Government engagement is key, Retired President Mkapa tells the private sector

Wednesday February 19 2020

Retired President Benjamin Mkapa with CEO

Retired President Benjamin Mkapa with CEO Roundtable of Tanzania (CEOrt) chairman Sanjay Rughani (right) and Mac Group chief executive Yogesh Manek after Mr Mkapa delivered a keynote speech during CEOrt’s monthly meeting Dar es Salaam yesterday. PHOTO | ANTHONY SIAME  

By Alex Malanga and Alfred Zacharia @TheCitizenTz

Dar es Salaam. Members of the business community should foster constructive engagement with the government for the sake of the economy, Retired President Benjamin Mkapa said yesterday. Mr Mkapa made the remarks in his keynote address during the first CEO Roundtable of Tanzania (CEOrt) monthly engagement for 2020 in Dar es Salaam, according to a briefing by CEOrt executive director Santina Benson.

Mr Mkapa, who was president from 1995 to 2005, is credited with coming up with policies that raised the role of the private sector in the country’s economy and promoting public-private sector dialogue through the Tanzania National Business Council.

During the engagement, Mr Mkapa shared leadership insights with CEOs as articulated in his memoirs My Life, My Purpose: A Tanzanian President Remembers.

“He told us to work with the government for the private sector to thrive and produce meaningful impact on the economy,” Ms Benson said.

Saying the government is aware of what is happening in the private sector, she added that there were a number of activities the private sector was undertaking without involving the government.

“The private sector is doing many things in isolation. Retired President Mkapa wants to see a solid private sector which works closely with the government,” she noted.


In another development, Mr Mkapa shared his experience with 16 candidates of the CEO Apprenticeship Programme (CAP), an initiative that aims to groom young leaders with skills needed to hold top management positions.

Sharing his experience was part of a learning session for the candidates, according to CEOrt chairman Sanjay Rughani, who added that CAP grooms young leaders through training and mentorship.

“He explained how he started off as an ordinary politician and rose all the way to the highest office in the and. The candidates listened to his journey, which was full of ups and downs,” he said.

Mr Mkapa also told the candidates how he had to make tough decisions for himself, his family and the nation at large.

“Being a CEO, you need to take decisions. The Retired President resident shared his experience on how to handle difficulties when you want to make decisions that are likely to have an impact on millions of people.”

“Before making any decision, you must ask yourself why and how? Then let other people wear your shoes and make their own decisions. Take their opinions before taking further action,” Mr Rughani quoted Mr Mkapa saying.

Completion of CAP’s first phase in September this year will see the 16 candidates equipped with enhanced leadership skills on self-awareness, effective decision-making and developing new ways of approaching leadership challenges on their way to becoming future CEOs.

The programme costs $12,000 (Sh27.66 million) per trainee, which is paid by candidates’ employers.

Mr Rughani thanked Mr Mkapa for attending the meeting and mentoring the candidates.

He added that by working closely with the government, some challenges the private sector was grappling with would be addressed.

He commended the government’s for coming up with a blueprint that will set the stage for a raft of amendments to laws and regulations governing business in Tanzania with a view to improving the business environment.

“The private sector was involved in the preparation of the blueprint. This is commendable indeed,” Mr Rughani said.