Tanzania: Why I See the Dar-Dodoma Shift Happening for Real

After dragging its feet for more than 42 years, the government now appears determined to move the seat of operations from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma. How likely is it that the move will succeed now where it failed before? What is the likelihood of overcoming the hurdles that it faced in the past?

First things first. There seems to have been an absence of political will to rollout the implementation. I do opine that the execution of the move from Dar to Dodoma has been long overdue. For the first time, moving Tanzania's administrative capital from Dar to Dodoma was mentioned a few months after independence in 1961.

Upon becoming a republic, Tanganyika renewed its ambition to have the official functions of the State run from Dodoma, but implementation was at a snail's pace. Officially, the decision was given a fresh impetus in October 1973 when a ministerial portfolio for this particular purpose followed shortly by the establishment of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to take charge for the infrastructural facilities and amenities that befits a capital city.

Unfortunately, any initiatives to implement that were hampered during the administrations of Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete.

Come 2015 and Dr John Magufuli renews the big promise to rollout the move to Dodoma. The President used the Heroes Day occasion of last weekend in Dodoma to further reiterate the pledge by going beyond repeating it: he gave clear deadlines. The President now wants all ministries to move their headquarters and operate from Dodoma by October 2020.

The Premier followed that up by ordering his officers to ready residence in the envisaged capital so that he permanently moves there by September this year.

I can see it happening, albeit symbolically. It will be a good beginning. The good news is that, it is happening!

Hence, I join hands with optimists to wish that things proceed with the momentum shown now so that it moves to full implementation. My take is that the fifth phase government has all it takes to implement the Dodoma capita plan.

To put this into a pan-African perspective, other countries have also been in a similar situation in the past. For instance, it may not be common knowledge to many people that the official capital of South Africa is actually Pretoria when businesses and commercial activity actually run from Johannesburg.

Similarly, Malawi has had to shift its capital from Blantyre to Lilongwe in a move intended to strengthen the delivery of service to the citizenry. Tanzania may wish to borrow a leaf from Malawi in its drive to the Dodoma plan by dedicating a place to locate all ministries and other government offices and residences.

I am, for instance, informed that Ihumwa is likely to host all government offices and residential quarters, an arrangement similar to that of Malawi where all the key ministries are located in Area 3.

Likewise, Ugandans are calling for a shift of their capital from Kampala back to Entebbe as a way to decongest the present seat of the government.

So, the likelihood of succeeding in moving the Tanzanian capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma is there now than at any other time before.

Why, first, there is an apparent lots of political will needed to make that happen. Also, with the Parliament of Tanzania having its permanent seat in Dodoma since 2005, it has been more than 10 years since many of us started driving between Dar and Dodoma for business with our representatives. Furthermore, the availability of very under-utilised Tanzania Building Agency houses in the municipality is proof that Dodoma may not be the most challenged in terms of the starter-up buildings for those who shall move in to the new capital.

However, moving the seat of the central government from Dar to Dodoma is more than just a transfer of ministries. My view is that Tanzanians must be readied to understand that a lot of official business transactions shall soon be taking place in Dodoma. The municipality will be the centre of government operations.

This means that to reduce the cost of change of location, government units must learn to use ICT and other modern technologies so that the private and official sectors can 'meet online' more than they meet in offices.

Otherwise, there is no need to continue agonising and instead, let us all join hands and brace for the transfer to Dodoma. Of course, for some of us, this will inspire us to search of appropriate modalities of continuing to work with ministries and agencies, perhaps by setting up sub-offices in Dodoma, too.

Source: The Citizen