This collection of speeches, in three volumes, by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania’s Third Phase Government, Benjamin William Mkapa (1995–2005), will serve primarily as reference documents to the vision of what he attempted to achieve in his ten years of leadership. His tenure as leader came at a time when Tanzania’s economy was in a dire condition. The legacy of the command economy, which had been in place for much of 1970s and 1980s, was still felt. There was resistance to change to adopt a market economy, evident in the political tensions and debates about privatisation, an approach following Structural Adjustment Programmes, imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, that had led to stagnation of the economy; high inflation, deteriorating health, education, communication and transport sector services; and general gloom in the country especially among the poor.
The bold steps he took during the first half of his administration did not immediately endear him to the public. However, in ensuing years, slowly but steadily, positive results were achieved, and the social cost of change that the people had endured was appreciated. Relations with development partners and the multilateral agencies, that before he took office had sunk to the lowest ebb, were restored and Tanzania received the largest debt relief ever and henceforth was no longer unfit to borrow. Tanzania was on its way to new growth potentials and a vibrant private sector led economy.
These collected speeches tell this story and tell it well, in great prose laced with wit and quotations from world political and literary sources; evidence of his erudition as a literature student and journalist.