not been a word easily associated with the DRC in recent years, but at least now things really do seem to be looking up.

Sudan's other crisis

A woman waiting in hope for food rations to be delivered to a refugee camp in southern Sudan.

SEAN SPRAGUE / Still Pictures / www.stillpictures.com

The turmoil in the Darfur region of west Sudan has received too little international attention. Yet the plight of the southerners has been neglected even more in recent months. In early July 2006, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was celebrating a ‘modest landmark’: the repatriation of 10,000 Sudanese refugees from neighbouring countries over a seven-month period.

Given that there are 340,000 more Sudanese refugees to be taken home, this may not sound like such a significant achievement. But to the UNHCR and anybody else who knows the headaches the exercise has encountered since its launch at the end of 2005, the progress is satisfactory.

The refugees are being repatriated after the war in southern Sudan, which lasted more than two decades and ended with a peace agreement last year. The war pitted the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) – southern black Africans who are largely Christian – against the country’s Muslim rulers who kept the benefits of development concentrated in the north of the country. Wanting to impose sharia law on the rebelling southerners, the Government employed a scorched-earth policy that sent Sudan’s southern population streaming into neighbouring countries.

By April 2006, the UNHCR had secured only $8.6 million of its appeal for the $63.4 million that it believes is needed to repatriate and resettle southern refugees from the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Uganda. Lam Akol, Sudan’s foreign minister, says only a third of the funds donors pledged last year to enable the country’s post-war resettlement have been released.

This lack of commitment from the international community continues to hamper efforts to resettle both refugees living outside the country and the four million people that have been internally displaced by war. Uganda hosts 172,312 Sudanese refugees – the biggest concentration of Sudanese refugees among the countries offering asylum – but only 30,000 are registered for the journey back home. The target is to send home 5,000 of them this year.

Warrap State Governor Anei Kuei says: ‘Ours is a sea of problems. In my state alone, I have about 1.8 million people waiting to be reintegrated. How do I establish state machinery, provide a civilian livelihood for former soldiers, calm the volatile hostilities between some of our tribes? Where do I start?’

Those returning are facing uncertain futures. Some resettlement areas are still littered with landmines and unexploded ordnance. In addition, the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army rebels continue to reach into southern Sudan, killing civilians and looting property. Travelling in June with a UNHCR convoy for refugees from Uganda to Sudan, the mood was sombre. Here were people returning to their home after a decade or more with only a few bare necessities to enable them to start a new life. According to refugee James Kenyi, 34, whether or not his family will join him soon depends upon the reception he receives, the amenities in place like education and health institutions, and the opportunities to begin a new peaceful life. ‘We don’t know whether the people who are there will welcome us or not because everybody I knew fled from our village.’


One of President Museveni’s military bodyguards passes a billboard at an election rally in the lead-up to Uganda’s first multi-party election since Museveni came to power.

SVEN TORFINN / Panos / www.panos.co.uk

Tourism of the more adventurous kind may be increasingly common – tracking mountain gorillas near the border with Rwanda and DR Congo, or rafting on the Nile, which starts its long journey to the Mediterranean here – but to many outsiders Uganda’s claim to fame is still little more than Idi Amin, the jovial but brutal dictator whose ‘reign of terror’ in this former British colony lasted from 1971 to 1979.

But 27 years after Amin was overthrown, civil war continues to plague Uganda, and there are increasingly disturbing echoes of the tyrannical past in the regime of Yoweri Museveni. When Museveni took power in January 1986 following a guerrilla war, he was soon seen by the West as a leader who might usher in a new era, someone with whom it could do business. To some extent this has happened: Uganda has been seen as a ‘model student’ by the World Bank and the IMF and is ploughing much of its debt relief into making primary education available to all. It has also been notably successful in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic that ravaged the country in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

But Museveni, it is increasingly clear, has a profound dislike for dissenting opinions. Last February he was re-elected president for a further five years – just after he scrapped presidential term limits from the constitution. Museveni’s top challenger was his former doctor and retired colonel, Kizza Besigye.

Besigye accuses Museveni of being dictatorial and nepotic – and he has paid a high price for that view. Shortly after Besigye lost an earlier election to Museveni in 2001, he fled into exile in South Africa due to harassment by state agents. He returned last October, only to be thrown in jail on charges of rape, terrorism and illegal possession of firearms. He was nominated for president while in jail, and though he was acquitted in court of the rape charge, the others still stand. Besigye supporters are often arrested and tortured by security agents, and scores are in jail.

Museveni’s critics say his Ankole people – just one of the more than 60 ethnic groups recognized by Uganda’s constitution – provide the majority of army generals and cabinet ministers, with his own Hima sub-group the main beneficiary.

Museveni’s young brother, Salim Saleh, whom he once dismissed from the position of army commander because of his excessive drinking and indiscipline, and whom the UN accused of looting resources when Ugandan troops occupied neighbouring DR Congo seven years ago, has just been named a minister. In May, Museveni’s wife was elected to Parliament. His son has trotted through army ranks to become a battalion commander in his father’s élite Presidential Guard Brigade and is more powerful than most generals. Military rank matters in Uganda because not only has the country at one time or another fought the armies of DR Congo, Rwanda and Sudan, but it has faced a civil war in the north since 1988. Mystical guerillas calling themselves the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and led by an illiterate former catechist, Joseph Kony, claim they want to replace Museveni’s regime with one based on the biblical Ten Commandments but their main characteristic has been their brutality. The Government and the LRA are currently negotiating a peaceful end to the war which has displaced two million people and turned Kony’s Acholi home into a wasteland.

If the civil war can be resolved, Uganda will be even more attractive to foreign investors – its GDP has grown at more than five per cent a year over the last decade. But growth is slowing, partly due to power shortages. Though just six per cent of Uganda’s population have access to the national electricity grid, supply meets less than one-third of demand so that even the dusty capital Kampala is in darkness at least three nights a week. The rich own inverters or solar panels; middle-income earners have to run diesel-run generators; the poor, needless to say, must do without.

Western charity undermines African textiles

A flood of second-hand clothing from the West is undermining textiles produced in Africa. The Bambara people of central Mali practise the craft of Bogolanfini – printing textiles with mud. This girl carries strips of cotton woven by village craftspeople.

Christien Jaspars / Panos/ http://www.panos.co.uk

Ugandan manufacturers want their Government to put controls on the importation of all second-hand clothing (commonly known as mivumba). They argue that the imported clothing – much of it donated to leading charities in the US and Europe before finding its way to Africa – is hampering the growth of the local textile industry. Joyce Rwakasisi, the Textile Development Agency co-ordinator, says the sector cannot develop when mivumba take up 85 per cent of the market.

But while the Uganda National Bureau of Standards is to ban the importation of second-hand nightwear, stockings, bras and undergarments – primarily on health grounds – it will allow the continued importation of other second-hand clothes.

Uganda’s textile sector used to employ 500,000 people and earn $100 million in annual exports, but has virtually been brought to its knees by the imports. The country isn’t alone. Neil Kearney, General Secretary of the International Textile Garment and Leather Workers Federation points out that in Zimbabwe some 20,000 textile and clothing jobs have disappeared directly or indirectly due to imported used clothing from the West. South Africa has lost 20,000 and Senegal 7,000 jobs, while Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have been hard hit too. ‘In fact, hardly a nation in Africa has escaped the attention of the importers. In some cases, European charities specializing in the second-hand clothing trade, export and retail the goods themselves,’ Kearney said.

But in finding a solution to this problem, not all support a ban on mivumba imports. Member of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah says: ‘For Government to phase out second-hand clothes, it must have a deliberate policy for a substitute, which is not there at the moment.’ The New Vision, a state-run daily, comments that new bras are expensive and banning imports of used bras may condemn some women not to wear them at all. Yet others say that it is culturally demeaning for Ugandans to wear second-hand undergarments. Authorities say all second-hand clothes will be screened at entry points to make sure they are disease-free. ‘This is not to stop the used textile imports but to have clear guidelines in order to protect Ugandans. There are some products like undergarments and socks that should not be allowed for health reasons. Some diseases like candida can be contracted through such undergarments,’ says Inspection Officer Stella Apolot.

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards reportedly set health standards earlier this year in close consultation with the American Embassy (the US is the biggest exporter of second-hand clothes to Uganda). ‘This standard will also promote transparency in the market,’ says Apolot. ‘Traders have been complaining about being cheated when they open bales and find clothes that cannot be sold.’

Rwanda survivors targeted

A spate of killings of those who survived the 1994 genocide in Rwanda has sent villagers fleeing from the southwest province of Gikongoro. Stanley Safari, a legislator in the Senate, says that there is increasing intimidation and murder attempts of genocide survivors and that public ridicule of survivors has become a culture in Gikongoro, the area in which the 1994 genocide plan was purportedly hatched.

The Government is now carrying out a nationwide inquiry into the security of genocide survivors. But Prosper Higiro, Vice-President of the Senate, warns that even though there have been steady reports of harassment of survivors, Government reaction has been slow. Four men who were due to testify in a genocide trial were recently tortured to death in Kaduha district by what authorities said was a marauding gang of genocide suspects and their sympathizers. Prime Minister Bernard Makuza says that at least 25 people have been arrested as a consequence.

In just four months, the 1994 genocide claimed an estimated million lives – primarily of the minority ethnic Tutsi, with some moderate Hutus also targeted. The country’s prisons are already crammed with 130,000 inmates accused of taking part in the killings. The Rwandan Government claims to have repatriated 3.3 million refugees who fled the 1994 death squads but is warning that if any of them took part in the genocide they will be tried.

Uganda’s death row debate

Uganda’s poorly funded prisons are currently crammed with 500 prisoners on death row. Henry Tugume, head of Luzira Upper Prison, which holds the condemned prisoners, says the facility was built in 1927 to accommodate 664 inmates but currently houses over 2,500.

Some inmates have been on death row in Luzira for up to two decades. Prison authorities say that this constitutes torture and inhumane treatment. Moses Kakungulu, director of operations in the Prisons Service, has proposed that execution of convicts be privatized if the death penalty cannot be abolished. He says the hangings brutalize the Prisons Service, which has a central role of reforming and rehabilitating offenders to make them good citizens.

The death row inmates have filed a petition at the Constitutional Court calling for the scrapping of the death sentence in a suit supported by several human rights groups.

But Ugandans remains deeply divided on the issue. Margaret Sekagya – who chairs the state-appointed Human Rights Commission – advocates abolition of the death sentence for rape, defilement and treason offences, but wants it retained for murder and aggravated robbery. A constitutional review commission, which addressed the issue, is about to be released.

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