In the year 2016, the Tanzanian government launched an audacious campaign to eradicate corruption in Tanzania. However, some of the economic policies informing the campaign against corruption seem to be against the flow of economic development.
As noted by Ha-Joon Chang in his book “The bad Samaritans”, the fight on corruption should be well defined before setting it into motion. If well launched it helps to develop the country and the lives of the citizens. When the point of departure and the execution of the fight on corruption are wrong, it may retard economic development in that particular country. Note that for the economic pie to grow, the efficiency in work should be enhanced with less restrictions. There is a common assumption that eradicating corruption would automatically lead to economic boost but that is not true as good as it may sound. I am not saying the contrary either. All I am saying is that it depends on the approach in sweeping out corruption.
While the current government in Tanzania means well for the public good in fighting corruption, we have been witnessing unintended consequences of the fight on corruption. For instance, a lot of local investors have reduced on their investments in Tanzania and are seeking to take their business to neighbouring countries. This has seen a drastic reduction in the number of job opportunities among the young people. In response, most of the youth spend time idling around streets or sitting on the road side waiting for the day to pass by.
The government is aware of the reality and argues that it has neither reduced the salaries nor changed the economic policies, all it has done is to put a stop to corruption so if anyone is crying foul it means they were benefiting from corruption. This points towards the complex of stamping out corruption. The approach the government is using has inspired fear in many citizens.
John Slinger (M.Afr) and I have been doing apostolate in Tandale on the Basic Needs Basket. During the preliminary inquiry on the economic conditions in Tandale we talked to a few people. One person said that the government could knock on your door at anytime and ask you to justify or account for your earnings. The normal trend in a capitalist state is to conduct investigations only when there is some evidence that the fellow may have benefited from corrupt transactions. Asking people to justify their earnings on the basis that they have grown too rich scares away local investors.
With a drastic drop in local investors who used to employ the youth, most of the young people have resorted to short term jobs like boda-boda drivers (drivers of motor cycles). They are usually employed by the owners of the motorcycles. The common conditions of work demand that the riders should pay Tshs 7000 (Tanzania shillings) per day. If they make more money that is their salary if they make less, they still have to find the means to pay the difference to reach that fixed amount.
Unfortunately, the motorcycles often get stolen. Sadly in most of these cases, the riders are considered as the prime suspects. They arrest and subject them to harsh interrogation methods. Some get acquitted and thus are set free. Some get convicted and sentenced to prison. Based on the narrative from the former victims, it seems even those convicted some of them it is due to lack of legal representation. Some feel very intimidated and thus fail to give a coherent account of events and this results in serving a prison sentence.
Elvis Ng’andwe, M.Afr.
Tandale – Tanzania