The new Minister for Trade and Industry Hon Innocent Bashungwa is, at 40, a young man.
Here is an open letter to you Hon Bashungwa.
When you spoke at Ikulu after your swearing in, I was impressed by your clarity of mind. I was sincerely touched that you did not see the appointment as an opportunity to grovel at the appointing authority but more like a call to serve.
The first target you set for yourself was a mind-set change challenge for bureaucrats in the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Let me tell you for free, you have taken on an ogre that will fight back in manners you have never known.
It is a huge challenge because, mark my words, all the problems that the Tanzania has to do with reaching the lofty national development goals have everything to do with the mind-sets of Tanzanians.
When I say this Hon Bashungwa, I am not making a blanket statement because I know and have met many Jacqueline Mkindi’s (Taha CEO), Aidan Eyakuze (Executive Director -Twaweza) and John Ulanga (Country Director of Trademark East Africa). These are but a few passionate change agents that this country is blessed with.
However, it seems that for every Mkindi there are thousands of laissez-faire type at every level of society in and outside of government, in politics and our schools. They operate under the guise that hivi ndivyo tulivyo watanzania (this is the Tanzanian way).
The Tanzanian way they speak and preach involves making short cuts. Not being accountable in any way.
Making lots of money for doing so little and being openly brash about it.
Anyone who does not conform to these pathetically low standards is banded Mnoko (someone who is problematic).
Yet the lamentation of poor public service continues.
President John Magufuli knows it, Mama Samia knows it and former President Jakaya Kikwete spoke so passionately about the problem that has everything to do with how we have calibrated our mind-sets.
Your colleague Hon Mwakyembe whose docket includes Sports was at pains to explain what he went through to get the National Stadium maintained to Fifa’s required international standards so that the Under 17 Continental boys tournament could take place.
In other words Hon Bashungwa the mind-set problem you have identified goes well beyond your ministry. It is our problem as a nation.
Now that we know it and many researches have confirmed it, we need to confront the problem because without confronting it, there shall be no attainment of Industrialization and middle income goals as so clearly set out.
I congratulate you for seeing the problem for what it is. The now closed Best Dialogue programme whose closure was a low key event for government officials also identified mind-set issue as the one thing that we need to but has not been dealt with.
As John Ulanga says, we need to re-engineer our minds. Ulanga says we need a new religion that embraces a can do attitude. Indeed the Programme Manager of Best Dialogue Mr Hans Dietmeyer alluded to the same when he said this change to confront our mindset issues need to be done from the youth level.
Hon Bashungwa we love celebrations as you know. Serengeti winning this or the other as well as the Mt Kilimanjaro. We especially love those sort of winnings because they involve very little effort on our part.
The real winnings which involve Filbert Bayi’s like antics are on the decline because those call for individual zeal and drive.
We are with you on this journey. The Journey to change Tanzania will need each one of us who recognizes the challenge.
It will not be easy for opponents use such lovely politically correct catch phrases as, watanzania tunaweza (we can), ni zamu yetu (it is our turn) and tumejipanga, tuko vizuri (we are ready to take off).
Oyoo is a research and communications consultant with Midas Touché East Africa.