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Magufuli remains a keen role model

THE nation is making commendable progress in fulfilling the requirements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) after taking in its stride a number of initiatives in a bid to whittle down the challenges that afflict sustainable human development.

The government keen on the possibility of attaining the envisaged industrial economy alongside provision of free education, improved health services, fighting against corruption and improving infrastructure. Sustainable Development Goal number 17 requires the country to strengthen domestic resource mobilization and improve the domestic capacity for taxation and other revenue collection initiatives.

In fact, efforts made by President John Magufuli to ensure that national revenue is increased through tax collection is one of the ways through which Tanzania is implementing SDG number 17. But this is not the end of the presidential effort.

President Magufuli wants everyone to work hard and has left no stone unturned to ensure that everyone performs honestly, indefatigably and diligently. Tax evasion, for example, which was a small matter in the past is now a cardinal sin that is punishable by law.

Mr Magufuli, a widely revered statesman who has won international acclaim, is keen on whipping the local workforce back to sanity. It is a noble crusade that aims at making Tanzania a middle income economy over time.

And this is to say the least. The upshot is to transform Tanzania into an industrial nation. When campaigning for the presidency, Mr Magufuli told Tanzanians that he would lead the nation towards an industrial economy.

So far, the president’s efforts are on the right track. When President Magufuli came into power in 2015 he immediately made it abundantly clear that he would fight corruption left, right and centre. He went ahead with this difficult but noble initiative on all fronts and has not disappointed anyone so far.

A number of surprising measures have already earned President Magufuli accolades, both within Tanzania and across the African continent, where he is being heralded as a model for other leaders, even though he has only been in office for only two years.

In fact, on his first day in office, the president made a surprise visit to the all-important Ministry of Finance, where he berated civil servants who were not in their seats. Everyone in the state workforce sat up and took notice. This was president with a difference.

Then, President Magufuli went ahead with a cancellation of a seemingly lavish Independence Day celebration to free up funds to fight a cholera outbreak and slashed the budget for a state dinner to celebrate the opening of parliament.

He used the money to buy hospital beds; and banned foreign travel for all government officials except the president, vice-president and prime minister. His ministers and other high ranking officials may not have understood but have eventually bowed to the decree.

Surprise visits appeared to be a favourite modus operandi of the new administration. In one such visit to Muhimbili Hospital, the president found patients sleeping on the floor. He sacked the hospital chief promptly and dissolved its governing board.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, turned up unannounced at the port of Dar es Salaam and discovered a major tax discrepancy, costing billions of shillings in lost revenue.

The head of the Tanzania Revenue Authority was apprehended, along with five of his top lieutenants, pending a criminal investigation. The president has, so far, sacked cabinet ministers, regional commissioners and other key state operatives for ineptness at work.

President Magufuli’s anticorruption approach was welcomed by the wananchi, most of whom who are tired of the endemic thefts of public funds--a discrepancy that has stunted the country’s progress for decades.

Indeed, he is generally seen as the nation’s messiah. Magufuli, nicknamed the “Bulldozer” for his impressive track record as public works minister, is generally considered to be free from corruption.

As a minister, he was famous for making surprise visits to road construction sites to uncover corrupt activity. As minister Magufuli was serious about tackling corruption. He often whittled down unnecessary spending, focusing on delivering essential public services, and issued a directive to enhance revenue collection.

But the preside has yet to tackle the deeper structural issues that have allowed corruption to thrive for so long. This is a far more daunting proposition. One major problem is low pay for civil servants, which encourages a culture of graft and even theft.

The Fifth Phase Government, under Magufuli, has already flushed out of the payroll a total of 19,706 ghost workers and almost 10,000 civil servants have been kicked out of the workforce because they lacked the required academic qualifications.

The upshot here is maintaining a crack team of government workers who will take national development farther ahead through hard work. In the same token, decent work is envisaged. In fact, decent work is central to efforts aimed at reducing poverty in Tanzania. It is a means for achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.

Indeed, the first dimension of Decent Work sets out the need for fundamental rights and international labour standards. This requirement does not give room to cheats. The observance of these standards and compliance with local legislation is not an option but a necessity for government, employers and workers as they compete in the global market.

This being the case, Tanzanians should work much harder and with commitment. Statistics show that until the end of last year 114 industries had been registered through Tanzania Investment Centre, 64 had been listed through BRELA, 22 under the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) and seven under National Development Corporation (NDC).

A further 1,830 had been logged under the Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO). So, a total of 2,030 industries, mostly being small industries were registered last year -- and the crusade continues.

But how dynamic is the Tanzanian workforce now? Even under the watchful eye of President Magufuli there are still too many cheats in the workforce. When the Magufuli administration discovered the presence of ghost workers in the workforce an elaborate cleanup was carried out, pronto. This saved government money.

Our labour law still need a bit of reworking. In the past, unfortunately, reinforcement of labour laws met constraints that included inadequate staffing, insufficient funding, shoddy skills and poor knowledge. There was also the challenge of employers and workers refusing to accept new circumstances.

IT pays to be a swimmer and ...

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Author: SOSTHENES MWITA

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