PRESIDENT MKAPA – AN AUSPICIOUS START

President Mkapa has made an auspicious start to his Presidency. Almost everyone is now aware, because of the many actions that he is taking, that there is a new administration in Tanzania. People are said to be working again. Newspaper readers have been seeing headlines such as ‘President-Premier Appear Like a Tough Double Act’, ‘Foundation Has Been Set’, ‘A Sure Touch in Tanzanian Foreign Policy’, ‘A Fair Start’. But not all is well. The state of the economy is still very gloomy and there is a crisis in Zanzibar.

Parliament on the mainland under the new multi-party system has got off to a good start. Members of the government and opposition parties attended an instructional seminar together and, at the first brief session of Parliament members of all parties were appointed to parliamentary committees. Speaker Pius Msekwa has favoured opposition MP’s in time allocations for speeches which has contributed to a state of harmony. In Zanzibar, by contrast, the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) boycotted the Assembly and refused absolutely to recognise the Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s (CCM) Dr. Salmin Amour as President.

President Mkapa’s appointment of a new and ‘clean’ group of Ministers to his cabinet (TA No. 53) proved very popular but must have upset many of ‘the old school’ in his CCM party who now have much less influence as they sit ‘on the back benches’ of Parliament.

President Mkapa’s modesty has also been widely welcomed. He has indicated that he does not want to be addressed as Mtukufu or ‘Revered Person’, does not want his photograph on currency banknotes and does not wish to be on the front page of newspapers when all he has done is to send greetings to other Heads of State.

CORRUPTION

The President knows however that the success of his presidency will be determined by the way he tackles corruption and the economy.

As part of the new policy of transparency, following the publication of a list of his assets by President Mkapa (TA No. 53) Vice-President Dr. Omar Ali Juma has declared his. They comprise a four-roomed house in Mpendae which he started building in 1978 and part of another family house in Pemba. He was in the process, he said, with his wife, of building a house at Kiembe Samaki; he has an undeveloped plot at Mazizini given him to him by the Zanzibar Government, a six-hectare farm and Shs 3 million in banks. Other leaders are declaring their assets but these have not yet been published.

On January 17 the President appointed a nine-man Task Force under the Chairmanship of former Prime Minister Joseph Warioba to look into the whole area of the law, rules and regulations, and the government’s and the public sector’s working systems in order to better fight corruption. The team was instructed to report back to the President within nine months. Critics of this move have pointed out however that some members of the team have questionable qualifications, that no members of the opposition were included and that setting up a committee is not the way to tackle corruption.

The long-standing deportation order against controversial businessman V G Chavda (the case about which former Deputy Prime Minister Augustine Mrema left the government) was finally carried out in January 1996 and Mr Chavda left the country. He was alleged to have been the principal culprit in the misuse of $3.22 million of Debt Conversion Funds. So much determination is being shown in revenue collection after the 1995 scandal (TA No. 52) that many businessmen are complaining of undue harassment by tax inspectors. Transport operators have been reminded that they must not issue travelling tickets to Tanzanians if they are not in possession of a tax clearance certificate.

There are signs of renewed devotion to duty by customs officers after ten were compulsorily retired. Strict monitoring of transit cargoes is making it more difficult for owners to evade customs duties. During a recent tax compliance exercise 16 trucks and 50 taxis were seized. Checkpoints have been reinforced to stop the unloading in Tanzania of goods destined for elsewhere.

A revamp of the much-criticised Investment Promotion Centre is under study by a newly appointed 12-person team. Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye gave big debtors of the National Bank of Commerce, who owe the bank some Shs 184 billion and have brought it to the edge of bankruptcy, one month to reconcile their accounts and agree on terms for the settling of debts.

In a situation in which 98% of Tanzania’s gemstones are reported as being smuggled out of the country the government suspended gemstone mining in certain areas and banned charter planes from landing near the mining fields so as to give it time to complete new procedures for gemstone sales.

BIG CHANGES AT THE TOP

There area also indications of a much tougher line on public appointments than Tanzania is accustomed to. On January 8 it was announced that the Chairman of the Tanzanian Licensing Authority (TLA) Mr Juma Mkama had been relieved of his post and seven other TLA officials had been transferred to other departments.

On March 13 President Mkapa took his boldest step yet when he ordered the reconstitution of 19 Boards of Directors of state-owned financial houses, corporations, agencies and authorities and said that he wanted to streamline their operations and enhance their efficiency. And on March 26 he announced that he had revoked the appointments of the Chief Executives of the Pyrethrum and Tobacco Boards and the Tea Authority also.

On April 1 the Minister of Finance appointed new commissioners to head the three main taxation departments in the Ministry – Income Tax, Customs and Excise and Sales Tax and Internal Revenue University Professors have been appointed to chair the National Bank of Commerce (Prof. Haidari Amani, an economist) and the National’ Insurance Corporation (Prof. Josephat Kanywanyi, a Lawyer).

The Daily News reported on March 18 that the Director General of the Capital Development Authority had been suspended.

THE ECONOMY

On the economy, a major step forward was the announcement on March 19 by the IMF that it had reached agreement with Tanzania on an economic monitoring programme. This would determine if Tanzania’s performance warranted the release shortly of Structural Adjustment Funds of $200 million which were frozen last year following revelations about extensive tax evasion.

In anticipation of this, foreign aid has begun to flow again. Sweden has granted $7.7 million to help Tanzania pay part of its debt to the World Bank. Tanzania’s total external debt is $6,800 million. Norway announced in January that it would release 50% of $7.2 million balance of payments support allocated for 1995. The remaining 50% would be released after the implementation of sound budgetary practices. Japan has made a grant of $19.6 million for import support and road maintenance and Britain has granted £4.25 million for balance of payments support.

FOREIGN POLICY SUCCESS

President Mkapa has been widely praised for his success in bringing together the previously quarrelling Presidents of Kenya and Uganda and thus enabling the new East African Secretariat to be officially launched at a big ceremony in Arusha on March 14. Observers noted however that there were many less Tanzanian businessmen at the celebrations than those from Kenya and Uganda. The latter clearly expect to benefit from any trade liberalisation which might follow from this new spirit of East African Unity.

THE STATE OF THE OPPOSITION

The four-party opposition in the Union Parliament (TA No. 53) has entered into the spirit of multi-partyism and achieved some success in causing the government to make changes in its January 1996 mini-budget; it has also strongly attacked the National Intelligence and Security Agency for ‘operating illegally and harassing people’.

At the beginning of Parliament’s first session it faced a problem because of its composition. According to the rules, for an opposition to be recognised as such it has to have at least 30 MP’s. The main opposition NCCR-Mageuzi had only 19 and was put out when the 28 CUF MP’s, all from Zanzibar, joined with the four UDP members from the mainland and established a shadow cabinet under the leadership of CUF’s Mrs Fatma Maghimbi. There is logic in the new opposition alignment however because the CUF and UDP would be regarded in Western terms as ‘right of centre’ whereas the NCCR is clearly on the ‘left’. The ruling CCM party is vague in defining its new political ideology but the word ‘socialism’ is rarely heard nowadays.

Meanwhile the opposition NCCR-Mageuzi, CHADEMA, TADEA and TLP parties are all facing internal tensions connected with leadership disputes or the use or misuse of funds provided by the government for election expenses. Ubungo (Dar es Salaam) NCCR-Mageuzi MP Dr. Masumbuko Lamwai and NCCR Executive member Prince Bagenda are said to be preoccupied with the choice of party presidential candidate for the year 2000 while NCCR Leader Augustine Mrema is trying to persuade the party to concentrate on more important issues.

ANALYSIS OF THE ELECTION RESULTS

A detailed analysis of the Parliamentary election results by Geir Sundet (in a 53-page paper obtainable from the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights, Greensen 18, 0159 Oslo) reveals that the failure of the opposition parties to come to a pre-election agreement probably cost them 18 seats where CCM obtained less than 50% of the vote. He shows how much the ‘first past the post ‘electoral system favoured the larger CCM party and indicates how disproportionate was the number of MP’s from Zanzibar who were elected to the Union Parliament:

Party No of elected seats in Parlament (elected + women) Total number elected seats Share of seats Share of votes Seats per % of vote
CCM 186+27+1+5* 219 79.9% 59.2% 3.7
NCCR-M 16+3 19 6.9% 21.8% 0.9
CUF 24+4 28 10.2% 5.0% 5.6
CHADEMA 3+1 4 1.5% 6.2% 0.6
UDP 3+1 4 1.5% 3.3% 1.2
Others 0 0 0 4.5% 0
Total 232+36+1+5* 274 100% 100% 2.7

* Includes Attorney General and five Zanzibar House of Representatives members.

Revised final voting figures for the 1995 presidential election are:

Benjamin Mkapa CCM 4,026,422 votes 61.8%
Augustine Mrema NCCR-Mageuzi 1,808,681 votes 27.8%
Ibrahim Lipumba CUF 418,973 votes 6.4%
John Cheyo UDP 258,734 votes 4.0%

Some 134 petitions to courts against the election results, which threaten the position of several cabinet ministers, had been whittled down to 66 by early April after the dismissal of the first three cases with costs.

As this issue of ‘Tanzanian Affairs’ went to press, election petition cases had started against Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism Dr. Juma Ngasongwa, Ukonga (Dar es Salaam) CCM MP Paul Rupia and Temeke (Dar es Salaam) CCM MP Ally Kihiyo.

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