Zitto na Demokrasia

Zitto na Demokrasia

My Speech at the Launch of the ONE’s DATA Report 2010 in Berlin,Germany

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For aid to be effective, the taxpayers need to know
Zitto Kabwe, MP

Distinguished guests, professors, ladies and gentlemen

It is a pleasure for me to be here, at the launching of ONE’s DATA report 2010, because the world needs caring watchdogs.

The DATA report is important because its keeps a watchful, systematic, objective eye on the extent to which the rich countries are delivering on their promise to make the world fairer and more just. It is important because governments – however good and committed – cannot be trusted on their own to always do the right thing. By exposing the facts and the truths to the people – to the citizens of the world, to the citizens of Germany and Tanzania, the DATA report helps the people know what is going on their behalf and hold their governments to account.

We have evidence that international aid can work. Countries such as mine have benefitted a lot over the years from international aid – we have better roads, more schools, affordable treatment for HIV, and many other good things as a result of support from Germany and other G8 countries. And for the foreseeable future, countries like Tanzania will continue to need aid to lift ourselves from poverty and create a just life for all, where human civil and political, as well as social and economic, rights are enjoyed by the rich and the poor equally.

This year, 2010, there will be about 4.1 million young people aged 14 – 17 and about 1.8 million young people aged 18 – 19. This means 2.5 million people should be enrolled in secondary schools this year according to our poverty reduction targets. Tanzania has achieved significantly this target although there exists challenges on financing/budget. Almost 40% of the budget is to be directed to education sector in order to comfortably achieve this target including offering more government scholarships to the poorest families who are effectively subsidising secondary education, through construction of schools. Keeping promises by Germany and other G8 countries is very crucial for a country like Tanzania to achieve its poverty reduction targets.

Similarly on Health, although Tanzania has managed to reduce the number of deaths of young people under the age of five (infant and under five mortality) from 147 to 91 per 1000 births, more efforts financial supports are needed to achieve MDG target of 47. Maternal mortality rate is still very high at 578 per 100,000 live births which is equivalent to more than maternal death in Tanzania every hour. This is worrying situation which can be handled through joint efforts of Tanzania and its friends in the world. Germany and other G8 countries has a moral obligation to rescue the lives of children and women in my country.

We therefore need ONE to play its part. We need solidarity from thousands of caring citizens in Berlin and Hamburg and Munich and Gottingen to play their part.

But equally, if not more importantly, we also need watchdogs and active citizens in the ‘recipient’ countries, such as Tanzania. For aid money to be used well, and the even greater sums of money that are being contributed by the local taxpayers to be used well, we need our own governments to be held to account.
First, the money provided by the rich countries and the conditionalities and assessments that go with them should be made completely transparent to all citizens. Initiatives such as aidinfo.org should be seriously considered. When Germany decides whether to increase or reduce budget support aid to Tanzania, like it did last week on May 13, Tanzanians should know the basis of that decision rather than it being determined behind closed doors.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, we need to know how every euro and every shilling is spent. People need to know whether the money meant for schools actually reaches the school on time; whether the tenders are given to the companies that deliver best value for money rather than cronies of the leaders; whether there is equity in how money is allocated; and who is actually benefitting from public funds.
People need to have confidence that there is real accountability. For too long, governments in developing countries have been seen as predatory, as belonging to leaders instead of belonging to the people. Because of this, when government money is wasted people have remained silent, driven by the view that the government is misusing its own money.

We need to reverse that view. And things are already changing in that direction. We need to accelerate that process by enabling greater awareness among citizens and taxpayers everywhere, in Germany and the North as well as Tanzania and the South, that public money belongs to people, and that the politicians and bureaucrats need to use it well. That is why I welcome the critics of aid, because they are right when they argue that sloppy management erodes value for money; they are right when they say aid can be used corruptly; they are right when they call for greater transparency and scrutiny. But they are wrong when they conclude that solution is to End Aid. The debate should not be whether aid work or not, but how to make aid work and uplift the living standards of the bottom Billion.

That is why for every DATA report we need several reports in countries that can promote accountability of governments to its citizens. In Tanzania, I am the Chairman of the Parliamentary audit committee that scrutinizes large government firms, and together with my colleagues we seek to make the executive be accountable to the citizens of our country. Civil society groups are also playing their part in this effort.
But the audit work is done after the fact. People also need to know on a day to day basis, so that they can make sure public funds are well used. For example, the Obama administration’s efforts to promote open government (see http://www.data.gov and http://www.whitehouse.gov/open) are worth studying. Civil society efforts such as http://www.fixmystreet.com part of http://www.mysociety.org also provide good examples. The idea is that everyone should know how every single dollar is spent on health care, or the economic stimulus package, or in development aid. Importantly, the way this information is being organized aims to allow every citizen to know what this means for him or her.

My vision is to move towards the same citizen transparency in Tanzania and in all countries. The 45 year old woman in Sumbawanga in rural southern Tanzania should know exactly how much medicine was sent to her local clinic and who is entitled to it. And the 19 year old young man in urban Mwanza should know how he can access vocational skills training and what to do if he is being asked to pay a bribe. The proliferation of private media and new technologies, such as the mobile phone, make this sort of information access possible now in ways that were unthinkable only 5 years ago.

You see, ultimately, openness in the North is linked with openness in the South. The more transparency and accountability there is in how aid and taxpayer funds are used, the more useful information and confidence it generates in countries such as Germany.

It can also help create better incentives, so that those countries that are serious and delivering results get more to move faster, and those developing countries that fail to show serious leadership and progress should get less.

And in the long term it can generate the flow of information, ideas, trade and linkages that will enable countries like Tanzania to more and more exchange with countries like Germany on the basis of trade and business and science and culture, which are ultimately more dignifying than aid.

So today there are two stories; both equally important. One story is about the extent to which the rich countries are delivering on their promises. The other story is about how deep transparency and watchdogs are essential to the citizens and taxpayers of Germany, Tanzania and the whole world. If we are to make a real difference, we need to tell both stories at the same time.

Thank you for listening.
ZZK, Berlin
25th May 2010.


Written by zittokabwe

May 25, 2010 at 8:15 AM

Posted in ONE Speech, Tanzania

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