By booting Kenya down and preferring Tanzania, the US proved to be as goofy as divorcing a gator to end up in bed with a croc! This is the second time the US has slammed a door on Kenya. It’s sad that even Tanzania imbibed this scornful humiliation as a big deal. But by avoiding Kenya is the world leader helping it to solve its problems?

To add insult to injury, the US denied visas to some Kenyan top corrupt official as it turned a blind eye to Tanzania’s same bêtes noix. Tanzania was elated to step in. Sadly, it’s become a norm for African rulers to depend on rich countries to prove their “manhood and worthiness”. Had it not been for their malady of sitting on their heads, African rulers do not need such cheap exculpation.

Tanzania recently shone at the 64th General assembly session. Thanks to this serendipity, its president Jakaya Kikwete, was seen happily doing things that were expected of Kenya’s PM Raila Odinga, thanks to what observers termed as US’s punishment to corrupt Kenyan current regime under Mwai Kibaki. What’s more, what’s the rationale in this if Tanzania is filthier than Kenya? This take shocked and dismayed many that know how corrupt Tanzania currently is. For those in the know, comparably, Kenya is even better than Tanzania. Thanks to its vibrant economy.

This turn was visibly seen on PM Oginga’s impromptu removal from the list of dignitaries that were to attend luncheon with US president Barrack Obama. As per the media, Kikwete was asked by Obama to initiate discussion at this luncheon, the chance that was thought would be taken by Kenya . In his reciprocation, Machiavellian Kikwete showered the US with praises for its generosity thanks to Tanzania being the recipient of a five-year development package of $ 700 million, through the “Millennium Challenge” programme.  But this huge sum of money did nothing substantially. Refer to Tanzania ’s poor performance economically and developmentally. Its MDG performance is spooky and poor altogether. The government of Tanzania is currently laden with scandals involving millions of dollars.

Kikwete scored higher especially when he reiterated Tanzania ’s commitment to peace in Africa, thanks to sending peacekeeping troops Darfur. The irony though is, the same supports Sudanese dictator Omar Hassan el Bashir in his useless attempts to avert being submitted to The Hague to answer chargers related with crimes against humanity he committed in Darfur! 

Recently the media in Tanzania published the report by the National Statistic Bureau (NSB) showing that under Kikwete, the nation is in economic hardship thanks to inflation hitting at 12.1 compared to single digit under former President Benjamin Mkapa, who’s currently facing many scandal allegations including his inner sanctum and relations. However, this contradicts the prediction and projection by the London-based Economist magazine which ranked it the ninth-fastest growing economy behind China but ahead of India this year. Yet still there are many doubts. How can the regime with fiscal indiscipline and nose-length policy enhance this growth?

Despite this rosy picture, I dare say, corruption is hugely surging compared to Mkapa’s era, in spite of siring the currently surfacing scandals. What tarnishes Tanzania ’s image even a lot more is the fact that most of the scandals already reported involve top officials of the current regime… Kikwete included. And this has made it harder for him to take on corruption or keep tabs on his friends and accomplices save for a few make-believe cases dragging legs before the court. This latency gave Kikwete a name of “Msanii” or “a liar” or “a conman”. So this second-hand recognition is a big boost for embattled Kikwete come next elections. Pro-government media are now awash with photos showing him with various American top dogs.

We all know Kenya’s image was tarnished by post-poll, rumpus-cum-bloodbath, that culminated in tribal crashes that left many innocent Kenyans dead.  But looking at the same, Tanzania can not escape. Currently, albinos are killed indiscriminately and the government does not arrest this accordingly. In Pemba, many people are brutalized and their properties vandalized by government agents thanks to their opposition to a doctored voter’s registry.

By and large, what tantalizes even more is the fact that the US did urge Kenya to sack its Chief Justice Evans Gicheru and Attorney General Amos Wako, whilst Tanzania has a more corrupt AG, Johnson Mwanyika and head of the anti-corruption body: Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), Edward Hosea. The duo is alleged to have benefitted from British connected radar and presidential jet scandals among others.

Whilst Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki is openly known to have stolen his presidency, Kikwete as well, faces the same thanks to robbing the Central Bank under External Payment arrears Account (EPA), to raise money for bribing voters who ultimately voted for him thanks to this inducement.

Generally speaking, there’s no clean government in the duo. Kibaki sheathed his predecessor just like Kikwete is doing. The difference is Daniel arap Moi caused much deeper hole on Kenya ’s economy than Mkapa did to Tanzania’s. But in principle, corruption is corruption. It robs the common man and woman their rights to wellbeing and development.

Regarding the projection by the Economist magazine, this is a hoax rich countries use to fool poor countries. The World Bank used to do this during the cold war. When things turned out to be different, it used to blame failure on poor countries. Refer to many economic adjustments and structural what not that did not bear any fruits.

All in all, US’s shying away from Kenya and preferring Tanzania in lieu, is but a goofy and vexatious step. The good thing is this time, Kenya did not complain but soldiered on.

Though all was well for Kikwete, I don’t know how he took the words of President Obama when he urged African rulers to stamp corruption out so as to attract sound investment. Though Tanzania can superficially be seen as a hub for international investment, in the core, it is but rotten. For the touted investments have nary helped the common man, save to create a blink future for him. Refer to oft-reported killings of innocent mineral diggers in Mererani Arusha and environmental degradation among other.


Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He writes regularly for “The African Executive” and also has a blog entitled “Free Thinking Unabii”. He is a regular contributor to AfroSpear.