Tag Archives: UK

Opening aid, but in the wrong direction

Cartoon adapted from HakiElimu, 2005

Cartoon adapted from HakiElimu, 2005

Making aid more accountable is a worthy goal. So is building support for public spending on international aid among citizens of donor countries. But a new proposal with precisely these goals in mind risks disempowering the very people aid is supposed to help.

The proposal, which goes by the title Opening Aid Policy, is to give British citizens – call them taxpayers or voters if you prefer – a chance to shape British aid policy: first to determine aid priorities and then even to cast their vote on which specific projects should get funded.  Continue reading

The power of “we”

BAD 2012Today is Blog Action Day, and this year’s theme is the power of “we”. So I thought I would throw a few observations out there.

About how Jimmy Savile got away with his abuses for so long, at least in part by denying his victims the power of “we”. They were isolated individuals, lacking the confidence that they would be taken seriously if they spoke up. Now, when the first accusations came out, the trickle quickly became a flood, with each person speaking out giving more and more confidence to other victims, making it easier for them to do the same. This is what can happen when people are denied the power of “we”. Continue reading

Witchcraft and witch-hunts in England and Tanzania

“Trial of Witches, 1612”, by Fred Kirk Shaw in 1913.

In the year 1612, in the northern English county of Lancaster, a famous trial took place – the trial of the “Pendle witches”. Twelve so-called witches were involved in the case – ten women and two men – most from the bleak and inhospitable Pendle hill. They were charged with murdering ten people through witchcraft, and accused of much more besides – causing paralysis, “turning beer sour”, killing a horse – all through witchcraft. One died in custody and one was acquitted, but the other 10 were found guilty and hanged.

400 years later, in the northern Tanzanian town of Kahama, a pair of owls flew into a crowded schoolroom. A political meeting was taking place and tensions were high. The local branch of Tanzania’s ruling CCM party was electing its representative to the party’s National Executive Committee. So when the owls flew in and settled on the table in front of the local MP and regional party chairman, suspicions were raised that someone was using witchcraft to influence the election. Allegations flew. After all, as anyone in Tanzania knows, owls are bringers of death. Continue reading

From TPLACs to “a necklace made of ears”

“You’ve got to be as hungry as a fucking Hutu in the fucking jungle with a big machete. You’ve got to go hacking through the fucking opposition, with a big fucking belt full of hands and a necklace made of ears. Can you do that? Can you wear a necklace made of ears?”

“I can be a Hutu. I can wear fucking finger-nail bracelets.”

Continue reading

Who guards the guards? Scandal and corruption in the UK

For a keen follower of media issues, the past month was a great time to be visiting the UK. In case you missed it, a huge scandal blew up over illegal practices at the News of the World newspaper, which itself turned into a scandal about the amount of influence News International (the paper’s owners) had over the police and senior politicians. The result was what one respected media commentator described as a “revolution“.

I won’t recount the full story here as it is long enough to fill a book (or two), but I will try to cover the key points in brief before thinking about the story’s implications for the Tanzania media. Continue reading

Donor Agencies and Anti-Corruption Efforts in Tanzania

Written in March 2010 as part of an online course, “anti-corruption essentials,” run by the U4 anti-corruption resource centre. I had to identify an international organisation involved in anti-corruption work in Tanzania and provide an analysis of its effectiveness in helping Tanzania counter corruption.

Donor Agencies and Anti-Corruption Efforts in Tanzania

Corruption is increasingly acknowledged as a widespread and wide-ranging problem in Tanzania. This includes petty corruption affecting day-to-day interactions between citizens and the state as well as grand corruption affecting multi-million dollar projects and procurements reportedly used to finance election campaigns. Efforts to combat this problem come from several directions – political leaders creating their own anti-corruption platforms as a means of gaining popularity (see a typical example), donors concerned about good governance and accountability for funds, and civil society concerned about justice and pro-poor development. Continue reading