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Exploring Benjamin Mkapa’s Legacy

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For those who worked closely with him, he was remarkably polite and gentle. Yet quite a serious and thoughtful person.

He did things not to please people but to fulfil his constitutional duties, through firm decisions, regardless of the consequences. He was not a populist who sought to please the gallery, but was prepared to annoy people or lose friends if that was the price to pay for the interest of the country he led.

That was the man he was- Benjamin William Mkapa. His passing away, shortly after midnight on Friday, has shocked Tanzania as people struggled to come to terms with the news. He was a great and unique leader, former Journalist, Ambassador and distinguished diplomat who until few days ago is said to have been in good health and spirit.

“Fellow Tanzanians, with great sorrow, a great loss has befallen the nation. The third president Benjamin Mkapa, has died at a hospital in Dar es Salaam where he was admitted. I ask fellow Tanzanians to accept this and continue to pray for our elder…. Mzee Mkapa is no longer with us”, said a visibly emotional and sombre President John Magufuli during a midnight live televised announcement.

When Mkapa was fronted by CCM to vie for presidency in 1995 during Tanzania’s first multiparty elections, many people were uncertain of his capacity to steer the nation weighed down by high levels of corruption, incompetency and negligence in the public service machinery and a huge debt.

At the time, the annual inflation rate of 40%, high unemployment and privatisation of industries were a headache. But Mkapa’s record in public service had struck a chord with Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the master of Tanzania politics who took an active role in campaigning on behalf of Mkapa. Mr. Mkapa who had worked closely with President Nyerere and had been an active TANU and later CCM member for much of his adult life, was finally elected President.

On taking over the country from President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, President Mkapa drew his plan that would enable him institute major economic and institutional reforms that put Tanzania in a new status.

He read and understood where Tanzania was from an economic point of view, rolled out his plans and managed to turn the situation around at a great cost.

“Initially people didn’t understand the tough decisions he took that make life bit difficult but after sometime things started to change for the better. Our shilling gained value and the economy started to move forward,” says the Managing director of Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Walter Bgoya, a close friend of Mkapa for many years.

Mkapa is credited for initiating fundamental institutional changes in Tanzania’s governance system that saw many government institutions and agencies overhauled and given more autonomy. He imposed austerity and overhauled the public service machinery.

He was frustrated by persistent over-dependence of his country in financing major road network and set mechanism to finance the agency so that it can successfully manage trunk and regional roads. His favourite maxim, Ukweli na Uwazi (truth and transparency) became a household phrase in Tanzania. It was during his tenure that budgets and financial reports of local government authorities begun to be published to promote transparency and accountability of public servants.

The public service was one of his preoccupations. When he took office, the civil service machinery was in bad shape.

It was marred by lack of professionalism, negligence and incompetence that forced Mkapa to initiate fundamental reforms by demanding accountability and battled lack of skills and improved salaries. He involved development partners in implementing public service reforms.

He wanted people be employed in civil service on merit and that all jobs occupied by capable people. He basically discouraged autocracy.

His government developed a medium-term strategy for public service reform that aimed at establishing quality public services by improving the structure and level of civil service wages.

This was to be achieved by rationalisation of the structure and functions of the government, including the establishment of additional quasi-autonomous executive agencies and transfer task to local government.

The year he became president, Tanzania had a U$7billion foreign debt, and development partners had withheld U$40 million pending a government crackdown on tax evasion that had cost Tanzania a U$100million in revenue.

Since then, he worked relentlessly to have rich developed countries to offer debt relief for Tanzania and other poor African countries. Within no time, Tanzania qualifies for the debt relief scheme under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.

During his time, Tanzania also made significant progress in structural reforms. More than half of the more than 400 public sector entities identified for privatisation in 1993 had been divested by June 1999.

Although, President Mkapa was heavily criticised for a failed privatisation policy and later admitted in his biography he published earlier this year, the international community and experts still credit him for making that decision which they say was inevitable.

In June 2016, he publicly admitted that failing to monitor previously state owned enterprises after they were privatised was one of the biggest regrets of his presidency.

“Privatisation was necessary at the time, parastatals were making loses, his idea was to make them profitable. It was inevitable, it happened worldwide, so the private sector was invited to play a role in rescuing these institutions,” says Bgoya.

Respected senior Public servant, Patrick Rutabanzibwa (rtd) who worked with Mkapa for many years described him as a “very intelligent man” whose record in public service was known earlier.

“I remember him as very diligent. The first time I met him was in 1997 at state House where we discussed issues pertaining the mining sector, oil and gas. I saw him in cabinet. He was always good at solving problems. He was ready to draw experience from the international arena because he knew Tanzania was not an island. He had the ability to solve problems as it comes with the resources he had.”

Rutabanzibwa is worried that some people have become hostile and seems to destroy President Mkapa’s legacy.

“The 6-7% economic growth rate started during his tenure when he set up systems that would propel our economy,” he said.

Source: Citizen Tanzania

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Rwanda Police Chief Briefs 240 Officers Ahead Of S. Sudan Deployment

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The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dan Munyuza, on Tuesday, March 9, briefed 240 police officers set to be deployed for peacekeeping duties under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The pre-deployment briefing of the hybrid Formed Police Unit-One (FPU-1) contingent was held at the Rwanda National Police (RNP) General Headquarters in Kacyiru.

The contingent commanded by Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Faustin Kalimba, will replaced the same number in Malakal, Upper Nile State where they will be largely charged with protection of civilians in internally displaced camps, UN personnel, security of key installations and humanitarian assistance, among others.

IGP Munyuza urged the officers to use their experience and the high level of training acquired to execute their peacekeeping mandate effectively.

He further reminded them that they will work with other peacekeepers from different countries and they will have to exercise respect of diversity.

“Learning will be continuous throughout your tour-of-duty, use your experience to build on what your predecessors achieved, cooperative with other peacekeepers in the mission area and respect the people under your protection as well as their culture,” IGP Munyuza emphasized.

He urged them to keep up the good conduct and protect the image set by previous contingents adding that ” you are representing your country, be at the best of your performance.”

“Your country and Rwanda National Police in particular, have full trust in you, resilience and sacrifice are key. Remember, your conduct and professionalism will depict the image and values of Rwandans, ensure your performance is exceptionally good and maintain the same spirit to the end of your mission,” said IGP Munyuza.

The Police Chief reminded them that Rwandan peacekeepers are defined by their professionalism, discipline, teamwork, integrity, values and alertness, and urged them to keep the momentum to “maintain and protect the image and reputation.”

He emphasized that respecting each other and their superiors in particular, discipline, hard work, teamwork, dignity and respect for diversity are strong guiding values and principles which will help them towards mission excellence.

IGP Munyuza appealed to the officers to maintain the spirit of supporting others and to engage in human security activities with the local people they are mandated to serve.

‘’Participating in human security activities is our culture as Rwandans, you should not only conduct peacekeeping duties just to maintain peace and security. It goes beyond that as our tradition to work towards the overall wellbeing of the people,” IGP Munyuza said.

As the wolrd is still faced with the pandemic of COVID-19, the Police Chief reminded them to always observe all health guidelines including wearing face masks, avoiding shaking hands, washing hands and practicing social distancing, among others.

This will be the sixth rotation of FPU-1 hybrid since the first one was deployed in South Sudan in 2015.

It is also one of the three Rwandan FPU contingents currently deployed in South Sudan.

Currently, RNP maintains over 1000 police peacekeepers in various UN missions, including six contingents serving in UNMISS and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

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Chinese Companies Win Tender to Construct Railway From Mwanza to Isaka 

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The Standard Gauge Railway from Mwanza to Isaka in neighbouring Tanzania will be constructed by two Chinese Companies that have won a lucrative tender for this job.

Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi Tanzania’s foreign minister said on Thursday during a presser on the eve of the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s two-day visit to Tanzania.

The Mwanza-Isaka railway stretch will cover a distance of 341 kilometres and construction is estimated to cost TShs3 trillion will be handled by China Civil Engineering Construction (CCEC) and China Railway Construction Company (CRCC).

The Tanzanian government through the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) is constructing a 2,561Km SGR network that links Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Kigoma, Katavi and neighboring countries of Rwanda, Burundi Uganda and DRC.

The over Sh7 trillion project is being implemented in phases with the first round covering 202km between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, was initially scheduled to be ready by November 2020 but heavy rains disrupted construction works.

Construction of the first and the second phase is being undertaken by Turkish construction company, Yapi Markez.

The first phase will have six main stations at Dar es Salaam, Pugu, Soga, Ruvu, Ngerengere and Morogoro, with the Dar es Salaam and Morogoro stations being the largest.

The second phase which is under implementation involves 422km between Morogoro and Makutupora in Singida with the project set to be completed within 36 months at a cost of $1,924 billion.

The railway is East Africa’s fastest and will use electricity to move trains will travel at 160km per hour and transport 10,000 tonnes of freight which is equivalent to 500 cargo trucks.

Upon completion, the SGR project is expected to payback the investment value after 15 years.

In October 2020, Tanzania government signed $60 million (about Sh138 billion) contract with a South Korean firm to supply trains for the standard gauge railway (SGR).

 

The Citizen

 

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Trump Attacks Election Integrity As Biden Nears 270 Electoral College Votes

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President Donald Trump is testing how far he can go in using the trappings of presidential power to undermine confidence in this week’s election against Joe Biden, as the Democrat contender gained ground in tight contests in some key battleground states.

With his pathway to re-election appearing to shrink, Trump has advanced unsupported accusations of voter fraud to falsely argue that his rival was trying to seize power. Thursday’s moves amounted to an extraordinary effort by a sitting American president to sow doubt about the democratic process.

“This is a case when they are trying to steal an election, they are trying to rig an election,” Trump said from the podium of the White House briefing room.

The president’s remarks deepened a sense of anxiety in the U.S. as Americans enter their third full day after the election without knowing who would serve as president for the next four years.

His statements also prompted a rebuke from some Republicans, particularly those looking to steer the party in a different direction in a post-Trump era.

Electoral college magic number

Neither candidate has reached the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. But Biden eclipsed Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan, two crucial Midwestern battleground states, and has been inching closer to overtaking the president in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where votes are still being counted. It remains unclear when a national winner will be declared after a long, bitter campaign dominated by the coronavirus and its effects on Americans and the national economy.

On Wednesday, The U.S.set another record for daily confirmed cases as several states posted all-time highs. The pandemic has killed more than 233,000 people in the United States.

Rising tensions

Biden spent Thursday trying to ease tensions and project a more traditional image of presidential leadership. After participating in a coronavirus briefing, he declared that “each ballot must be counted.”

“I ask everyone to stay calm. The process is working,” Biden said. “It is the will of the voters. No one, not anyone else who chooses the president of the United States of America.”

 

Biden’s victories in the upper Midwest put him in a strong position, but Trump showed no sign of giving up. It could take several more days for the vote count to conclude and a clear winner to emerge. With millions of ballots yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 73 million votes, the most in history.

Trump’s erroneous claims about the integrity of the election challenged Republicans now faced with the choice of whether to break with a president who, though his grip on his office grew tenuous, commanded sky-high approval ratings from rank-and-file members of the GOP.

Lawsuits and late mail-in ballots

Trump’s campaign engaged in a flurry of legal activity to try to improve the Republican president’s chances, requesting a recount in Wisconsin and filing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed Trump campaign lawsuits there on Thursday.

Trump has held a small edge in Georgia, though Biden has been gaining on him as votes continue to be counted. The same is true in Pennsylvania, where Trump’s lead had slipped to about 22,000 votes — and the race is destined to get tighter.

One reason is because elections officials were not allowed to process mail-in ballots until Election Day under state law. It’s a form of voting that has skewed heavily in Biden’s favour after Trump spent months claiming without proof that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

Mail ballots from across the state were overwhelmingly breaking in Biden’s direction. A final vote total may not be clear for days because the use of mail-in ballots, which take more time to process, has surged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump campaign said it was confident the president would ultimately pull out a victory in Arizona, where votes were also still being counted, including in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous area.

The AP has declared Biden the winner in Arizona and said Thursday that it was monitoring the vote count as it proceeded.

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