Iddi Simba’s share of ups and downs

Friday February 14 2020


By Khalifa Said @ThatBoyKhalifax

Dar es Salaam. Mr Iddi Simba, a former cabinet minister and perhaps Tanzania’s staunchest proponent of indigenisation policy passed away yesterday, his death coming only a month after the nation experienced another loss of a more or less champion of the divisive policy, Mr Ali Mufuruki.
News of the passing of Mr Simba, whom together with Mr Mufuruki and a veteran politician and diplomat, Mr Juma Mwapachu, have been described as Tanzania’s “intellectuals of capital” started to circulate yesterday afternoon.
Reports of his death were confirmed by his family which said the former Trade and Industry minister under the Benjamin Mkapa administration died at 11am as he was receiving medical treatment at the Muhimbili National Hospital’s Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI).
Born in 1935 and grew up in Dar es Salaam where he received his primary and secondary education, Mr Simba is credited to have conceived the concept of indigenisation, a policy that sought to integrate Tanzanians of Africans descent into the modern economy and economically empower poor Tanzanians.
Even during his days as Commerce Minister before he became Industry and Trade minister in 2000, he was largely seen as promoting the involvement of locals in managing Tanzania’s economy.
In February 1999, he is on record defending a decision by President Mkapa’s government to compel foreign investors to enter into partnership with locals.
He told a gathering of members of the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) from Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions that foreign companies which want to invest in Tanzania will be compelled to identify local partners. “If they cannot do so, the government will help them identify partners because we are now aiming at localising and promoting local participation in investments,” said Mr Simba who also once saved as CTI chairman, said.
The graduate of the elite Tabora Boys School and one of the first university graduates in post-colonial Tanganyika after obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1961 from Panjab University in Pakistan, Mr Simba faced severe criticism from his fellow party stalwarts within the ruling CCM who sometimes labelled him as a racist, allegations he died denying.
Much as most people would known him as a politician and a businessman, the late Iddi Simba was a respected figure in the banking sector, having held worked at the African Development Bank and as alternate executive director at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
For retired President Mkapa, the death of Mr Simba has deprived the country of a person who worked tirelessly to build a strong private sector.
He said the late Simba dedicated his time to the strengthening of the private sector in Tanzania.
“He always held to his position and he lived to be a good fighter for the advancement of the private sector,” said Mr Mkapa.
He said Mr Simba was always willing to share with him his experience – gained through years of working in international financial institutions – in the building of Tanzania’s economy.
“During his time as a minister in my cabinet, he helped me with ideas on how to boost the growth of the private sector,” said Mr Mkapa in his condolences for the passing on of Mr Simba and his former aide, retired Colonel Kabenga Nsa Kaisi (see related article on page 2).
To people like a veteran politician and former long-time lawmaker for Kwela constituency Dr Crisant Mzindakaya, nothing would honour the legacy of the late Mr Simba as respectfully as putting in place plans that would see more and more Tanzanians are being integrated into the national economy.
“It is a must that the national economy be in the hands of Tanzanians themselves. The foreign nationals are welcome to support us but in the end, we should be the actual proprietors of our economy. That’s how you build a strong national economy,” urged Dr Mzindakaya.
The issue of indigenisation was so central to Mr Simba that in June 2003, he even published a twenty-page booklet titled A Concept of Indigenisation (Dhana ya Uzawa). The publication prompted the leadership of the ruling CCM, a party which Mr Simba was serving as a member of its National Executive Committee (NEC), to ban its members from using the term indigenisation on the grounds that it had no relation to the party’s 2000 election manifesto.
Still, Mr Simba defended his policy by insisting that it is more of inclusionary than exclusionary as some people thought it to be.
It was Mr Simba’s view that the post-independence Tanzania had inherited some colonial policies that resulted into the isolation of most indigenous citizens in their country’s economic fortunes.
After the 2000 election, former President Mkapa named him minister for Industry and Trade in 2001, succeeding the late Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru.
On November 5, 2002, Mr Simba resigned from the post after a Presidential Committee report implicated him in the way his ministry issued sugar import licenses.
But following the splendid and crucial role he played in a July meeting in Zanzibar of trade ministers from least developed countries prior to negotiations for a new round of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks at Doha in Qatar in mid ¬November, President Mkapa asked him to stay on until November 16 to lead the Tanzanian delegation.
Tanzania opposed the new round because it claimed that developing countries could not yet face open competition and the subsidies some western nations gave to their own industries.
The current Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environment), Mr Mussa Azan Zungu says he admired Mr Simba for his firm stance on what he believed in.
“He was not afraid to tell the truth and was ready to defend it no matter what,” said the Ilala MP (CCM) during an interview with The Citizen yesterday. “We received the news of the passage of our brother with shock. He understood that being principled does not stop one from being humble and I think this is a key takeaway from his life as a politician.”
Zungu replaced Mr Simba as Ilala constituent lawmaker in 2005 elections, a replacement that Zungu acknowledges that Mr Simba played a “significant part” to facilitate. When Mr Simba served as MP of the constituent, Mr Zungu served as the deputy mayor of the Ilala Municipal Council.
Retired CCM politician Prof Mark Mwandosya said in his condolences message that he knew Mr Simba as an “experienced, wise and capable politician who was ready to take full responsibility for his actions.”
Dr Mzindakaya, a man some analysts credit for both the rise and fall of Mr Simba, politically, told The Citizen yesterday that Mr Simba was “a patriot” who was “both entrepreneurial and visionary” and “who could initiative things and drove them into amazing successes.”
He said Mr Simba was worth remembering for the role he played to the nation’s progresses.