FORMER LEADERS’ BENCH WITH DAILY NEWS: Msuya points path for growth

  • Underlines good governance
  • Invest heavily in human capital

THE implementation of the oldest and largest strategic development projects has impressed Mzee Cleopa David Msuya, Tanzania’s former Prime Minister and first Vice-President.

The administrator opened up to a team of Tanzania Standard (Newspapers) Limited (TSN) journalists, when he was interviewed at his home village in Chomvu, Usangi Division in Mwanga, Kilimanjaro Region recently.

Mzee Msuya shared his views on the operating realities during his time in office and his experience working with the country’s top leaders, starting from the period of Father of the Nation Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

With this reality, Mzee Msuya is well acquainted with the projects initiated during the first phase administration under Mwalimu.

The oldest projects like shifting the country’s administration from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma and construction of the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station – Stiegler’s Gorge—were designed during President Julius Nyerere’s administration and implemented 50 years later.

“We should hail the boldness of the fifth phase government under President, the late John Magufuli for implementing these projects after five decades,” Mzee Msuya said.

And, he was more than happy when President Samia Suluhu Hassan immediately after being sworn in, said she will continue to implement the strategic projects initiated by her predecessor, while also coining new ones. President Magufuli died on March 17th 2021 and his Vice-President Samia stepped up as per the country’s constitution.

JNHPP History

During the British occupation of Tanganyika, plans for a unique dam were created. The first research was commissioned between 1928 and 1929, followed by another one in 1938–1940.

“Irrigation infrastructure with just a tiny reservoir at Stiegler’s Gorge was envisioned in these studies mainly to decrease flooding and safeguard downstream infrastructures,” states Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station – Stiegler’s Gorge report published in 2022 by Madenge.

However, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) began studying the Rufiji River’s infrastructure in the 1950s; this study changed everyone’s perspectives to build a much larger dam with the goal of transforming the valley into an artificial environment and providing irrigation water. In 1961, the FAO published a report that proposed irrigation on 490,000 acres.

After Tanganyika’s independence in 1961, the focus shifted to hydropower.

“President Nyerere envisioned hydropower dams as critical components of his ambitious modernisation plan. From the Second 5-year Development Plan (1969-1974), the focus of this modernisation plan shifted to industrialisation, necessitating the use of low-cost electricity,” the report said.

To implement the project, the government then formed the Rufiji Basin Development Authority (RUBADA) with a primary goal of building the dam and facilitating a more comprehensive enhancement and growth of the valley.

Detailed viability and construction plans for Stiegler’s Gorge was developed by the Norwegian Development Agency (NORAD) in the 1970s.

“I remember, we conducted a study for the implementation of this project, when I was the Minister for Finance and Planning.

“Our Nordic friends assisted us with the studies, construction plans and even designing as well as tendering process,” Mzee Msuya recalled.

Mzee Msuya served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance from 1970 to 1972. He was then appointed the Minister for Finance and Planning and nominated as an MP.

He said they failed to implement the project since the capacity of power to be generated was much above the economy’s consumption ability.

“The study showed that the power generated at the dam would be too high, many times than what the entire economy demanded at that time,” Mzee Msuya said.

Other reports showed that the dam project failed to be implemented primarily due to the World Bank’s rejection of project financing, citing the country’s limited growth in electricity demand after the 1980s economic crisis.

Happy with President Samia

President Samia promised Tanzanians in Dodoma during the state funeral of President Magufuli on March 22nd, 2021 that she would take over from where her predecessor had reached and complete his journey.

“We should help Mama Samia to achieve her development goals,” Mzee Msuya said.

He said, for instance, President Samia has already commissioned the filling of the Julius Nyerere Dam for a 2115MW hydropower plant and next year, it will start producing power. The dam possesses a capacity of 30 billion litres.

Latest reports show that the JNHPP is close to becoming a reality with the dam’s construction reaching 86 per cent of completion at the end of April this year.

“What I am saying, is that for a country to move forward, it has to have good leadership,” he said.

Korean and China examples

For Mzee Msuya, good leadership is the one that does not lose focus on its development agenda throughout the process.

He gave an example of China, which overtook Japan to climb to the second slot of a powerful nation in the world economy because it didn’t lose its development focus agenda.

“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) embraced the power and supervised their leaders to remain unshaken and stay focused on their development agenda,” he said.

The CCP is the founding and ruling political party of the modern People’s Republic of China. The CCP has maintained political power since Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic in 1949, and it has overseen the country’s rapid economic growth and rise as a global power.

“I went to China to negotiate for the construction of the TAZARA (Tanzania and Zambia Railway). Our hosts were sleeping on the mat on the floor and some on beds like ours — tied up with ropes. Today, they are super rich,” Mzee Msuya, whose civil service career began during the colonial era, said.

He also gave the example of South Korea. He visited the country before Tanganyika got independence and when in transit in Japan to return home, the South Korean civilian government was overthrown by Brigadier General Park Chung Hee, who ruled from 1961 to 1979, leading the country through a period of rapid economic development and transforming South Korean society.

However, he left a highly controversial legacy due to the highly authoritarian manner in which he governed.

“What I am saying, is that we don’t need leadership with dictatorship element but the one that is backed up with strong institution that does not lose focus on its development agenda. This will help us to achieve the development goals quickly,” he said.

Mzee Msuya additionally said the country needs to invest heavily and take care of its human capital, which has the required skills to analyse various local and global issues for the betterment of the nation.

“I remember,” Mzee Msuya said, “when I was active in leadership, there were several very strong party leaders at regional level.  I remember Mzee Budodi, CCM Chairman for Mwanza, another from Mara I cannot recall the name and Mzee Kaaya from Arusha. These were very strong chairmen. These days I don’t know if we have such kind of leaders…maybe you know them?” Mzee Msuya asked.

Mzee recalled the Mwl Nyerere video clip showing him saying a good government is one whose policies are predictable and not changing overnight.

“This clip should be aired time after time to remind us about good governance,” he said.

Hails the late president Magufuli

Mzee Msuya said Vietnam is another country that is developing fast because its ruling party stayed focused on pushing its government to stay in line with its developing agenda.

“In attaining economic revolution, sometimes the government deny people certain rights to push the development agenda. The late President Magufuli did several things to push for the implementing of strategic projects in a mode like a state of emergency. In the process, he fired uncouth government officials, who swindled public money,” he said.

The former PM said what Magufuli aimed to achieve was to transform the country economically.

He also gave an example of Singapore, which was transformed by former PM Lee Kuan Yew, a visionary leader who enacted Free Trade Zones (FTZs) in 1969, to support the country’s aim to become a centre for entrepot trading and global transhipment.

Also, he said people should read history on how Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who ruled Dubai from 1958 to 1990 transformed it from a fishing village to a world-class Metropolis.

“…I only mentioned President Magufuli because he dared to focus on implementing these projects despite the fact that the country was facing various challenges,” Mzee Msuya said.

He said the important thing is that all these efforts should be backed by the ruling party and that way, the projects will continue without considering who is at the helm of the country leadership.

Shifting to Dodoma and creating new hubs

Mzee Msuya said President Magufuli’s decision to swiftly shift to Dodoma, at the heart of the country, was a bold move. He also appreciated efforts made by the previous governments which also shifted some key government institutions to Dodoma.

However, he hailed Magufuli’s zeal that made it possible for all ministries and other supporting institutions to relocate to Dodoma as well as initiating several infrastructure projects that match the status of the capital city.

During the inauguration of the new ‘Ikulu’ in Dodoma late last month, President Samia showered praises on President Magufuli for giving a new impetus to the government’s decision to shift to Dodoma.

“The construction of Chamwino State House is among the projects which were started by Dr Magufuli, and this is the second project to be completed after the Tanzanite Bridge.

“In the process of shifting the Capital city to Dodoma, Dr Magufuli has written history. We cannot write the history of this event without acknowledging the contribution of Dr Magufuli,” she said.

The idea to shift to Dodoma in 1973 was designed to be implemented within ten years but it was not feasible due to various factors, including financial constraints and economic difficulties.

However, in July 2016, President Magufuli reiterated his government’s intention to make sure that the decision to shift the country’s capital is realised during the commemoration of Heroes Day on December 9th.

Another strategic project is the standard gauge railway from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza with branches to Kigoma Region and Mpanda, Katavi Region.

Creation of commercial hubs

Additionally, Mzee Msuya said there is a need for the country to have commercial hubs because shifting to Dodoma, the central regions like Tabora and Singida will feel the impact of the government hub which increases money in circulation.

“Dodoma is now the hub for the government services. Therefore, it is imperative to introduce other hubs across the country based on their economic or natural resources advantages,” he said.

He named such regions as Arusha — tourism; Mtwara — natural gas; Mbeya — natural resources—coal, gold, niobium; Mwanza — gold and business hub for Lake Zone.

“If we create these hubs, the economy will prosper fast,” Mzee Msuya suggested, recalling the establishment of agricultural hubs in southern highlands regions—Iringa, Ruvuma, Mbeya and Rukwa.

“The government pumped a lot of money into various regions. However, in the four regions, it paid off and we created what is known today as the big four…in maize production.

“We had leaders who were ready to lead their people to support the government agenda.” he said, adding however, that some regions also failed to deliver.

Mzee Msuya pointed an example of Kigoma Region, saying despite having good arable land plus the government pumping a lot of money, the project failed.

“The reason why, don’t ask me, but I think the theory was in leadership. In Kigoma leadership failed us,” Mzee Msuya said:

“Our job was to manage the system of marketing to enable the farm produces to reach markets. It was at that time that we constructed the Songea-Makambako road to promote production,” Mzee Msuya said.

Despite his advanced age, Mzee Msuya is still in good health and continues receiving a number of visitors, especially at his home village in Usangi. Most of the visitors descend to seek his guidance and advice on various issues, from governance to social issues and Mwanga politics.

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