Monday, September 29, 2014

NACOPHA faults employers for violating directives issued in a government paper

The National Council for the People living with HIV/AIDS (NACOPHA) has strongly blamed some employers in the country for their failure to abide by the directives issued in a government paper of the public service No: 2 of 2006. The paper states that, all employers in both public and private sectors are required to provide nutritious foodstuffs to their employees who already have been infected with the HIV/AIDS pandemic disease virus in order to keep healthy their bodies. The directives were issued by the government with a view to safeguard employees already confirmed to be living with HIV/AIDS viruses and had recommended an additional payment of between Sh. 30,000 and Sh. 50,000 to be disbursed by employers on their monthly basic salaries. NACOPHA’s Chairperson Vitalis Makayula expressed his disappointment over the matter in an exclusive interview last week in Dar es Salaam and noted that, little progress has been shown on the part of its implementation since the idea was initiated eight years ago. He said the move by the government is to supplement HIV/AIDS victims with enough money and be able to afford such basic needs buy nutritious foodstuffs to keep strong the protective body cells known as CD4 cells. He confirmed that, the government’s initiative seems to have been ignored by most employers as only about 25 percent of the reinforcement has been realised up to now. However, he doubts as the majority of Tanzanian employers do not have work place programmes to operate in order to implement the government’s order effectively an aspect that makes them take the matter with less seriousness. He is of the view of the fact that, the continued negligence by some employers causes fears among the already affected victims who in  turn are afraid to announce their status, thus the situation aggravates the rising number of infected people at work places. “This is contrary to the rules and our regulations set which requires people to announce their status and once are known, proper care should be taken for them as this is one way to end stigmatization” he said adding that most employers wait and pay the terminal benefits of the affected victims to their relatives when they have died. In another development, Makayula has said that, the rate at which stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV viruses (PLVA) is growing at an alarming rate among the communities in the country. He mentioned two commonly notorious types of attitudes which are still dominating among the sufferers namely Self stigma and community stigma are growing among the affected victims an aspect that it has become so difficult to reduce the infections. He elaborated that, self stigma is being shown by AIDS sufferers by way of keeping quiet and keeps cool without exposing their status for lack of freedom among the community members, and this is because are afraid of being stigmatized, whereas the community stigma is where people in general show their attitudes openly against the affected people. Other challenges he noted are related with the shortage of funds an aspect which has hampered various development projects set for the council. However, he further noted that donor funding organizations which the council depends upon are staggering in issuing their funds and so have to look for other means in order to survive owing to the fact that the government does not have its own budget set for entire operational activities. Contacted for comments, the Information officer with the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) Godlease Malisa said that, the donor funding organizations have directed their funds to other development activities and manage little for them. TACAIDS is a national apex body which overlooks issues related with HIV/AIDS in the country and is closely working in collaboration with NACOPHA in terms of help, planning including money for entire operation. NACOPHA is the umbrella organization which was registered in September, 2005 as a non-partisan, non governmental and not-for-profit organization. The council is comprised of more than 10 national group networks of people living with HIV operating countrywide. The National networks are also comprised of registered NGOs and organized groups of different levels. The council manages resources received from donors and from TACAIDS to support implementation of the various program activities advocating for issues and concerns of the PLHAs in Tanzania. 

A Professor faults the government over FDI investment flows

A senior lecturer of economy yesterday raised his voice in protest against the continued trend by government of allowing free tax holidays to foreigners coming in the country through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) systems, saying that a move denies the government with revenue. Professor Humphrey Mushi of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) made a concern yesterday in Dar es Salaam when contributing to a debate on a topic titled, “Working with government to enhance accountability”  which was presented for discussion at Breakfast talk organized by Policy Forum held at British Council. Earlier, discussants over the topic poured much blame to the government when the topic was put across to the audience for discussion, with some saying that, the government is not serious to hold accountable its top most senior officials who makes various mistakes and never tried before the court of law. Elaborating on the idea, he said in an exclusive interview that, under the trading system, various international companies which come to invest in the country are entitled to trade feely for five years of the trading period, an aspect which the government continues to lose billions of money as tax revenues.  Free tax holidays was introduced after the establishment of an Investment Act of 1997 which provides a period of five years for establishing investment project during which projects are entitled to tax exemptions on capital goods, an aspect which he said needs to be put forward for discussion as a nation. He said offering of too much taxes to such investors, the government would not maximize profit margin for the business invested, citing an example of changing of names of business entity such as Kilimanjaro hotel and Serena hotel once used to be known as Sheraton and later Royal Palm. All these he said are such one way of taking a loophole to evade necessary taxes. He noted that, if tax revenues disappear in such a dubious manner, coupled by tax exemptions, the rate at which the national debt is growing would keep on increasing at a higher pace. He further noted that, if this situation is effectively controlled, then the government would be in a position to save a lot of money and be able to engage in various development projects without depending on external aid. However, he suggested that, the government need to make amendments on the Act so as to save the nation from losing its capital revenue as it does not match with the current business environment under which people are trading. Contributing over the topic focusing on ethical behavior, executives of some entrepreneurs in the country have noted that, there are two things which retard the entrepreneurs’ development and cited corruption and bureaucracy which h they say are still hampering their progress. Speaking in support of the matter, another renowned economist and senior lecturer of economy at University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Professor Haji Semboja said that, the government’s policies and laws guiding FDI were good when introduced in early 1990s with a view to attract investors. He said in a telephone interview yesterday when contacted for more comments in regard to the issue and noted that, it is high time now that such laws and policies need to be reviewed in order to save such large lump sum of money unpaid to government coffers. However, he queried if the implementation of this could be effected by government officials knowing well that, are the once who initiated such policies without knowing what could be the impact of it later on as years go by. According to Prof. Semboja, he is of the view that, government officials might be afraid or feel ashamed to revert such policies at this time when the government incurs huge loses as already they had entered contracts which are bound by such policies that favour them. He cited example of giant multi-national mining companies operating in the country after the government entered contracts with them, and noted that, the aim was to create conducive environment for them in order to enjoy their investments through physical incentive guarantee without knowing what could happen later on. He suggested that, as long as the mistake was done, then it could be good enough if the new constitution should help highlight any changes that would alter the already entered contracts and apologies for the mistake done in order to save the nation. However, he further suggested for another option that “otherwise there should be a revolutionary political change of power in the country with new set up as the current leaders have no ideas to react over the matter for they know the mistakes they had committed. “If our leaders touted for the sale of government’s houses in Oyster bay estates in Dar es Salaam city and most of them were sold among themselves silently, whom do you think is in a position to bark against what is being siphoned by investors” he querried. The Chairman of EASB Group Paul Mashauri said that, doing business in Tanzania is an uphill task owing to bad habits being practiced and shown by some service providers citing that, corruption and bureaucracy have increased at a higher level. He noted that the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) hardly becomes successful and never developed in the country due to increased corruption. However, he noted that, this is open right as from seeking for contracts, silences, loans and many others. “To become a successful in that environment one has to suffer as most attendants do not abide by business ethics for their minds are absorbed and engulfed with corruption”, he  said adding that in this way most of them fails to develop because the system does not provide them grow and instead they come to collect taxes only.  Another aspect he described is when one needs to take a loan from the bank and noted that, collateral is needed. But it is unfortunate that most SME traders do not have them, this leads to imminent closure of a business entity for lack of capital. However, he note3d that, the government needs to improve the environment otherwise entrepreneurs’ capital won’t develop, he said. Contributing for the suggestion over the matter, the Director of an NGO called Community Development for All (CDFA) that deals with rural empowerment Godfrey Pratace Sangana said that, researchers should be engaged in revealing wrong doers in society so as to help the police and the PCCB officials in the country get rid of them. However, he noted that, in this way the government would be at least in a position tyo end or stop completely the issue of corruption which tom some extent its roots have grown so deeper. Presenting his paper titled, “incentives for business ethical conduct”, the Director of an NGO known as Leadership Development of QI Management Solutions Joel Nanauka noted that, there is an ethical work performance on business dealings in the country that needs to be averted. He noted that, the impact of unethical behavior has increased at a higher rate by 75 percent in the country in such a way that both private and government sectors should incorporate together to tackle the phenomenon to bring the situation to normalcy so as to promote economic development. However, he has asked the media to help in advocacy the issue as the rate is increasing an aspect that it would impede important development activities from taking place, thus the mover of reducing poverty in the country would indefinitely fail.

Monday, September 22, 2014

State assures Mbagala bomb victims compensation payments

At last the government has agreed to settle down once and for all the long standing compensation payments due for the Mbagala victims whose household properties were destroyed by bomb blasts which occurred in the area in April 2009 over five years ago, it has been learnt.  The chairperson of the committee representing bomb blast victims’ group, Steven Gimonge made the revelation on Saturday last week in Dar es Salaam at a public meeting whereby his committee members convened at Mbagala Kuu suburb on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam city. In his speech, Gimonge assured fellow victims that, among the compensation payments to be effected for the victims will also include payments of medical treatment which the government had promised to compensate those who sustained body disorder as a result of the blast. However, he cautioned those to be considered for payments would be victims who underwent medical treatments immediately, and urged them to get ready with their medical prescriptions which would be thoroughly checked in order to confirm their attendances. Gimonge was briefing the group what had transpired one week after media reported their claims during which the group had gathered to raise up their voices after a long silence by the government despite of the promises to review the mode of compensation for the victim since they lodged their claims to President Jakaya Kikwete in early 2013. “Following an exclusive report of our grievances as reported by the media, officials from the State House called me in response and has assured to settle down the matter after three weeks’ time from now”, he said urging fellow members to calm and draw their patience. 

The chairperson of the committee representing bomb blast victims’ group at Mbagala Kuu , Steven Gimonge addressing fellow victims on Saturday last week.

 Last Saturday group members opened up their grievances in a three hour meeting to remind the government to execute their prompt additional payments in order to clear their worries despite several promises that it would do. About 1,361 group members are in demand of additional payments after what was paid to them earlier was noted to be too small compared to the value of loss of household properties including their houses that got cracked as a result of such blasts, hence had raised concerns over the delays caused. In their previous meeting, Gimonge substantiated the miserable payments settled by cheques that do not exceed Sh. 2,000/- which of course is not enough to cover their treatment costs. They are also suspicious for such payment cheques might have been forged. An example of the original cheque No. 452163 issued on 28th August 2012 by the Bank of Tanzania stating the sum of 1,950 paid to one victim Said Omary Mbonde, that the Guardian came across is a typical example. The owner has never gone to the bank to withdraw money for he feels shy to do so. He said during an exclusive interview that, how could he go for withdrawal and yet the money written is like his transport of going and return back to his residence. “This is a shame indeed” he asserted. Among other victims interviewed last week expressed their disappointment saying that are experiencing hard time to make their life through for having nothing to sustain their life with as they have been infected by diseases which needs money for treatment. Two weeks ago, the Secretary to President Kikwete Prosper Mbena said that, the State House received the names of the victims but the same were yet to reach the President. Mbena was quoted exclusively by this paper and noted that, they were still verifying the names to satisfy themselves as to who deserves what as the names are too many. “After the evaluation, it is when the names will be taken to the President,” he added. “The State House has received the victims’ names but they have not been forwarded to the President. We shall forward them when the procedures are completed,” Mbena was quoted as saying.

Experts warns against exposing vegetable oils to sunlight

Vegetable oils which forms a good part of human diet providing concentrated sources of energy and essential nutrients is described to be losing its quality if displayed under direct sunlight in open markets, an expert on industrial food processing has said. A senior research and development officer of Tanzania Industrial Research Organisation (TIRDO) Sara Lifa said early this week in Dar es Salaam that, the exposure of vegetable oils to sunlight can result in the production of off-flavours, colour defects as well as loss of nutritional quality of the oils.  She said in an exclusive interview that, in the process known as photo-oxidation, the essential fatty acids and rich vitamins E which are present in the oils are oxidized and their nutritive values reduced.  However, she said “storage of vegetable oil under poor conditions will result in the loss of quality, and therefore the value of the product, and added that, it is therefore recommended that edible vegetable oils be stored in airtight containers that do not allow light and should not be exposed to sunlight. This blog contacted  a vegetable oil expert with a view to get to know what could be the better resultant caused by such products after having discovered that, in some occasions locally produced vegetable oils are found displayed under direct sunlight in open markets which according to health regulations is strictly forbidden.   Giving the technical details on the issue as prescribed in research papers, Sara noted that, when oils are exposed to sunlight their bond contents become photoxidized. In the process oxygen reacts with the double bonds of fatty acids to form peroxides. The rate of photo-oxidation is affected by some factors such as the presence of oxygen, intensity of radiation, degree of un-saturation and temperature. She noted that, one of the major changes taking place in vegetable oils is generally referred to rancidity. Rancidity is the state caused by the hydrolysis or oxidation of the glycerides and release of fatty acids which have strong characteristic and undesirable odours. There are two types of rancidity; hydrolytic and oxidative rancidity. In the oxidation type there are three categories: auto-oxidation, photo- oxidation and enzymatic oxidation. It is the photo-oxidation process which the initial stages are catalysed by light. Commenting on Sun-Flower oils she noted that, the oil is common cooking oil that has high levels of polyunsaturated. It is also known for having a clean taste and low levels of fat.  It has a high in the essential vitamin E and low in saturated fat. Sunflower oil, like other oils, can retain moisture in the skin. It may also provide a protective barrier that resists infection in premature infants. Studies using sunflower oil have been conducted involving low birth weight infants who are often susceptible to infection due to their underdeveloped skin. Contacted for more comments, the Director of Quality Management Directorate of Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) Eng. Tumaini Mtitu said that, a processor of any kind of cooking oil can technically ensure that processed cooking oils comply to requirements of a given standard by sourcing raw materials (oil seeds) that have been produced under Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). However, she noted that, ‘this should be followed by processors adhering to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Hygienic Practices (GHP). Therefore, during packaging of processed cooking oil the above need to be considered.   She said in an exclusive interview that, the requirement is very important for all processors, whether Small, medium or large entrepreneur. During processing they should ensure that they adhere to GMP and GHP as these will assure them quality products on packaging. Producers of oil must ensure that packaging materials are those appropriate to packaging of oil. Use of plastic packages, glass and others that do not allow penetration of light (non-transparent) is the right measure to control exposure to light. On his part, the Director of Food Safety with the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) Raymond Wigenge has said that, Tanzanians are at risk of being infected by diseases resulting from lack of enough nutrients such as vitamins and minerals in some foodstuffs which they consume. Among them he noted vegetable oils, bearing the fact that vitamins and mineral food components helps to protect human body against minor diseases. He confirmed in Dar es Salaam recently during an exclusive interview with this paper that, such foodstuffs are mixed up with insufficient contents of food nutrients during production with low percentage rate, and when consumed do not build up human bodies as required.   The call by TFDA came about amid study reports conducted by Tanzania Food Centre (TFC) which revealed that in Tanzania there is a deficiency of some vitamins and other minerals on human bodies which has been discovered to be lacking in some foodstuffs including edible vegetable oils which are destroyed during the process of refining them. However, he noted that, with the escalating situation, his organization has seen the need of adding natural vitamins and minerals, and has embarked effectively on National Fortification Programme (NFP) whose aim is to minimize effects associated with micro-nutrient deficiency in the country. Elaborating on the initiatives and measures to be undertaken under the programme, he said both local and foreign food producers and sellers would be examined according to the newly introduced guidelines to start effectively end of this year. Under the new guidelines, TFDA will look at the imported foodstuffs such as Maize flour, Wheat flour and vegetable oils in order to verify their contents if they conform to the level of food standards required by TFDA. He said TFDA has issued a directive to food importers to inform their manufacturers and producers of such foodstuffs to strictly adhere to the new guidelines which his organization has issued as most of their consignments have been discovered to have a shortfall of the basic nutritious contents.

Stakeholders: Improper vehicles’ inspection, a cause of numerous fatal accidents

As the government is striving to look for possible ways in order to curb increased number of accidents occurring in the country, experts have revealed that, improper vehicle maintenance services contributes to a greater extent the occurrence of accidents in some parts in the country. Basing the idea with normal research findings, most accidents are caused by careless driving despite having improved roads, and this accounts for 80 percent of all fatal accidents in most roads all over the world. The situation is exacerbated by inexperience, over speeding while being under the influence of intoxication through alcoholic beverages or drugs causing plain recklessness. The majority of road crashes are caused by human error, a transport stakeholder has said.   Speaking in an exclusive interview this week in Dar es Salaam, the Executive Secretary of Tanzania Bus Owners Association (TABOA) Mustafa Mwalongo said that, there is no thorough check up done onto vehicles especially buses plying long routes in upcountry regions. “Lack of vehicles’ inspection is a core issue and traffic police officers ignores this as part of their duties to ensure that, a bus is safer for passengers it carries on board, and this should be thoroughly checked  as required after and before a driver set out for long journey”, he said. However, he revealed that, “it is surprising to note that none of them even cares to monitor vehicles’ movements” he said adding that, traffic police only inspects head lights, side indicators together with others driving licenses.  According to him, police officers sometimes tend to be busy on vehicles axels at weigh bridge points and remain comfortable as in those areas they are more involved in corruption.  Commenting on the re-introduction of speed governors as a way to reduce numerous accidents, Mwalongo noted that, these would not work as most drivers do tamper with their working mechanism into making them rather ineffective. He recalled in 1997 when the government first introduced a directive which required all vehicles to put speed governors on their vehicles in a bid to control over speeding, despite of their certification by Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), but were later on discovered that the devices were defective and could not work as required. Although they managed to control over speeding from 80 Km to 50 Km per hour, but bus owners and crook drivers tampered with them and reverted into their normal driving style that instigates high speeding rates as if they had no such devices put on their buses, he said. He also noted that, in 2011, the government again issued a six month ultimatum to drivers and bus owners to ensure that they re-introduce speed governors an exercise that failed later as no one dared to follow up. However, Mwalongo has suggested that, once a driver is caught with an offense associated with their buses, they should not be ending up in paying fines alone, but severe punishments should be imposed to them including bus owners as a deterrent for others into committing the same. Interviewed drivers have complained the habit by traffic police offers saying that, are inciting to a certain extent when it comes to the issue of ascertaining their driving licenses which in most cases have been issued to unprofessional drivers whom they also accuse of attaining such documents through back doors. On the other hand, drivers have also criticized the indecent behaviors by some traffic police officers that results into increased corruption a situation which has made them not to take any action against defaulting drivers once caught with an offence of breaking traffic rules. Hamidu Shabani, a driver who plies between Arusha-Moshi-Dar route confidently revealed bad habit by some of his fellow drivers who are given money by passengers to quickly take them into their destination. He disclosed that, there are some Arusha based businessmen who are fond of using their money to bribe drivers and even traffic police on the way to rush them quickly to their destinations in a bid to collect their business selling materials and get back on time. He noted that, the trend psychologically confuses money receivers and abide by their consents automatically without a fuss, a factor that cause over speeding which ultimately ends up in fatal accident. In order to end the escalating trend, however, he has suggested the government should allow 24 hour movements of vehicles including buses to operate effectively so as to give more time for businessmen to travel move freely at their own will. Another driver, Joshua Makweta has thrown a blame to the government for having registered more trucks without having expanding the infrastructure notably roads.

However, he is on the view of the fact that, trucks are the main cause of accidents on the way through which they travel. He has however, suggested that, there should be a control of overflowing trucks which should also be limited in order to reduce their number, otherwise they should be allowed to travel during night hours.  But his argument was contradicted by an economist who preferred anonymity saying that, trucks plays a crucial role for the economic development of any country in the world as they enable the easier transportation of goods from one place to another other than passengers who mostly travel for personal interest. Another driver Jumanne Ally suggested regular check up on vehicles parts such as tires which runs on mostly dilapidate roads causing their friction on road surfaces that results into bursting. “Your vehicle might seem fine from where you sit, but knowing what’s going on with all of its parts will ensure that you have the greatest amount of safety possible when you are driving”, he asserted. Habibu Selemani (23) a form six student studying at Kasese High School in Uganda was cornered by this writer at his home Gongo la Mboto on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam city and noted that, he used to encounter miserable and fatalities when travelling from Dar to Kampala via Nairobi,Kenya before he connects his journey to Kasese in western part of Uganda. Describing the trend of drivers’ behaviours on the way he says that, passengers are at risk position and virtually comes to the help of the lord God when they reach to their destinations. He says that, he used to encounter many road accidents and asks himself how they should be controlled. According to him, a mere fines imposed to defaulters is not enough but rather they could deserve severe punishment including life imprisonment.   An automobile engineer of the car dealers in the city, Samson Mbwana says that, even with today’s technology and a greater emphasis on automobile safety, accidents continue to occur. He says, the causes of vehicle accidents are pretty varied, but it is important for everyone as members of the motoring public to understand the most common causes of vehicle accidents so that joint concerted efforts could be reinforced to prevent them. No product is ever made perfectly, and vehicles are no different. Automobiles have hundreds of parts, and any of those defective parts can cause a serious car accident. Many automakers have had problems with design defects in the past. According to Eng. Mbwana, there are also a number of non-driver related causes of car accidents such as the physical condition of the roadway, weather conditions can play a significant role in causing a car accident.  “If a road is improperly maintained can make a roadway slippery, again affecting driving conditions, that may make it difficult to maintain traction or to stop in time for a hazard”, he said adding that, weather can also impair visibility. The mechanical performance of the vehicle can also play a role in the cause of accidents. A failure to properly maintain the brake system or tires may impede the ability to stop a car in advance of a hazard. While advancements are being made every day to improve the safety and efficiency of automobiles on the road, problems with the design and functionality of the vehicles themselves sometimes referred to as product liability is one of the top causes of vehicles accidents on the road. Manufacturers are required by law to design vehicles that meet a minimum safety standard and also are required to undergo regular inspection for a “warrant of fitness” to ensure that the main components of the vehicle are safe. According to After sales Manager of Scania Tanzania Ltd, Steve Miller regular, regular motor vehicle check up keeps them look much stronger to withstand the road conditions depending on their geographical area. He says improper vehicle check up makes them lose control on the way an aspect that ends up in a number of collisions that result into fatal accidents. Miller said in an exclusive interview in his office in Dar es Salaam mid this week that, his company offers their customers with a one year guarantee maintenance service of vehicle which is carried out at their State-of-the-art facility which is located in the city. However, he further said that, after one year has elapsed, a customer might decide either to continue with their services or might decide to look for other service givers and this depends on their own wish. Speaking for Surface and Marine Transport Authority (SUMATRA), the authority’s Communication Manager David Mziray said that, his organization has set to work in collaboration with police force in the country to control the menace. He told the Guardian in telephone interview on Thursday this week that, among the strategies in place over the control involves vehicles inspection, drunkenness and drivers’ employment status. The latter is in a bid to reduce stress which has grown among them at a high level. He said these are among the deliberations reached upon between them and police as well as bus owners and according to him, will also involve training for passengers as part of the campaign dubbed ‘Raise up your voice’ that aims to prevent accidents in order to enlighten them how to raise up their voices wherever they could see the impending danger while traveling.