PRESIDENT John Magufuli's enthusiasm to execute major development projects using taxpayers' money started during the third phase government under the administration of President Benjamin Mkapa when he served as Minister for Works.
In his autobiography titled "My Life My Purpose", which encapsulates his life-journey as a public servant, politician and ultimately president, retired Head of State Mkapa highlights the performance of the fifth phase government.
One of the aspects is his idea of not relying on donors in executing some road projects. Mkapa stresses the self reliance motto as preached by the late father of the nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, stressing that donor assistance should be used as a tool for development and not the cause for development.
He said that during his leadership, some donors provided grants for the execution of various infrastructure projects, but concurrently spent the money for conducting feasibility studies which were never concluded. Mr Mkapa said that such trends annoyed the then Minister for Works, who is the current head of State.
He said Magufuli was against such projects and advised him that the country was capable of executing some projects using its own funds.
President Magufuli is currently fighting against donor dependence by executing major development projects using taxpayers’ money such as Rufiji Hydroelectric Power, Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), and radar installation at its major airports.
The retired president said that he supported the idea of the then minister because he similarly did not believe in donor dependence alone in executing development projects, a situation that compelled his government to strengthen the domestic revenue sources system to consolidate efficiency in development projects.
He said among the achievements of President Magufuli was the construction of Mwanza - Shinyanga - Kahama Road as well as Busega and Igunga roads which were financed through domestic revenue sources.
Mr Mkapa said that President Magufuli was firm as he narrated on page 176 of his book, that he was touched by his stance and patriotism.
He said Mr Magufuli came under pressure from former US ambassador Robert Royal when he tried to implement a Cabinet decision to change vehicle number plates in order to easily identify vehicles which had been purchased with donor funds.
Mr Mkapa said that some donors were against the Cabinet decision because some of the embassy staff were using the vehicles for personal activities, especially on holidays.
He said that Magufuli replied to the ambassador: "There is no way you can change our decision and if necessary I am prepared to help you ferry your vehicles back home or to wherever you want to take them." Mr Mkapa said the then Minister for Works queried "What was wrong with recognising that a vehicle was a donor project vehicle?" and the change was instituted.
On donor dependency, the ex-president said that in order for the country to attain development, there was a need for putting in place a self-reliance strategy, adding that the development perspective should start at individual level.
He said in ensuring that his government was self-reliant, he strengthened revenue collection systems by establishing Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA ) which was responsible for revenue collection.
He said that he was against the business as usual syndrome, to which end systems geared at increasing workers' efficiency were established. He cited the appointment of regional and district commissioners basing on professionalism.