Mkapa’s legacy on economic performance after 10 years in office

He won the presidency af- ter earning 4,026, 226 votes, which was equivalent to 61.8 per cent of the all votes cast.
Known as a brilliant and largely socialist politician, he none- the less had adopted a pragmatic approach in his efforts
to improve Tanzania’s economy in a decade (1995 to 2005). Mkapa’s two terms in office have brought to Tanzania significant economic progress, although much more needs to be achieved if the nation is to be placed on the same economic footing as some other developing countries. Building on initial plans by his predecessor, Ali Hassan
Mwinyi, Mkapa is credited with executing far-reaching re- forms that assisted transform the East African gold- and gas- rich nation from a socialist state to a free-market economy.
In his inauguration speech, President Mkapa prioritised the economy as the focus of his tenure.
He established an environment for growth, not
(government) undertaking the process of economic growth, but creating the legislative, policy framework which invited investment, production, and trade by a private sector that would be vibrant and therefore bring about growth.
Mkapa’s government restored macroeconomic stability.By 2005, foreign reserves had increased to an equivalent of eight months of im- ports, and revenue collections stood at about $140 million a month, more than triple the amount for 1995-1996.
His administration had achieved macroeconomic fundamentals, which in turn had boosted investor confidence in the country and in the government.
His efforts included sell- ing some state- owned corporations and opening up the country to more foreign investment, policies supported by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
He was an outstanding East African who worked tireless- ly for the integration, peace and progress of the region.
Mkapa’s governance policies led to the establishment of institutions to fight graft, however, dented by accusations of improper takeover of some state assets by officials within his administration.
Mkapa, in the 2002 speech at the Local Investors Round-Table singled “Smart Partnership” to turn out the country into “Tanzania Incorporated”–one people with one business and development goal.
His governance policies helped to attract higher lev-
els of local and foreign in- vestment, which created the competitive production, jobs and incomes that would take the country to higher level.
He had encouraged trade and investment to improve living standards, and pro- vide employment and other
opportunities for self-development.
Mkapa’s government adjust- ed tariff rates, hence effective 1st April 2002, resulting in a significant reduction of the tariff rates for the business sector of about 17 per cent.
To Strengthen Government Expenditure The third government under Mkapa took decisive steps strengthen government expenditure management, included to enhance transparency and accountability, including avoiding forced borrowing from the private sector in the form of accumulation of domestic arrears, to increase allocation of budgetary resources to key social services and infra- structure, and to make taxation system investor-friendly. He is credited with boosting tax collections, instituting austerity measures to curb wasteful expenditure and opening doors to foreign investors. With sound finance management and concerted efforts to collect government
revenues, the East African country’s economy started to picking up, with revenue collections for the 2005/06 fiscal year reaching Tsh2.125 trillion.
His reforms were welcomed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and partly resulted in the cancellation of Tanzania’s foreign debts.
His privatisation policy was however much criticised locally, and he later admitted that al- though he had good intentions the policy was not well executed.
Mkapa said he was leaving office a happy man, hav- ing built all-weather roads in many parts of the country. If his policies in this domain are maintained after his departure, chances are good that the country’s regional centres and districts will be linked with first-class roads by 2009.
Mkapa has also been successful in liberalising the tele- communications sector. The cellular phone sector has grown exponentially, far outstripping the few existing landline phone connections. Tanzania is now one of Africa’s fastest grow- ing cellular phone markets.
In June, 2005, at least 2.5 million Tanzanian subscribers had signed up for mobile telephones. More cellular phone companies are expected to enter the marketplace,
despite cutthroat competition. By the end of the President Mkapa’s term in office, the country had sufficient foreign exchange reserves to cover 5.3 months of the im- ports cover whilst inflation had dropped to single digit.
Education
Although there were some shortcomings in education, the Primary Education Development Programme had brought more school-aged children into the classroom.
Despite the shortage of classrooms, desks and teachers, primary education was almost universally accessible in Tanzania, especially after the abolition of school fees in government-owned facilities.
The government also allows individuals, NGOs and religious institutions to establish schools at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Such schools are mushrooming, and the trend suggests that within two decades Tanzanians could have one or two universities in each of its 26 mainland regions.
International relations
Regionally and internationally, Mkapa’s administration has been vocal in its advocacy on matters relating to international justice and equity, particularly on the adverse effects of globalisation and unfair terms of trade.
During his tenure, Mkapa was co-chair of the International Commission on Social Impacts of Globalisation, formed by the UN International La- bour Organization. He was also a member of the Commission for Africa formed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Closer to home, Mpaka’s Tanzania vigorously pursued peace initiatives in neighbouring Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda where, in addition to hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees, it contributed significantly to the restoration of peace through mediation.
Tanzania was key in bringing to the negotiating table the for- mer main Hutu rebel group, the Conseil national pour la defence de la democratie-Forces pour la défense de la democratie, with the then transition gov- ernment under Pierre Buyoya and later Domitien Ndayizeye.
Burundi now looks to be on a steady path to peace following recent elections, and there are some encouraging developments in the war-torn Congo, where polls are due in 2006.
Last November he unveiled his autobiography titled My Life, My Purpose and stated in the book that the tragic killing of 22 protesters by police in 2001 in Pemba Island “will always be a black spot on my presidency”.