The United Republic of Tanzania has ever since 2000 signed and therefore committed it self to implement the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGS).
Implementation of these MDGs has been made at different levels, initiatives and strategies that the governments adopted with the basic objective of reducing poverty and improving the quality of peoples’ life.
These initiatives include the adoption of the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP) popularly known as “Mpango wa Kupunguza Umasikini Tanzania (‘MKUKUTA’)”, this was mainly based in Tanzania mainland and the “Mpango wa Kupunguza Umaskini Zanzibar (‘MKUZA’)” for Zanzibar.
Other initiatives or policies that Tanzania has made with the aim of reducing poverty in the country include Development vision 2025 (for Tanzania mainland), vision 2020 (for Zanzibar ) ''Kilimo Kwanza'' (Agriculture first), which encourages modern methods in agricultural production and the Tanzania Five Year Development Plan 2011/2012- 2015/2016.
These were mainly adopted to promote growth and reduce poverty among Tanzanian citizens, to enhance social wellbeing, the quality of life, governance and accountability.
These policies are very good in theory and practically may be as well good if only they can be implemented timely, and be participatory enough. For instance, critics attribute non- participatory mechanism of National Budgeting Process to factors hindering poverty reduction initiatives in the country.
The vice is said to have led to government’s failure to prioritize development projects in its government/public expenditures.
The observation is part of the content in a paper titled ‘Three years to 2015 MDGs target, Tanzania and the Myth of Poverty Eradication’, prepared by the SAHRINGON Tanzania Chapter.
“Many of the foreign investors enjoy tax holidays due to weak government policies and laws that could have protected the country from loosing huge income,” reads the paper in part.
Most of the investors have been at the helm of things in the country due to having an upper hand on land issues, and as such involving into land grabbing for various investment be it on mining, hunting or even large scale farming for food production.
This Correspondent managed to talk to SAHRINGON’s National Coordinator Martina Kabisama who said Tanzania’s economy fails to improve due to poor legal and regulatory regimes especially in management of revenue streams, supervision of resources and accountability of public leaders who manage public funds.
“The government should create conducive environment for the fully participation of all major actors of the national budget process to ensure that priorities are set in accordance,” said Kabisama.
Furthermore, the government’s policy on tax exemptions should be coupled with good administration of the resources to ensure more revenue is collected domestically and thus contribute towards the national budget.
There are several challenges hindering successions of MKUKUTA, one being the poor quality of education.
The rapid increase in enrolment has also thrown up challenges with regard to quality because of overstretched educational infrastructure as well as human resource capacity.
For instance, education quality at the primary education level manifested itself in high pupil/teacher ratio (52:1 in 2006 and 54:1 in 2009); the percentage of pupils passing the primary school leaving examination (PSLE) (70.5 percent in 2006 and 52.7 percent in 2008).
Worse, still, there are reports indicating that there are several primary school pupils who have passed to join secondary school while they can neither read nor write. This all raises a lot of questions over our quality of education in general.
Gender imbalance at post secondary school level also remains a challenge. During 2008/09, for example, females made up only 32.1 percent of total enrolment in public universities and university colleges compared to 32.2 percent in 2006. Low participation rate of women in tertiary education does deprive women in terms of level and nature of their participation in decision making processes, the report by SAHRINGON says.
Needless to say, lack of decent shelter and human settlement can not go unmentioned as vulnerable groups such as women, youth, the indigenous, elderly and disabled face inadequately serviced land for shelter and human settlements.
In its paper, SAHRINGON suggests that the government ought to cut capital flight and unnecessary tax incentives and exemptions.
“The government should introduce taxes to those who deserve but don’t pay like Members of Parliament, encourage internal trade, to be focused and take those who eat public money allocated for MKUKUTA to account. Furthermore, it should abide to principles of democracy by being transparent and enhance accountability in order for Tanzania to eradicate poverty as its initiatives objectively projected.
Also the initiatives must also be known to all stakeholders including the people who are to benefit and implement. I still recall vividly how one of the researchers went to Kibondo to find out on awareness of ordinarily Tanzanians over the national strategies to reduce poverty.
The researchers we are told asked one of the shop owners at Kibondo on whether he had heard of MKUKUTA and the guy responded saying it was never sold in shops around there.
Asked on MKURABITA, he said he had never seen that either saying perhaps it was sold in Kigoma township, funny! At the time we laughed a lot but the reality was, a lot of people in rural areas were then and some are even in dark even as we speak over to what the policies stand for.
One last piece of advice, charity should start at home. There is no need to condone strangers against our own people as is the case in Loliondo. The land belongs to Tanzanians and they deserve better treatment than eviction and threats.