The United States government was reported late last week to have warned the Tanzanian government against Iranian ships’ continued use of its national flag.
Iranian ships have lately been reported to be using the Tanzanian flag in bursting sanctions slapped on the Middle East nation by the US and the European Union over its continued involvement in nuclear development.
Although Iran insists that its nuclear research is confined to peaceful use, Western powers, backed by the United Nations, maintain that Iran’s refusal to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was a clear indication that the nation had ulterior motives.
According to whispers, they are therefore not completely surprised by the reflagging of Iranian ships with Tanzania flags as this is not the first time the East African nation has been accused of playing a role in sanction-bursting.
For instance, during the Burundi peace process which was brokered by the Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, in the 1990s one high-ranking Tanzanian government official was accused by Mwalimu of being involved in sanction-bursting. The leader is reported to have been caught red-handed providing fuel through his fleet of tankers to Burundi, which was then reeling under the effect of sanctions imposed by the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union (AU).
Mwalimu is reported to have confronted the senior Tanzanian government leader and asked him to what extent he was helping the peace process. Whispers have it that the leader who was confronted by Mwalimu in the 1990s is still in government, which is currently being accused by the United States of helping the Iranian government in bursting sanctions imposed by the United Nations on the nation.
The Tanzanian government is known to have acquired fuel on loan from the Iranian government about two decades ago. However, to date it is not known whether that loan has ever been settled. What is more, it is very much unlikely that Iranian ships used Tanzanian flags without seeking clearance from Tanzania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The point is, the person responsible for the foreign docket owes the public an explanation about this scandal if these rumours are to be laid to rest.
The Tanzania government’s involvement in the latest sanction-bursting with Iran is very unfortunate given the East African country’s role in the liberation struggle in Southern Africa from the late 1960s to the 1990s.
It will be recalled that the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (Tazara) was built through a hefty loan from the Chinese government in order to ensure, among other things, that the United Nations sanctions against minority racist regimes were enforced.
That a country that contributed so much toward the liberation of its brothers and sisters in southern Africa should today be the same country that violates United Nations sanctions aimed at bringing about global peace and harmony raises question marks over the credibility and probity of its leadership. And, on a more serious note, the Temeke district government recently advertised in the press inviting those interested in acquiring plots in the district to lodge their applications.
According to well informed sources, the total number of plots is 3,000, but rumours have it that the district government went ahead and produced 35,000 application forms, each one of which was sold at Sh30,000 What this means is if 35,000 applicants finally turned out for the 3,000 plots and bought the forms, the district government would net over Sh1bn! And your guess is as good as mine. Indeed, why did the district government produce an excess of 32,000 forms instead of the 3,000 actually needed for the available plots?
When applicants went about buying the application forms for the 3,000-plus plots most of them were not aware that there would, at the end of the day, be 35,000 applicants fighting for a mere 3,000 plots!
The million-dollar question is: who pocketed the proceeds for the 32,000 plots? Is it the district government or a selected few in the district government?
Secondly, is the police or the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), for that matter, aware of the foregoing facts? According to whispers, the Bagamoyo and Kilindi district governments are reported to have emulated the creativity and ingenuity of the Temeke district government in generating income. The two district governments are reported to be currently busy parceling out plots for sale and there is the possibility of coming up with more application forms, each of which will sell for more than Sh30,000.
And given the lucrative nature of plots in Bagamoyo district due to the tourist and historical nature of the area, the district government will certainly go for a kill!
However, one thing is certain - many Tanzanians are going to be milked dry. While still on what transpired in the country last week, a section of the print media quoted the government as saying that it planned to recruit doctors from Cuba, India and South Africa to fill in the vacancies left by the sacked striking local doctors.
The story went on to say that the Tanzanian government intended to spend Sh200bn for the exercise. No sooner had the message hit the streets than rumours made the rounds that smart people within the government intended to make use of the exercise to make a fast buck. The argument set forth by rumour-mongers is that once the exercise was put in place, it would be extremely difficult for the government to monitor expenditure of the over Sh200bn.
They argue that if the government has to date failed in dealing with the problem of ghost workers, how is it going to manage over Sh200bn for foreign doctors?
Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, defence and security under the chairmanship of former prime minister Edward Lowassa has left the country for a working tour of Tanzania’s embassies abroad. Interestingly, when the committee was leaving the country minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Bernard Membe said the committee’s departure had been scheduled at the wrong time, just when the budget session was already underway.
But Lowassa insisted that the working tour was very important if the country’s hard-earned tax payers money was to be protected. One hopes that the committee will also take a close look into who allowed the reflagging of Iranian ships with the Tanzanian national flag.
The all-important parliamentary committee left the country at a time when the rumours were rife about somebody in the government being paid $10 million for Tanzania to support the Morocco government’s stand against Western Sahara’s sovereinty.
Interestingly, just when the rumours were sweeping the country, the Tanzanian government renewed its support for the independence of the people of Western Sahara who, under their political movement, Polisario, have been waging armed struggle against Morrocan occupation forces for decades.
Before the parliamentary committee’s departure, whispers had it that the Moroccan government was demanding its $10 million back following the Tanzania government’s backpedaling on its earlier pledge.