THE Vice President, Dr. Phillip Mpango’s visit to our family at our retirement home in Ukerewe, is the “breaking news” of today’s presentation.
It was early morning on Friday, 25th November, 2022; at about 9.00 a.m when my family happily received, at our Ukerewe retirement home, a most welcome visit by the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Philip Isidore Mpango. That is the subject of today’s presentation.
His visit was in every respect, both a memorable as well as a historic visit. These are, indeed, the most suitable and appropriate words that I can use to describe the ‘unusual’ circumstances of the Vice-President’s visit to my family’s Ukerewe retirement home. This is so simply because of the actual meanings of those two words.
The dictionary definition of the word “memorable” is given as,”something special, good and unusual and therefore worth remembering” or something that is “unforgettable” while the word “historic”, is usually used to describe something that is so important that it is likely to be remembered for a long time or something that is ‘unforgettable’.
Vice President Phillip Mpango’s visit to my family fits perfectly, into these words’ definitions. For indeed, this visit was something ‘special, good and unusual and therefore worth remembering thus ‘unforgettable’. It was also “unusual”, because even the experience gained from my own observations, shows that such visits to individual families of friends or even relatives, by such top-level national leaders, if they happen at all are extremely rare. For example, a recent book titled “38 reflections on Mwalimu Nyerere” by Mark Mwandosya and Juma V. Mwapachu, editors. (Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Dar es Salaam).
In one moving narrative by Mwalimu’s close aide Anna Julia Mwansasu, she informs that: “At Butiama (after his retirement) Mwalimu Nyerere would often visit Chief Wanzagi Nyerere, his brother and jokingly told him that he had managed to escape from jail”. In other words, he had to ‘escape’, unnoticed by his security guards , in order to visit his own brother! This little story helps to conform the assertion that it is not ‘usual’ for the nation’s apex leaders, to visit individuals at their homes.
Vice President Phillip Mpango’s visit to my family, was not only ‘unusual’ in that sense, but was indeed ‘so important that it is likely to be remembered’ by my family and friends for a very long time to come. Haijapata kutokea!
How we received this top-level visit
We had, of course received prior notification of the Vice President’s intention to make a private, courtesy visit to our family, as part of his one day official visit to Ukerewe District to inspect the progress being made in the construction of some selected strategic infrastructure projects, which are in the process of construction. For that reason, as is customary on all such business visits by either the Head of State or his immediate lieutenants (the Vice President and the Prime Minister); he was accompanied by a fairly large delegation of government officials.
I had earlier been told by his personal Assistants, that “because the visit to my family was a purely private visit initiated by the Vice President himself, they had to grant him the freedom to talk about whatever matters he wants to discuss privately with you”.
Hence, when he entered our compound, he was alone; with only his bodyguards and two government officials who were his official hosts, namely the Regional Commissioner and the District Commissioner; whom I had also invited for breakfast with us and our distinguished visitor. His large entourage of accompanying government officials, which included some Deputy Ministers and other senior officials from his Office in Dodoma, was conveniently diverted to a different “holding ground” to wait there for him until he finished his private talks with me.
To start with, he gave us an unexpected surprise when we saw him walking through the driveway towards the place where we were lined up to receive him; having left his State car and driver behind the gate. His action quickly reminded me of what the Holy Bible says in the ‘Letter to the Corinthians’: “For we walk by faith, not by sight”. Dr. Mpango was presumably, “walking by faith” when he entered our blessed home and not merely by sight! !
Hence, my first words to him, of appreciation and admiration at the time of receiving him, were: “Haijapata kutokea” and his jovial response was: “ basi leo imetokea”.
Our programme for his visit
Because the Vice President’s Office portfolio includes matters relating to the “protection of the environment”; I had arranged that our talks would be held over breakfast and thereafter we would walk around our extensive compound to show him the efforts we have invested in protecting the environment at the family level. These efforts include the planting and carefully maintaining a large number of different trees, among them the ancient trees that are mentioned in the Holy Bible, MHaradali, and Mzeituni, Mango and Avocado trees; Oranges, Bananas, Traditional medicinal plants, Vegetable shrubs and a rainbow of different lovely flowers of all sorts shapes and colours.
This tour was done after breakfast and the completion of our cordial private talk. In these tete-a-tete talks, we discussed a number of issues. Eventually, he told me about his intention to commission the writing of a new book which will record our country’s authentic political history and further that he would need my support on this as he plans to send his team to come and “harvest” what he described as “the most reliable information from the person who knows precisely what actually transpired” in the politics of our country. Being a book writer myself, I was happy to assure him of my full support and cooperation in this worthwhile undertaking.
Then followed the tour of our garden. The Vice President appeared to be extraordinarily relaxed and under no pressure of being in a hurry to depart. Pictures of this little tour were apparently being taken by his Office photographers who accompanied him and transmitted to the different social media outlets. Thus, we soon started receiving congratulatory messages from a variety of well-wishers.
One heart-warming message said: “Sincere congratulations . . . . the Vice President’s visit to you in Ukerewe is a testament of the high respect that the Tanzania apex leadership holds for you personally and their appreciation for your distinguished past service to our nation. Indeed, you continue to be a national icon even in retirement. His visit is a manifestation of the current national leadership’s recognition of your continuing usefulness and great value to our nation even in your retirement and still continuing to be active and productive”.
The organisers of his official visit had actually been allocated only half an hour; but the Vice President stayed with us for a whole hour and a half; visibly enjoying and admiring all that he was seeing. Later in the afternoon of that day, in his speech at a public rally in Nansio township at the climax of his official visit; he encouraged his audience to try and find time to visit our family gardens, in order to see for themselves our productive efforts in this particular respect, also asking them to follow our example. “It can be done, just play your part” he said. And indeed, as early as the next day we received the first few of such interested visitors. For us, as the saying goes, this was most certainly “A Day to Remember”.
About Dr. Phillip Isidore Mpango
The Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Phillip Isidore Mpango is by his nature, a very amiable personality. He first entered the political limelight when he was appointed Minister of Finance in President John Pombe Magufuli’s 5th phase government of the United Republic and was catapulted, by simple operation of the country’s constitution, into the high position of Vice President of the United Republic, upon the sudden death in office, of President John Magufuli, in March 2021. The constitution is what also propelled the then Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, to the country’s Presidency; and, using the granted to the President by the Constitution, she nominated Dr. Phillip Mpango for the Vice Presidency and submitted his name for election by the National Assembly which unanimously elected him to fill that post.
The books of authority on the subject of leadership, assert that “some people are born to become top leaders (such as Monarchs; others become leaders because of their wealth or family connections and still others, become leaders because of the circumstances in which they find themselves at the material time.
It was in the circumstances described above that Dr. Phillip Mpango became Vice President. He did not ascend to that position through the normal election process of nomination by his political party to stand in the relevant election as “running mate” of the party’s Presidential candidate. It ould appear that President Samia had already recognized his leadership qualities during his service as Minister of Finance, so she nominated him for election by the National Assembly as already explained above.
Vice President Phillip Mpango’s leadership style
Every leader has his or her own style of leadership. What some of us have noticed in Vice President Dr. Mpango, is that he operates on the basis of former North Korean President Kim il Sung’s unique style, known as “On the Spot Guidance” . Whenever President Kim il Sung visited a given project site to see the progress being made in its implementation, he made his decisions instantly on the spot and issued the necessary guidance right there.
Vice President Dr. Phillip Mpango is routinely making similar “on the spot” decisions. This was clearly during his visit Ukerewe. After he had completed the task of inspecting progress being made in the construction of selected strategic projects that are under construction in Ukerewe District; he also made instant decisions and gave instant guidance to the government Ministries or other Agencies that are responsible for the relevant construction works or for other administrative matters.
For example, before he started delivering his prepared speech at the public rally; he tasked each of the Deputy Ministers who accompanied him to stand up and give a satisfactory explanation in response to the complaints that had been raised concerning matters that are within the responsibility of their respective Ministries and further ordered them to report to him within a period of one month, how they had amicably solved the said problems.
Complaints had also been raised at his public rally, concerning the distribution of maize that had been sent by the government to Ukerewe to ameliorate the problem of food shortage which had occurred in many areas of this District, caused mainly by the lack of sufficient rain. This had negatively affected the cultivation of food crops by the peasant farmers. His response was to summon an urgent meeting of the Regional and District Administration (which was held later that evening) to find a solution to this problem.
That, apparently is the ‘style of leadership’ of Vice President Dr. Phillip Isidore Mpango which is famously known as “On the Spot Guidance.
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