FORMER LEADERS’ BENCH WITH DAILY NEWS: Lumbanga embraces succession plan

... Underlines importance of delegating duties

… Pleased by govt move to work on his idea of relocating  Maasai

…Nyerere’s death was the most difficult period for him

LEADERSHIP is about setting the tone and leaving behind the lasting legacy for the coming generations to remember.

For Ambassador Marten Lumbanga, the country has enough to write about him and creation of government operating systems that has left indelible mark is on the front seat, but there are many others on the list.

One of the notable is his advice to the government on what has now become the solution to address an ever increasing population of Maasai people at Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA).

Tanzania has historically allowed indigenous communities such as the Maasai to live within some national parks, including the NCA, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In the mid-1980s, Mzee  Lumbanga advised the government on amicable solution of handling the nomadic community in the Ngorongoro, which is still useful today.

Amb Lumbanga, then serving as the Ministry of Tourism’s Director of Planning advised his docket Minister Mr Ali Hassan Mwinyi to gradually relocate the Maasai community from the heart of Ngorongoro.

He recalled that Mzee Mwinyi visited him at his residence near Leaders Club around 11:30 pm informing him that he came direct from a ruling party CCM National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at the Karimjee Hall, which was chaired by President Julius Nyerere.

“When he briefed me, I was thinking silently, what CCM meeting has to do with me, a technocrat? ” he posed.

The meeting agenda was the relocation of Maasai from the Ngorongoro area and two schools of thoughts emerged—one led by Vice- President and President of Zanzibar Aboud Jumbe and another by Prime Minister Edward Sokoine.

Mr Sokoine argued that the Maasai were relocated to Ngorongoro from Serengeti, why relocate them again?

On the other hand, Mr Jumbe said Maasai should be relocated to enable them to participate in normal social activities, instead of locking them in the conservation area.

The meeting was overstretched to 11:00 pm with no agreement reached. President Nyerere adjourned the meeting and directed Mr Mwinyi to come with the ministry’s way forward the following morning since the issue fell direct under his docket.

“I am new in this ministry, what would I say in the meeting in the morning? You have been in this ministry for long, you know much than I do. Assist me. I thought it better to tell you this at this hour, instead of waiting in the morning,” Amb Lumbanga said, quoting Mzee Mwinyi.

Mzee Mwinyi was appointed to the tourism docket not long after serving as the Tanzania Ambassador in Egypt.

The two agreed to meet the next day at 08:30 in the office. The economist assured his boss he will have the report ready by then.

Amb Lumbanga told his boss to leave the matter in his hands and should produce a report the next morning.

“I worked almost all night long handwriting (there were no computers that time) the report and the following morning, I was ready,” he said.

He fine-tuned the report in the morning at the office by adding some facts from information on the documents in the office and gave Mzee Mwinyi the final draft.

Mzee Mwinyi presented the ministry’s assertions which advised the government that the Maasai could stay in the area for the time being, but should be relocated in the future due to the growing population and to enable them to participate in social and economic activities as other Tanzanians.

“The CCM NEC meeting took the proposal as the government stance and praised Mr Mwinyi for a good, thorough and thoughtful report,” Amb Lumbanga said, “Mr Mwinyi came to my office immediately after the meeting and thanked me for drafting the document,” he recalled.

Since 1959, the number of humans living in Ngorongoro has shot up from 8,000 to more than 100,000.

The livestock population has grown even more quickly from around 260,000 in 2017 to currently over one million.

On top of that as climate change leads to prolonged droughts and low crop yields, pressure on the pastoralists has increased, forcing them into conflict with wildlife over access to food and water.

To avert human and animal conflicts, the government earmarked 162,000 hectares (400,000 acres) of land to relocated Maasai households to Handeni District in Tanga Region, 600 kilometres south of Ngorongoro.

As was in the CCM meeting in the mid-1980s, so is today as the Maasai community remains sharply divided over the issue, with many reluctant to leave the only home they have ever known.

Unfortunately, the current government relocation of Maasai in Ngorongoro area received a negative welcome from some sections, terming it as inhuman. Most failed to see that the government only want to give the nomadic community a chance to live normal lives as other ‘wananchi’.

Last September, the East Africa Court of Justice (EACJ), ruled that Tanzania’s decision to barricade off land for wildlife protection was legal, dealing a blow to Maasai pastoralists, who had protested the move and sought the court intervention.

Mzee Lumbanga’s hardworking and his stance to stand with the reality on the ground based on the rule of the law merited him serving three presidents as Chief Secretary from 1995 to 2006. The trio are Mzee Mwinyi, Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete.

He was first appointed by Mzee Mwinyi during the last year of his presidency after serving two terms of five years each.

“I remember after the appointment, about 200 people used to come to Ikulu following up on different issues daily. I managed to reverse the trend to almost zero in two months,” Amb Lumbanga said.

He managed to cut the unnecessary bureaucracy by coaching and assigning work to subordinates to handle files which previously were only being handled by the CS. He only supervised them to see if they handled the matters accordingly. This approach surprised those who always believed in status quo and some thought he will fail or fragment the CS office. It turned out the opposite, and the approach worked very well.

Mzee Lumbanga believes in decentralisation that task or duties must not be centralised, instead, it should be assigned to subordinates to relieve task to one person.

“it is just a wrong notion…you assign duties to people and someone comes and tell you this one is still green, when do you think he/she will manage  the task. It is important to give challenge to them and help them grow.

He further said that on job training is important because it provides valuable skills and knowledge.

“There is no person who is untrainable. Every person has the capacity to absorb some kind of training. Give them opportunity and they will surely deliver.

“I always believed in the junior officers, no matter how green or grey they were in the job. I always gave them chance to deliver and they did a superb job by delivering desired results,” Amb Lumbanga said.

Throughout his service as civil servant, spanning 40 years, the technocrat and economist believed in a succession plan and nurtured the young staff.

This signifies that Mzee Lumbanga possesses the true qualities of leadership, which embodies  taking risks and challenging the status quo.

He said when appointed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Tourism (1989 – 90), his predecessor was the one who handled all blue files—the new ones.

“The files were piled up behind his chair. I assigned each file to a responsible officer and ordered the secretary to distribute them,” Amb Lumbanga said.

The secretary was shocked and told him that the officers were still green to handle the matter. “I told her let’s give them a chance to prove their worth.”

Amb Lumbanga’s stance paid off as the subordinates perfectly delivered and it became a norm for them to be in charge of the files.

Mzee Lumbanga commended President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s bold and open leadership based on welcoming opinions from all political parties that are positive on building the country’s economy.

The former CS praised President Samia’s openness and boldness in rejuvenating the constitution debate and process saying times change: “Let’s accept changes that aim for improvement”.

“I’m aware that some are not comfortable with what the president is doing, by allowing parties to start holding public meetings,” Amb Lumbanga said, “in other words, she is teaching us to not be afraid to embrace new ideas in our leadership.”

He questioned what the country benefited from banning political parties meetings and whether that was what the nation needed in the current environment.

During his career, he said he was saddened by the death of Father of Nation Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, despite being informed forehand by President Mkapa that they should start preparing for the worst news.

“We formed a committee that will handle his funeral as news from London, UK was not pleasing. But when the news of his death came I failed to come to terms with it.  My mind failed to handle the information that Mwalimu is no more,” he said sadly.

During the early days of his career as an economist, Amb Lumbanga was posted to the Mara Region as Director of Planning. He has friended with members of the Mwalimu family and the bonding was heavy.

“It reached a point, where I was like a member of Mwalimu’s family…this is why his death really gave me hard time. Regardless, I had to arrange everything for his burial. This was the most difficult period of my life as a civil servant,” he recalled.

Lumbanga was Chief Secretary of the Union government of Tanzania from 1995 to 2006. The man had also served in distinguished positions at home and abroad during his public service from 1972 to 2012.

These included – but were not limited to – permanent secretary of several different ministries, and board chairman of assorted public institutions, as well as Tanzania’s envoy abroad, including at some United Nations’ institutions.

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