2016 analysis shows Tanzania on sound economic, political track

Austerity measures to control lavish government spending, efforts to revive the industrial sector and the revamping of the national flag carrier are among economic measures taken by the new Tanzanian administration under President John Magufuli.

According to analysts, these economic measures, mostly implemented in 2016, were likely to propel the East African nation, the second largest economy in the region, to impressive economic prosperity.

Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL)

President Magufuli came into power on November 5, 2015, after succeeding retired President Jakaya Kikwete who ruled the country for 10 consecutive years on the ticket of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). Magufuli is also from CCM.

Tanzania, with more than 45 million people, has an average annual GDP growth rate of nearly 7 percent over the past decade. Despite rapid economic growth, over 46 percent of the population live below the extreme poverty threshold of 1.90 U.S. dollars a day.

Benson Bana, a senior lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam’s Political Science and Public Administration Department, said the economic measures that were taken by the president in 2016 were likely to make Tanzania “a better place to live”.

“The fifth-phase government was on course towards the right direction,” said Bana.

He added that efforts to revive the industrial sector will not only make Tanzania an industrial country, but will also provide employment to tens of hundreds of jobless youth.

On the political front, Bana said the country’s new administration was more action-oriented with the sacking or rescinding of appointment of civil servants accused of maladministration, unethical conduct and underperformance.

Another political score was the government’s decision to move the country’s government capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma.

In July this year, Magufuli told the CCM General Congress delegates that he was determined to accomplish a plan by the country’s founding leader, Julius Nyerere, to make Dodoma the Tanzanian capital.

“The aim was to bring government services closer to the people owing within the centrality of Dodoma. However, the move has been dragging on for years due to financial constraints coupled with a lack of political will,” said Magufuli.

But Bana said the country also experienced some depressing political events such as the unwarranted opposition Members of Parliament behavior and the boycott of parliamentary sessions to protest the Deputy Speaker’s leadership style.

BRIDGE OF FRIENDSHIP

Lincoln Chitanda, a consultant engineer based in Mtwara region, said the opening of Chinese-built state-of-the-art Nyerere Bridge, connecting Tanzania’s economic capital Dar es Salaam and the southern side of Kigamboni district across the Kurasini creek, was another landmark event in 2016.

The 135-million-U.S.-dollar bridge opened to public on April 19. Magufuli named the bridge Nyerere in honor of the country’s founding president.

The construction of the bridge, which also created 5,000 jobs, ended years of local residents’ reliance on wooden boat ferry to cross the creek. The bridge also heralded a new era of development in Tanzania and even all of Africa.

Magufuli said the quality and successful completion of the bridge was one of the symbols of great relationship between Tanzania and China, which was started by the two countries’ founding leaders in the early 1960s.

INSTILLING DISCIPLINE

Kitojo Wetengere, a lecturer at the Centre for Foreign Relations in Dar es Salaam, also praised Magufuli for fighting corruption and serving the poor, increasing government revenue collection, reducing unnecessary government expenditure and reviewing government budget to allocate more funds to development projects.

He said the head of state has also succeeded instilling discipline and hard work among public servants. “The era of business as usual is gone,” said Wetengere.

Other analysts said although there were still issues that needed to be given attention to, Magufuli has tried to his best to restore the respect of Tanzania from various quarters.

Damian Gabagambi, a senior lecturer at the Sokoine University of Agriculture, said he believed that if Tanzania will maintain the spirit Magufuli has initiated, it was likely to change for the better in the near future.

PARTY RESTRUCTURING

As 2016 pulled down its curtain, Tanzania’s ruling party CCM underwent sweeping restructuring to bring the party back to the people and to cut down operational costs.

Some of the restructuring announced by party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) included minimizing the number of members in its top decision making organs at all levels and centralizing the party’s operations.

Other changes include reducting the number of the Central Committee (CC) members from the current 34 to 24, and from now onwards no one will be allowed to hold two positions at a time.

The restructuring of the party which has been in power for more than 50 years was announced under Magufuli, who was crowned chairman of the party in July.

CCM also reduced the number of NEC members from the current 388 to 158, slashed NEC meetings from three times a year to two as well as minimizing the number of members of the party’s regional political committees.

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