Tanzania: President Samia Heralds the Beginning of a New Era

Dar es Salaam — President Samia Suluhu Hassan yesterday signaled a new direction for Tanzania when she detailed issues that are expected to define her leadership style.

From the predictability of investment decisions to the country’s position on Covid-19 and from press freedom to the management of natural resources, President Hassan pointed at a leadership style that is radically different from her predecessor’s.

Speaking during the swearing-in of permanent secretaries, their deputies and heads of some government institutions at Dar es Salaam State House, President Hassan said the Regional Administration and Local Government (PO- RALG) docket must work with the Tanzania Rural and Urban Roads Agency (Tarura) in rehabilitating roads.

“In places where Tarura does not have enough funds but where the municipal, district or town council has adequate money, it (the money) should be spent on road rehabilitation, and when money is obtained from the Treasury, it will be spent on other projects,” she said.

She said she will soon come up with a new line-up for regional commissioners, district commissioners and DEDs to complete the governance system.

“I know PO-RALG is also about regional commission- ers, district commissioners and DEDs. That will be done soon so that we complete the line-up, and get the job done,” she said. As for the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), President Hassan said she had started by reducing the number of pe manent secretaries from three to only one. That, she added, was a deliberate move to pre- vent them from scrambling for the money that is in Parliament’s vote for the government budget.

“I decided to appoint a single permanent secretary, thus ensuring that the office has only one accounting officer,” she said. President Hassan added that those handling work permits at the PMO had become “demigods”, and warned them against embracing corruption and frustrating investors by forcing them to hire Tanzanians in posts that expatriates were ideal.

She noted that officials responsible for issuing work permits had turned their jobs into personal projects so much so that when investors seek the documents, they are most likely to cough up to $10,000 (Sh23 million).

“… This is an investment, and he can only hire someone he trusts… What if you do not have someone with the required skills?….We want investors to be happy with our investment climate,” she said. President Hassan said companies have been packing up and leaving the country.

“When they leave, jobs get lost, and we have all heard Tanzanians complaining that their pockets are empty,” she said. On investment, she said it was unfortunate that for the past 20 years, the country has been singing the song of setting up a one-stop- centre for investors, saying that has, however, yet to come to fruition.

“But let me tell you that investors have been complaining about bureaucratic tendencies in Tanzania. They say that no one makes prompt decisions in our government,” she said.

She directed the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Investment), Mr Geoffrey Mwambe, and his Indus- try and Trade counterpart, Dr Kitila Mkumbo, to sit down and find a lasting solution to the bureaucracy that was frustrating investors. On taxation, President Hassan said it was disheartening that VAT refunds were not being made as required.

“We should reach a point where investors coming to Tanzania know exactly where to pay taxes and secure work permits, but all they know about us is that we are unpredictable,” she said.

She said as soon as she had issued a statement on tax, a number of investors had called one of aides, saying they were ready to come and invest in Tanzania so long as they are assured of the safety of their investments.

Citing the example of an investors who had been in Tanzania for a long time, President Hassan said he (the investor) had at one point found himself in the bad books of tax collectors.

The investor, she said, tried to reason with them (tax collectors) but to no avail. “The issue reached my

office when I was Vice President. I called someone from the Finance Department and informed them to sit with him and iron out their differences so that the job can proceed… However, what followed was contrary to what I had expect- ed. I suspect he (the investor) was threatened with economic sabotage cases so he flew out without paying and the problem remained unresolved,” she said.

She added that Tanzania needed investors just as the latter also needed the country.

“We must work towards regaining the confidence of investors so that they can come to Tanzania,” said President Hassan. President Hassan said the former head of state, left Tanzania with some projects to complete.

“They say God will punish those who do not make good use of what they have inherited. We must implement these priority projects,” she said.

Any delay in the disbursement of funds needed to implement the projects will not be entertained.

The government will not tolerate the tendency of some officials to sit on project funds, causing them to be returned to where they had been sourced.