Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Here are some money laundering techniques that you can try

I had the occasion to launder some US currency this year. As I saw it then I had no choice and I did not think there would be consequences.

The saga began when I traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe for a workshop and after the organizers refunded me some of the meeting expenses, including an old US dollar 100 banknote. I didn’t think much of it until I tried to change the money in Tanzania.

The bureaus de change would not take it because it was an old banknote and they told me they do not accept banknotes that are older than a particular year. I do not remember what the cut-off year was.

I tried many bureaus in both Mwanza and Tanzania and finally gave up before I thought of depositing the note with my bank. I made the assumption, taking a cue on how banks handle old Tanzanian banknotes, that they would accept an old US dollar bill and find the means to send it back to the printers and get a new one. 

I was wrong. Not even my bank would take the banknote. An employee told me that they would not be able to sell the banknote to a Tanzanian clientele composed mostly of individuals who are extremely choosy in what type of banknote they will accept. These are individuals who are experts at trying to pass on an old banknote to someone else but would not accept one themselves.

I almost gave up and then decided to ask someone who frequently travels abroad how he handles the tricky issue of exchanging these old notes into Tanzanian shillings. Easy, he told me: just iron the banknote and remove the creases and it would look as new as they want.

I took the advice and decided to add what I thought would be a foolproof spin to it. I would wash the banknote before I ironed it. So I washed the note and carefully ironed it and was extremely satisfied with the results. But even that was not good enough for Tanzanian money changers, who have imposed higher standards for accepting foreign currency that even the issuers themselves.
Not good enough for Tanzanian money changers.
I have an extra wallet that has a small collection of foreign banknotes left over from travels in Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, and a few other African countries. And that is where my old US dollar banknote ended up until I traveled to the United States early this year and some supermarket worker accepted it without hesitation.

And this is my story of how I was forced to launder dirty money from Zimbabwe in Tanzania and succeeded in spending the money in the United States. And, as I expected, there weren’t any consequences.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

How they wish they had voted for Hillary Clinton!

I noted some interesting reactions after Donald Trump won the elections. 

There is a group of voters who had preferred that neither Hillary Clinton nor Trump were on the ballot box and these voters spent a lot of time telling anyone who listened how unfortunate for Americans that they were forced to select one of two rather bad choices.

They went further. In airing this disappointment they decided it was better not to vote and stay as far away as possible from the voting stations. 
Hillary Clinton
We are told it is the poor, illiterate whites who sealed Trumps' victory while the enlightened middle class educated voters stayed at home and discussed what was wrong with the American electoral process.

It was from the latter's reaction after Trump won that one must conclude that the disenchanted must have all along wished for an outcome they did not want to influence through the ballot box.

Shocked by Trump's victory, it seemed that a Trump win was their worst nightmare, and that if Clinton had won instead it would have been just a bad dream.

It is not far-fetched to assume they wished they had voted for Hillary Clinton.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Tanzanian politics: stooping too low?

When Tanzania's ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) gradually abandoned its socialist policies and moved towards capitalism those members who defended the shift said: "we have to change with the times."

Consequently, successive CCM-led administrations presided over an unbridled form of capitalism that opened up the country to economic rape and plunder.

The business community monitors and takes advantage of the changing economic and business environment quickly and with time someone within the community thinks up a new way of earning income.

As the presidential elections were winding up last October I was in Dar es Salaam and got wind of a shop in Kariakoo selling women's underwear with CCM's distinctive colors, green and yellow. I was told the product was particularly popular with CCM's female supporters. I can imagine male politicians also bought the underwear and handed them out to their female supporters.

The competition between the leading candidates, CCM's John Magufuli and CHADEMA's Edward Lowassa was quite intense and it appeared to me then that, with this product, CCM was pulling all the stops to ensure that the outcome of the elections was swayed in its favour.

I have no proof that it was CCM's campaign machinery that ordered the underwear from China (Yes, they were manufactured in China), or whether it was the idea of some enterprising CCM supporter. The biggest insult to CHADEMA would be if the underwear were imported by a CHADEMA supporter who was more interested in making money than the outcome of the elections.

Either way, to older Tanzanians, political campaigning in Tanzania has stooped quite low. Literally.

I wonder what Tanzania's founding president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere would have to say of these new campaign tactics.