This week has been one of mixed bag what with a section of the government finding it necessary to cheat its way into annals of history as exemplary performers in national examinations.
On national TV, a guest reminded us not for the first, but for the umpteenth time, that our society (a good section of it), is obsessed with instant gratification & or with success.
It all came back to me as I was rifling through the first few pages of a recently published book authored by Amb. Juma Mwapachu.
The book goes by the wieldy title of Tanzania in the Age of Change and Transformation. But that is where the author, who needs no introduction in Tanzania and the East African region as well as diplomatic circuit and academia, ends with the wordiness as he embarks on delivering blow for blow issues which makes you wonder whether readers of this book will see themselves in it with a view to internalising change.
Balozi Mwapachu as he is better and more popularly known, shows his “sleight of hand”, when he closes Chapter One of his book with a stinging indictment of what ails Tanzania.
How did we get here? It is hard to place a finger on exactly what led us to where we are today, where we believe, all investors are thieves, most of our neighbours envy our progress and our security forces are so good Al Shabab steer clear of our borders.
This little gem featured prominently in a speech by Subash Patel, himself a local investor and member of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation during the #MwananchiForum conversation towards industrialization held in Dar es Salaam last Thursday.
The continuous desire to create impressions that we are doing much better than we truly are. It seems that the Private Sector and those who are not in the drivers seat in government are not reading off the same script.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade in charge of Investments Dr Edwin Mhede gave short shrift to the realities on the ground by creatively quoting Foreign Direct Investment figures that show Tanzania is leading in investment attraction in our region. Fair enough and a good thing.
But FDI attraction parameters are primarily based on potential and opportunities as opposed to the Ease of Doing Business report which is produced by the World Bank.
In the latter, Tanzania has not been doing so well, a fact acknowledged (even if in not so many words) by Trade and Industry Minister Charles Mwijage during the same forum.
Which brings us back to Amb. Juma Mwapachu’s assertion which needs no interpretation that as a nation ,Tanzania like many other nations faces a “collision with the future and that whether we like it or not, we are going to have to deal with realities that we face. The latter are my words.
When leaders decide to creatively quote only what is favourable to their point of view, then you know there is a problem. As Balozi Mwapachu avers, we face global uncertainty and because we are a member of the community of nations, we cannot afford to operate as if we are an island.
In our minds eye, we are that island of plentiful milk and honey and honestly that we are. The trouble is how are we prepared, working for it and ensuring that in the context of global uncertainty we are prepared to handle all these complex challenges. To make that happen, we must engage all members of this nation and get away from the easy option of blaming others for our problems while creatively quoting data out of context to be seen to be doing well.
Are you an investor? You only have to walk into the reception area of Banana Investments Ltd in Arusha and find 27 certifications from different Government authorities and agencies to understand how difficult it is to do business within such an environment.
Each of the agencies arrives with padlocks whenever they feel like. Banana Investments is locally owned and directly employs over 380 Tanzanians.
Kasera Nick Oyoo is a research and communications consultant with Midas Touché East Africa.