Capacity building, answer to differences | Daily News

Capacity building, answer to differences

Tanzanian President Dr. John Joseph Magufuli
Tanzanian President Dr. John Joseph Magufuli

Capacity building is a buzz word across many sectors other than perhaps in the sciences. It’s also a term used extensively in grant and loan projects. In most instances, it’s applied to recipient countries and entities in the southern hemisphere. This article attempts to ask a few questions on this topic.

What are some reasons the global north usually gives for why the global south is the “third world”?

International interactions between countries in the “global north” and countries in the “global south” are often one-sided. Fair or not, there are many reasons governments of the “global north” give as to why countries in the "global south” are so disadvantaged?

First, the “global north” often claims that many governments of countries in the “global south” lack the capacity to govern. Governments in the “global south”, northern countries claim, are often some combination of the following: inept, unstable, one-dimensional, dictatorial, ego-maniacal, etc. Such claims argue that the governments of these countries are at fault for promoting cronyism, pursuing incomprehensible economic strategies, or misreading and misunderstanding the economic climate.

Another claim that is often repeated is that governments in the “global south” are often more susceptible to corruption, bribery, and cronyism.

Third, the “global north” regularly points to the fact that many “global south” governments are not well liked or trusted by their citizens. (This, they argue, hampers countrywide governance, increases corruption), and feeds the growth of uncontrollable "black markets".

To what extent are any of these claims true? They remain true to the extent it's critically examined, remain unanswered and we continue to accept our southern hemisphere basket status categorization.

A story from Sri Lanka

Many projects land with their lead resource persons backed by consultants to build capacity and partnership amongst institutions. Their prescriptions relate how to fix the problem. Options include a needs assessment, building a database, organise ToTs, identify resource persons and conduct training preferably in a hotel.

The natives are thereafter invited to become beneficiaries. The “back end donor” will seek regular reports. If some funds are to be channelled to recipient countries they need “local” partners who in theory decide an action plan, allocate resources and implement activities. There is though a catch in this scheme. The investor has his own preferred partners and methods of doing business. He looks to buy into local organisations. He will ask to do an evaluation of the organisations capacity and in the process; vacuum-clean a whole bunch of information internal to the local organisations. He has his own office in the country. Ultimately directly or indirectly he will control the manner, in which funds are spent, ensure his favourites are part of the charmed circle. He may also engineer the need to manage the process with a local steering committee nominally in place, kept happy with occasional foreign trips.

President Magufuli: A good example of leadership and good governance in Africa

The Republic of Tanzania held Presidential elections in October 2015. Dr. John Pombe Magufuli was sworn in as president on November 5, 2015. President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli has since been declared the best President in the world by the United Nations Economic and Social Council during their annual review which was published on August 12, 2016. He previously held the post of Minister of Works where he earned the nickname “bulldozer” for steering the programme to build good roads. He was known to be a no-nonsense, results-driven politician and displayed great integrity by not giving in to multiple opportunities to make riches while he held this position.

Dr. Magufuli’s election has turned Tanzania into a rising star in Africa with a very healthy growth rate. Born in extreme poverty, he promised that as president, he would focus on fighting poverty, corruption and wasteful spending, which are problems that continue to plague many African nations. His policies also aim to enable regional trade, capitalize on the nation’s natural resources and facilitate increased industrialization.

He slashed the budget for the usually opulent opening of parliament by almost 90% and demanded that the money saved to be spent on purchasing hospital beds and on roadwork. He reduced the size of the presidential convoy, as well as the size of the presidential delegation that travels with him.

A month after taking office, he finally announced his Cabinet made up of 19 ministries. It had 11 fewer ministries than the previous government; some were merged to save money. He publicly warned those selected as ministers and other government officials that he would not tolerate corruption, laziness or excessive bureaucracy. He told them they should expect nothing more than to work tirelessly to serve the people of the country alongside him.

He put a stop to the public procurement of goods and services at inflated costs. He declared that anyone found procuring public goods or services at inflated prices will be fired. He ordered an immediate ban on foreign travels by public servants on his third day in office and put a stop to the purchase of first-class tickets. He stated that all tasks that necessitated government officials to travel abroad will now be done by the country’s high commissioners and ambassadors abroad. As an example, he once trimmed down a delegation of 50 set to tour Commonwealth countries to just four. And the ban on foreign travel helped the government save at least $429.5 million between November 2015 and November 2016.

He decreed that henceforth, government meetings would be held in state buildings rather than in expensive hotels. He called on all public institutions to significantly cut expenditure on refreshments during meetings. He also issued a directive for unnecessary physical meetings to be stopped and for public servants to conduct conference calls instead. This is to cut unnecessary costs that the government incurred from meetings and conferences.

Dr. Magufuli has focused on revenue collection which has helped the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) go from raising 900 billion Shillings monthly to more than 1.8 trillion Shillings.

He made education free for children whose parents couldn’t afford it. A promise he made during his election campaign. He also directed relevant authorities to sort and resolve the problems stopping the release of education loans.

In the spirit of fighting incompetence, laziness and corruption, he had warned everybody to take notice of what he had said in terms of delivery, efficiency and honesty. No more warnings were issued. On Law Day (February 4, 2016), President Magufuli called upon the Chief Justice to quickly embark on the establishment of a Special High Court to swiftly deal with cases of corruption.

Over his first three months in office, he fired more than 150 senior civil servants among which were top officials of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), the director of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), the Commissioner General of the Immigration Services Department, the Managing Director of Reli Assets Holding (RAHCO), and the Director General of Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority. Most civil servants were fired in a dramatic fashion without mentioning their wrongdoing, and some of them decided to sue the government in court.

Over 10,000 ghost workers were also rooted from various government departments.

President Magufuli made surprise raids at government offices to see for himself who was at their desks, who was absent and who had used the well-worn trick of leaving their jackets on the chairs to indicate they had just stepped out for a moment when in fact they were gone weeks.

He went to the federal hospital, the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), unannounced and made sure to visit all the wards, including those kept from high profile visitors like himself. He discovered the hospital in a deplorable state, with key diagnostic equipment such as the CT-Scan and MRI not working. Patients who needed to undergo testing had to pay exorbitant fees for the services at private hospitals. He fired the director and the hospital board and ordered that the equipment that was working be repaired or replaced within two weeks, otherwise the newly appointed director will also be fired. New CT-Scan and MRI machines were installed in three days!

The example that President Magufuli has set is what Africa needs now. Additionally, Tanzania has been an example in terms of democracy on the African continent, specifically with presidential term limits.

The moral of this article is we are not stupid, incompetent or incapable. Let's not allow others to treat us like fools. As in Tanzania we have men and women with the necessary “local capacity”. Let's not forget that and barter away our self-respect.



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