A member of the Tanzanian parliament since 2000, Mizengo Pinda has been Prime Minister of the country since 2008. Following his appointment, he declared in his first speech that he would continue to be a peasant’s son, a sentiment that resonated with the majority of Tanzanians.
Under the Presidency of Jakaya Kikwete, the government has gained much international praise for its management of the economy, steering the country towards a free-market system without totally rejecting the socialist principles of Tanzania’s founder, President Julius Nyerere. Meanwhile, Pinda’s party – Tanzania CCM (the longest-reigning party in Africa) has recently set out an ambitious agenda for faster and sustained economic expansion. With an expected GDP growth rate of around 7% this year, Tanzania has maintained its position as one of the world’s fastest- growing economies.
Born in 1948, Pinda progressed from humble beginnings to attend Tanzania’s prestigious Pugu Secondary School before taking a Bachelor Degree in Law (LLB) at the University of Dar es Salaam, graduating in 1974. Upon completion of his degree, he became State Attorney in the Ministry of Justice. Four years later, he moved to the State House, where he would be chosen as the Assistant Private Secretary to then-President Julius Nyerere and afterwards to his successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, until 1995.
After serving as Clerk to thCabinet from 1996 to 2000 , Pinda then decided to go into politics himself. In the 2000 general election, he was elected as a Member of Parliament for Mpanda East constituency and in the same year also became Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office for Regional Administration and Local Governments.
Promoted to the rank of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, while also remaining in charge of regional administration and local governments in the Cabinet, Pinda would not have to wait long for his rise up the political ladder to continue. Following the resignation of Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, President Jakaya Kikwete nominated Pinda as his replacement on February 8th 2008, and was confirmed nearly unanimously by the Tanzanian parliament on the same day.
As part of his government’s anti-corruption drive in 2010, Pinda became the first senior government official to publicly declare his assets. “I have three small houses, have no shares in any company and do not even own a private car apart from the one loaned to me as a member of parliament,” he said in a press conference at the time.
With Pinda as Prime Minister, Tanzania has continued its push, as outlined by the government’s Vision 2025), to transform itself from a low-productivity, agricultural country to a semi-industrialized one, with the aim of laying solid foundations for a more competitive and dynamic economy.
Although it remains one of the poorest countries in the world, Tanzania has fortunately avoided the internal strife that has hindered many African states, while its political stability has managed to bring success in attracting donors and investors as its economy today continues to achieve high growth rates.
Tanzania attained independence from colonial rule in 1961, forming a union between the mainland territory, Tanganyika, and the island of Zanzibar in 1964, although the latter still maintains a semi-autonomous government and legislature.
When founding president Julius Nyerere’s socialist policies failed to bring economic prosperity during his two decades in charge, his successors Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Benjamin Mkapa helped to raise productivity and attract foreign investment and loans by dismantling government control of the economy.
Tanzania’s fourth democratically elected President, Jakaya Kikwete, has managed to maintain economic expansion and regional peace. The annual GDP growth rate has averaged 6.7% since 2006, one of the best in sub-Saharan Africa, while the economy is projected to grow by around 7% in 2014 and 2015, driven by transport, communications, manufacturing and agriculture and supported by public investment in infrastructure.
Tourism is an important revenue earner; Tanzania’s attractions include Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, and wildlife-rich national parks such as the Serengeti. Meanwhile, gold earnings have been rising, and the find of a major offshore gas field also is very promising.
Tanzania is currently in the advanced stages of preparing a new constitution, which is expected to be in place before the next general election in 2015. The dominant issues during the constitutional reforms have included: the structure of the union between mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, the presidential powers, natural resources management and political reforms such as the independence of the electoral commission, greater representation for women and a provision for independent candidates to run for election.