- Published on Sunday, 01 September 2013 01:29
- Written by JAFFAR MJASIRI
- Hits: 1066
THE new Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Tax, speaks passionately about the role of every Tanzanian towards preserving peace and tranquility that is prevailing in the country.
She granted this exclusive interview to Our Staff Writer, JAFFAR MJASIRI, recently in Dar es Salaam. Read Excerpts...
QUESTION. Please give a brief background about yourself?
ANSWER. I was born in Mwanza Region. I went to different primary schools and later joined Mwanza Lake Secondary School. It was at the same time when Minister Magufuli was at Lake Secondary School. I finished my secondary education.
I joined College of Business Education in Dodoma in 1984 for two years, went to National Service at Makutopora, Dodoma, after which I was directly admitted at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) to study Bachelor of Commerce and Finance. I graduated with an upper second (Hons).
After graduation I was immediately employed by the Ministry of Finance as a Financial Manager. In 1995 I went to study at Tsukuba Japan University on Policy Management and Economic Development.
Since I had performed very well, I was awarded an opportunity to study my PhD on International Development in the same University. My thesis was on effectiveness of foreign aid in Sub- Saharan Africa. Upon returning to Tanzania and having completed my studies, I was seconded to work for Economic and Social Research Foundation.
It is a government organisation which supports Africa capacity building initiative which was started by World Bank. I have served in different government departments and Permanent Secretary positions until I was appointed Permanent Secretary to the East African Cooperation in 2008.
Q. What are the major challenges in leadership during your entire career, when working for the government?
A. The major challenges are emanating from your role as a leader. When one is a leader and wants to achieve excellence and success, a good leadership must value the contributions of the subordinates. I always look for the cause and actions.
It is when I came to realise that such challenges can be turned into opportunities. As a leader you must make the subordinates understand your preferences if you want to form a cohesive team. You can build teamwork, failure to achieve team spirit can bring a lot of difficulties. If you have an excellent team work you will always succeed.
Q. Why do people in your circles call you Mama Output and Quality?
A. I have coached myself to identify strength and weaknesses of my subordinates and how to exploit them. I always think on how to revamp an individual who is weak to a better position. As a matter of principal I am ready to work with a few if others are not willing to revamp after being given a chance.
Though I still consider those who are laggards that they can still improve. I am ready to work with the laggards helping them to improve gradually. But the bottom line is achieving quality results.
Q. What is the secret behind your success, as it is on record that you have excelled and been promoted several times?
A. It is the training and mentorship that I received both in the country and abroad. But one thing which is unique about the culture of Japanese people, which I adapted, was that spirit of working hard and respecting my job. As you know Japanese people are workaholics.
Another thing is the confidence and courage that I have developed in making tough decisions. In the short run it is costly in terms of time but people tend to appreciate such decision later in the course of such action.
Q. One important trait is, people say, that you are very loyal to your country?
A. It is my ultimate goal that I should serve my country faithfully and sincerely and defend her interests. Though I was tasked in my EAC job to forge ahead East African cooperation but I have remained focused in terms of safeguarding the interests of my nation.
You have been hearing that Tanzania is an obstacle pointing figures at me, because of such tough decisions. I have always defeated my opponents because I was able to build a case and defend it for the sake of my country.
Q. Do you think men appreciate your position?
A. Where ever I go I look at myself as a human being, an African and embark on my responsibilities. Performance is key and not gender. I cannot deny that the attitude will always be there, but it will be aggravated by one’s performance and not gender.
Do you not give any one a chance to start asking you that question about your gender, try as much as you can to ignore such attitudes and deliver.
Q. What is your role as the SADC Executive Secretary?
A. My priority in this new position is to continue strengthening the existing cooperation and ensure that SADC expands its market opportunities. For the Community to develop and forge ahead, it is upon all member states to develop and expand the production sector.
The challenge ahead is for SADC to add value to the produce, maintain quality and secure wider markets for the community products.
Q. How can SADC countries improve women participation and equity?
A. First and foremost women should be ambitious to attain leadership positions. We should participate in every field. Families should ensure that children go to school and parents should treat all the kids equally and afford them equal opportunities.
This should also be culminated by girls learning to be independent. I always tell my children that they should work hard to achieve their success, since my position and wealth is mine and they have no stake in it. That should be the attitude.
Q. Some of your staff said that you are impartial and fair?
A. Of course I don’t want to be overwhelmed. Am trying my best. Justice is a byproduct of the values that are imparted when you are young. Integrity is very important. I remember my parents were always upset when one told lies, they could never tolerate such behaviour.
It is true that spiritual nourishment has a lot of impact in one’s integrity. But what is even more important is that principle that I learned from my mentors that as a leader be firm but fair.
Q. Please advise us on the gold mine that Tanzanians are sitting on?
A. Our country is blessed to be bestowed with peace and tranquility. We should all cherish this and preserve it. Many are not aware of this precious thing called peace.
Once it is gone, it is when some of us will come to realise why it was important to maintain it and protect it. Once peace is gone, may God forbid, it is not easy to restore it.