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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Sino-Tanzania relations: At whose cost?

3rd February 2011


Last December, local newspaper reports dated December 10,11 and 18, and this year’s such report dated January 16, under the headlines: RC atangaza kusaka wazungu wazururaji; Government warns foreigners in petty business; Mbunge astushwa wageni kuwa wapishi; Waishi nchini kinyume cha sheria, led me to quickly think of the Chinese living or doing business in Tanzania, especially in Dar es Salaam.


The three headlines in Kiswahili mean: `Regional Commissioner announces search for white loiterers in the streets’; `Member of Parliament appalled by foreigners being employed as cooks’, and `They live in the country illegally’.

I believe that Tanzania should keep tabs on the Chinese like a married couple should respectively keep tabs on the best-man or bridesmaid of their marriage, so that either of the latter may not go too far. I read, on January 11 this year that the Chinese had on the previous day handed over a building in Kunduchi, Dar es Salaam, which they had built for the purpose of being a National Defence College for training Tanzania National People’s Defence Forces. Supposing the Chinese have placed bugging devices in the building!


I am fully aware that article 13 (4) and (5) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977, as amended (the Union Constitution) prohibits discrimination against any person on the basis of their nationality, tribe or colour but I have a duty imposed by Article 26 (1) on every person to observe and abide by the Union Constitution and the laws of the United Republic and have a right to take legal action to ensure the protection of the Union Constitution and the laws of the land.

I now write to protect the provisions of Article 9 which, so far as is relevant, provides as follows:

9… the state authority and all its agencies are obliged to direct their policies and programmes towards ensuring-

(d) that the national economy is planned and promoted in a balanced and integrated manner;

(e) that every person who is able to work does work, and work means any legitimate activity by which a person earns a living;

(g) that the Government and all its agencies accord equal opportunities to all citizens, men and women alike without regard to their colour, tribe, religion or station in life;

(i) that the use of national wealth places emphasis on the development of the people and in particular is geared towards the eradication of poverty ignorance and disease;

(j) that economic activities are not conducted in a manner that may result in the concentration of wealth or the major means of production in the hands of a few individuals…

China (the People’s Republic of China) is so famous that she has been described as the world’s third-biggest economy and has been glorified under such headlines as `Wachina na Marekani wajadili uchumi wao’ (Chines and the Americans discuss their economies); Six Chinese provinces to have Russia sized GDP by 2020; Chinese merchant looks overseas after stellar 2010 trade jump; US downplays Chinese stealth fighter prototype; and Science and Technology; this latter relating to China’s current efforts to construct the fastest train.

Tanzania’s friendship or infatuation with china stems from China’s support for African liberation movements in their fight for independence and from Tanzania’s and China’s common anti-colonial ideological theories. Accordingly, in the early 1970s, the Chinese built the 1860-km Tanzania-Zambia railway from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia to reduce Zambia’s reliance on then apartheid South Africa’s ports.

But the Chinese of those days were communists, well regimented by their very strict disciplinarian Chairman Mao Tse Tung; entirely different from the Chinese of today who can be described as imperialist; as different in orientation as today’s Tanzanians are different from the Tanzanians of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. Tanzanians are now, in the main, self-seeking, dishonest, without transparency, impartiality and integrity -- all falling under the popular Kiswahili name of “Ufisadi”.

Also, China has bad reputation in the world outside Tanzania. For example, during the turmoil of Zambabwe’s last presidential elections, South Africa, Mozambique, Angola and Namibia refused ships containing Chinese arms to be offloaded in their respective countries, averted China’s firm intention to deliver the arms to President Mugabe’s Government. Further, last year, it was published, “China out to advance into Africa, vault into the world’s top 3”, and this year, “China’s presence in Africa blamed for new threat to rhino” and, “SA rhino becomes more expensive than gold.”

In Tanzania, too, China has had bad reputation. Early last year, there was a burning dispute regarding a contract between TBC (Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation) and a Chinese company, Star Communication Network Technology Co. Ltd (Star Com.).

The claim by the company was that, under the contract, the Tanzania Government was obliged to guarantee a loan by the company from the bank. Among the points of dispute, was that Star Com. was considered by the Tanzania Government to be of insufficient credibility.

And one easily remembers the TV exposure last year of the horrendous medical malpractices of the Sino-Tanzania Friendship Hospital at Sinza, Dar es Salaam. Then, mid-last year, there was immediate expulsion by the Regional Commissioner, Mbeya, of the Chinese who, with their equipment, had entered into that region illegally looking for and collecting gold in the Chunya area.

The Regional Commissioner ordered the Chinese to move out lock, stock and barrel. And, last October, there was a published Tanzanian cry regarding the Chinese-built Dar es Salaam National Stadium, “Yote kwa yote tukubali hatuna mamlaka uwanja wa Taifa” (All in all we should admit that we have no authority over the National Stadium), particularly complaining about the supremacy of the Chinese over the National Stadium by saying that, when a Chinese says, “No”, it is an immutable No.

China has been described by the outside world as a new colonizer of Africa and, because there are many opportunities in Tanzania for any colonialist, Tanzania must always keep in mind that: China is competing with the United States for world supremacy; China is overpopulated-some 10 years ago, China’s population was about 1.3 billion; the Chinese are prohibited from bearing more than one or two children; and that the Chinese Government discourages religious practice. Tanzania’s 2002 Census discloses our population of only about 35 million.

Tanzania should always guard against China offloading her population onto Tanzania. The combined areas of Kenya and Uganda add up to 819, which is less by 125, than Tanzania’s 945, Again, Tanzania is bigger than the total area of France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Tanzania is the only country in the world where Tanzanite’s are found, and her principal mineral deposits include coal, copper, diamonds, gemstones, gold, gypsum, iron ore, mica, natural gas, phosphates, salt and tin, etc.. Some people also talk of the availability of crude oil and uranium.

Being discouraged from religious practice means being shunted away from the doctrine of loving one’s neighbour as one loves oneself, in short restricting one’s consideration to self-interest only, this side of the grave. But just listen to part of the speech by Lord Macmillan on May 26, 1932, in the British House of Lords case of Donoghue v. Stevenson, 1932, A.C. at pages 618 to 619:”… in the daily contacts of social and business life, human beings are thrown into or place themselves in, an infinite variety of relations with their fellows; and the law can refer only to the standards of the reasonable man in order to determine whether any particular relation gives rise to a duty to take care as between those who stand in that relation to each other…”

But, regarding the Chinese, Tanzanians were: in January, last year, warned of Chinese imitations hurting local curios; in May last year, warned of the fragility of the toilet seats from China; in December last year, warned by TBS (Tanzania Bureau of Standards) of some fake Tiger Head Brand batteries from China; and in January this year, warned by TFDA (Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority) of doubtful medicine from China.

Further, a Chinese was arraigned in the Kisutu RM’s Court, Dar es Salaam, in January this year for being in illegal possession of elephant tusks, valued some shillings 65,462,000/= for export. And Dr. John Magufuli, a government minister, has had problems this year with two Chinese road construction companies, namely Chicco and Sinohyadro Corporation Ltd. Also, there is an ongoing criminal case at the High Court, Dar es Salaam, of illegal fishing by the accused who include a number of Chinese.

We now see the Chinese carrying out businesses especially in Dar es Salaam, which could easily be done by Tanzanians: selling plastic flowers, watches, clocks, belts, crockery, food, mattresses, running restaurants, motor garages, shoe shops etc..

In view of Article 9 of the Union Constitution which I have quoted above, the current economic situation in Tanzania contravenes the provisions of that Article in that the Government: has allowed the Chinese to deprive Tanzanians of the opportunity to work and earn a living, 9(e); instead of according equal opportunities to Tanzanian citizens, has given some opportunities to the Chinese, 9(g); by giving those opportunities to the Chinese, has made the eradication of poverty from Tanzania difficult by that much, 9(i); and, by allowing the Chinese to work in Tanzanian, has facilitated the accumulation by the Chinese of Tanzania’s wealth, 9(j).

To quote Dr. Kaunda, ex-President of Zambia, Article 9 has been made by the Tanzania’s Government to be a toothless bulldog.

Prevention is always better than cure. Tanzanians are probably aware of the proverbially sympathetic Arab inviting the camel into the tent for shelter-the Arab nearly finding himself kicked out.

Whoever in Tanzania thinks that China is operating in Tanzania so that China and Tanzania may compete jointly for the world supremacy now held by the United States must cut his or her sleep short.

The reality is that China is seeking the supremacy at the extortionate cost by Tanzania. For example, it is on record that, during the construction of the TAZARA Railway, almost 89 (eighty nine) million cubic metres of earth and rock had to be moved. Tanzanians may now ask the Chinese whether the earth and rock excavated as stated above are still in Tanzania or were taken to China.

The writer is a Senior Advocate who can be reached at: 0784 312 623

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