Tag Archives: Magufuli

Has Zitto revealed fake news on Tz economic growth?

The Citizen, 2/11/2017

Zitto Kabwe was arrested last week. He must be getting used to this by now, as he’s been held and questioned by the police on several occasions over the past couple of years.

What’s new this time, however, is that along with the by-now commonplace charge of “sedition”, he has been charged under the Statistics Act – the first such charges brought since the Act became law in 2015. Specifically, he and his party, ACT Wazalendo, published their own analysis of official economic data from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), suggesting that the official GDP growth figures had been manipulated, and that actual growth was 0.1% rather than the BoT figure of 5.7%. And somebody decided that these are sufficient grounds to have him arrested.

I am not an economist and cannot either confirm or reject Zitto’s claim. I hope others will try to do so. But I can put forward some related data on the state of Tanzania’s economy that might help shed some light on the situation.

Let’s start with Zitto’s figures, however. His argument is essentially that up to now, GDP growth in Tanzania has stuck fairly close to the rate calculated using inflation and money supply figures. The most recent data, however, show a marked diversion, led by a sharp drop in money supply. In other words, the two blue lines on this graph stayed fairly close until this year. So something must be wrong with the latest figures, in his view.

Whether or not this argument holds water, however, we can also examine other data that can tell us something about the state of the economy. I have four more charts for you, starting with the money supply (the amount of money held in Tanzania, either in cash or in bank accounts):

It’s up and down a bit, but it shows one thing pretty clear: that growth in money supply in Tanzania has dropped considerably since early 2016. Before that, the amount of money circulating in Tanzania had been growing at around 15% each year. But that has now dropped to around 5% this year.

Next up, let’s look at another important proxy for a nation’s economic health: imports and exports. If the economy is doing well, demand for imported goods and services and production of exports should be on the increase.

When it comes to exports, the figures are up and down, showing no clear trend. But imports of goods and services into Tanzania are down considerable since January 2015: down by roughly 35% in just over two years.

We can also look at credit to the private sector. Again, this can be a good measure of economic health: if the economy is strong, banks will be happy to lend money.

As with imports, so there has been a decline here: prior to 2016, lending to the private sector had grown at a rate of around 20% a year. This has now dropped to just 1% in the latest available figures, for July 2017.

Finally, an indicator that perhaps affects most Tanzanians lives more immediately than any of those presented above: food prices. This is a complex area, as higher prices can be good for producers just as they are bad for consumers. But price increases would suggest demand is outstripping supply. And if prices go very high, it would suggest there might be a serious food shortage.

It’s good to see that prices have come down considerably since the start of the year – when reports and evidence of food shortages were widespread, despite initial government denials. But it’s noticeable that prices are still well above where they were at this time in the season in 2015 and 2016.

I want to end with two questions:

First: Bank of Tanzania figures tell us that money supply growth is down, imports are down, credit to the private sector is sharply down, and food prices remain high. What does this tell us about the state of the Tanzanian economy?

And second: an opposition politician is arrested and charged for pointing to what he describes as significant anomalies in official data. What does this tell us about the state of Tanzanian democracy?


This post originally appeared on mtega.com.

Yesterday was Access to Information Day 2017. Meanwhile, in Tanzania …

Mwananchi, 29/9/17

As we marked Access to Information Day, 2017 …

… the communications regulator – TCRA – held a consultation on proposed new online content regulations. Among other things, the regulations would require all bloggers and online forums to register with TCRA, to identify any readers or users who post comments or other content, and to pre-moderate all user-submitted content. The implications for blogs and other platforms for public debate and whistle-blowing, including the hugely popular Jamii Forums, would be devastating. Continue reading

“Acacia surrender”: Tz newspaper coverage of mineral concentrates saga

Nipashe 15/6/17

On Wednesday, the President of Tanzania, John Magufuli, met with the Chairman of Barrick Gold, John Thornton, who had flown in from North America for the purpose. The State House communications team released a video, shot on the steps outside the meeting, in which the President and Mr Thornton shared their versions of what had transpired. This dominated the headlines on Thursday, with most papers presenting the meeting in a very particular way.

More on that in a moment, but first, here’s the video: Continue reading

Wapo! The song that got rapper Nay wa Mitego locked up – A rough translation

Nay wa Mitego, on release from police custody

Tanzanian rapper, Nay wa Mitego was locked up on Sunday, for a song. He was released on Monday, after the intervention of President Magufuli and the new Minister of Information, Harrison Mwakyembe, and permission was given for the song to be played.

The President also offered some advice to revise the lyrics, and an invitation to meet and discuss how the song could be “improved”.

The BBC has more details, and this background context is also significant.

Here’s my rough translation, compiled with some assistance from others better qualified than myself. A word of warning though: much of the Swahili in the song is not to be found in any dictionary, so our translations and interpretations are open to challenge – I will happily make corrections if you point them out. And apologies that my translation has lost most of the (considerable) poetry of the original.

Wapo! (There are!), by Nay wa Mitego

What you plant today is what you will reap tomorrow
It’s been written that men must earn through sweat
I ask now who has seen tomorrow
Get moving and if you sleep you have nothing Continue reading

“Be careful, watch it!” – Translated excepts from speech of President Magufuli

Earlier today (March 24, 2017), President Magufuli spoke at a ceremony in to formally appoint new Ministers and Ambassadors. He referred directly to two significant events earlier this week, the visit of World Bank President Jim Kim (see also this sharp-eyed post by Aikande Kwayu) and yesterday’s events in the car park of St Peters Catholic Church in Dar es Salaam. Among other things, the President had some interesting things to say about the media in Tanzania.

I have translated some key excerpts below the video.

Continue reading

When security forces draw weapons on a politician, something has gone very wrong

from mwananchi.co.tz

A gun was pulled on Nape Nnauye today, in broad daylight in a car park full of journalists in Dar es Salaam, reportedly by a security officer. They were apparently trying to prevent him from speaking to reporters, trying to arrest him, or perhaps both.

Just this morning, Nape had been the Minister of Information, Culture, Arts and Sport, until President Magufuli added his name to a long and growing list of public officials fired by the President and his senior colleagues.

In the official letter announcing the “reshuffle” (see right), no reason was given. Indeed, Nape is not even mentioned in the letter, which merely announced the appointment of a new Minister. But no explanation was needed, this story has had Tanzania’s media and public gripped for several weeks.

Nevertheless, it’s worth going back a little, to recount how we reached this point. You could not make it up. Continue reading

Dear Chambi: don’t stop blogging, your voice is needed

from Nipashe, Dec 1, 2016

Dear Chambi,

I hope you don’t mind me writing you a public letter like this. But it feels like the most appropriate way of saying what I want to say.

Because your decision to stop blogging has left me dejected. While I don’t always agree with what you say (I usually do), yours has been one of very few voices asking important but difficult questions. Those who find #UhuruWaKujieleza (freedom of speech) to be an annoyance (or, if we are charitable, an unaffordable luxury,) will be celebrating. We are all worse off as a result. Continue reading