DAR HUB MEETS HIS WORSHIP JERRY SILAA, MAYOR – ILALA MUNICIPAL COUNCIL
Hard work, spending time wisely, and focusing on your goals are some of the virtues that can get you to become one of the most influential politicians at the tender age of 32. His Worship Jerry Silaa, Mayor of the Ilala Municipal Council (IMC), was the first invitee to the Global Shapers of Dar es Salaam Hub’s inaugural Meet the Leader session on Saturday 4th October, 2014 at the KINU innovation hub. On record, he is the youngest-ever Mayor of the IMC and a prominent member of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) having recently been appointed to the Central Committee (equivalent of the politburo). Jerry is an elegant public official hailing from the Ukonga constituency on his second term as Ward Councilor, having previously served as Deputy Mayor of the IMC. In December 2005, he was elected by other Ward Councilors in Ilala to his current role as Mayor. He explains that the role was not far off from what he originally anticipated but it is one that is faced with a myriad of challenges related to the devolution and decentralization of power which is part of the local government reform program. He notes that; whilst devolution was meant to empower local governments, the lack of adequate resources to finance it is a serious obstacle to achieving meaningful transference. The coexistence of local and central governments at the lowest levels of government make it somewhat complicated and often lead to friction between elected and appointed officials of local and central governments, respectively. In order to navigate this complex working environment, Jerry has taken it to himself to strongly advocate for independence of the local government authorities and ensuring adequate resources for their work. He attests that he had a very ambitious vision for Ilala when he came on board but eventually learnt that it would be extremely challenging to achieve many of the goals without adequate financing. One of his top priorities is to see a much cleaner and more organized Ilala which he has already recorded significant success on. Having been in the mix of it, however, he has now set the expansion of revenue for the council as his first, second and third priority. Without sufficient funding, the ambitions to have free maternal health care, quality education, and the expansion of employment opportunities will remain bare dreams. Under his leadership, several attempts have been made to use modern technology (electronic- and IT-based) to boast the revenue of the council leaving a lot to be desired still. He notes progress with the introduction of electronic revenue collection___ with a rise in revenue from TShs. 6 billion to over TShs. 20 billion in the past four years. Widespread unemployment and the plight of petty traders famously dubbed wamachinga is one of the Council’s chief concern. According to Jerry, it is difficult to address the plight as long as the petty traders are not considered viable businessmen and women. The assumption that the traders do not have capital substantial enough to finance the necessary infrastructural construction is flawed since there is evidence to the contrary. A survey of the expenditure made by traders at the Mchikichini market suggests the traders do have the capacity to finance the construction of a modern mega market if they are properly organized. That may be a difficult feat to achieve, however, since the informality and disorganization of the traders does in deed benefit some of those in power. Lastly, we learnt that being a prominent leader at a fairly young age is not always so merry. One stands the risk of being dismissed by mere prejudice and bias because of one’s age but the best way to maintain mutual respect is by earning it through a decent track record as far as leadership is concerned. Jerry is therefore, a living example of a successful journey into political leadership for most young people to learn from. The Dar es Salaam Hub of the Global Shapers, is pleased to have hosted him for the inaugural Meet the Leader session and look forward to further collaboration with His Worship.