DAR ES SALAAM: WITH the dust settled following his somewhat disputed election, President John Magufuli, has to live up to his reputation as an honest and energetic public officer at the helm of a stable Tanzanian economy that is nonetheless yearning for employment opportunities and is fraught with corruption. During his tenure as Public Works Minister, he was nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for his no-nonsense and results-oriented style of leadership.
Hopes are high among millions of Tanzanians he will transfer this style to his new role and fulfill campaigns preceding an election that thrust his to the helm of East Africa’s second-biggest economy. The 56-year-old took over one of the most stable economies in the continent from predecessor, Jakaya Kikwete, early this month.
Kikwete has endorsed his successor and believes he will perform commendably. “Some of the criticism that I got was that I am not strict enough. Magufuli will introduce a strict style of leadership and achieve faster economic growth,” the outgoing president said.
The country’s economy has continued to perform strongly, recording growth consistent growth over the years driven by information and communications, construction, manufacturing and other services. Medium-term prospects are favourable, with growth projected to remain above 7 percent, supported by public investments in infrastructure, particularly in the transport and energy sectors.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the economy will continue in that trajectory in the short-to-medium term. Inflation has stabilised at single digits over the past year, declining to an annual average of 6,8 percent in 2014 due to prudent monetary policy, a favourable food situation and declining fuel prices. Export performance remains strong, driven by gold and tourism and travel receipts.
However, despite Tanzania’s impressive macroeconomic achievements, growth is not sufficiently broad based, and poverty levels remain high. A recent household budget survey indicates that more than 28 percent of Tanzanians are poor, and poverty remains more prevalent in rural than in urban areas. Although the official unemployment rate is at around 10 percent, there is an impression it is larger.
Both grand and petty corruption are serious problems in Tanzania yet various comprehensive laws are in place to prevent corruption. It is largely due to a weak internal control and low or non-compliance with anti-corruption regulations within different government agencies. Magufuli’s campaign was thus centred on addressing the above-mentioned problems. “Magufuli is not nicknamed The Bulldozer for nothing. He has during his different roles in government particularly as Works Minister to be a leader with integrity and driven by results. Under his helm, Tanzania is on course to maintain its economic success story,” said socio-economic commentator, James Bendera, in Dar-es-Salaam.
He noted however this could be a tricky assignment. “It is an open secret some in government and his party (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) are predisposed to graft. Being a no-nonsense type of leader and an integral man, expect the fight against corruption to be topmost during his tenure.
“I believe there will be no sacred cows in the fight against corruption,” added Bendera. Unemployment ranks among the biggest challenge among Tanzania’s official 49-million population, especially the youth. According to the 2012 census undertaken by the National Bureau of Statistics, Tanzanians between the ages of 15 and 35 account for at least 35,1 percent of the total population.
Ahead of the elections, noted Lauren Tracey and Nadine Segadlo, researchers at the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), young people wanted political leaders to target such issues. “A recent advertisement for 70 jobs in the public service posts attracted more than 10 000 applications. That highlights the enormity of the problem,” added Bendera. Antony Mwangi, a university student believes addressing unemployment must top the new administration’s priorities.
“As a former teacher, the new President must be well aware of the problems students encounter during and after the completion of studies. “Education is overly priced in the country while on the other hand, the job market is shrinking,” said the business undergraduate at the University of Nairobi, Mwangi. During his campaign, Magufuli promised children free education from kindergarten to secondary school.
Agnes Nunguya, an Eldoret mother of two school-going children, welcomed the plans, which look likely to take effect in the new year. “That is a welcome move. Some of us are struggling to find employment and survive through vending, which is hardly enough to raise money to pay for the school fees and provide other school needs for our children to attain education,” she said. However, while unemployment and graft are major challenges, the energy woes currently offer the sternest challenge to the East African nation’s economic prospects.
The country is facing a power crisis as a result of inadequate water supplies, culminating in the country closing all hydro plants. This is among issues that will feature prominently at the Powering Africa: Tanzania Investment Conference scheduled for Dar es Salaam during the first week of December. Magufuli will send a delegation.
“Recent confirmations from January Makamba, Member of Parliament Bumbuli, Tanzania, representatives from the President’s Delivery Bureau, the Ministry of Energy and Minerals and Gas Supply Company demonstrate the on-going commitment from the public sector towards accelerating energy access in Tanzania as a springboard for economic development,” organisers said.
SOURCE: CAJ NEWS AGENCY