Civil societies, public figures remember Mkapa’s initiatives

27Jul 2020
By Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Civil societies, public figures remember Mkapa’s initiatives

A STRETCH of leading figures including a number of regional commissioners, business leaders and non-governmental organizations have shared fond memories of departed former president Benjamin Mkapa.

They credit him with putting in place strong governance structures, widening civic space and enabling the growth of a vibrant private sector.

Speaking to this paper yesterday on the legacy of the third phase president, Mwanza Regional Commissioner John Mongella said as president, Mkapa came up with policies that encouraged truth and transparency in managing the government as well as the private sector. This helped the country to shift to a free market economy with strong regulatory structures.

He said the departure of Mkapa is a big blow to the country because he was an influence in the quest to strengthen the government administrative machinery, as well as other areas which directly touch ordinary people.

“Mkapa was the one who pushed for the construction of   MV Nyerere which is relied upon by people in Ukerewe Island. He also ensured the island is connected to grid electricity, and initiated water projects in many areas. In fact he did a lot in Mwanza Region towards its development,” he specified.

 He said that each phase of government in the country saw major improvements among the community starting from founder president Mwalimu Nyerere who was a real patriot. “Hence we should pray that keep the spirit and strengthen these foundations initiated by our national leaders including Mkapa.” 

 "It pains me very much whenever I recall that only on February 21 this year we were together with him in our region for about three days. He showed us much respect when he unveiled his book ‘My Life, My Purpose’ in Mwanza as the second location after Dar es Salaam,” the RC noted.

Manyara Regional Commissioner Joseph Mkirikiti said that during his time the late president built up the country’s economy and strengthened government administration.

Mkirikiti was speaking with this paper at the weekend on how he knew Mkapa.

"Our country was strengthened economically and administratively, and in sports, as he was the one who was responsible for the construction of the new National Stadium,” he said.

 He said during his leadership, there were strong political foundations which he strengthened even more.

 He will remember Mkapa fondly because in 1991 he (Mkirikiti) was at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and was president of the Dar es Salaam University Students Union (DUSO) and Mkapa was Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology. He went to talk to him over the issue of students’ loans.

 Mbeya Regional Commissioner Albert Chalamila said the late Mkapa succeeded in beefing up the country’s economy by reforms and mobilizing Tanzanians to work hard.

 He said the late Mkapa was a leader who believed in truth and transparency, thus he was telling Tanzanians plenty about issues that were helping them to recognize their potential and uplift their lives economically.

 “In his book ‘My Life, My Purpose’ the late Mkapa said a lot of things that remain a legacy for us,” RC Chalamila noted.

A section of leaders of the business community described the late president Mkapa as a pioneer in the growth of the private sector as the engine of economic growth.

Paul Koyi, president of the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA), said the late Mkapa opened up the economy by allowing the private sector to invest and flourish in a number of spheres.

Mkapa greatly assisted in establishing the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) in 1998 and the Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) in 2001, with the late president as the first chairman of the council.

“Setting up the business council facilitated close consultation between the government and the private sector on policy, legal matters and improving regulations that impact on businesses and investment in the country. The council promoted participation of the private sector in economic development,” he said.

It was during the third phase government that the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) was established, with internal revenue collection systems harmonized. The move contributed to increased government revenues, he said.

Mkapa played a pivotal role in enforcing harmonised regional trade policies that saw a reduction in non-tariff barriers, sparking an increase in the volumes of intra-regional trade, starting with the introduction of the East Business Council (EABC) in 1997.

“He was the first leader to accept and work to facilitate the idea of Public Private Partnership—PPP,” he asserted.

Board members of the Shinyanga Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (SHUWASA) said the late Mkapa will be remembered for initiating the massive Lake Victoria water project which is now benefiting residents in Lake Zone regions, including Shinyanga.

The project which was implemented from Ihelele village in Misungwi District, Mwanza Region started in 2003 under President Mkapa.

SHUWASA board chairperson Mwamvua Jilumbi expressed these sentiments  over weekend when media personnel visited the project in Mwanza city. The board seeks to ensure that waters from Lake Victoria reaches Shinyanga residents, pursuing an objective laid down by the late Mkapa, that the region gets safe and clean water.

“Our heartfelt condolences go to President John Magufuli and the public at large. We will embrace the good things he did when leading our nation, including implementing   the Lake Victoria Water project which has ensured residents with reliable water services,” she reiterated.

The project started being implemented in 2003, with Shinyanga Region starting to obtain lake water supply in 2009. The project has now been extended to parts of Tabora Region, she elaborated.

The Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA) joined Tanzanians in mourning the departed national leader. TAMWA appreciates Mkapa’s contribution in ensuring the country’s development economically, socially as well as his efforts in enhancing gender equality.

One of the TAMWA founders, Eda Sanga said: “I will remember the late Mkapa for supervising and ensuring the quality of news andk thrust towards gender equality especially in enactment of the Sexual Offences Special Provision Act (SOSPA) of 1998.”

Sanga said President Mkapa accepted all the suggestions presented to him after the Beijing Conference, with most issues being about women empowerment, girl child education and reproductive health.

“He was the Minister for Information, Culture and Sports when TAMWA was established. We also handled him the first copy of the association’s magazine—Sauti ya Siti,” she said. Mkapa was a sensitive person when it comes to human rights, the veteran activist declared.

Another TAMWA founder, Rose Haji Mwalimu said the late Mkapa will be remembered for working to crush the habit of killing older people and for promoting gender rights. “Mkapa did his best in appointing many women in top decision making positions,” she stated.

Leila Sheikh said that the country has lost a champion of gender rights who struggled to end stigma against people living with HIV/Aids, and curbing female genital mutilation. He worked hard to stop the killing of elders suspected of being involved in witchcraft, she added.

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