A lot is being said about judges, often nicknamed shysters.
However, Judge Thomas Mihayo, who even after retirement from the law corridors is still being hired, has a unique charisma. At the age of 70, he is strong enough to chair the Tanzania Tourism Board.
In this last part interview by Our Staff Writer MOHAMED MAMBO, he speaks about his career, challenges and achievements.
Q: You seem to be a versatile personality and down to earth public servant to the extent that you were seen recently dishing out leaflets to motorists in attempt to reach them and the public with an information, why did you chose the way instead of hiring an agent or a person to do it on your behalf and be in office for official duties at your level (being Chairman of Tanzania Tourist Board(TTB) and remember you once sent some people to jail, are you not risking your life walking without a bodyguard?).
A: This question is interesting but let me start with the last part. Retired Judges have no body guards in this country. Why? I don’t know. So, each one of us devices a way of life that suits him or her to minimize any risks.
(i) The dishing out of the Swahili International Tourism Expo (SITE) leaflets was something I enjoyed even if I did it the first time. The Expo was four days away. Management had briefed me of the progress.
I thought I was duty bound to put fire in the team managing the Expo. That was the day we had to do massive publicity. So I told the Committee that I will be there in the morning at 07:00 hrs. Many of them did not believe, but when I arrived they were very energized.
Following the incidence, many in the committee spent sleepless nights at the venue during the last two days before the opening ceremony. So what I did was a motivation, and it really worked. (ii) After promulgation of the Arusha Declaration, people from all walks of life marched to Dar es Salaam in support thereof.
The late Mwalimu Nyerere in answer to that, walked on foot from Butiama to Mwanza. Imagine, a President of the Country doing that. I remember one of his resting stations was Nassa Ginnery, in Ng’wamanyili Ward, Busega District. It is not far from my village.
At that Ginnery the General Manager was told to relocate, his house was painted and refurbished for the comfort of the Head of State.
Mwalimu did not spend the night there but went to sleep at Ng’wanangi Catholic Mission in a normal room! (iii) At the cerebrations to commemorate 150 years of arrival of Catholic Missionaries at Bagamoyo, the place was jammed to capacity. Chief Guest was President John Magufuli.
During collections, he broke all security and started collecting. He went from place to place collecting. The security system had tough time. It was an act of humility. (iv) Pope Francis not long ago during last Easter celebration, kissed the feet of beggars, drunkards and ordinary people in the Vatican.
That touched me a great deal. Acts of humility show leadership, because leadership means to lead, to show the way. I have never liked people who overhype themselves. So, I enjoyed the occasion.
Q: You are a strong Catholic adherent, how do you handle your faith and work in the office that at times you find not tallying and require you to sacrifice to implement what Tanzanians expect from you.
A: I can only give a quote from the Holly Bible. I am always guided by the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 14 verse 1-6 which says this:- “The Healing of a Man with Dropsy, ‘On a Sabbath he went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.
“In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?” But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him.
Then he said to them, “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” But they were unable to answer his question.”
So sometimes when we go for roadshows, we have to make presentations on a Sunday. What I do is read the Gospel of the day, say a prayer and do my work. It is a sacrifice I make for my Country. I believe that God sees that I am correct.
Q: What are your new ideas to improve TTB and leave a legacy like the one you left behind in law corridors?
A: The first problem I feel at TTB is having the right people at the right position. We have people who are not supposed to be where they are. So mostly they do not know what they are doing!
The second one is turning around the organization to be responsive to the conditions and dictations of the day than the “business as usual” syndrome. We are now trying to open new markets. Most of the world is moving fast. We are dealing with cross-border business. Our partners complain so much on our culture.
Sometimes they are left flabbergasted when an email takes two days to be answered or not answered at all even if it may be to our advantage. This is the culture I want to try to eradicate. People at TTB should work with passion. I can see some response but we are not there yet.
Q: What are the current challenges you are facing at the TTB and how are you addressing them.
A: (i) The first challenge is monetary. When you talk of tourism, you talk of sampling your products and telling strategic markets of what you have. Let me put it this way: - First, although the government has done a lot to fund TTB, the funds have fell short of our real budget.
(ii) TTB needs to develop packages that they can sell. But on account of having many players in the industry it is not possible to be consistent. For example, Hotels have not been rated and we see little hope. It becomes difficult to sell a destination if Hotels rating is not known. Rating of Hotels helps tourists to plan and budget.
(iii) I sometimes get the feeling that we are not having a marketing strategy that answers the dynamics of the day. We are not attacking new markets. Our Directorate of marketing, even if it is supposed to be the engine of TTB, is very weak and actually has had no permanent substantive Director.
To turn around the industry, we need to pull together, I sometimes have a feeling that all the players in the tourism sector have rarely talked with one voice. Sometime ago, the idea of turning TTB into an Authority was mooted. I am seriously considering resuscitating this idea and put it to the Government.
Q: If you have anything else you want to add out of the above questions.
A: I always joke with friends and say to retire is “to re-tire” meaning to put on new tires. In life there is more danger if you stay put and do nothing unless you are unable to move. So, be that as it may, if my body and health allows, I will try and do something. I will do plenty of retiring in perpetuity when I die.