On Friday a section of the media, quoting newly appointed Finance Minister Dr William Mgimwa, reported that the Tanzanian economy was on the right track and performing very well.
The minister used crafted statistics and honeyed words to show that the country’s economy was performing robustly, contrary to reports that it was actually in shambles.
While we understand and respect the right of the finance minister to defend the government he serves, we would like to strongly advise him that Tanzanians don’t need honeyed words or crafted statistics aimed at defending the state’s image before the public.
If sweets words, promises and crafted statistics were actions, then Tanzania wouldn’t have been the same. But honeyed statements backed with crafted data don’t put bread on the table or end the people’s economic hardships.
The Finance Minister needs to understand that actions speak louder than words and hence Tanzanians expect him to solve their current economic problems. For instance, when the minister pledges to tame inflation, one may rightly want to know how he is going to do it. Or when he says that he will ensure the local currency is stable against major foreign currencies, the question is: how will he? What does he have up his sleeves that others before him were not aware of?
It’s not our intention to question the integrity of the newly appointed Finance minister, but our concern is that being an academician-turned-politician seven years ago, he seemed to be falling into the trap of seeing everything politically at the expense of reality and truth on the ground.
For close to a decade now, Tanzanians have been waiting with baited breath for fulfillment of President Jakaya Kikwete’s electoral promise of a better living for everyone, which was his rallying call in the 2005 campaign. What they expect today is certainly not sweeping political statements or crafted statistics, but workable solutions to the economic woes they face.
Skilled but unemployed Tanzanians, especially the youth, would like to see more jobs created by the economy. The struggling small-scale traders and hundreds others who are in the informal sector and are currently being treated like criminals in their own country would like to see their businesses recognized and formalised.
For these small-scale traders the government is now treating with utter disdain are the ones who voted for the ruling party; so in return they don’t expect to be tear-gassed or shot at, but rather having their businesses formalised and a conducive environment put in place for their smooth operations.
Big investors also want to see the cost of doing business in Tanzania cut down, as well as low interest rates charged on loans by local banks so their businesses can expand and grow. It is only when businesses will flourish that more jobs for the skilled jobless can be created and also produce a broader tax base for the government.
Farmers want to increase yields per acre as well as access the market without undue barriers. What they need is affordable farming inputs and passable roads so they can easily transport their crops to the market.
In a nutshell, Tanzanians don’t need endless lectures about the state of the country’s economy. All they want is to be provided with the means to enable them put bread on the table for themselves and their families, pay school fees for their children, have better homes and better healthcare.