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‘A certain president Magufuli’ – Part III

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The focus of my articles has been to highlight African leaders who in diverse ways are making a visible positive difference in their countries, by being efficient and firm, cutting down wasteful spending and bringing about desirable transformation. Power, it is said, lies in the hands of the electorates……being the masses, the average citizen with the power to vote! Thus during electoral campaigns, the relatively ‘fewer politicians’ go round campaigning and do all manner of ‘wonders’ to convince electorates to vote them into power.

Usually, the understanding is that the politician is very much abreast with the needs of the electorates, and so by voting them into power; the electorates are assured that their interests will be served. However by some means, once some of these politicians are voted into power, the power now falls into the hands of the elected politicians! And they take decisions ‘on our behalf ’, some of which are very much mind boggling! At a point, selfishness, greed, complacency, arrogance, pride and the corrupt tendencies that come with having power, come to take over.

By some interesting means, some politicians now become so powerful at a point that they fail to identify with the ‘grassroots’, the very electorates who voted them into power! They become inaccessible, untouchable, almost like demigods!

As human as the average politician is, I believe they tend to think of their own welfare and their immediate families first (very much) before considering the interest of the electorates (that is, if we are even lucky to feature on their list in the first place). I guess that is why the average politician will be more interested in projects that will guarantee some ‘kick-backs’, even if it may be of little value to the nation as a whole.

Some waste the taxpayer’s money in unimaginable ways. If only our leaders will manage the economy and public purse like it is their personal business and personal purse respectively, maybe….just maybe, our fate will be different.

…But I believe it is not the case that all politicians or leaders fall into this ‘power abuse trap’. There genuinely are some out there who are leading their countries with a different heart, mind and attitude. It is evident that we do not lack good leaders, but rather the issue is with the ability of such good leaders to live up to expectations. I have praised Presidents John Magufuli of Tanzania and Paul Kagame of Rwanda in my previous articles. It challenges me to look further across the continent to identify other leaders who are challenging the status quo and doing things differently.

But, even before I set off, thoughts of the likes of Yahya Jammeh of Gambia, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo comes rushing to mind to kill the enthusiasm and hope. All three of them are by some means trying to hold on to power without true merrit.

• Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh has refused to step down despite losing the December 1 election to Adama Barrow. There was wild jubilation in Gambia because at long last, their 22 years of strife and persecution had come to an end. Interestingly, Yahya Jammeh initially conceded defeat; only to denounce it a week later and demand a new vote!

• Just in case you didn’t know, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe at a ripe age of 92 years will stand to be elected as president again in the country’s 2018 election after his ruling ZANU-PF party endorsed him at their annual conference.

• In Congo, Joseph Kabila was to step down in 2016 as required by the constitution. However, he has extended the election to April 2018, to allow him to remain in power and eventually change the constitution to allow him to legally compete for another term in office! Just to recap briefly…

President John Magufuli of Tanzania, since taking office in November 2015, has intensively cracked down on government wastage, inefficiency and corruption; and is ultimately driving an exciting transformation in Tanzania. Just this New Year of 2017, President Magufuli has fired the Head of Tanzania’s electricity company for raising tariffs by 8.53 percent! The company did this in an attempt to stem losses but the president believes the tariff hike would hinder his plans to industrialize the country. In any case, why glorify inefficiency with the ability to raise tariffs?

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda is also celebrated internationally for his efficiency and effectiveness in steering Rwanda’s impressive economic growth, since taking office in 2000. Many regard him as one of the 20th century’s most effective military leaders.

Here in Ghana, Nana Akuffo Addo of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) won the December 7, 2016 elections with a 53.85 percent majority vote. The NPP during its campaign consistently spoke out against the incessant acts of corruption and incompetence on the part of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government. Many Ghanaians are keenly observing to see if the NPP’s campaign promises (for which the average Ghanaian voted them into power) can be brought to fruition.

I am also keenly observing to see if the NPP government will take bold strides to match their words with actions and strive to weed out corruption, incompetence and wasteful spending from the system. The new president needs to be firm and able to exert his influence to get these done. People must be held accountable irrespective of their political affiliations, but especially among his NPP party members! Ghana badly needs a visionary and transformational, disciplined and firm leader at the helm of affairs.

If for nothing, we now know that it can be done, thanks to President Magufuli of Tanzania! Can a Ghanaian president strive to do anything similar to what he has done so far, even if it displeases his party members? A few unsolicited suggestions to the New President …

• Can we scrap our 6th March independence Day celebrations? I am in pains to identify what impact or benefits have been gained from these celebrations over the years.

• Can the ruling government cut down on the frightening levels of importation and use of the fuel-guzzling vehicles (especially the Toyota Land Cruiser V8’s) as the official government vehicle all at the taxpayer’s expense, while the average taxpayer can barely make ends meet?

• Can we as a nation embark on some serious cost-cutting measures, especially those on extravagant and frivolous activities; and rather use the monies saved for more beneficial purposes such as equipping our healthcare facilities with the best equipments and medications, equipping our schools with the needed equipments, text books and other study materials, etc?

• Can we, as a country, begin some serious work against our habitual Ghana-ManTime lateness? Can we see this discipline start at the very top to effectively trickle down to the masses at the bottom?

• Many more suggestions lingering on my mind…..thanks to the exploits of President Magufuli which makes very good sense.

President John Magufuli’s leadership is an indication that all is not lost. Are our African leaders paying attention and learning anything from him? In 2017 and beyond, we hope to celebrate more transformational and exemplary leaders who are a beacon of hope for the African continent as a whole.

 

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Tanzania

Tanzania Economy to decline to 6.6% in 2019

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Tanzania’s economy remains buoyant, thanks to the stability of major macroeconomic indicators, according to a Bank of Tanzania report. Inflation remained in single digits, while money supply in the economy rose during the year ending May 2019, the BoT says in its Monthly Economic Review (MER) for June 2019. Another notable development during the period was the rise in the importation of capital goods for ongoing mega infrastructure projects.

This is in line with President John Magufuli’s endeavor to build world-class infrastructure, which is expected to greatly reduce the cost of doing business in the country. The projects include the 2,100-megawatt Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectricity station and standard gauge railway. With the government embarking on various measures to improve liquidity in the economy, the cost of borrowing also went down, BoT figures show, while food prices were generally stable.

These positives outweighed the impact of a fall in exports of goods and services, as well as shrinking foreign exchanging reserves and increased national debt, among others. The review shows that the annual inflation rate remained at 3.5 per cent, which was below the targeted five per cent, and this helped to maintain the stability of prices of goods and services.

Tanzania is also currently food sufficient, although increased demand for maize in neighboring countries is putting pressure on prices of the commodity in the domestic market. According to the review, the extended broad money supply growth jumped to 5.8 per cent in May this year from 4.8 per cent recorded during the year ended in May 2018.

The improvement of broad money supply was a result of the growth of domestic credit to both the government and private sector. The recovery of the domestic credit market indicates increased lending to the private sector. The BoT review shows that credit to the private sector grew by nine per cent from 2.9 per cent, indicating borrowers’ increased confidence in the banking industry.

This was experienced as individual banks were lowering their interest rates as part of implementing an accommodative monetary policy by the BoT. The review shows that the average interest rate dropped to 17.17 per cent from 17.53 per cent, thus stimulating borrowers’ appetite. A decreased was also recorded in gross official reserves, which amounted to $4.3billion, covering about 4.2 months of projected imports of goods and services.

However, this was above the country’s benchmark of not less than 4.0 months, but below the East African Community’s 4.5 months. Another indicator which fell slightly during the period under review was exports of goods and services, which dropped to $8, 514.4 million from $8, 578.7 million.

Exports of traditional crops declined to $533.9 million from $1,140.3 million, manifested in all traditional crops, except coffee and cotton. However, non-traditional goods exports, which account for 78.9 per cent of goods exports, increased to $3, 499.2 million from $3, 142.7 million, largely driven by gold exports.

The value of gold– which accounted for 38.6 per cent and 48.9 per cent of total goods and non-traditional exports, respectively – grew by 15.4 per cent to $1, 716.7 million on account of increased volume. Domestic revenue realized by the government in May 2019 amounted to Sh1.28 trillion from Sh1.30 trillion. Out of the collections, Sh1.2 trillion was collected by the central government and Sh50.4 billion was local government authorities’ collections from own sources. Tax collections amounted to Sh1.1 trillion, accounting for 87.4 per cent of domestic revenue.

In May 2019, expenditure amounted to Sh1.8 trillion, of which recurrent expenditure was Sh1.06 trillion and development expenditure was Sh741.7 billion. The level of external debt stock, comprising public and private sector debt, amounted to $21.6 billion, having increased by $1.07 billion from May 2018. The increase was mainly on account of new disbursement, with recent sustainability reports indicating that Tanzania’s debt is still stable.

Tanzania’s economic growth slowed to 6.6% year on year in the first quarter of 2019 from 7.5% in the same period a year earlier, official data shows, weighed down by softer construction, agriculture and manufacturing activity.

A leaked report from the IMF said earlier in 2019 that Tanzania’s economy has not been expanding as fast as official figures suggest. It said lower growth was partly due to President John Magufuli’s “unpredictable and interventionist” policies.

In the first quarter, construction, the biggest driver of GDP, grew 13.2%, compared with 15.6% a year ago, the state-run national bureau of statistics said.

However, growth in the mining sector, which has been the target of repeated government interventions, rebounded to 10.0% from a 5.7% decline during the same period in 2018. Tanzania is Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer.

“The growth of the mining sector was mainly due to an increase in production of gold, coal and diamonds,” said the bureau.

Magufuli embarked on an ambitious programme of industrialisation after coming to power in late 2015, investing billions of dollars in infrastructure, including a new rail line and a major hydropower plant and reviving the national airline.

But critics say government intervention in mining and agriculture have discouraged investment. Foreign direct investment has slumped and private sector lending growth dropped below 4% in 2018, from an average of 20% from 2013-2016.

Agriculture, which accounts for about a third of economic activity, also slowed in the first quarter of 2019, with crop production growing 6.0% compared to 8.9% in the same period in 2018, the statistics bureau said.

In 2018 the government sent the military to seize the cashew harvest, the main export crop, after complaints by farmers that prices offered by brokers were too low. Manufacturing, another key GDP contributor, grew 4.8% in the first quarter compared with 5.3% a year earlier.

Tanzania’s economy grew 7% in 2018, according to the government, which has forecast 7.1% growth in 2019. Earlier in July, however, the World Bank released its own estimates that said Tanzania’s economy grew 5.2% in 2018.

Following the World Bank report, Tanzania said it might revise its 2018 GDP growth rate after meetings in August. In April, a leaked report from the IMF predicted lower growth of about 4%-5% in the “medium term”. The IMF report said there were serious weaknesses in Tanzania’s official data.

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