YLF Post No. 2 for Regional Young Leaders Forum


This is the second pre-conference post before our Regional Young Leaders Forum on Regional Security and Local Grievances.  Today, we focus on current regional developments relating to the Al Shabaab group and its operations in Kenya and Somalia. We have compiled three articles dealing with this topic from different angles. read more

In a recent interview with the East African, the deputy head of Amisom, Lydia Mutende, states that  efforts to military defeat Al Shabaab are accompanied by preparations for Somalia’s 2016 elections which will be discussed at a conference in Copenhagen in November this year. Mutende emphasises that the country needs a federal arrangement that is able to accommodate Somalis’ strong clan affiliations as “building blocks for national peace.”

According to other observers, the recent killing of Al Shabaabs radical leader Ahmed Godane could enable a moderate faction within the group to seek a negotiated settlement with the Somali government.  However, it is argued that some powerful external actors like Ethiopia and the US would probably be “quite allergic” to any kind of such a power-sharing deal. Moreover, it is highly unclear whether a Somali peace settlement would also eliminate violent Islamism in Kenya. This assessment comes at a time when a paper on radicalisation in Kenya, published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), finds that recruitment to Al Shabaab and the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) has been facilitated by the Kenyan government’s counter-terrorism strategy. For instance, 65 % of the respondents of a survey carried out by ISS researcher Anneli Botha among self-ascribed Al-Shabaab and MRC members, declared the government’s strategy of “collective punishment” to be the single most important factor that drove them to join radical organisations.

Do you think that the Somali government should negotiate on a power sharing agreement with moderate Al Shabaab factions? What  should Somalia’s future federal arrangement look like and do elections really matter in the country’s current situation? What role should external actors like the US play in Somalia’s political restructuring? And to what extent do we have to conceive violent Islamism(s) in Somalia and Kenya as intertwined phenomena?

YLF Post No. 1 for Regional Young Leaders Forum


This is the first pre-conference post before our Regional Young Leaders Forum on Regional Security and Local Grievances. Every few days we will post a text asking you for comments on its theses or recommendation. It will about the kind of issues you will be dealing with in your presentations. Today, we have compiled three columns of the Ugandan Journalist Onyango Obbo on armies and rebels read more.

  • In his first column the author is arguing that West-African armies (Nigeria, Mali) „are running away from barefooted rebels not because they are cowards but because their relationship with the state is changing“. In short, the ruling elites is stealing even the money destined for the upkeep of the army
  • In the second piece he is arguing that the well stocked East African armies don’t flee, because „they have a lot of practice fighting at home and in neighboring countries“. In a way, he writes,  these capable armies „are creating a political federation“.
  • And finally he suggests that the recent success of extremist groups has changed the frontline and that in the international fight against terrorism „the most critical point defence line is in central Africa.“ With consequences for some rebel groups. „In this new reality“, he writes, „Machar and the FDLR are flies in the soup“. And are loosing in support.

Do you agree with Onyango-Obbo’s arguments? And how does this analysis – or your objections to it – relate to the conflicts in your countries? Will it change policies and alliances? Can we already talk about a „Return to Realpolitik“ where the propagators of a new war on terror are going to look for reliable rather than democratic regimes?


Budget Speeches in East Africa


Recently, the EAC countries have published their 2014/2015 budgets. All countries plan to focus on infrastructure development and local trade and business promotion.

In Rwanda, the government plans to spend RwF 1.75 trillion in the upcoming fiscal year. 38% of the budget, which is themed “Infrastructure development to accelerate export growth”,  is funded through external loans and grants. Priority areas of the budget include energy, agriculture, export promotion, urbanization & rural settlement, employment programs & skills development including TVET, social protection and promotion of green economy. 10% of the budget will be spent to promote productivity and youth employment. The budget is projected to close with an overall deficit of RwF 177.2 billion.

The Ugandan government is also emphasizing investment in the infrastructure sector, planning to spend Shs 75 billion of its total budget of UgSh 14 trillion for road construction and rehabilitation. The strategy is built on four key interventions: improving the business climate through infrastructure investment while maintaining peace, security and macro-economic stability; leveraging government assistance for the agricultural sector, tourism, industries and services;  improving education, health services  and access to water; strengthening institutional governance, accountability and transparency. Of the total budget, UgSh10.1 trillion will come from domestic revenues. The projected deficit amounts to 821 billion UgSh.

Kenya presented the biggest budget in the region (Ksh 1.77 trillion), focusing on infrastructure development, security, the promotion of commercial agriculture, entrepreneurship and a conducive business environment, education, health services, social protection. 86.3 % of the presented budget will be covered by domestic revenues. The largest share of the budget goes to education (27.3%), followed by energy, infrastructure and ICTs (22,6%). Health and agriculture/ rural and urban development have only been allocated about 5 % of the budget respectively. The predicted deficit equals about 342.4 billion Ksh.

Tanzania announced a TzSh19.5 trillion budget for the 2014/15 financial year, aiming to improve people’s lives and expand infrastructure. The government intends to reduce the cost of living and tax exemptions; improve social services, roads, access to energy, irrigation; create employment opportunities and enhance good governance. The biggest chunk of the budget goes to education (3.456 trillion), followed by transportation infrastructure (2.109 trillion) and health (1.588 trillion). Yet, compared to the previous fiscal year, the budget for the health sector has been cut by approximately 22% and the education budget by appr. 5 %. About 15 % of the budget will be covered by external grants and concessional loans. The predicted deficit equals about 3.8 trillion TzSh.

(Burundi’s budget reading is not aligned with the other EAC members’ readings.)

What do you think of the budget planning of the governments? Are they setting the right priorities? Are there any particular sectors that should receive more funding?

The UN Member States had committed to reach the following Millennium Development Goals by 2015:

  1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. To achieve universal primary education
  3. To promote gender equality and empower women
  4. To reduce child mortality
  5. To improve maternal health
  6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. To ensure environmental sustainability
  8. To develop a global partnership for development.

Do you think their budget planning will allow the EAC countries to get closer to achieving these goals?

All countries are expected to close their budget with a high deficit. Do you think this is necessary to invest in  future development or are governments taking too many risks and making their countries even more vulnerable and dependent on foreign sources of funding?

***************************** Let us debate *****************************************









The State of Human Rights in Tanzania: Light or Plight?


Before our weekend session on human rights starts in a few days, we would like to invite you to already start the discussion about the state of human rights in Tanzania on our blog. Press articles from different media and the “Tanzania Human Rights Report 2013” published by the Legal Human Rights Centre (LHRC) identify several areas where human rights violations repeatedly take place in Tanzania. The human rights abuses named by these reports include amongst others:

·    In 2013, at least eight police officers have been killed by angry civilians, while, on the other hand, 23 civilians were killed by  excessive use of force from security forces such as policemen, military personnel, wildlife reserve officers or local militias.

·     Mob violence is another pressing issue. Not only individuals who committed a crime, but oftentimes innocent persons become victims of this terrible form of “street justice”. The rising number of deaths caused by mob violence from 1234 in 2012 to 1669 in 2013 is alarming.

·     Furthermore, a shocking number of 765 persons were killed last year due to witchcraft belief. Yet, the reports claim that sometimes, the accusation of witchcraft is only used to foreshadow the true motives of a murder, such as the wish to access land or property of the attacked individual.

·       So far, the death penalty has not been banned from the Tanzanian Constitution, although the last hanging of a person took place in 1994. It is not clear yet, if the Constituent Assembly will decide to abolish capital punishment in the new constitutional draft.

·        Sadly, gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation, still takes place in Tanzania’s society.

What can be done to improve the protection of human rights in Tanzania? Is the constitution making process a chance for Tanzania, to better protect the rights of its people? The constitution will only provide effective protection if non-discrimination and equality are fundamental principles of the new draft and if minorities that are likely to be attacked or discriminated against are included in the constitution making process. Does the Constituent Assembly represent the diversity of the Tanzanian society? Are vulnerable persons being heard in the constitution making process?

What can be done to promote the rights of Tanzanian women? Can inequality and violence be eradicated by the constitution or do these problems have to be addressed socially and not legally?

Are “street justice”, mob violence and attacks against security personnel a consequence of the poor performance of the country’s security institutions or is this just an excuse of those who engage in violence?

Is the belief in witchcraft the result of poor education or is it simply part of Tanzania’s culture?

We are looking forward to hearing your opinions on these questions and other issues you consider to be important! 

Please read the following reports and articles for more details:

- The role of human rights in Katiba

- US faults EAC over human rights abuse

- Human rights reports by LHRC

Follow up Discussion on Boko Haram


First of all, thank you very much for your contributions to the discussion about Boko Haram and the Chibok Abductions. We have read your posts with great interest and followed how the media has covered the issue since we started the discussion last week.

It seems that many authors agree with the view that has been expressed by Mesfin. They emphasize that a political solution is needed to stop the Boko Haram movement. A political counterinsurgency strategy, strengthening the inclusion of marginalized groups and addressing grievances of the Northern population (as Innocent Anguyo Alia argued on here), and not military operations are described as the solution. Part of this strategy might be negotiating with Boko Haram’s leaders. Do you agree with this view or should governments not negotiate with terrorist groups, as it has often been proclaimed?

On the other hand,  authors see part of the problem within the Nigerian Military itself: Think Africa Press asks the question Was the Nigerian Military Complicit in the Chibok Abductions?”,alluding to the poor training and equipment of the military as well as the existence of military personnel who sympathize with the sect – some because of family ties to Boko Haram members, others because of bribery.


If the national security forces are too weak, some would argue that a foreign intervention is needed,  but can this really be part of the solution – or isn’t Western influence part or even the root cause of the problem?  On African Arguments, Kirk Ross describes Boko Haram’s recent operations as a “war on Western education”. If this is true, could it be that the widespread international affirmations of support are only fuelling the insurgency?


In a response to the article “Dear world, your hashtags won’t #BringBackOurGirls” by Jumoke Balagun that we posted last week, Marissa Jackson defends the international online activism on the issue. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/11/nigeria-bringbackourgirls-boko-haram

As Njathika did in his post, Jackson uses the word “slacktivism” to describe the attempts of the online community. However, she argues that the huge attention for the issue on the web helped pressuring President Goodluck Jonathan to take more decisive steps to rescue the abducted girls. Do you believe that national and international activists (or slacktivists) can really make a difference by “naming and shaming” politicians and their practices?

If you want to learn more about the rise of Boko Haram during the last few years, have a look at this analysis by the International Crisis Group:


… or this article by Gary K. Bush on Pambazuka News:


We are looking forward to hear about your opinions on this issue. Keep the discussions going!

How to deal with Boko Haram?


“We must respond to those who feel they have a divine right to mess up our lives  says Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka about our reaction towards Boko Haram. Dear World, your Hashtags won’tBringBackOurGirls“, argues Jumoke Balogun, co-founder and co-editor of compareafrique.com. Please, read two views on the same problem.

Does it help if Michele Obama expresses her solidarity from the White House and  foreign nations offer their help to the Nigerian army in another battle against terror? Is this well meaning empathy or a counterproductive intervention?

Last time we had #KONY2012, now it’s „BringBackOurGirls“. Raising awareness in Nigeria and all over the world? Or inviting the US-military to another part of Africa, as the Nigerian writer Teju Cole has twittered and warned?

How should the international  public respond to a phenomenon like Boko Haram is the first question we’d like you to discuss as part of this year’s Regional FES-Young Leaders Forum. As we’ve indicated in today’s roundmail to you, we would like to start using this blog for debating questions like this one posted by us, or others suggested by yourself. (please, send them to amon.petro@fes-tanzania.org).

Let’s try and start these debates now – and then hopefully act with consideration.





Wake Up Call or Lullaby? President Kikwete’s Speech on Tanzania and the EAC


After months of uncertainty and speculation about Tanzania being isolated within the EAC President Kikwete has made his statement before parliament: Tanzania, he explained, will neither pull out of the EAC nor is the country to be pushed into a hasty integration process it is not ready for.

For finally presenting Tanzania’s stand he got almost unanimous applause. Where others – politicians and media – had confused the public with misleading, exaggerated and irresponsible statements, the head of the country had once more acted as the voice of reason and moderation. So goes the story. But is this true and is it enough?

Has President Kikwete really addressed the underlying causes for the sometimes not so diplomatic wrangles between the “Coalition of the Willing” (Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda) and the alleged “laggard” in terms of integration?

Or did  President Kikwete “skip the issues where his client is in a bad shape”, as Ani Jozeni asks in the “Saturday Guardian” (9 November 2013).

And what would it take for Tanzania to address these underlying problems: “that Tanzania sticks to a the idea of a ‘state-based integration’, whilst the others prefer a market-based integration” (Jozeni). As reflected in the different attitudes and conflicts on the land question.

And “how long”, asks Kitila Mkumbo in the same paper,  “are we going to hide our incompetence by being protective and isolating, …where aggressive Kenyan and Ugandan youth could infect our young people with the attitudes of competitiveness, assertiveness and aggressiveness that are badly needed in this competitive world and that are seriously lacking in our workforce.” As reflected in Tanzania’s fear and reticence on working permits and tourist visa. 

In short, will Kikwete’s presidential speech wake up the “sleeping giant” of Tanzania or will it be taken as just another lullaby?

Anybody for comment, answers and further questions?