Premier’s purchase of Vodacom shares a small step towards reconcilia

07May 2017
Editor
Guardian On Sunday
Premier’s purchase of Vodacom shares a small step towards reconcilia

PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has hit headlines with an investment of Sh20 million in the Vodacom (T) PLC initial public offer (IPO) named as belonging to himself and his wife, an eye opener in emerging new times in the country’s investment scenario.

This is the first instance known to the public of top officials buying shares in foreign companies, whereas earlier during the privatization of leading parastatal organizations like Tanzania Breweries Ltd (TBL) and, less noticeably, the
Tanzania Cigarette Company (TCC) a breadth of public officials must have bought shares. Still there was scant public identification with the firms, except with TBL.

Despite that the premier’s investment in Vodacom shares is a drop in the ocean for what is being put to the public and in voting abilities, etc, it is far more significant than its monetary or voting worth indicates.

That investment is now an aspect of the premier’s future expectations, of the sort of heritage that will be available to the family, part of what his children, some being adult already at present, will be taught or be brought to cherish.

It is a new beginning from the sort of education most of our college youths are used to hear, foreign companies as enemy territory.

How far this initiative has a bearing to changing wider public attitudes towards foreign companies is an ongoing psychological safari in the country’s economic outlook, with the fifth phase changing some of the habits of the third and fourth phase governments.

Surprisingly, while this phase is radically set against big moneyed interests in the private sector and their acolytes in high places in government ministries and regulatory organizations, it is also one in which the relationship between top government officials and business are beginning to be cleaned and rationalized.

Offering bribes to facilitate tax evasion ends; shares sell. There is something in the current changes towards interlocking interests of top level government officials with key investment firms in various sectors that reminds one of a slogan by third phase president Benjamin Mkapa, of ‘truth and transparency.’

The truth part is that each of us wishes to bring up significant investments while still in productive phase of life, for family and future stability of incomes and education ‘up to the third and fourth generations,’ to get out of poverty.

This is a permanent quest for each of us, and when conditions are not appropriate to make positive and legal investments, bribes facilitate this objective. Society blames individuals and vow to institute discipline, but it routinely fails.

Ironically, the current government has the most solid political alliances composing both the party secretariat and top level government officials from among the followers of both the fraternity around the Nyerere legacy, as well as close associates of ex-premier Joseph Warioba.

The latter was identified with the major anti-corruption report of 1996 from which later initiatives against bribes were founded, and floundered, up to the changes late 2015.

Changing that campaign to pursue clean investments and improving conditions for doing business is the right thing to do, where the president’s concord with top businessmen was a good start.

Current top government officials including premier Majaliwa ought\ to at least admit that the only blend of socialism and equity concern that has succeeded in moving the country forward is one that also cultivates business to be entrenched among local people, and especially with public officials.

When they are assured of their future they will protect their jobs by honest transactions with one and all, but if they have to eke out a future by fail and foul means, they will offer and receive bribes, depending on everyone’s specific location.

In that sense the premier’s IPO participation is a salutary change of attitude that ought to pave the way for a shift in policy outlooks, not to fleece major companies for public revenues. The society isn’t sufficiently united on public revenues as the country’s future but own savings.

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