WHEN it comes to international representation by women, Tanzania has almost had the lion's share. For example, for eight years, SADC has been enjoying good services from a Tanzanian woman, Dr Stergomena Tax, who served the bloc as the Executive Secretary, running daily activities of the integration which is headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana.
Dr Tax, the sixth and first female Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) whose tenure of office came to an end on 31 August 2021, bade farewell to SADC leaders at the 41st Summit of Heads of State and Government in Lilongwe, Republic of Malawi, on 17 August 2021.
She was replaced by Botswana national, Mr Elias Mpedi Magosi as the new Executive Secretary of Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Dr Tax was appointed by the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government during its 33rd meeting in Lilongwe in 2013, and her tenure was extended for a second term on 20 August, 2017 during the 37th SADC 37th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government.
She recalled that her journey as SADC Executive Secretary began on August 18th, 2013, expressing gratitude for the confidence and trust given in her to lead the secretariat and SADC region.
“As I exit, the region remains stable, with some areas of turbulence that we need to continue to manage as we have always done, and this includes unemployment, poverty, disasters, pandemic, acts of terrorism, violence and cyber security threats, the region needs to remain alert while strengthening mechanism put in place to address these threats,” said Dr Tax.
“This being my last Summit in my capacity as the SADC Executive Secretary, I stand in humility, before Your Excellencies, to thank you profoundly for the confidence and trust that you bestowed on me to lead the SADC Secretariat, and to serve the SADC Region. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity, and for the guidance and support that you rendered to me during my tenure," she told delegates.
She highlighted the achievements of SADC over the years, in terms of peace and security, consolidation of democracy, macro-economic convergence, industrialization, SADC intratrade, regional connectivity, access to energy, financial integration and inclusion, and mobile penetration.
She said “’I am proud of what the region has achieved over the eight years under Your Excellency’s stewardship, and I am also grateful for the wealth of knowledge and experience that I have acquired over the eight years, which I will always treasure.” Dr Tax also expressed her gratitude to the government of the United Republic of Tanzania.
She said, ‘’as I express my gratitude to Your Excellencies SADC Heads of State and Government, allow me to also extend my profound gratitude to my government, the government of the United Republic of Tanzania for the trust, and for nominating me for this important position among millions of capable Tanzanians”.
She also thanked ministers and officials from SADC Members States, SADC Partners and Stakeholders for the tremendous support.
“As I exit, I am thankful to SADC Member States, and all SADC stakeholders for taking part in the formulation of the SADC Vision 2050, and the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2020- 2030) that were approved in August, 2020. It is therefore imperative that these policies are used to transform our Region to the SADC we want. I am confident that the Secretariat, under my successor, will drive regional integration through these strategic frameworks for the betterment of the region,” she said.
Dr Tax, who was born on July 6, 1960 in Magu District, Mwanza Region, was the 6th executive secretary and the first woman to serve SADC in that capacity. Formerly, she was permanent secretary in the Ministry of East African Cooperation from 2008 to 2013. In 1991, Dr Tax graduated from the University of Dar es Salaam with a bachelor of commerce in finance.
She later acquired a master’s degree in philosophy, policy management and development economics and a PhD in philosophy and international development from the University of Tsukuba, Japan.
Dr Tax has led and participated in numerous bilateral as well as multilateral processes, programmes and negotiations and has contributed to the development and implementation of continental and global developmental agendas.
In peace and security, she has coordinated and led a number of SADC conflict prevention, resolution and mediation processes, as well as democracy consolidation processes. She has expertise and experience in regional integration (socioeconomic, politics, peace and security), trade and industrial development, finance, investment and private sector development. Dr Tax has successfully led the development and implementation of SADC blueprints.
Since September 2013, Dr Tax has served the government in various posts, including Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of East African Cooperation (November 2008 to August 2013) and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Marketing between December 2007 and November 2008.
Before, she had between January 2006 and November 2007 served as Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Planning, Economy and Empowerment.
She was also the Chief Executive Officer in the President’s Office, Planning and Privatisation, the Better Regulation Unit – The Business Environment Strengthening Programme for Tanzania (BEST) from October 2004 to May 2006.
After her studies in Japan in 2002, Dr Tax worked as Coordinator Commissioned Studies, Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) from May 2002 to October 2004.
Between May 1991 and April 2002, Dr Tax worked with the Ministry of Finance in various capacities, such as Finance Management Officer 1991-92, Officer-in-charge for World Bank Desk, 1993, Officer-incharge for Arab Funds – including the Kuwait Fund, Saudi Funds, OPEC Funds, 1994, Officer-in- charge of SADC and United Nations Development Programme (UNPD) Desks, 1995.
Dr Tax has a PhD in International Development from the University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan, where she studied between 1997 and 2002. Before, she studied a Masters of Philosophy in Policy Management and Development Economics from the same university from April 1995 – March 1997. She also has a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance), University of Dar es Salaam, and a Diploma in Business Administration.