Tanzania: Reflections On Performance of JPM’s First Three Years in Office

NEXT Monday, November 5, 2018, President John Magufuli will complete three years of his first five-year term as President of the United Republic of Tanzania. The end-of the-year period is always an opportune time for people to make reflections on a variety of issues which concern them.

It is, therefore, quite appropriate that Tanzanians should take this opportunity to reflect on President Magufuli’s performance during this three-year period, which ‘Daily News’ has aptly described as “Dr Magufuli’s three legendary successful years”. Consequently, my article today is primarily intended to promote that kind of reflection among our readers, by presenting my own personal views on the matter.

Expectations regarding the President’s performance

There will, of course, be many varied personal expectations regarding what the President has done. But valid reflections should, I humbly suggest, be based on his ‘governance delivery’ performance, which may be defined as ‘the delivery of goods and services, that the public is ordinarily entitled to receive from its government’.

Thus, my own reflections on President Magufuli’s performance will be based on this definition, by looking at his delivery of goods and services in relation to the country’s social, economic, and political development. His performance in the economic development segment includes his most effective tax collection drive, infrastructure development, combating corruption, and poverty alleviation.

His performance in the social development segment includes the provision of facilities for education, health, water and sanitation services, while the political segment includes his adherence to the country’s Constitution, and his introduction of ‘sanity’ in the public service. As will be elaborated later in the course of this presentation, my own assessment, in summary form, is that President Magufuli has done exceedingly well in all these areas. But before we get there, it may be procedurally better to start with a summary presentation of President Magufuli’s distinctive ‘style of governance’, as that is what distinguishes him from some of his predecessors.

President Magufuli’s style of governance

His observable style of governance persuades me to describe him variously as follows: Firstly, that he is a ‘doer’, i.e. a person who does things, rather than just thinking or talking about them, otherwise called ‘a man of action’.

Secondly, that he is ‘a man of his word’, that is to say, a person who actually does whatever he promises to do, otherwise known as a person ‘who walks his talk’. Thirdly, that he is ‘an innovator’, that is to say, a person who introduces new things, or ideas, or ways of doing things. In my considered opinion, during the three short years that President Magufuli has been in office, he has clearly demonstrated that he is indeed in possession of all these qualities, as evidenced by the following selection of his initial promises and subsequent actions.

Take, for example, his campaign promises “to bring substantive change” (Mabadiliko yenye tija). We are all witnesses of the significant minor as well as major changes which have been successfully introduced by President Magufuli in the government’s management of the affairs of our country. The minor changes include his cancellation of some of the grandiose celebrations that involve huge expenditures, which were previously held in celebrating our national events, such as the country’s independence, and re-allocating the money budgeted for these events to other development projects; while the major changes include the enhancement of tax revenues, from the former millions to the current trillions of shillings plus the enhancement of efforts in the fight against corruption. Included on this list is devotion in ‘resurrecting’ the implementation of the policies embodied in the Arusha Declaration.

Some of the actions which he has taken in relation to implementing the Arusha Declaration policies, include his clarion call of “Hapa Kazi Tu” and particularly his effective elimination of the ‘exploitation’ which was being carried out by some of the foreign mining companies, when he introduced new ‘revolutionary’ pieces of legislation, specifically ” The Natural Wealth and Resources Contracts Review and Renegotiation of Unconscionable Terms) Act, 2017″ and “The Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Act, 2017”.

The first Act granted new powers to the National Assembly, “to review any mining contract, or Agreement, which appears to jeopardise, or is likely to jeopardise, the interests of the people of the United Republic”, while the second Act makes provision for the recognition of the country’s permanent sovereignty over its natural wealth and resources, by declaring that “the ownership and control over the country’s natural wealth and resources shall be exercised by or through the government on behalf of the people of the United Republic . . . It shall be unlawful to make any arrangement or agreement for the extraction, exploration, or acquisition and use of the natural wealth and resources, except where the interests of the people of the United Republic are fully secured, and is approved by the National Assembly”.

These laws include a number of other provisions which will be beneficial to the people of Tanzania in a variety of other ways, by effectively controlling the mining sector, which will result in significant increases in the government revenues accruing from that sector; a measure which will contribute greatly to the Arusha Declaration’s ‘self-reliance’ policy. And these laws are, of course, the brain child of President Magufuli’s fertile mind.

These examples serve to provide sufficient credible evidence to show that President Magufuli is indeed ‘a doer’, or a ‘man of action’, and one who truly ‘walks his talks’.

The socio-economic development segment

(a) Combating corruption President Magufuli has been tirelessly fighting against corruption, and has already made great strides in that endeavour. This appears to be one of President Magufuli’s most visible achievements so far, as evidenced by the large number of positive comments from a variety of independent sources, the latest of which came from a meeting in Banjul of Human Rights NGOs on the occasion of the commemoration of the 2018 African Human Rights Day; where a total of 18 Tanzanian Human Rights civil society organisations were represented. This forum “called on other African Heads of State to take a leaf from President Magufuli’s fight against corruption”, which is manifest proof of the international approval accorded to President Magufuli, for his performance in that area.

(b) His implementation of mega socio-economic development projects

This is another distinctive feature of President Magufuli’s unique governance style. His achievement record in this area actually speaks for itself. By literally “taking the bull by the horns”, President Magufuli has boldly embarked on implementing some mega projects, in the face of high risks of possible failure.

Take, for example, the mega projects relating to the move of the Government capital to Dodoma, and the construction of the Stiegler’s Gorge electricity generating plant; and the other mega projects of reviving Tanzania’s ailing national Airline, Air Tanzania Corporation, by purchasing for it the latest Dreamliner aircraft.

Construction of the mammoth Standard Gauge Railway line

The construction of large passenger and cargo vessels which will operate on Lake Victoria and Lake Nyasa. Considering that all of these projects are being carried out entirely by funds raised from internal sources, this is another strong indicator of his determination to implement the self-reliance policies of the seemingly forgotten Arusha Declaration.

In his address to the nation delivered from Amani Stadium in Zanzibar, President Magufuli succinctly described the Arusha Declaration as “being more relevant today than never before”; and lamented thus: “The Arusha Declaration was completely abandoned after Mwalimu Nyerere’s death, and I ask myself: why did we do that?” No wonder therefore, that he is determined to resurrect the process of implementing the Arusha Declaration policies.

The administration segment

(a) His industrialisation drive

President John Magufuli’s record in the administration, or the management of the country’s public affairs, also largely speaks for itself. In his campaign speeches, candidate Magufuli repeatedly promised that “Tanzania ya Magufuli, itakuwa ni Tanzania ya Viwanda” Thus, his vigorous industrialisation drive is additional evidence of his commitment to ‘walk his talk’. But additionally, industrialisation will contribute immensely to the achievement of the desired ‘job creation’ goal for the country’s educated youth. Yes indeed, the educated youth.

Hence, in order to ensure that there will be enough educated young men and women, President Magufuli quickly introduced the policy of ‘free’ Secondary level education, plus the provision of government interest-free loans for students who qualify for the tertiary level of education in the country’s Universities.

But, to be able to correctly appreciate the enormity of the task involved in providing such education facilities at the tertiary level, it may be helpful to recall that during the first-phase Government of President Nyerere, there was only one University in the country, that is the University of Dar es Salaam, whose student population was a maximum of three thousand students at any one time.

But as of today, during the fifth-phase Government of President Magufuli, there are not less than fifty-two Universities, with a student population far in excess of one hundred thousand. Thus, obviously, granting loans to such large numbers of University-level education students, is a much greater burden on the Government than was the case previously, but which, commendably, the fifth-phase Government of President Magufuli has been able to carry.

(b) His adherence to the country’s Constitution

In matters of governance, adherence to the requirements of the country’s Constitution, is a cardinal virtue. “I am not interested in staying on after completing my two-five year terms in office, as mandated by the country’s Constitution”. That was President Magufuli’s authoritative statement issued from State House on 13th January, 2018; in response to certain unethical campaigns which surfaced abruptly in 2017, whose vocal promoters included one Lawrence Mabawa, who launched his campaign in July 2017, code named “Baki Magufuli”.

Mr Juma Nkamia, a Member of Parliament, quickly joined the bandwagon when he revealed in his WhatsApp posting, that he was planning to introduce a Private Member’s Motion in Parliament designed to achieve an amendment to the Constitution, which will allow a third term of office for President Magufuli.

In his response thereto, President Magufuli said: “I vowed to abide by the Constitution. There is no way I can lead the country for 20 years. That is impossible. I must respect the Constitution”. This statement also reveals the ‘ethics’ factor which is embedded in his personal behaviour.

The ethics factor in President Magufuli

“Ethics is the heart of leadership”, so says the book of authority on this subject. Hence, kudos to President Magufuli for taking the most ethical stand of opting to abide by the country’s constitution in respect of this matter, which has failed a significant number of Presidents in other African countries, who have readily succumbed to the temptation to amend their Constitutions in order to stay in office indefinitely.

I am also keenly aware, of course, of the presence of other voices which have blamed President Magufuli for his action in imposing a ban on endless political rallies during periods when there are no elections, which have claimed that the President’s action was unconstitutional. Those of that opinion are, of course, fully entitled to express their said opinions; as that is their constitutional right which is provided for in article 18(a) of the Constitution of the United Republic.

However, the mere expression of opinions is basically unproductive, and such opinions could also be wrong. Thus, if they are truly concerned that a breach of the Constitution has occurred, they should take the more productive remedial route which is provided for in article 26(2) of the same Constitution, which invites such complainants to take appropriate action, in the following words: “Kila mtu ana haki, kwa kufuata utaratibu uliowekwa na sheria, kuchukua hatua za kisheria kuhakikisha hifadhi ya Katiba”. Indeed, “Where there is a will, there is a way”.


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Publish date : 2018-11-02 06:21:45

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