Some Secreted Island

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Want to give a shout out to a new blog Some Secreted Island by a guy who is posted WAY out in the middle of nowhere, a small island in Lake Victoria. Makes Dar-es-Salaam seem like New York City. Money quote:

Having a witch as a neighbour is not all bad. If other witches want to get at you (and our part of the island has for centuries been a cauldron of the occult), they must first seek permission from the sorcerer on whose patch you reside. If your witch likes you, he or she will protect you from their curses. If not, you are thrown to the wolves…

Worth a read if you have the time.

Yep, it’s expensive here

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It really is expensive to live here. From “Dar Rents Highest in East Africa,” The Citizen:

Renting an 85m² (900 sqft) room in an expensive area in the city costs up to $2,711 (Sh4.3 million) a month, the highest compared with Nairobi, Kigali and Kampala.

 

An online survey-based cost of living calculator, expatistan.com, shows that a similar house in expensive areas will cost $1,247 in Nairobi, $1,182 in Kampala and $933 in Kigali.

 

“Dar es Salaam has a few planned areas which provide access to water, good roads and are less congested. Customers normally compete for a few areas and automatically raise charges in those areas,” says Sultani Mndeme, a real estate consultant with GimcoAfrica.

I knew it seemed expensive, but still two times the cost of Nairobi? Ouch.

Somebody needs to get a move on

An alert reader writes to mention a point I left out in my previous post about the member of parliament (MP) payola shenanigans.

Before all you American and European taxpayers get too smug about all this, remember that you are funding around 40% of the extra money these MPs are helping themselves to. As noted previously. Tanzany gets about that much money as budgetary support from donor governments.

According to AidEffectiveness.org, “With USD 1.6 Billion-USD 1.9 Billion (official aid information data from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs) in recent years, ODA to Tanzania has been playing and will continue to play a significant role in supporting national efforts on poverty reduction and development as well as government development expenditure. Aid fund has accounted for around 40% of the national and 80% of the development budget.” Looking at this, of the taxes Tanzanians actually pay, an increasingly higher amount goes to to MPs and government officials rather than to developing the country and providing basic services. Not exactly a great incentive for paying your taxes.

I have also heard an interesting rumor as to why this is happening now: expected losses by the majority CCM party in the up-coming elections. No idea if that’s true, but it would make a lot of sense.

It’s going to happen anyway, though. No one is really protesting enough to stop it. Even opinion columnists who chose to write it end with statements like this:

Someone should raise and put a break in this MP’s treck of making themselves a class of their own in the country.

Yes MPs deserve handsome perks, but not this much,” The Daily Citizen, Feb. 5, 2014

It is still remarkable to me how typical this sentiment is here. Not, “we” should do something about this; “someone” should. I can think of two possible “someones” who should do something about this: either the people of Tanzania who elected the MPs in the first place or the donor nations who are, at least to some extent, sending their taxpayer dollars to fund payola for underperforming MPs.

What they lack in capability they make up for in Chutzpah

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“MP’s poised to pocket [$100,000] in send off pay.” Sounds like a made up headline for a snarky blog, but The Citizen reported last week the members of parliament recently approved a golden handshake of $98,000 on completion of their terms. And that is after an annual salary of $90,000 plus $35,000 a year in allowances.

As one person on Twitter put it:

Where do I apply for this job

The average person’s in Tanzany? Glad you asked — $1,600 per year according to the CIA World Factbook.

Now, of course, the government is now trying to claim ignorance of how this happened. No one is buying it.

I can’t really say I’m surprised. But the shamelessness still takes your breath away.