Dear Mr. President,
Greetings Your Excellency!
It is with great honor and humbleness that I am writing this letter to you. Thank you for reading it.
Thank you for the work that you are doing for our beloved country, Tanzania. It is with great sacrifice that you have wholeheartedly given yourself to help Tanzanians move towards a better place. May God bless you. We are praying for you. You have our moral support and we continue, on a daily basis, to wish you all the best in performing the tasks that you were sworn to do for the country.
Your often said statement – “Sitawaangusha Watanzania” – is our impetus that continuously renew our desire to rally behind the new attitude of “Hapa Kazi Tu” in a country where work ethics had been undermined as a virtue for sustainable development.
Mr. President, since the beginning of your administration, we have seen significant strides towards a better Tanzania. These are both tangible and non-tangible improvements that will change Tanzania in a direction that will improve every citizen’s life. The non-tangible improvements include:
Reviving of work ethics and discipline. These had deteriorated to staggering levels of shame in our civil service, informal sector, and even in the private sector. The strictness and seriousness that you have enforced back to the civil service has been contagious and is automatically trickling down to the private sector and informal spaces where the majority of Tanzanians operate their business.
Instilling discipline in society is a noble task. The Holy Bible, in Hebrews 12:13, says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” In this light, what you are doing is of utmost important, however painful it may be to some of us.
The fruits of your work on this particular front will be righteousness and peace in Tanzania. As we have seen in the recent past, our peace has been threatened by strange incidents and shameful odor of tribalism and religion. Upon reflection, it is not difficult to discern that such threats were partly a manifestation of moral decay and rampant corruption that reached to levels that could only find an evil space to hide under.
Thus, bringing back discipline is one of the most sustainable ways to maintain peace in Tanzania. Thank you for realizing that which will continue protecting peace.
In your administration, Mr. President, you have brought back a sense of dignity to the majority of Tanzanians whose pride had been weakened by increased inequality. The economic growth of 7% that we enjoyed for more than a decade did not trickle down to a normal mlalahoi in the street. The uneven growth that created inequality in a country became a threat to one of our historical national virtue – equality.
Worse enough, the emerged inequality was not only economic but also social hence it brought a sharp sense of broken esteem to the majority of Tanzanians. Most Tanzanians felt disrespected and poor amidst the great wealth reported in the extractive industry, particularly in mining, and the prospective gains from the enormous natural gas discovered. We witnessed the disheartening and unprecedented Mtwara Riots in 2013, a manifestation of “feelings” of being discriminated. This is what most Tanzanians who are poor felt.
Now, that you are overtly fighting corruption as you keep assuring improved life for every citizen, you are bringing back a sense of purpose. This positive feeling is a prerequisite for development.
The tangible improvements are enormous but in this letter, I will only mention a few since every Tanzanians can testify to.
Mr. President, your boldness to fight corruption is commendable. In your administration, one of the most visible and tangible agenda has been the war against corruption. From the beginning you have countered corrupt officials and those who have misused public funds. This frontal attack was necessary to put corruption and its friends in panic and to understand that there is no space for them anymore in Tanzania. This has introduced positive fear in the country. Our civil servants, businessmen/women, companies, and the public at large, are getting scared of corrupt conduct.
Mr. President, the improved state revenue collection and the discipline to pay tax is another major stride your administration has made. In July 2016, for example, it was reported that TRA had surpassed the revenue collection target by 0.04% in the just ended financial year. That followed the news in December 2015 when the collection recorded 1.4 trillion, which was higher than the targeted 1 trillion a month.
Although critics said this was from a backload, what really matters at this juncture is the collected amount that is used for public social services. Moreover, the above 1 trillion a month target has been maintained.
Paying tax is a duty for each responsible citizen. It is part of being a citizen. A sustainable developed country is that which its citizens pay tax. Through paying tax citizens own their country and its development agenda.
Mr. President, one of other impressive progress are the plans underway to improve infrastructure with particular reference to the Central Railway. This is a crucial feature for realizing the development of our country across its large landmass. Without an effective railway system we cannot achieve development throughout the entire country.
It is with this fact that we appreciate the progress that your administration is making in ensuring that the railway system work and connects Tanzanians from North to South, and East to West.
In connection to the above, Mr. President, we continue to be grateful to the sound policies you have set particularly in industrialization. With the ongoing plans and restructuring, we are confident that the country will realize these plans in the nearest future. Industrialization will open up employment opportunities to a significant number of Tanzanians and will also have multiple impacts on the agricultural sector that is still the backbone of our economy. Thank you for your boldness in pushing this agenda anew.
Finally, Mr. President, we want to note our appreciation of bringing discipline to the ruling party-CCM. Even in the multiparty system, it is still the most prominent socio-political institution in the country that brings together the majority of Tanzanians in one way or another. Citizens look up to it for direction. The tarnished image of CCM, that your nomination – by and large – cleared it, needed the bulldozer whip, which has evidently revived the party and rejuvenated its ability to continue under your leadership towards prosperity and maintenance of peace, which Tanzanians are renown worldwide for.
Mr. President, I will be dreary, if I end my letter without giving suggestions on areas where your administration can still improve. This is with the fact that we (all Tanzanians) have a duty to work with you and assist in ensuring development goals are reached. This assistance can start with suggestions from citizens. These are my suggestions that I believe will further help your good work.
Mr. President, the first suggestion is to improve the business environment in the country. This includes the need to identify and put in place a tax system that will not squeeze business but that which will make them responsible yet give them incentives to operate profitably in Tanzania.
TRA and Local Government Authorities (LGAs) need to harmonize their tax and other fees so that businesses can understand their duties in a simple and clear way that would empower them to compete with regional and international competitors.
In relations to the above, Mr. President, there is a need to revisit the Value Added Tax (VAT) policies and laws. VAT on certain industries, in particular insurance, will be harmful in a long term more than beneficial even if the government is collecting more. For now VAT in insurance service is not an appropriate policy for. This is because, in Tanzania the insurance penetration rate is still very low, only at 0.7%. There is a need to sensitize the public further so it can understand the need for insurance as integral to development. Having VAT on insurance further discourages the public to buy insurance, hence conducting their businesses and life without proper risk mitigation plans.
Mr. President, the need to further improve education and learning outcomes cannot be overemphasized. As we are planning to open up industries, we need learned Tanzanians with relevant skills. The skills needed are both cognitive (literacy and numeracy) and transferable/soft skills.
Evidence has shown that our past education system has not been producing students with adequate learning outcomes and skills. There is a big problem. Your effort for every child to enroll in primary school through free education and mobilization for providing adequate desks is a necessary first-step, but not sufficient to ensure effective learning.
There is a need to increase resources to school. For example, input such as provision of adequate school meals can improve the quality education, and most of the farm produce, which farmers see destroyed due to lack of transportation, could bridge this gap.
We have a significant percentage of our children population stunted. This proves that hunger at home and school is a reality and a wound in our beautiful Tanzania. In this light, Mr. President, I ask you to further look into education and put more resources.
Mr. President, there is a need to regulate and assist the huge informal sector that contribute significantly to the country’s economy. This should be done in ways that will not discourage and kill the small businesses that are a characteristic of the informal sector. With an improved business environment the large numbers of tax complying informal operators would be a bumper harvest for TRA.
Methods can be through a social security system that covers all small businesswomen and businessmen. The introduction of affordable insurance policies can provide covers for the type of risks small entrepreneurs face in Tanzania.
Mr. President, I am humbly ending by asking you to revive the constitutional review process so we can finish what we started 5 years ago. A new constitution will resolve issues that are emerging in the country that have the potential to distract your attention from our development agenda to other unnecessary political issues.
The last government promised Tanzanians a new constitution, which citizens participated but thereafter stalled in limbo. During the finalization of the constitution process, it would be possible to extend the hand for peace as the speaker of Bunge recently demonstrated. A dialogue with the opposition is necessary to avoid the tension that appears to manifest. We are all a United Republic of Tanzanian family and at the end of the day we can all sit around the table and deal effectively with sibling rivalry.
Mr. President, thank you again for reading my letter. Continue building our nation from strength to strength as this is your call from the Almighty.
Aikande Kwayu .