- Published on Thursday, 29 August 2013 04:00
- Written by SWAUM MUSTAPHER
- Hits: 850
Best described as a woman of steel who strongly believes in quality and results, coupled with dedication to work and her family; the authoritative sounding lady continues breaking new ground in her life and recently, she trod where no other Tanzanian woman has ever set foot.
Scooping the position of Executive Secretary of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the lady is none other than Dr Stergomena Tax. According to Dr Tax, the position comes with loads of responsibility, “I was surprised to be nominated and I am so grateful to President Jakaya Kikwete, who has faith in me and is confident that I can deliver at SADC.
There are many people who hold more crucial positions than I in the country and are very intelligent but they were not given this opportunity.” Dr Tax says her main competition in getting the post came from Seychelles.
“I am obliged to my country and vow to work hard to ensure that I uphold the honour that has been granted to us Tanzanians,” she said. With the new appointment, Dr Tax says Tanzania has gained mileage on the international scene as President Kikwete’s leadership, the Chairman of the SADC Defense and Security organ, Troika, is credited for solving crises in Africa including Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“The political stalemate in Madagascar was resolved amicably, Zimbabwean elections were held peacefully and the instability in DRC is improving,” she said. Dr Stergomena Tax aims at bringing economic development to the region by boosting the production sector of SADC member states through strategies to increase the value of goods and services and increase the market share.
“The main focus is infrastructure development. This is critical in expanding the market and the growth of the economies of the member States,” she said. Dr Tax says there is no magic formula for success.
She is not afraid of hard work and does not hesitate when it comes to making decisions. Her commitment and dedication has led her to being labeled as a woman of quality and results.
After completing her first degree in Commerce and Finance in 1990 from the University of Dar es Salaam, she became the Senior Economic Affairs Officer at the Ministry of Finance in 1991. In 1995 she joined the University of Tsukuba in Japan for her Masters degree in Policy Management and Economic Development; and later a PhD in International Development in the same university.
“My thesis for my PhD was on the effectiveness of foreign aid to Sub-Saharan countries,” she said. Dr Tax returned home in 2002 and continued working at the Ministry of Finance and later on she got an opportunity to work for two years as a researcher with the World Bank Institution handling economics and research in developing countries.
Between 2004 and 2006, Dr Tax was the Chief Executive Officer of the Business Environment Strengthening Programme for Tanzania (BEST) that aimed at reforming the business environment in the country.
The multi-donor-funded programme was designed to improve the regulatory framework for business in Tanzania; under the President's Office, Planning and Privatisation. In 2006, she became the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Economic, Planning and Empowerment.
That same year she became the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry where she worked for two years till she became the Permanent Secretary of East Africa Community (EAC) in 2008 to August, 2013. Beginning September this year, she officially holds the position of Executive Secretary of SADC in Botswana, the headquarters of SADC.
The hard work of the Japanese seems to have rubbed on to her. "The Japanese are very industrious, and I have borrowed a leaf from them. I derive pleasure from work," she said. Always putting her best foot forward she is a stickler for perfection.
“People who are passionate about their work are my friends. My principle is be firm and fair,” she said and continued by saying, “Always deliver the best because at the end of the day you will gain respect,” she stressed.
As the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of East African Community she assisted member States explore common markets and increase employment opportunities. She said she faced many challenges including defending Tanzania’s interests.
Dr Tax was born on July 6, 1960 in Magu District, Mwanza. She is married with two children; a daughter and son. One is a university student while the second is in primary school.
Family life is important for Dr Tax who makes sure she spends quality time with her family over the weekend. “No matter how busy I am, I make sure I call and find out how the children are doing at home and confirm if they have returned from school,” she said, “I try my best not to work on Saturdays and Sundays I dedicated these two days to my family.” A couple of things she will always remember in her life are the day she became a mother and her appointment as the Executive Secretary of SADC.
A first born Dr Tax took on responsibility young. She schooled in Magu then Kwimba District in various primary schools as her parents were always on the move. For secondary school she attended Lake Secondary between 1975 and 1979, the same school the Minister of Works, Dr John Magufuli attended. She underwent National Service between 1984 and 1986 before joining the College for Business Education (CBE), Dodoma campus where she obtained a diploma in Business Administration.
Dr Tax advises women to grab opportunities wherever possible, and not shy away from challenges and work hard. She says that, as a woman, she has never considered herself weak as a result of her gender but rather as a person who can accomplish anything.
“Women should not feel inferior and building such confidence has to start from home. Parents need to raise their children equally by encouraging them to take part in domestic chores no matter the gender,” she said.
She says both of her children take part in house chores. She would love to see more parents teaching their children that both girls and boys are equal. “If more girls could grow up into women who are less dependent on men it would be easier to have half the leaders in the country as women,” she noted.
She says, she is raising her children to be independent and not think that what she owns belongs to them too. “I give them an education so that they can make their own way in life,” she said.