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This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Tanzania: World Bank Meeting, Demonstration

Tanzania: World Bank Meeting, Demonstration
Date distributed (ymd): 010301
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Continent-Wide
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +gender/women+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains three Tanzanian non-governmental statements concering the February visit of World Bank and IMF leaders to Tanzania - an initial statement to the international financial institution leaders from the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), and then reports by TGNP member Dr. Margorie Mbilinyi and the Tanzania Association of NGOs (TANGO) subsequent to police arrests of demonstrators outside the meeting site.

Recent related postings on the trip and World Bank / IMF policies can be found at
http://www.africafocus.org/docs01/wb0102.php> and http://www.africafocus.org/docs01/cash0101.php>

Earlier postings concerning World Bank plans and Tanzania include http://www.africafocus.org/docs00/tan0006.htm and http://www.africafocus.org/docs00/tan0011.htm

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP)
P.O. Box 8921 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Located on Mabibo Road,
Adjacent to the National Institute of Transport
Ph.: 255 - 22 - 244.3205, 244.3450, 244.3286
Mobile: 255 - 742 783659, 788706
Fax : 255 - 22 - 244.3244
E-mail: tgnp@tgnp.co.tz
Web: http://www.tgnp.co.tz

21 February 2001

STATEMENT FROM GENDER GROUPS TO CHIEF EXECUTIVES OF THE WORLD BANK/ IMF AT THEIR MEETING IN DAR ES SALAAM

The Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) and other gender groups have followed with interest the visit this week by the IMF and World Bank heads to Africa, and Tanzania in particular. In their press release, these visitors from the two major nternational Financial Institutions have declared their interest in listening to the voices of Africans when designing and implementing policies. However, these drivers of the world's macro-economic policies have yet to demonstrate that they are following a very new or different approach to development. For example, in their schedules of consultative sessions in Tanzania, they only plan to devote a one-hour session on the last day of their visit for meetings with civil society actors. This practice seems to directly negate these institutions_ proposal to work in partnership with the civil society in Africa. Therefore, we expect this one-hour meeting to be quality time with the Chief Executives of both institutions and not only with officials.

The issues on the agenda for discussion at this week's meetings with African leaders, namely the economy, HIV and AIDS, trade liberalisation, and corruption are of vital interest to women, men and youth in Tanzania. However, they have not put on the agenda for discussion the larger frameworks driving their policies, such as liberalisation, privatisation, and debt. In the past, the strategies designed have not taken into account the needs of various stakeholder groups in Tanzania and other African countries, and their impacts have been more destructive than positive. For example, a major evaluation of the Bank's work in Africa commissioned by Norway concluded that the design and implementation of the economic liberalisation packages [in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe] have at best had a limited impact on current poverty and at worst contributed to an increase in poverty.

World Bank and IMF economic and social policies, including privatisation and liberalisation of markets, to date have had negative effects on the livelihoods of people in Tanzania. This is nowhere more evident than in agriculture, where many smallholder farmers face financial ruin, due to the failure by government to create viable, competitive markets, and the unjust trade practices adopted by the large-scale agribusiness corporations to purchase their crops. Crop prices are falling, farm input prices are rising, and many of these vital inputs are often not delivered at all, or not on time. The food security of the whole nation is now at risk, as a result of liberalisation, and its negative impact on food production carried out by smallholder farmers, especially those in the south and west of the country, which was formerly the breadbasket of Tanzania. In addition, Pastoralist livestock-keepers have been completely neglected by these policies.

While the Bank claims to uphold the importance of equity as the basis for stable society and economic growth, little in its policies seems to actualise this goal. In terms of imports and exports, most of the imports have been detrimental to the local markets, such as used clothes and milk. Factories that have been privatised since the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) have been working at lower capacity, with fewer staff, and a number have gone out of operation. For example, the textile industry, once a major growth industry in Tanzania, has collapsed. The initial perception of job creation from the privatisation exercise has not proven to be valid.

Due to user fees and privatisation of public services, fewer people are accessing education and vital health services. One result of this is that enrolment rates in primary school have declined from 93% in the 1980s to 66% in the 1990s. Supposed exceptions of users fees for the provision of health services in relation to pregnancy, AIDS, mental illness and other health issues are not functioning in Tanzania, particularly burdening poorer social groups. A dual system of education and health has emerged, such that the rich and their children monopolise high cost private schools and medical facilities, leaving the poor to use the under-financed public social service system.

The issue of debt has not been on the agenda for discussion with African countries, although it is an issue that clearly requires dialogue between Africans and the Bank, as the current debt relief arrangement is inadequate. As Tanzania has carefully followed the guidelines set down by the IMF and the World Bank, it will now be eligible for debt relief through the HIPC initiative (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries). This initiative was used as an incentive for Tanzania to comply with thirty additional adjustment conditions, many with heavy social costs for Tanzanians, youth and women in particular. The amount of money being saved from debt relief is marginal compared to the total money being used for debt servicing. In fact, debt service payments will actually increase in 2001 through 2004 (compared to 1999-2000), and Tanzania is expected to pay 145.1 billion shillings for debt servicing in the year 2001/02, at least 9 times more than it spends on health care. This has serious implications, particularly for a country where 40% of the population dies before the age of 35.

Most invidious of all, however, is the timeframe of twenty years, which really means twenty years of debt bondage and twenty years of forced compliance with structural adjustment measures, euphemistically called 'economic stabilisation'. Most critics agree that economic stabilisation based on World Bank and IMF prescriptions only furthers poverty and inequality, and in no way reduces them.

During their visit, one of the goals of the World Bank and IMF Chief Executive's visit is to discuss ways to decrease poverty and decrease dependency. In order to actualise these objectives and to work with Africans, men women and youth, we propose the following major recommendations:

  • Development by the World Bank and IMF of clear and transparent planning, implementation and monitoring processes. Civil society actors from the Global South as well as the general public, women, men, and youth should be involved as actors and beneficiaries of these processes at all levels.
  • Ending promotion of privatisation of basic government services, including health, education, water, and sanitation, and abandoning the promotion of user fees for basic services.
  • Cancellation by the IMF and World Bank of all debts owed. This would provide a serious burden impeding the development of Tanzania and provide a base for a more realistic type of partnership with the Global North.
  • Ensure that conditions of structural adjustment and macro-economic reform, which have increased poverty and inequalities, are redesigned to address poverty eradication in line with the priorities of the poor themselves.
  • Consider new structures, existence and policies of the World Bank and IMF that are determined through a democratic, participatory and transparent process. This process should accord full consideration of the interests of the women, men and youth most affected by the policies and practices of the institutions and include a significant role for all parts of civil society.

Prof. Marjorie Mbilinyi, Member, TGNP, 24.2.01

P O Box 35185 University of Dar es Salaam Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
tel 255 22- 2410075 or 2410500/8 ext. 2615 fax 255 22- 2410078
rfs@udsm.ac.tz

"WE HAVE COME TO LISTEN"

The heads of the World Bank and IMF reportedly came to Africa "to listen." Aha, listen to whom?

A peaceful demonstration was organised by local activist NGOs at the meeting site of the heads of the IMF and the World Bank and the presidents of ten Eastern and Southern African countries on Friday, February 23, 2001. The activists were moved to hold a demonstration because of the exclusion of civil society organisations in the talks, and the desire to express their views in as public a manner as possible. Their main focus was on the need for total debt cancellation and a different approach to development. Some of the placards read: "Why do IMF and World Bank rob the poor to pay the rich?" "end debt slavery" "Charges for education and health can only be paid by James Wolfensohn and Horst Kohler" "We want total debt cancellation"

The police used force to stop the demonstration. Three activists were arrested on the spot, including a staff member of Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), Daudi Kweba and two leaders of the National Youth Forum (Gwandumi Mwakatobe and Lito Kabwe), and bundled into police cars. A journalist from a major daily newspaper, Mtanzania, Jackton Manyerere, was severely beaten by police when he tried to pick up some of the fallen placards. The chairperson of TGNP, Demere Kitunga, was beaten at Central Police Station when she arrived to bail out the others, and later arrested, along with three other members of TGNP. A total of seven activists were held and interrogated for six hours, and only released at nightfall after the intervention of five top human rights lawyers.

On Saturday, February 24, 2001, the heads of IMF and the World Bank held a briefing session with the press, the private sector, donors and civil society organisations, under the chair of the President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa. The way in which this meeting was organised illustrated the illusory nature of democracy within the International Financial Institutions, and the dependent governments they support, especially in the light of the previous day's police repression. First of all, the meeting was by invitation only, with many organisations excluded. The Presidents of IMF, the World Bank and Tanzania each spoke briefly. [The general consensus among activists was that there was nothing new!] Questions were restricted to the press. The meeting was cut short after about 30 minutes of questions and answer, just as activist NGOs were about to raise questions. Hence, we were duped into attending a glorified press conference as mere passive spectators, along with ambassadors from donor countries, United Nations development agencies, representatives of 'the private sector' as well as activist NGOs.

The explanation for the change in timetable? The visitors had to be rushed to Ngorongoro Crater Area by air where they would hold discussions with Ministry of Finance officials! [Ngorongoro Crater Area is a good example of the growth of tourist/wildlife industry at the expense of the rights and welfare of local communities.] However, before their departure, there was enough time for a cocktail party, with ample alcoholic beverages and scrumptious bites for a select few to meet informally with the visiting imperial Heads of IMF and World Bank, their local representatives and top government officials.

During the meeting, one sympathetic member of the press asked the IFI heads whether they enjoyed the arrest and brutal handling of the demonstrators on the previous day. The head of World Bank cynically replied that given his experiences elsewhere, "yesterday was a holiday". So much for commitment to "broadbased consultative processes"! On the other hand, President Mkapa replied that the police had erred, that the protesters were serving the interests of the country, and concluded, "I assure you that they have a right to express an opinion." Whether this was merely a public relations gesture will reveal itself later. So far, those arrested are out on bail, but remain charged with illegal assembly.

The whole exercise calls into question the meaning of participation and consultation from the perspectives of the IFIs and their client governments. It reinforces doubts about prospects of reform from within these institutions, and the urgent need to build a broad social movement for change. The arrogance portrayed today by leaders of institutions and nations is symptomatic of the gap between them and the people they rule.


Tanzania Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (TANGO) P.O. Box 31147, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tel/Fax: 255-22-2762208
E-mail: tango@africaonline.co.tz

Message to the Government and the People of Our Country.

February 25, 2001

The political parties and certain individuals in the government think that they hold the destiny of this country in their hands and that the non-partisan citizens are passive recipients of their directives. A number of events have occurred in Tanzania that illustrate this ideology. We, as individual citizens and civil society organisations, are demanding respect, a voice and equal participation in shaping the destiny of our country.

Friday, February 23 2001 at the meeting between top executives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and Heads of States of Sub-Saharan Africa, representatives from youth, human rights, gender and other civil society organisations conveyed a message to the leaders of the Bretton-Woods institutions. The message of the civil society organisations was that the policies and conditions set by the Bretton-Woods institutions are unfair and hurting the people. They are choking the life out of our health care facilities, shrinking our education system, systematically dispossessing us of our resources, and discriminating against our farmers and our manufacturers. The policy terms may look good on paper and produce some impressive economic indicators, however, we are suffering. We believe that the welfare of the people is more important than statistics.

As the Bretton-Woods leaders and heads of states emerged from the Sheraton, a few concerned citizens displayed their banners and placards. They were immediately arrested, taken to the central police station and detained. When other concerned citizens, including the chairperson of the Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TGNP), went to bail her colleagues out of jail, she was also arrested, detained and assaulted by police! A journalist was also assaulted by police when attempting to read the placards. TANGO demands an explanation of these arrests: Why are the police paranoid and threatened when people express themselves? Who authorised this unconstitutional action by the police and what action will be taken against him or her? We also insist on an apology from the police for their oppressive, intimidating and unprovoked behaviour towards activists that were peacefully advocating in the interests of the people. The political climate in Tanzania today is tense and creating fear. Fear breeds hate and revenge, two potentially volatile and explosive emotions. The common citizens have great difficulty accessing their constitutional and lawful rights. When they try to exercise their rights, they are belittled, ignored and often abused. This environment is not conducive to peace, democracy, and progress. Real life examples of this process have already occurred in Kilosa between pastoralists and farmers over land rights and in Zanzibar when demonstrators clashed with the government. Further tension is currently brewing elsewhere between farmers and pastoralists because of unresolved land issues. How far will this go? How many more people will have to die senselessly? The civil society in Tanzania, unlike the political parties, are not interested in, nor do they seek power as an end. We seek justice and fairness, for if there is no justice there can be no peace. In a true democracy, the government cannot make itself accountable. It has to be made accountable by an informed, active and vibrant civil society.

We are all actors in our own destiny and each of us government, NGOs, community groups, the business sector, private citizens and the media has a role to play in directing the future. The media is an especially powerful tool for shaping beliefs, influencing policy and guiding change. As such, TANGO calls upon the members of the media to work in partnership and cooperation with the civil society organizations in being the watchdogs of the government and ensuring that government serves the people in a transparent, open way. We do not suggest that we become enemies of the state, but rather that we act as custodians of peace and justice. We must act with integrity and courage, for it is better to have one brave enemy that can tell the truth than to have 20 hypocritical friends that can lead you to wrong decisions.

We join all those who are calling upon the President to uphold the democratic principles of our country and form an independent commission of participants from the government, civil society, the business sector, and private citizens to:
- provide information that the masses need without fear or favour; - work together to resolve current tension, misunderstandings and mistrust; and
- develop a common understanding of democracy, good governance and the rule of good law.

We must take care not to allow those acting against the interests of the state to hide themselves and their actions by manipulating the existing political tensions and playing political parties off against one another. We all want the same things; a principled debt cancellation, sustainable development for our people, and a fair economic deal for Tanzania. For the love of our country, let's respect and celebrate our differences in a civilized way.

Marie Shaba
Chairperson, TANGO


This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC provides accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.


URL for this file: http://www.africafocus.org/docs01/tan0102.php