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.

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