Economic trouble in Tanzania? Let in the army

Saturday November 17 2018

Tanzanian President John Magufuli.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli. He says the army is being deployed to defend the nation in its economic war, the same way it is deployed in other operations. PHOTO | NMG 

By CHRISTOPHER KIDANKA
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Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa had just finished briefing President John Magufuli on the outcome of an ultimatum he had issued on cashew nut prices when the army stepped in.

Mr Majaliwa had issued an ultimatum to cashew nut buyers to present an offer of at least Tsh3,000 ($1.3) per kilo of raw nuts instead of Tsh1,500 ($0.65) proposed by the cashew nut board, or they would be banned from buying the produce.

But by November 12, when he was presenting his report to President Magufuli, the Tanzania People’s Defence Force had already been deployed near cashew godowns ready for action.

The troops were ordered to surround the godowns and guard them before the estimated 220,000 tonnes of cashew were transported to government-owned godowns.

The Tanzania Agricultural Bank was ordered to buy the cashew nuts at Tsh3,300 ($1.4) per kilogramme. The National Service Army was then tasked to process the cashew at the state processing plant.

Army spokesman Major Gaudence Ilonda said that 70 trucks had left for Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma Regions to collect the purchased cashew.

According to the president, the army was being deployed to defend the nation in its economic war, the same way it is deployed in other operations.

President Magufuli, who has confessed that the best time in life was the year he spent in compulsory military training, is known to use army officers in key management positions in government.

The country is involving the military in the construction of the standard gauge railway line contracted to Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi “in order to help complete the project in time and also learn about the modern technology so that they can undertake such projects in the future.”

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