- Jul 29, 2006
I was recently interviewed by one of the leading social media platforms in East Africa (www.JamiiForums.com).
It was a record interview, 8 hours consecutively where I responded to 85 very pertinent questions in a day, gathered from members of the forum. The people who asked these questions were from everywhere in the world. The interview is still accessible and anyone visiting the page can read and comment. This would not be possible through traditional media. An 8 hours long interview, I believe, is the longest one any politician has been subjected to.
Germany – Africa Initiative, Economics Conference
Models of development cooperation in the context of partnerships – experience of German and African border crossers
- Scientists and experts from African countries and Germany demand new ways and structures in developmental politics. They request a focus on civil society instead on governmental partners. What do you think about budget aid?
A country that builds its economy on aid is setting up an unsustainable system that weakens its government. Aid, if not well canalised can do more harm than good as it would contribute to a vicious circle of corruption and other mismanagement of financial resources by either the government or local NGOs.
Strengthening the partnership with the civil society is a good move, but this support should focus on areas such as governance, to enable the civil society to participate in the improvement of existing government institutions that should not fail in its mission to deliver primary services to the population. The support to the civil society should not come to the detriment of government responsibility. Civil society must not replace government responsibility but rather advocate (advocacy role) for governance issues – transparency and accountability.
- What could developmental cooperation look like in the future?
- The Foreign Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania once said that despite all critics regarding the Chinese engagement in Africa, the presence of the Chinese has a positive impact in Africa because it gives African governments a choice. They do not necessarily have to accept all conditions imposed by western donors any more. What do you think? Does this opportunity to choose strengthen the self-esteem of African politicians?
- People talk about a second colonization of Africa by the Chinese. This development can only be avoided by Africans themselves. Do you think that the politicians in Africa are prepared for this?
- Are friendly relationships to countries like Germany an asset in this regard?
- The African Diaspora Communities have a crucial impact on cooperation based on partnership. The Diaspora is part of the economic development. Dambisa Moyo says that remittances have to be facilitated to strengthen the input and the impact of the Diaspora in their countries of origin. What does that mean for a country like Tanzania?
Source: Noshua Watson, IDS (2012)
Remittances can play a big role in the economic development of Africa. When I think of Bangladesh, for example, in almost all countries of the world, both Nationalised Commercial Banks and Private Commercial Banks have corresponding relationships with banks through which Bangladeshi migrants may easily send their money to their beneficiaries' accounts with any branch of any bank in Bangladesh. For a country like Tanzania, enforcing such corresponding relationship network and streamlining the process (transfer) could help canalize its remittances in a positive way and contribute to the national economies.
Using mobile banking for transfer could help reach the remote households that may not easily access financial institutions. Tanzanians in the diaspora are estimated to be sending more than USD 360m as remittances annually, almost equal to our traditional exports of tea, coffee, cashew and cotton. Once the issue of remittances is given emphasis, Tanzanians in the diaspora will take interest in the running on the country and advocate more for accountability from leaders. It is healthy.
- Returnees from western countries are often frustrated by the bureaucracy and corruption in their countries of origin. Their businesses fail because they don't have personal relations to the decision makers. What has to be changed to make them succeed? How can we positively influence this change?
Transparency is key to avoid falling in the trap of nepotism and corruption. By the time the business is set up and millions of shillings invested, it is often hard to resist the pressure from the corrupt environment that one would face on the ground. However, if most of the bureaucracy could be done online or through specially designed channels within or outside the country of origin, corruption would not be an issue and the meanders of bureaucracy will be avoided.
- How can we positively influence this change?
- Mr. Kabwe, you are among the youngest parliamentarians in Tanzania and you are using primarily twitter to communicate with your fans and friends. Can social media reduce corruption and lethargy in African democracies?
I use both ways, traditional way of communicating through political rallies etc. I definitely believe that social media has made information easier to access and brings a new level of interactivity between the media and the people, but also between politicians and other leaders and people.
I was recently interviewed by one of the leading social media platforms in East Africa (www.JamiiForums.com). It was a record interview, 8 hours consecutively where I responded to 85 very pertinent questions in a day, gathered from members of the forum. The people who asked these questions were from everywhere in the world. The interview is still accessible and anyone visiting the page can read and comment. This would not be possible through traditional media. An 8 hours long interview, I believe, is the longest one any politician has been subjected to.
Through my personal blog (zittokabwe.com), Facebook Page and Twitter account (@zittokabwe), followers could read and react on the private motion I had on billions of Tanzanian shillings in Swiss accounts by Tanzanian citizens. The motion was passed by the Parliament that the Executive must investigate the Swiss billions held by Tanzanians and report back to the Parliament during the April 2013 parliamentary session.
In April 2012 I moved a motion in Parliament to censure a Prime Minister following misuse of public funds by ministers as evidenced by the Controller and Auditor General. I used social media (primarily Twitter) to ask citizens to call their MPs to sign a petition (hashtagged #sahihi70 ) – 70 signatures needed to qualify to move a vote of no confidence against a Prime Minister (#VoteOfNoConfidence). My party has 48 MPs only, but the petition was signed by 75 MPs. It was an uncomfortable topic for some members of the ruling party but with all the attention drawn on these issues through independent social media it was hard for the government to ignore the issue and they had to respond to questions. Eventually the President sacked 8 ministers including Ministers of Finance and Energy, key ministries.
Social media was very instrumental in both these examples I have given. Social media is also an accountability tool by citizens to politicians. I am questioned a number of issues on social media and respond. I am asked questions by people who would never get such an opportunity because of the distances the traditional media keep between politicians and the people.
- How can civil society support this process?
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