Mkapa is from a new generation of African leadership. His government represents a passing of responsibility from the generation of leaders who won independence to a new generation that must figure out how to bring economic development to a continent that has played a marginal role in the global economy. Symbolic of this change was the death of the first president Julius Nyerere on 14 October 1999. While there was some speculation that instability might follow in the wake of the passing away of the father of the country, Tanzania has continued with its tradition of peace and stability.
Mkapa inherited the leadership of an economically disadvantaged, agriculturally unproductive, donor-dependent nation of millions of desperately poor people. His immediate predecessor initiated the process of freeing the market for competition, repairing infrastructure, and meeting International Monetary Fund (IMF) guidelines for continued economic assistance. Marking a departure with the Mwinyi regime, Mkapa shunned many long-standing politicians when he named a new council of ministers with Fredrick Sumaye as prime minister. Mkapa has succeeded in deepening market reforms and winning the confidence of donor countries that had been shaken by the widespread corruption under the Mwinyi government.
During his election campaign, Mkapa pledged a war against corruption. In January 1996 he appointed a special presidential commission, chaired by former prime minister Joseph Warioba, to undertake a full investigation of corruption in Tanzania. In its final report issued in December 1996, the commission established a number of causes and remedies for corruption. It also pointed out some individuals who seemed to be involved with corruption. Despite the report, many of the named individuals escaped prosecution, although two high ranking government officials eventually were forced to resign and another was brought to trial in 1999. The Mkapa administration has generally received high marks from donors for its efforts to reduce this problem; however, in 2003, seven years after the commission's final report, some members of Parliament were still publicly critical of the government's efforts to fight corruption.