Privatisation: Good for foreigners, bad for Tanzanians By KARL LYIMO email@example.com THE EAST AFRICAN In 1992/93, Tanzania undertook a privatisation programme that was expected to hand the private-sector the reins of the economy. Over two decades earlier in 1967, the Nyerere administration had promulgated the Arusha Declaration on Socialism, leading to wholesale nationalisation that turned the economy on its head. THE PRODUCTIVE SECTORS OF THE economy had largely been in private hands. President Julius Nyereres socio-economic philosophy was to put the commanding heights of the economy in government hands. That marked the beginning of the end of private enterprise as it is known to the world and the end of sustainable socio-economic development. THERE WERE TOO MANY COOKS AND too many thieves in the new parastatal sector. It became a field where leaders could reap without having sowed. The Declaration soon became a failed experiment in socialism and the scapegoat for an economy crippled by mismanagement and embezzlement. INEVITABLY, THE DONORS PRESCRIBED privatisation as the antidote. Hence the 1992/93 programme orchestrated by the Public Sector Reform Commission. Fifteen years later, the programme was ended and the crocodile tears began to flow fast and furious. PLANNING AND ECONOMIC EMPOWERment Minister Juma Ngasongwa has publicly admitted that the government made serious errors in implementing the programme. MR NGASONGWA REGRETS THAT THE programme ended with much of the economy in the hands of foreign investors, not the Tanzanians it was intended to benefit! But what the minister does not say is why the programme failed so miserably. Perhaps that is the reason president Jakaya Kikwete ordered a review of the mining policy, legislation and extant contracts by a committee chaired by Justice (retired) Mark Bomani. The regime is heavily lopsided in favour of foreign mining conglomerates. ADMITTEDLY, SUCH INVESTMENTS ARE strictly not privatisation; theyre mostly direct investments in new ventures. But the impact is virtually the same good for the foreigners, bad for Tanzanians. Hence the rationale of lumping together privatisation and new investments (especially in the extractive industries) as inimical to national interests. While we await the bomani findings, we should honestly revisit the privatisation exercise if only for historical purposes and lessons for future generations. LETS FACE IT, IMPLEMENTATION OF privatisation was riddled with ineptitude, fraud, corruption and subterfuge. Take, for example, the privatisation of the former Kilimanjaro Hotel, and the Novotel Mount Meru. Tanzanians were shut out in the most blatant manner, and it took ages before the establishments were dropped limply in the laps of foreigners. Why? OVERALL, THE PROGRAMME WAS DERAILED for the benefit of a handful of the powerful and corrupt on both sides of the privatisation table. It is indeed a sign of the rot among top-echelon leaders when they can brazenly shed crocodile tears for criminally devouring the national cake and getting away with it! Karl Lyimo is a freelance journalist based in Dar.