THE shift of Tanzania’s capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma was planned 43 years ago, being the brain child of Father of the Nation Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere.
However, the administrations that took over from Mwalimu shelved the plan until on July 23, 2016, when President John Pombe Magufuli directed all government ministries and institutions to immediately relocate to Dodoma. As the President announced this move, he issued an executive order, directing the government to move its seat to Dodoma within his first term as occupant of the country’s highest office.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa who echoed the directive, declaring February 2017 as the deadline for all ministers, their deputies, permanent secretaries and some head of departments to officially set up permanent offices and residences in the designated capital among the senior officials whose offices are current relocated to Dodoma Region following the President’s directives.
The Premier shifted his office to Dodoma capital in September last year and thereafter the Vice President Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan followed suit in December 15, 2017. With 316 dispensaries, 41 health centres, eight hospitals, 40 hotels and a population of about two million, Dodoma is also expected to host 57 embassies and 30 consulates.
Some of the embassies that have expressed interest to shift to Dodoma include those of Brazil, India and China, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation said.
The President’s move for shifting the capital city to Dodoma has also seen the United Nations becoming the first international organisation operating in Tanzania to officially move its headquarters to the country’s capital from the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.
The brand-new building hosting at least seven UN agencies at Mlimwa in Dodoma’s Area D suburb was formally opened by Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa with a call to other international bodies active in the country to follow suit in support of the government’s own commitment to make Dodoma the bona fide political and administrative capital.
Immediately after President Magufuli announced his intention to shift to Dodoma by 2020, National Housing Corporation (NHC) acquired 236 acres of land at Iyumbu area to construct residential and commercial buildings to accommodate government officials and commercial investors.
To start with, NHC planned to build between 300 and 500 houses in twelve months’ time in Iyumbu, Chamwino, Bahi and Chemba. The NHC as well announced to raise 15bn/- in outstanding rent fee by tenants in Dar es Salaam and channel the funds to housing projects in Dodoma for accommodating other government staffs, business people among others.
The private sector in the country also positively received President Magufuli’s move with the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TSPF) and an economist from the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) calling for the government to prepare clear-cut strategies to enable the private sector to come up with an appropriate business plan on how to tap the emerging potential in the form of the move to Dodoma, the new capital designate.
Other plans to usher the move is the improvement of the road infrastructure through the Tanzania Rural and Urban Roads Agency (TARURA). TARURA has succeeded in implementing the construction of Dodoma city roads to tarmac level along with repairing older roads so that they are passable and building pedestrian paths in order to prevent avoidable accidents among the people.
According to the Minister of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) Suleiman Jaffo, said the city of Dodoma has a planned outlook in the sense of building residential areas, industries and investment zone along with education and health sectors in order to avail opportunities for people to invest in those sectors.
He explains that the objective of the government is to improve the image of the city of Dodoma to attract investors and make the city a role model among cities in Africa, which includes having modern infrastructure in delivering various social services to the city, as the seat of the government.
The TARURA chief executive also rolled out a report on strategies of road building in the city of Dodoma and its implementation for 2018/2019 and 2019/2020. TARURA is also working on an 892.41 kilometre road network in the city. Major district roads take up 371.99 kilometres and feeder roads a total of 395.69 kilometres and in completing this network there are community roads with a 124.74 kilometres in length.
The movement of shifting the capital city to Dodoma came into offing in 1966 Hon Joseph Nyerere, then Deputy Minister and the President’s half brother, introduced a motion in the National Assembly calling for the relocation of the capital to Dodoma.
It did not see the light of day, following Finance Minister Amir Jamal’s opposition based on the huge costs that would be involved. Then in 1972, the Mwanza Regional Party Executive Committee - with Lawi Sijaona as Regional Party Secretary - proposed that the capital be shifted from Dar es Salaam to the central Tanzanian town of Dodoma.
It was not immediately taken up. However, following a widespread national dialogue on the proposal revolving around party branches, in 1973 the TANU National Conference supported the proposal to shift the capital to Dodoma. Security considerations of a coastal city and the geographical centrality of Dodoma rationalized this decision.
Since the ill-fated invasion of Conakry, Guinea, by Portuguese colonialists from neighbouring ‘Portuguese’ Guinea Bissau in September 1970 - in a wicked plan to overthrow the leftist government of President Ahmed Sekou Toure - worries had been expressed especially in the 1971 TANU Guidelines (‘Mwongozo’) about a similar attack on Dar es Salaam, which like Conakry hosted freedom fighters from the Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola.
President Nyerere immediately put up the institutional infrastructure for this task. He set up the Ministry of Capital Development and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to spearhead the development of the new capital.
He appointed Chief Adam Sapi Mkwawa, a highly respected long-serving Speaker of the National Assembly and Hon (Sir) Clement George Kahama, a technocratic ex- Minister and the chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of the giant National Development Corporation (NDC) as CDA director general.
Both the ministry and CDA started operations almost immediately and were headquartered in Dodoma. Despite well conceived institutional structures and Mwalimu’s strong support, meagre finances and other resources did not allow a speedy realization of this goal.
Already Parliament and the ruling CCM were headquartered in Dodoma. Some government establishments, including the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Cooperatives Development, had moved to Dodoma but their presence was now virtually non-existent.
President Magufuli has ended the ambiguity and lipservice paid to the Dodoma project. He has decided to shift his government to Dodoma by 2020. The President has given this shift a time frame; possibly to give it a planned, systematic and phased process.
This would ensure a smooth transition without unnecessarily disrupting government work.