In Summary

In the European Union, annual subsidies are about 40 billion euros – out of which each cow is allocated $2.50 a day: more than what a billion people worldwide (many of them in Africa) live on daily.

The total amount of farm subsidies in the US stands at around $15 billion annually – and is rising.

In the European Union, annual subsidies are about 40 billion euros – out of which each cow is allocated $2.50 a day: more than what a billion people worldwide (many of them in Africa) live on daily.

It is no secret that politicians in Western nations are keen to protect their agricultural markets, doing so with the backing of powerful farming lobbies.

So, the question arises: did President John Magufuli do the right thing in protecting Tanzanian cashew farmers? The answer is obvious – and anyone in his right mind cannot dispute.

The next question: was the modus operandi of deploying the military the right thing to do?

For decades, cashew nut buyers in Tanzania have been making huge profits for themselves. President Magufuli was fair and transparent when he dialogued with prospective buyers on prices. He did not mince words regarding his strategy on resolving the impasse, including deploying soldiers for security reasons.

Arguably, a crisis situation was developing, as the short rains season was approaching. This would have spoilt the crop, resulting in considerable losses all-round. In fact those who have been critical would have also criticized the government for not involving the army.

In my humble view, the President had no viable option but to take drastic steps to salvage the situation.

As a matter of principle, I believe no section of the citizenry, no matter how powerful, should threaten the government.

This ‘Operation Korosho’ undertaking was no simple task –especially as a first-time venture. It could be said that the decision was drastic, but it was indeed a near-crisis scenario of difficulties and potential shocks that needed to be squarely and effectively addressed.

You’ll never learn to swim without plunging into the water – and that’s exactly what the government did. There will, indeed, be a learning curve; but the government must be persistent… And it is our duty to support it.

Buying and selling anything is a trade. We need to encourage trade because it contributes to economic growth in at least two ways. Trade boosts exports of goods and services; and, secondly: it drives up productivity of the workforce.

It is high time that African leaders earnestly considered trade within Africa. It’s absurd that shipping a car from Japan to Abidjan in Ivory Coast costs $1,500, but moving it from Abidjan to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia costs $5,000.

A decree to remove inter-state trade barriers is a good starting point. There are numerous policies and strategies which African leaderships could adopt to boost trade and regional integration.

It’s wishful thinking that some foreigner or other will ever help us to increase our trade. The glaring trade inequity creates a lot of talk, but despite round after round of World Trade Organization negotiations, all the chatter has amounted to nothing much for Africa.

It is time we tried something different – on the likes of the ‘Operation Korosho.’ Time will tell… But, I am surprised that diehard critics and politicians from the south of the country are not joining the korosho bandwagon to benefit their own communities. The 2020 elections will be a litmus test for many.

Lest I forget – and be labelled a socialist: a hangover from the ujamaa days who is against private sector endeavours – I strongly believe in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs need a receptive, user-friendly environment within which to operate. But, they also need money.

Entrepreneurs, especially SMEs, are more likely to spring up in countries where there is better access to finance, plus an environment where it is easy to do business.

I totally support the private sector and encourage public/private partnerships where each side plays it fair under regulatory frameworks for a win-win situation, no fraudulence, exploitation.

If ‘Operation Korosho’ success is sustained, my advice is to give water and similarly crucial projects to the military. We only need to increase its human resource capacity in professional fields.

The era of private capital is beginning in earnest, and this needs to be nurtured to grow. We should encourage the private sector to direct billions of dollars of smart money (hedge funds, international banks, private equity funds, etc.) to flow into Tanzania.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now – and the private sector should do the planting.

There are four ‘Horses of Africa’s Apocalypses,’ and Mwalimu Nyerere mentioned three: ignorance, poverty and disease. I add grand corruption to the list.

Tanzania’s socioeconomic development struggle demands a new level of consciousness, a greater degree of innovation – and a generous dose of honesty about what works and what doesn’t work.

And, one thing is for sure: the private sector has to play a part.