• Advertisement

  • President here to woo Tanzania diaspora

    Idi Amin of Uganda gave all Asians in East Africa a wake-up call in 1972; if you live in Uganda, we don’t want you because you are not black. So he expelled Asians, some of whom were third generation born in Uganda, 90 days to leave the country, virtually penniless.
    In neighbouring Tanzania, President Julius Nyerere was aggressively implementing his socialist policies which included nationalizing properties, homes and businesses owned by Asians and Kenya was pursuing its Africanization policy making it difficult to get jobs or engage in business for Asians.
    Asians in Tanzania and Kenya feared that their governments might turn against them one day and expel them, Idi Amin-style, stripping them of their wealth and citizenship.
    Uganda’s Asian exodus was followed by mini-exodus from Tanzania and Kenya where desperate Asians sent their educated children to Canada, the U.S. and United Kingdom as insurance in case they have to flee their countries. I was among those who left Tanzania for Canada, fleeing from Nyerere’s nationalization policies.
    But the tables are turned now. The penniless Asians of the 70s have become prosperous business tycoons, professionals and successful hoteliers in western countries. Amin’s successor, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda made special trips to Canada and United Kingdom to lure Asians to return, dangling an offer to return their nationalized properties back as a carrot. Museveni realized the importance the Asians made to the economy. Many have gone back and are now running some of the biggest enterprises in the country.
    It appears that after 50 years of independence, Tanzania’s political leadership has realized the importance of diaspora Asians to the development of the country. Recently, I was among 300 registered delegates in attendance in Edmonton to hear Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete, who led a high powered delegation consisting of ministers, ambassadors and heads of leading bank and government departments aimed at wooing Tanzanian diaspora to come back and help the government build the nation.
    Tanzanians living in Canada were urged to return home to invest and use their skills and technology for the growth and development of their homeland. He assured the delegates, which included some Asians whose homes, properties and businesses were nationalized under President Julius Nyerere, that Tanzania was open for business and that “there will be no more nationalization.”
    He rolled the welcome mat, saying Tanzania was encouraging involvement in private sector based on market economy. Investments are already guaranteed by law and the government has recognized private sector as the “engine of growth.” The government had realized that its role was to govern, maintain law and order, and provide suitable environment for sound economic policies.
    In remarks aimed at Asian Tanzanians, which included successful businessmen, hoteliers, community leaders and professionals, President Kikwete recognized that they had left the country under “different” circumstances. “Those times are gone. Those circumstances are no longer there,” he assured them. However, a questioner, who wanted to be anonymous, was disappointed when he was bluntly told that properties nationalized earlier would not be returned or compensated as was done by President Museveni in Uganda.
    In a later interview, an Asian businessman questioned whether they could trust Tanzanian politicians and take their word seriously. “Mr. Kikwete can guarantee what is happening during his term of office. Three or four years down the road, he’ll be gone. Can he guarantee what his successor is going to do? We don’t trust the.”
    Another Asian, whose family lost properties under Nyerere, said if the government was serious, they should return nationalized properties as was done in Uganda as an act of good faith. The fact that they said no to return them shows they are a bunch of thieves who want to keep someone else’s properties.”
    Tanzanians living in Alberta were urged to make a special effort to return home to boost the country’s economy since Tanzania needed their expertise in oil and gas. “You have the experience and skills that we need.”
    He identified mining, tourism, telecommunication, manufacturing and construction as areas of great opportunities. Tanzania was developing its agriculture sector and food production by focusing its attention in six regions, considered to be the “grain basket of the country.”
    He urged the Tanzania diaspora community to become partners with the government to develop the country. “We need investors. Come and invest. If you can’t, may be you know someone who can. Encourage them to do so.
    We need technology and skills. Some of you are in technology; some of you have skills we need. Please bring the technology and your skills. Don’t forget home, sweet home.”
    The government has been giving so much importance to the contribution of disapora that it has established a department of diaspora with a fulltime ambassador. Five decades after independence, the government has seen the need to bring the constitution up to speed with present realities of the country. He invited the diaspora Tanzanians to share their views in reforming the constitution with the commission, which is currently seeking views from Tanzanians. The new constitution, expected to be in place by 2015, will also examine ways to offer dual nationality to Tanzanians living abroad.
    Tanzanian Asians and Africans were praised for coming together to make the three-day Edmonton conference, attended by heads of immigration, tourism, finance, mines, housing, social security, land, human settlement and petroleum most successful. It was the first diaspora meeting ever held in Canada.

    13 Comments

    1. UofA grad

      November 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      Well said Mansoor!

      For all the words and show, Tanzania must return the properties seized from its Asian citizens in the 1970’s. Until it does so, Tanzania will sadly continue to be widely regarded as a kleptocracy or “rule by thieves”. In Tanzania, what we have is kleptocracy by the state rather than individual leaders.

      Kleptocracy is unfortunately common in developing countries. Kleptocracy by the state in Tanzania has negatively affected foreign investment, drastically weakened its domestic market, and limited cross-border trade.

      In 2010, at the Tanzania Diaspora Conference in London, Hon. Bernard Membe, the Tanzanian Minister for Foreign Affairs lamented the very low amounts of financial remittances sent by Tanzanians working abroad.

      In 2009, the remittances sent to Kenya by Kenyans working abroad was US$1,572 million and the remittances sent to Uganda by Ugandans working abroad was US$514 million. In sad contrast,the 2009 remittances sent to Tanzania by its citizens working abroad was a paltry US$18 million.

      While Tanzania has made many great strides and is successful in attracting charity dollars, it still has a long way to go to gain the confidence of foreign investors.

    2. Sultan Dina

      November 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      We lost everything when we left the country. If the prime minister is sincere, let him compensate us for our losses, and then we will think of going back.

      • Mana

        November 30, 2012 at 7:33 am

        As i said the majority affected were those trying to climb housing ladder.Hundreds were in transition to aquire small flats.How can these people forgive what happened to them.They did not steal from any one. If the state does such a thing , its citizen are more likely to follow suit.This is what is happening now.There is no baraka with tainted history.

    3. Amin Karmali

      November 29, 2012 at 11:39 pm

      We need our consficated properties to be returned to us in vaccant possesion.This single act would provide us some confidence to return and invest.

    4. AZEEZ

      December 1, 2012 at 4:44 am

      A lot of investment is pouring into Tanzania from individuals and govrnmemts and they certainly don’t rely on ‘charity dllars’. Tanzania and Afriaca has large untapped resources and that is the reason China is investing heavily as are some heavyweight individuals from India.Even a Ugandan asian buisnessman has invested a large sum of his own money in the Oyster Bay project in Tanzania. As in any investments the larger the returns the bigger the risks.
      Finally although I sympathise with the individuals who had lost propery we had also been illegaly been sending large amounts of money out of the country and never made any efforts to integrate.

    5. Madaraka Nyerere

      December 1, 2012 at 5:53 am

      I believe all foreign investments in Tanzania are protected under the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

      There is a lot of money to be made in Tanzania now, a millionfold compared to the value of properties that were nationalized by Mwalimu Nyerere’s administration. And any move to return the properties would prove extremely unpopular for the government.

      The difference between now and then is that today you could cut deals with those at the top because of the relaxed code of conduct that the current crop of politicians has introduced along with the pursuit of free-market policies.

    6. Sadru Meghji

      December 1, 2012 at 11:34 am

      Well reported and commented Mansoor, if Tanzania is serious, it should show willingness to return/compensate for the properties takenover.But knowing our herd mentality, your efforts may not sound effective to those seeking opportunities in E Africa. Furthermore, the corruption level has to be dealt with and worst is the Justice System. Hopefully prospective investors will keep these in mind.

    7. Jaffer

      December 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      I will be the last person to go back to Tanzania.

    8. Mushtak Fazal

      December 2, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      Dont you trust these guys. They dont even follow their own laid down rules (gazetted). I can prove it . If they really want you to come back let them give back the properties they stole from people.

    9. Abdul S Khan

      December 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      I love Tanzania, my birth country. I’m close to retirement and have made a good living in the USA. I would like to invest and live part of the time in Tanzania, but I’ll not give up my US citizenship as USA has given me all that I have today. USA has given me a family and a good living. Dual citizenship that is being proposed would certainly entice other former Tanzanians like me to invest and help develope our country of birth.

    10. Mana

      December 6, 2012 at 9:20 am

      My sister bought a small flat and my brother a little shop in the same building.Full amount was not even paid.The contractor died of heart heart just after building take over.I, even bought main gate from half monthly salary.Every thing was lost.my sister who is now a widow is without a home of her home.Rent is paid by relatives.I am glad this issue is coming to the fore.TZ is behaving as if it did not exit.Mine is just one case out of hundreds.

    11. Mana

      December 9, 2012 at 6:44 am

      Well done Mansoor. If everyone impacted by property takeover would write something I am sure it would fill enough pages of a best seller book.It will be an eye opener.As for now there is no innovation. If people from outside come they can inject talents and fresh ideas in the economy.Those people(wamepitiwa na wakati)should make way for a new broom.

    12. Mumtaz Sunderji

      December 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      I would certainly like to have them show good faith by giving us back or compensating for our properties, that we have there. I went back in 2010, and would love to live there and invest, if there is good faith first, by the Government.

      I would be willing to live there and invest, as someone in this email said it is our birth country and it would be great to do something for our birth country.