Ties that Bind South Africa and Tanzania

Published on 6th October 2008

Although the dust of the ouster of former South African President, Thabo Mbeki has already settled, the nation is at crossroads. The African strategic nation was not ready for Mbeki’s exit despite swearing in a new caretaker president, Kgalema Mothlanthe.


Will Jacob Zuma, become a uniter or a divider just like Kikwete’s in-party fractures? Today I will ponder on some similarities between South Africa and Tanzania, which is also a strategic nation in the region.


Both countries are xenophobic towards black refugees. We recently witnessed foreigners from African countries tortured and killed in South Africa just like the refugees from Rwanda, DRC and Burundi were expelled in Tanzania, whilst Chinese and Indians went about their deals in the upper echelons of power. The duo ironically fought against apartheid but sadly practice it.


Another area the duo can be tied together is mega corruption involving the big guns. In Tanzania, former President, Benjamin Mkapa and former Premier Edward Lowassa and other senior ministers were implicated just like former Vice President Zuma that hides behind the ruling of the court that did not dispute the existence of corruption but interference. Nonetheless, Zuma and Lowassa were fired while Mkapa has been left to get away with it thanks to President Jakaya Kikwete’s muscle flexing.


Another area South Africa and Tanzania meet is on the minerals. They’re all endowed with a massive amount of minerals. Whereas South Africa benefits from its minerals as a result of a good structure left by the former Boer regime, Tanzania is a victim. Tanzania’s minerals are benefiting foreign thieves disguised under many good names. The so-called investors have conspired with the high and mighty to send the country to an economic purgatory.


When it comes to firing their rulers, the duos square it. In Tanzania, parliamentary select committee ousted a premier after he was implicated in dirty deeds such as the Richmond scandal. To the contrary, the ANC-Zuma-party committee recalled President Thabo Mbeki for being tough on corruption in which Zuma is implicated. Zuma was booted out by Mbeki after it came to light that he participated in corrupt practices.


In all countries, vampire ruling parties have become another heck to the common man. They ruin their countries as in Mbeki’s overthrow and Lowassa’s survival from facing the music thanks to being caught red handed in Richmond. Believe me Tanzania’s Lowasa is receiving retirement emoluments and other fat perks as if he honourably retired. Every successful mumbo jumbo in the duo has behind the scene soliciting and donating of money. This has cost them a lot. Zuma temporarily went under thanks to the good job by Schabir Shaik as it is Jeetu Patel in EPA’s profligacy.


No one knows the logic behind expelling the learned and hardworking Mbeki to usher in Zuma. But in politics anything is possible. Who could believe that in 2005, Tanzanians would pick Kikwete and dump an international renowned economist, Professor Ibrahim Lipumba? The trouble is who’d pick a secondary school leaver Amani Karume and negate elite like Dr. Gharib Bilal in Zanzibar? These are poll-tricks anyway.


Tanzania suffers a lot more from self inflicted poverty than South Africa that is witnessing substantial surge of black middle class as opposed to the latter. Tanzania’s economy is the most mismanaged in East Africa. She is outshone even by countries like Rwanda and Uganda whose making she had an upper hand. Her currency is heading to the red every time not to mention her ever decreasing incomes and exports. Imports are spiraling and dependence on donors is immense. The difference between the haves and have-nots is widening. Social services are dilapidated and outdated  compared to the resources the country sits on.


Who could believe that in the 21st century, a country would experience power rationing amidst being surrounded by many waters? For reminder, Tanzania still buys power from Uganda and Zambia. Tanzanians are groping in darkness, high electricity bills and power rationing due Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) cadres sabotaging the Tanzania National Power Supply Company (TANESCO).


The founder of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, once said: "Ask those running to the state house. What are they running for if at all there is no business in the state house?" Though Tanzanians did not ask Kikwete,  we can comfortably ask Zuma: “What mission do you have for the country if at all there is no business in the state house?” Will Zuma’s struggles end up becoming yet another dud? Who knows?

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