The East African (Nairobi) COLUMN 26 November 2007 Posted to the web 26 November 2007 Karl Lyimo Nairobi Tanzania has been at the crossroads for a generation now and must make up its mind on its social, economic and political future. Unless the government decisively embarks on a new path towards meaningful and sustainable growth, the country will continue in the developmental doldrums of its own creation. To chart an effective path, national decision-makers must be aided by the country's development partners within the international donor/creditor community in the short run - and by its own people in the long run. TANZANIA IS potentially an extremely rich country - relative to many other countries in Africa and elsewhere - in terms of natural resources. But, its people remain dirt poor, the 4th poorest from the bottom of the global league. The all important question then arises: Why is this the case 47 years after independence, and under homegrown leaderships? This question was put to President Jakaya Kikwete on one of his recent visits abroad. His response was as intriguing as it was unexpected. "I have been asking myself the same question," he replied, indicating that he did not have an answer - thereby raising more questions! FOR THE inquisitive and honest, the answer can be gleaned from the sayings of the founder of Tanzanian nationalism, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. Mwalimu said Tanzania needed four things for it to develop: People, land, good policies and good leadership. People? The country is today home to 38.4 million Tanzanians, a population that is growing at 2.8 per cent annually. Land? 945,087 square kilometres of it, only 59,050 square kilometres thereof being water bodies. Good policies? Good leadership? No, we don't have those. POLICIES ARE invariably the product of leaders. Therefore, a bad or inept leadership will come up with bad policies. The alternative to this is that the policies are good, but are reduced to a cruel joke by a bad leadership. Such leaderships (and their executors) would typically be steeped in bad governance - thereby fostering the kind of poverty, ignorance, disease and other maladies (including grand corruption) that Tanzania has become infamous for. THIS WOULD have a negative impact on the country and its people, reducing it to a beggar nation that, instead of being a regional breadbasket, becomes an international basket case inured to its miserable existence. Don't even give a thought to those reports spewed out at regular intervals about how well the economy is doing. Generated by the government and its development partners seemingly independent of each other, the reports say wonderful things that give hope. Tanzania reportedly leads in foreign direct investment inflows, it is the third largest gold exporter in Africa; it is home to the unique tanzanite gemstone ... it has the right macroeconomics, and has successfully liberalized its economy. It is politically stable IF ALL that is true, why are Tanzanians still wallowing in abject poverty? Why is the country the 9th exporter of tanzanite, instead of being the first? The only things that Tanzania is rich in today are poverty, graft, sophistry, machinations, public holidays and false hopes. That is your Tanzania: A rich country full of poor men and women.