Union under six Presidents: feats, challenges

TANZANIA: TODAY marks the anniversary of the union whose journey saw six Presidents on the driving seat, making the Tanzanians sailing safely till to date.

The day like this, 60 years ago, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the United Republic of Tanzania, is a significant event in the history of both territories.

The primary motivations behind the Union were to promote political stability, foster national unity, and strengthen economic development.

Tanganyika and Zanzibar shared historical and cultural ties, and their founders Julius Nyerere and Abeid Karume believed that unity would bring about greater prosperity and progress for both territories.

From 26th April 1964 when the union was born, Tanzania has been under six government phases, with each phase recording feats notwithstanding challenges.

Recently, Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office (Union and Environment), Dr Selemani Jafo has said a lot of success have been registered in education, health and water sectors in 60 years of Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.

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He highlighted on some of the positive impacts that have been brought courtesy of the Union between the two sides.

Tanzania’s history says the first regime under President Nyerere (1961-1985) was characterized by socialist ideology, known as “Ujamaa,” which aimed to build a self-reliant and egalitarian society.

Nyerere implemented policies such as nationalization of key industries, rural collectivization, and free education.
Through the Arusha Declaration in 1967, almost all economic activities in manufacturing, commerce, banking, mining, construction, import and export trade, etc., were nationalized.

While Tanzania’s experiment with socialism had its challenges and mixed outcomes, there were some notable successes:

One of the central pillars of Nyerere’s socialist ideology was the concept of Ujamaa, which promoted collective farming and communal living.

Ujamaa villages were established to facilitate this ideology, aiming to bring rural communities together for mutual support and development. While the success of Ujamaa villages varied, some communities experienced improved agricultural productivity and social cohesion.

During that time the government invested heavily in education, aiming to provide free and accessible education to all Tanzanians.

This emphasis on education significantly increased literacy rates and provided opportunities for social mobility, particularly for marginalized communities.

Tanzania made efforts to provide free healthcare services to its citizens, focusing on improving access to basic healthcare in both rural and urban areas.

This contributed to improved health outcomes and increased life expectancy for Tanzanians during the socialist era.

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His leadership promoted Kiswahili as the national language and encouraged a sense of Tanzanian nationalism, something which helped to foster unity and cohesion among diverse ethnic groups.

However, it’s important to note that Tanzania faced numerous challenges during its socialist era, including economic stagnation, inefficient state-run enterprises, and centralized planning.

The second President Mwinyi initiated economic reforms, including liberalization and privatization, to address the failures of the socialist policies of the previous regime.

During his era, he worked to transition the country towards a market-oriented economy in the 1980s and 1990s.
These reforms aimed to attract foreign investment and stimulate economic growth.

The government implemented policies to liberalize the economy and reduce the role of the state in economic activities. This included deregulation of prices, trade liberalization, and the removal of barriers to foreign investment.

These measures aimed to stimulate economic growth, attract foreign capital, and improve efficiency by allowing market forces to play a greater role in resource allocation.

Mzee Mwinyi preferred privatization whereby state-owned enterprises, which had been a prominent feature of the socialist economy, were gradually privatized under the reform agenda.

This involved selling off state assets to private investors, both domestic and foreign, in sectors such as telecommunications, banking, manufacturing, and agriculture.

Privatization aimed to enhance efficiency, improve service delivery, and stimulate investment by transferring control of economic activities from the state to the private sector.

Tanzania embarked on trade liberalization measures, including reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade, to promote export-led growth and integration into the global economy.

Additionally, foreign investment regulations were relaxed to attract capital inflows and promote private sector development.

Also, the financial sector underwent significant reforms to increase its efficiency and competitiveness.

This included restructuring and privatization of state-owned banks, liberalization of interest rates, and the introduction of new financial instruments and institutions to promote savings, investment, and access to credit.

While these reforms have led to some positive outcomes, such as increased foreign investment and economic diversification, they also faced challenges, including concerns about equity, social welfare, and the need to address the needs of vulnerable groups.

However, the transition from socialism to a market economy was challenging and led to increased inequality and social tensions.

Corruption remained a significant issue, hindering the effectiveness of economic reforms. Tanzania also faced the impacts of the HIV/AIDS epidemic during this period.

When Benjamin Mkapa took over from Mwinyi he continued the economic reforms, promoting privatization and liberalization to attract foreign investment and spur economic growth. His government also focused on improving infrastructure, healthcare, and education.

During the era of President Benjamin Mkapa (1995-2005), attracting foreign investment and spurring economic growth were key priorities for the government.

Mkapa’s administration pursued various strategies to promote foreign investment and stimulate economic development:

These reforms aimed to create a more conducive business environment by reducing bureaucratic hurdles, simplifying regulations, and encouraging private sector participation in key sectors of the economy.

The government established the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) to facilitate and promote investment in the country.

The TIC served as a one-stop centre for investors, providing information, assistance with permits and licenses, and guidance on investment opportunities in various sectors.

Mkapa’s administration recognized the importance of infrastructure in attracting investment and supporting economic growth.

Significant investments were made in infrastructure projects, including roads, ports, airports, and energy infrastructure, to improve connectivity, reduce transportation costs, and enhance the overall business environment.

Mkapa’s government successfully negotiated debt relief and received substantial development aid from bilateral and multilateral partners.

Debt relief freed up resources for investment in priority sectors and helped stabilize the economy, creating a more favorable environment for both domestic and foreign investors.

During Jakaya Kikwete’s presidency (2005-2015), infrastructure development was indeed a key priority for the government.

President Kikwete recognized the critical role of infrastructure in stimulating economic growth, improving connectivity, and enhancing the overall competitiveness of the country.

Here are some key aspects of infrastructure development during Kikwete’s regime:

His government invested significantly in the construction and rehabilitation of road networks across the country.

This included both urban and rural roads, aiming to improve transportation links, facilitate movement of goods and people, and reduce transportation costs for businesses and households.

Tanzania’s strategic location along the East African coast made ports development a priority.

Investments were made in expanding and modernizing port facilities, such as the Dar es Salaam Port, to accommodate growing trade volumes, increase efficiency, and attract transshipment traffic from landlocked neighboring countries.

In addition to roads and ports, investments were made in other transportation infrastructure, including railways, airports, and aviation facilities.

Kikwete’s administration also emphasized the importance of regional connectivity and integration. Tanzania participated in regional infrastructure projects, such as the East African Railway Master Plan and the East African Power Pool, to enhance cross-border connectivity, promote trade, and foster regional cooperation.

The government explored partnerships with the private sector to finance and develop infrastructure projects.
The Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) were seen as a way to leverage private sector expertise and resources while sharing risks and responsibilities between the government and private investors.

Overall, Kikwete’s regime made significant strides in infrastructure development, particularly in roads, ports, and energy projects, with the aim of stimulating economic growth, improving connectivity, and enhancing the country’s competitiveness.

While challenges such as funding constraints, project implementation delays, and maintenance issues persisted, these efforts laid the groundwork for continued infrastructure development in during the leadership of Dr John Magufuli (2015-2021):

Dr Magufuli’s administration gained popularity for its strong anti-corruption stance and efforts to improve government efficiency.

He launched various infrastructure projects and initiatives aimed at promoting industrialization and economic self-reliance.

Magufuli’s government prioritized the fight against corruption, which was a cornerstone of his presidency.
He initiated crackdowns on corruption within government institutions, leading to the dismissal and prosecution of officials implicated in corrupt practices.

Magufuli’s administration emphasized transparency, accountability, and integrity in public service, and he was often hailed for his no-nonsense approach to tackling corruption.

He focused on cost-cutting measures, such as reducing unnecessary government spending, eliminating ghost workers from the public payroll, and enforcing discipline among civil servants.

Magufuli also emphasized the importance of delivering public services efficiently and promptly to citizens.
He was characterized by an ambitious infrastructure development agenda.

He launched numerous infrastructure projects across the country, including roads, bridges, railways, airports, ports, and energy infrastructure.

These projects aimed to improve connectivity, facilitate trade and transportation, and stimulate economic growth.

The Fifth-Phase President placed a strong emphasis on promoting industrialization as a key driver of economic development.

He introduced policies and initiatives to attract investment in manufacturing, value-added processing, and other industrial sectors.

He prioritized the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and industrial parks to create a conducive environment for industrial growth and job creation.

Furthermore, he advocated for economic self-reliance and reducing dependency on imports. He promoted initiatives to boost domestic production, agricultural productivity, and value addition to raw materials.

The incumbent President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan assumed the presidency of Tanzania following the passing of President John Magufuli.

Since then, Samia’s leadership has been marked by several notable successes:

Dr Samia’s leadership ensured continuity in governance and provided reassurance to citizens and investors alike.

Her administration emphasizes the importance of cooperation and dialogue, which helped rebuild Tanzania’s standing on the global stage and fostered positive engagement with other countries and international organizations.

She has shown a commitment to economic reforms aimed at promoting investment, job creation, and sustainable development.

Also Read: Unselfishness, transparency key secrets to Union success

She has emphasized the need for inclusive growth and has taken steps to address some of the challenges facing the Tanzanian economy.

Her presidency represents a significant milestone for gender equality in Tanzania and across Africa. As the first female president of Tanzania and one of the few female heads of state in Africa, her leadership serves as a powerful symbol of women’s empowerment and leadership.

Dr Samia has sought to promote political reconciliation and inclusivity within Tanzania. She has reached out to opposition leaders and stakeholders, signaling a willingness to engage in dialogue and cooperation across party lines for the common good of the nation.

The current government has continued to prioritize investments in education and healthcare.

“In our Union, we have made major strides in health sector with more than 9,000 health centres that have been built. In every council, you find health facilities and dispensaries that are providing services to people,” Minister Jafo said.

Her tenure so far has shown promising signs of a more inclusive and pragmatic approach to governance, with a focus on stability, economic reform, and social development.

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