LAST week the Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Mustafa Mkulo, intimated that the government expects its usual budgetary dose of donor aid despite the fact that Tanzania continues to post a poor showing on corruption and investment climate indices.
The finance minister was quoted by the media as saying that “we expect to get even more than we have budgeted”. Does this mean that donors are willing to go the extra mile and provide more than the 30% of the budgetary support they have taken to shouldering? Why don’t we just cede this country to the donors?
We do not understand why the donors continue loosening their purse strings to our government even when they know well that some of the funding they provide for projects intended to alleviate poverty end up in the foreign banks’ vaults where our corrupt leaders prefer hiding their ill-gotten wealth. Do these donors have ulterior motives?
The continued pumping of funds into the country by aid groups despite the poor trend that the country has adopted - with regards to its willingness to deal with graft and poverty - in the recent years is a complete departure from their tendency to attach aid to ‘transparency and governance’ that they are always too happy to slap on African countries.
In recent years, Tanzania has been flopping in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception rating and the World Bank’s Doing Business index.
The country has now consistently failed to improve the investment climate, especially in the private sector, where government bureaucracies, tough licensing rules, inconsistent power, and a poor infrastructure, among others, make it hard for investors to start and run businesses.
However, what continues to baffle many is how the country has failed to wean itself from dependency on donor aid despite having one of the best climates for both economic and political prosperity.
What more does Tanzania need to develop into a vibrant economy? Don’t we already have a peaceful country that allows for the kind of freedoms rarely seen in many countries even in the developed world?
Don’t we have mineral resources that make other countries salivate with envy, jealousy and greed? How many countries boast a medley of precious minerals that include the world-coveted gold and diamonds? Where else on earth does one get rare stones such as tanzanite?
Who can question the social unity that exists among Tanzanians? How many countries are unified like Tanzania is? Are there many countries in the world with rich farmlands that spread beyond imagination but which lie unattended? How many in the world can match Tanzania’s legendary wildlife and heritages like Mt. Kilimanjaro? Where else does one find the rare Kihansi frogs?
Does the leadership in this country have any excuses for the country’s continued tendencies to stick out its begging bowl to donors other than for the single reason that it possesses an imagination bankruptcy to which it clings on so dearly?