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It must be quite something being the US Ambassador to Tanzania. The previous gentleman to occupy the position, Mark Green, was Bush’s man. Generally, a well received fellow. Queitly spoken, focused on the issues that were being endorsed by his President. PEPFAR stuff. All par for the course.

And then along comes Alfonso. He is a military guy and right now with Yemen across the Indian ocean training Africans how to conceal bombs in their underwear, the entire coastline being patrolled by Somali pirates, some would say the US military has a right to be in the neighbourhood, patrolling the beat, swinging its truncheon. (Others have even suggested that his familiarity with handling high level security was a significant factor in his appointment with the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Dar es Salaam still in the minds of American national security policy makers.)

Alfonso is a soldier playing the role of a diplomat. He has certainly been vocal and has weighed in on a host of issues, counterfeit drugs, women’s rightscorruption, but his most notable comments were on the peace process in Zanzibar which were  reprinted in various media outlets and publications in the country. But are we listening? Should we be? Tanzania continues to struggle with the fight against corruption. Zanzibar manages to go for 3 months with no electricity (and by the way not a single protest is heard about it from its peoples) yet the $770 million committed by Bush as part of the Millenium Challenge Corporation is safe. Alfonso has confirmed as much. So, no need for undue urgency then, is there?

President Kikwete has appointed Judge Mark Bomani, again, to be chairman of the (take a deep breath) Tanzania Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives Multistakeholder Working Group.  Enough said.

So who are we to believe in the row between Sir Bob Geldolf and the BBC? The foul mouthed Irish campaigner has over the years had to endure the public casting aspersions on his efforts largely because of his associations with the less popular but more musically talented Bono. But Geldof is different, more committed and one would imagine, more likely to get into a physical altercation to defend his honour and word. The BBC on the other hand, especially the Africa service, appears to be driven by pushing as many bizarre and negative stories as they possibly can on a daily basis. If you don’t believe me, go to the BBC website and read the top stories. We here at Serengeti hope Geldof kicks the crap out of them. The ‘stud of Baghdad’, aka Rageh Omar, defends his former employers here. Mr. Geldof responds to his response is here.

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March 11, 2010 at 16:48


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When is a political party not a political party? When it is a pressure group. In The African (website under construction) today, John Tendwa says the party is a ‘hoax’ and has not been registered. Also today in Mwananchi  CCJ’s secretary general Renatus Muabhi is quoted as saying that the party does not aspire to public office but would rather concentrate on bringing certain important issues to light and into the political debate. So which one is it folks, are you or are you not a political party?

A front page story in today’s Rai – ‘Tanzania si salama [Tanzania is unsafe], could be the first decent investigative piece of the year.  A brief but nonetheless chilling expose of how easy it is to acquire a driving license for any sort of vehicle without taking a driving test, this story explains the chaos of the roads in Tanzania and maybe gives clues as to why our highways are often scenes of deathly carnage.

Who is Mohamed Raza and why must we listen to what he has to say on Zanzibar issues? On the front page of The Guardian today, Mr. Raza, always referred to as a ‘Prominent Businessman,’ was once an adviser on sports issues to former Zanzibar President Salmin Amour. Known for his garish attire and well publicized sports kits donations, there is little else to know about this media hungry commentator who seems to have a knack of getting the press to print his views on Zanzibari issues, despite having never held elective office. Or is there something more to him than meets the eye?

There is something very sinister about the grim photographs emerging from the Haiti disaster. Nearly a fortnight after the tragedy, international press organizations such as Reuters, continue to push out images of dead bodies, bloodied children and hoards of black desperate faces in scrums for food, medicine and anything else that their foreign saviors are sending them. During the ill fated excursion to Iraq, GW Bush went to great lengths to ensure that photos of dead marines did not suffice in the global media. The conventional wisdom at the time suggested this was in order to prevent a domestic backlash to an unpopular war. But perhaps the move had more to do with preserving the dignity of the dead. This is a lesson that is unfortunately rarely applied when it comes to those with a darker complexion.

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January 28, 2010 at 16:36