By Elias Mhegera in Dar es Salaam Tanzania – After the new Tanzanian President Dr John Magufuli has been sworn in, the main question now remains what next? This is concerning his style of leadership, the modus operand in general.
Although he has a wide experience after having served as legislator and cabinet minister, Dr Magufuli has quite different leadership tenets in comparison to his four predecessors.
The Founding Father Julius Nyerere was a social scientist having learned a combination of subjects like economics, philosophy and biology. He was a good orator and persuasive before injecting his agenda, although he never gave up easily in whatever he believed in.
Ali Hassan Mwinyi was a linguist teacher he had served as an ambassador, cabinet minister and Zanzibar’s President before he assumed a new role as President of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Retired President Benjamin Mkapa, also a linguist teacher in training and career diplomat had served as minister in various posts and as a news man prior to his full time political engagement. He served as Tanzania’s Ambassador to the US; he was later recalled home to serve as foreign affairs minister in the last days of Nyerere’s tenure.
He was somehow relegated during Mwinyi’s tenure but to be vehemently revamped by Nyerere after he had failed to convince the former super diplomat Dr Salm Ahmed Salim to run for the presidency in 1995, Nyerere then shifted his attention to Mkapa and he campaigned for him physically.
The fourth president and immediate outgoing Jakaya Kikwete was a self-made man. He has a good history of having served as a ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) man in the army. The whole plot was to avoid a possibility of a military coup from the ‘professional soldiers’.
This history was important during the hot contestation for the fourth phase presidency. Being a trainee economist, party cadre, added to the fact that he was backed by Edward Lowassa, the presidential aspirant in the just ended election as chief in command of the campaign network these were added values to Kikwete.
At least it was easier to predict what might follow with his predecessors than the new President Magufuli. During the political rallies he had portrayed that people were tired of the CCM but there are still good chaps like him in this party.
His mottos was ‘elect Magufuli’, and not elect CCM, actions now seem to reflect this thinking that it was not a mere a political mimic as many had thought, but a long-term working strategy.
New faces are trying to push their way in, knowing that they will be given a priority in comparison to the old faces that have been singled out as the main causatives of the political shambles that the country is facing.
But will Magufuli, a natural scientist, a chemist to be precise manage to strike the balance between his party’s interests of maintaining the status quo mainly to serve personal interests than those of the broad masses? Or will he introduce a series of fundamental changes that people want even if this means to anger his other fellow party bosses?
Researchers at the main social research institution, the Policy Research for Development (REPOA) have drafted a food for thought for the new president. Speaking to journalists even when presidential results have not yet been announced they gave a number of issues which should be prioritized.
The six priority areas were indentified and recommended for adoption as follows: high and shared growth with transformation, employment, human development, infrastructure, good governance and implementation.
Three researchers spoke in turns highlighting the main issues of priority namely; Dr Donald Mmari, Director of Research on Growth and Development, Dr Abel Kinyondo Senior Researcher, and Dr Lucas Katera Director of Governance and Service Delivery.
Dr Mmari called for the new president to take charge of governance seriously, and that the priorities in improving infrastructure should be handled as a matter of serious urgency. “Our new president must start by identifying the missing gaps, he should find good markets for Tanzanian products,” he remarked.
He counseled for a transformed agriculture and rural economy in general, industrialization, harnessing natural resources, inclusion of the private sector, and for a strategic repositioning regionally and globally.
Dr Mmari challenged that the youth bulge should be turned into a benefit and blessing in society and that the government should make policy interventions to support employment creators to enable them to generate more jobs, including efforts to promote development of non-traditional industries and technology intensive incubators for tech-based enterprise development.
He challenged that the new government in place should put priority in social protection starting with the finalization of the draft of the National Social Protection Framework (NSPF), which will facilitate coordination and guide implementation to ensure that all groups of the poor and vulnerable are enabled to improve their livelihoods.
For his part, Dr Kinyondo counseled that efforts to build roads must continue, especially those in rural areas. He counseled that railway transportation should be given due attention. Infrastructure should strategically enable Tanzania to harness its geographical position as a hub in the region.
He called for the fight against corruption within both public and private sectors, ensuring there is fair tax system with improved revenue collection including widening the government revenue base. He called for the commitment to improve delivery in the public service and raising the level of discipline and accountability as well as institutionalizing meritocracy and performance management system.
He also analysed weaknesses in the implementation of the much publicized Big Results Now (BRN), suggesting that national wealth can be achieved only if it is accompanied with good governance. He challenged that corruption has become the biggest obstacle to achievement of certain goals both in the private and public sectors.
For his part, Dr Katera says understanding of the structural changes and dynamics of growth in Tanzania means agricultural and rural transformation; exploring the link between structural change, growth, employment and dynamics of the informal economy among others.
He suggests for economic governance in the local government, community development, gender balance, and policy dialogue. “Up to now 28 percent of Tanzanians are in completely neglected, they live in abject poverty, so these must also be included in the national plans,” he suggests.
But speaking in a separate incident that was organised by an umbrella body of NGOs, the Policy Forum, the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have a different set of priorities. This could be witnessed during discussions after a presentation “The Tanzania that we Want: CSOs Manifesto,” by Onesmo Olengurumwa coordinator of the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC).
His core value in the discussion was that the CSOs are not recognized as equal partners in the issues of governance in Tanzania. He gave an example of an ambush by the Police Force at the Legal and Human Rights Centre where local observers by the Tanzania Civil Society Consortium on Election Observation (TACCEO) were hosted as a vivid example of how government’s arrogance could lead Tanzania to a democratic menace.
He argued that the government of the day was bitter how the CSOs are empowering citizens so that they can participate in the political affairs of the day while they are much more informed. “We cannot accept to be reduced as mere observers in the running of our country, we have and we deserve a respected space,” he commented rather emotionally.
He charged that there have been a number of suppressions quite contrary to the democratic traditions that Tanzania has been boastfully claiming that it upholds. He said a good number of these suppressions are meant to suit the purposes of the government of the day. He condemned coercive actions that were meant to threaten voters during the just recently ended General Election in Tanzania.
“As long as we are still facing such democratic challenges, a first priority should be to institutionalise a new people’s constitution as was enshrined by the Warioba Commission,” he commented. He was referring to Draft Constitution that was suggested by the Judge (rtd) Joseph Warioba Constitutional Review Commission.
The CCM members of the Constituent Assembly took advantage of their number to what was referred to as ‘tyranny of numbers’ they usurped the process and made sure that the people’s view are suppressed in order for the CCM to maintain its power status.
He was immediately supported by Makumba Mwemezi a lawyer-cum-journalist from HakiElimu and educational advocacy NGO who said the role of the media is vital at this stage in order to set a national agenda of restoring the formulation of the new constitution.
Hebrom Mwakagenda Executive Director of the Tanzania Coalition on Debt and Development (TCDD) who also dubs as Deputy Chairman of the Tanzania Constitutional Forum (TCF), said that at the end of the day, with all his promises, President Magufuli will end up implementing the same CCM Manifest and therefore replicating the vicious cycle of obstacles which have created impediments to the development of Tanzania.
So far the newly sworn in president has already removed the head of the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) after his surprise visit where he noted a series of shortcomings including unworking machines like the CT-Scan and the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) the machines were repaired immediately after this visit by the president.
But while all this is going on the Zanzibar political stalemate remains unresolved, while the government is insisting for fresh elections the opposition under the umbrella of UKAWA insists that they will not participate in the re-election exercise.