Sugar politics turns sour, people continue to suffer
Since the post independence era under Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, the Government has sought to combat ignorance, diseases, corruption and above all, poverty. To achieve this, various strategies were launched from time to time including state interventions to reduce economic and social inequalities in resource distribution and control.
Politicians engaged in mass mobilization and used catchphrases, such as: “Freedom and Work” (Uhuru na Kazi) to express the virtues of work as a basis of development and self dignity as well as a strategy to enhance employment opportunities; “Politics is Agriculture” (Siasa ni Kilimo) to increase rural incomes. “Life is Health” (Mtu ni Afya) to increase mass awareness of the importance of health care and to catalyze community action towards the provision of health care services.
The “Universal Primary Education” (UPE) was also launched during the first administration to promote primary education and erradicate illiteracy. The second administration came up with globalization and free market economic policies. Under Mwalimu Nyerere, a phrase like ‘corruption is the enemy of justice’ was applied to denounce corruption and teach Tanzanians to hate it although some found it sweet.
When Ali Hassan Mwinyi came to power in 1985, he embarked on free market policies to appease the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which had demanded that a prerequisite to help the country’s economy which was in bad shape.
Corruption became rampant during Mwinyi’s administration and crime raised as many workers were retrenched from government institutions as part of the globalization process. Inflation went high making the Shilling worthless.
The third government under President Benjamin Mkapa also embraced globalization, but initiated anti-poverty policies such as the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP).
In December 2005 when Jakaya Kikwete won presidency, the fourth government boasted of ‘Better Life for All’ (Maisha bora kwa kila Mtanzania). The regime also embarked on the 2025 economic vision. When Kikwete left office last November, the ‘better life for every Tanzanian’ slogan had already lost its meaning.
President John Magufuli came with: ‘Let’s work hard’ (Hapa Kazi tu) slogan. During his six months in office so far, he has tried to restore the financial discipline and frugality in the Government.
Magufuli has also waged war against tax evaders and dishonest executives. He is also at loggerheads with greedy sugar traders. The president has always maintained that he was a pro-poor president. He wants to improve the lives of poverty stricken families. That is why he involves himself in matters which to others would appear to be minor issues.
The Head of State is now part of the sugar politics which has gripped the nation for weeks now. From streets to Parliament, everybody talks about the sweetener.
In February this year, the president issued instructions to control sugar importation permits to traders with the aim of protecting local sugar growers. But during rainy seasons local factories close for three months hence the shortage.
According to the Chairman of the Tanzania Business Community, Johnson Minja, the country’s actual demand for sugar stands at 600,000 tons, but local factories can provide 300,000 tones only. Knowingly, importation was inevitable to meet the demand.
The Government had to rescind its earlier ban allowing traders to import additional 100,000 tons. That was stated by the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa in Parliament recently.
I once said that a man is presumed to be the deadliest monster on earth. Tanzania traders are not an exception. The genesis of this ‘induced’ hyper sugar demand is the fact that dishonest traders had anticipated closure of local factories, thus they hoarded tones of sugar to benefit from the situation.
What seems to be forgotten here is that the Government
Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner inspects a consignment of sugar at Dar es Salaam Port.