Tag Archives: UK

Public Seminar – Tanzania: A new constitution? – London, 28/2/2015

graphic from The East African

Graphic from The East African

The Britain-Tanzania Society and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) are organising what promises to be a fascinating seminar on the proposed new constitution for Tanzania, in London. The text below is taken from the event flyer, and key details are as follows:

  • Saturday 28 February 2015 – 2.00-5.00pm
  • In the Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
  • Co-organised by the Britain-Tanzania Society (BTS) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

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Aid traceability is a worthy goal, but it will take some time

Cross posted from the blog of the UK-based aid transparency campaign organisation, Publish What You Fund. The original was published on October 20th. 


 


“We will require organisations receiving and managing funds from DFID to release open data on how this money is spent in a common, standard, reusable format. They will need to require this of sub-contractors and sub-agencies – right through the aid chain.”

That was Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development, speaking in 2012 on DFID’s commitment to transparency.

The UK’s latest Open Government Partnership Action Plan put a date on this, committing DFID to “a requirement of IATI publication by the end of 2015 for all implementing partners.”

The goal is traceability: for British taxpayers to be able to track the flow of funds from DFID in London to a handpump in rural Tanzania or a primary school in Nepal, even where the funds pass through several different organisations on the way. The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and DFID’s Development Tracker website are the means to achieve this. Continue reading

Scotland and Zanzibar, more union questions

Tanzania’s more internationally-minded political thinkers watched Scotland’s Independence Referendum last week with much interest. The question on everyone’s lips was this: what does the decision made by Scottish voters to remain part of the United Kingdom mean for Zanzibar and the United Republic?

It is a reasonable question, because the similarities between Scotland’s relationship with England / the UK and Zanzibar’s relationship with Tanzania mainland are strong. The two smaller, once-independent nations both have understandable resentment towards the bigger, dominant partner in their unions. Constitutional oddities mean neither England nor Mainland Tanzania have their own parliament, while Scotland has a parliament and Zanzibar has a “revolutionary council”. There are oil and gas revenues to argue over in both cases, and endless disputes about who is subsidising who. And Britain’s relationship with the European Union is not that different from Tanzania’s uncertainty about the East African Community.

But though the question may be valid, the answers have been very mixed. Continue reading

Freedom of Information on DFID’s role in BAE Project in Tanzania? Bado

image from http://www.parentalguide.org/article-family-road-trip.html

image from http://www.parentalguide.org/article-family-road-trip.html

I submitted a Freedom of Information request with the Department for International Development (DFID) last month. I’m asking for the Memorandum of Understanding between DFID, the Government of Tanzania, the Serious Fraud Office and BAE Systems, and related budget details. (See here and here for some background).

The government legally has to respond within 20 days – the deadline is tomorrow.  Continue reading

Who would want to be a President? Lessons from Malawi

Presidents Kikwete of Tanzania and Banda of Malawi

Presidents Kikwete of Tanzania and Banda of Malawi

President Joyce Banda of Malawi is in a pickle. A corruption scandal has emerged on her watch, and she’s under pressure from all sides, quite possibly through no fault of her own. In fact, it may even be the case that she finds herself in this mess precisely because she has done something not far from the right thing.

So what happened?

A few weeks ago, an environment ministry official was found with £190,000 in the boot of his car, then the Budget Director – said to be on the verge of blowing the whistle – was shot three times outside his home. According to the Telegraph (not my usual source, but they were given an interview by Banda), 68 people have been arrested in the ensuing investigation, including the Ministers of Finance and Justice. The Minister of Justice has been charged with attempted murder of the Budget Director. The President has cleared out her cabinet, and said that about 30% of the country’s budget could have been stolen over the past decade. Thirty percent.  Continue reading

BAE radar “change” website: transparent accountability?

pesptz.org home page

pesptz.org home page

“Chenji ya rada imetolewa!” – “The radar change has been paid.” So tweeted Reginald Mengi early last year when British defence company, BAE Systems, finally paid £29.5m towards education projects in Tanzania. It was not a fine, there was no admission of guilt (beyond a minor accounting irregularity), certainly no admission of corruption. But it was, at least, a settlement that channelled some funds into Tanzania’s education system.

BAE were concerned both that “their” funds should be used effectively and that this effectiveness should be seen as clearly as possible. So they worked closely with the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Tanzanian government to come up with a project to distribute desks and textbooks to primary schools throughout the country – the Primary Education Support Project (PESP). Every primary school will get text books, and desks will be delivered to primary schools in every district.

The project has been up and running for some time, and books have already been arriving in schools in many parts of the country. We know this because earlier this week a new website was launched that shows which books have been distributed by which companies to which schools, all across the country. Continue reading

The real story of “open” – Guest Post from Nikhil Dey

I an honoured to be able to use this blog to host a guest post from Nikhil Dey of MKSS, an Indian right to information group. It follows the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in London, at which Nikhil and his colleagues made a great impression, both on me personally and on the summit as a whole. He and Aruna Roy, also of MKSS, share a seat on the OGP Steering Committee

The real story of “open”

There were many things from the London Summit that stand out for us, but here is one that will give you a delightful surprise about the mysterious ways in which the OGP story has spread. More than that, it will give you an idea of the good things of London, of why cab drivers have such a good reputation, and of the humanity and goodness of the ordinary citizen of the world.

Three of us (Kamayani, Shankar, and I) had pre-booked a cab for the airport on a taxi service that takes bookings for cheap taxis in London. We boarded at our hotel, and left by a route where our cab driver informed us we would not get caught in a protest march being undertaken by the Tamil Tigers. After we introduced ourselves to him, the driver told us that his name was Amani, and that he was from Tanzania. Continue reading