There is disbelief in Tanzania and East Africa in general as new elected President John Pombe Magufuli breaks with the past - introducing policies which a growing base of displeased elites are angrily branding as "arrogance" and a creepy Dictator. However as the First Action leader has been branded with slogans like '' what would Magufuli do?'' he is created alot of followers and lovers especially on social media who rather find his decisions relevant but hostile and quick.His efforts to sweep out wasteful government spending, root out corruption and discipline lazy public servants seem unfazed. During the period he has sacked dozens of senior public officials for things like refusing receiving government’s salary.
The son of a peasant farmer, John Pombe Magufuli won the election to become Tanzania's next president on his 56th birthday, so it was the perfect gift for him.With the backing of the formidable CCM machinery, Mr Magufuli won the 29 October poll with 58% of the votes to Mr Lowassa's 40% in a fiercely contested election.
As works minister in the outgoing government, he was reputed to be a no-nonsense, results-driven politician.
The 56-year-old is a former school teacher, industrial chemist and outgoing works minister, Nicknamed "The Bulldozer" A devout Catholic with a corruption-free reputation,Performed push-ups on the campaign trail to prove he was fit,Pledged to end power shortages and exploit Tanzania's natural gas discoveries
Magufuli was inaugurated on November 5 2015, Just a day after his swearing in, Magufuli made a surprise visit to the Finance Ministry and was shocked to notice that most workers had not reported to work.The President was only beginning to witness inefficiency on an industrial scale. At the finance ministry, Magufuli found literally thousands of requests for foreign travel. For a man who had travelled abroad only six times for the 20 years he had been minister, it was a shocker.In another change of act, Magufuli ordered a ban on foreign travel for ministers and all government officials in order to save costs. All international invitations will be handled by Tanzania's diplomatic missions.
The first Shocker in President Magufuli's trove of surprises was the suspension of the December 9th independence day celebrations and slashed the budget for a state banquet by 70% to mark the official opening of parliament.. The president instead decreed that on that day everybody should pick up their tools and clean their backyards. There will always be national cleaning on Independence Day 2015 which has always been celebrated in pomp and style since 1961 when the Tanzania got freedom from the British.
The president went on to order for purchase of beds and restocking Tanzania's biggest public hospital where he made surprise visit only to find patients on the floor and fired the board of the country’s biggest hospital. Many complained of not seeing doctors for days. He ordered to use the Millions of Money that was meant for the independence day celebrations to be used to buy hospital beds and Medicines and refurbish hospitals. They immediately purchased more than 300 beds for critical hospitals and refurbished around 15 hospitals in a period of 2 months.
The President reportedly demanded that his presence and that of his prime minister be limited to less than 30mins. Magufuli reportedly also told parliamentary leaders that the people of Tanzania want him to solve their problems, and not him making Empty speeches. That speeches can not provide infrastructure, or buy hospital medicine or stop corruption but ACTION can.
He also banned Brookside milk collection, a Company owned by the president of Kenya Uhuru Kenyata, and directed that all milk produced must be processed locally. He Blasted Uhuru, and stopped Brookside Dairy from exploiting Tanzanians.He claimed it was not fair for Brookside Dairy Limited to collect milk from Tanzania, process it in Kenya and then sell back to them.
Another shocker came in when Magufuli canceled this year’s Union Day celebrations, celebrated every April 26. Instead he recommended road construction with the funds that were set aside for the celebrations.The cancelation of two national holidays as cost-cutting measures is Magufuli’s rushed attempt to finally deliver on president Julius Nyerere’s vision of self-reliance, accountability and good governance for his country.
He also issued an order directing all foreigners, with or without work permits, to relinquish their jobs to the Tanzanians.The exercise which is dubbed ‘Oparesheni Timua’ was launched in january and it will see Tanzanian immigration officials carry out door to door workplace raids to hunt ‘foreigners’ doing business in Tanzania.its’ main aim was to reduce the number of visitors doing jobs that can be done by the natives.Those who have been greatly affected by this operation are Kenyan teachers working in private schools in Tanzania.Kenyans On Twitter (KOT) have since retaliated by asking President Uhuru Kenyatta to deport all Tanzanians who are working in the country.Only 680 foreigners have work permits, according to the country's immigration department and only 66 have applied for residence permits.The rest must leave the country with immediate effect.
He fired Edward Hosea, the Director General of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) as a move towards strengthening the country’s anti-corruption body after years of disappointingly slow responses to corruption. He also chided the judiciary for failing to play its part in the anti-graft war, offering a carrot to those judges who have done their jobs diligently. Addressing a contractors’ registration board meeting in Dar es Salam, President Magufuli declared, “If you see people wondering, it is because they are used to business as usual. They thought I will be part of them. Never! Not me! I better give up the presidency and return to the village than being a President and entertain the rot that is in this country. I am saying never.”If fighting corruption makes Magufuli a mad dictator, Africa needs more mad dictators at the helm.
The claim that fighting corruption affects economic development for whatever reason is fallacious. Economic indications show there is confidence in the administration and Tanzania’s investment climate remains favourable. Any allegations to the contrary are malicious and shallow propaganda. He went ahead and recited a litany of ills he found in government, which necessitate his style, including tax evasion, theft at the Dar es Salaam Port, ghost workers and massive swindling at the National Identification Authority (Nida).
Magufuli ordered a ban on ministries, government departments and agencies (MDAs) holding conferences and other meetings in privately-run establishments., instead, the use of ministries' boardrooms and publicly owned facilities as part of instituting financial discipline and cutting costs of running the government a decision that has already started biting, with hotel owners contemplating their next move.
Magufuli sacked the Minister for Home Affairs, Charles Kitwanga for attending parliament session drunk.Mr Kitwanga was dismissed on Friday night for allegedly being drunk in Parliament. He becomes the first cabinet minister to be sacked by President Magufuli since he formed his new government in December last year."There are rules and regulations in the public service that prohibit workers from drinking alcohol and getting drunk during working hours. Civil servants must have a clear mind to be able to perform government duties properly," It further pointed out that there was a question, which Mr Kitwanga could not respond to properly because he was staggering and stinking. Magufuli fired him there and then.
Magufuli picks another good fight – this time to cut traffic jams in Dar es Salaam by 80% that has been costing Tanzania According to last 2015 statistics, Dar es Salaam loses nearly $188 million to traffic congestion annually. The plans, the Tanzanian president said, included heavy investments towards the
construction of roads and railways in the capital of over 5 million people.Magufuli said the government had already allocated $500 million in the next financial year to upgrade the central railway line to standard gauge.
Although most Tanzanians have been yearning for a ‘tough president’ to fix the country, some leading opposition leaders in the country say the Magufuli administration has already displayed some authoritarian tendencies, pointing to the banning of a weekly tabloid, halting of live television broadcasts of full parliamentary sessions, and demolitions of illegally-built houses countrywide,” the failure to restart the constitutional reform process; and the lingering political crisis in Zanzibar, where the general election was annulled in suspicious circumstances.
Constitutional reforms would solve the controversy over the mainland’s relationship with the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago. They would also promote the drive for good governance and accountability that Magufuli is championing. He is likely to succeed with these reforms if he undertakes them now while he is still popular among Tanzanians.
President John Magufuli has been a darling of ordinary Africans and he has massive support throughout the continent and better yet, in his own Tanzania. He is seen as the saviour of the poor, the one man who has given himself to the fight against the corrupt systems of governance that the continent was now used to. That he comes from CCM, a party not particularly famous for being democratic and prudent in its dealings only makes him more remarkable. This is the party that the Economist called “thuggish and undemocratic” yet Magufuli rises against all odds to become the one man who is pruning the Tanzanian system of destructive elements. It therefore comes as a shocker that he would have to defend himself against the charge of being a mad dictator. In response to these allegations, President Magufuli said, “I have decided that this country will move ahead, and it will move ahead. The measures I’m taking are aimed at saving this country. I’m not a madman or a dictator…there are bizarre things going on in the government which I cannot tolerate…I must take action.”
“To public servants I say again, we must change. There is no short-cut. No one will survive thinking this is a temporary situation. This is permanent. It is permanent and unchangeable. We must continue with the same spirit to bring back Tanzania’s lost prestige. Of recent, many investors have been trooping to the country, which even encouraged me to double my efforts. You voted for me to so that I deliver for you. You did not vote for me so that I join the corrupt club. This is our country. We were born here. We will die here.” Magufil quoted recently.