By Malith Alier, Kalgoorlie,
April 10, 2021(Nyamilepedia) — Around 2015 this author published a piece on this website in praise of Magufuli of Tanzania and Buhari of Nigeria, (New Crop of African Leaders Rocking the Boat). That article was an expectant early recognition of their determination and path as they headed their respective countries. Nigeria is so far bogged down in mass abductions of school children under the watch of “promising” Buhari. Tanzania on the other hand, fared far better than when Magufuli found it on ascendency to presidency six years ago.
Magufuli had tremendously shaken the foundations of the United Republic of Tanzania in so many ways. There is so much literature out there on many aspects of his presidency and apparently, depending on where one stands on the continuum. Like other leaders, past or present, Magufuli has supporters and detractors with varying shades of opinion, political or otherwise. This author believes that the late Tanzanian leader was someone the region should learn practical skills in leadership from. This is in as far as leading a third world country/economy and steer it to middle income as in Tanzania’s case. The Magufuli moxie endures forever!
Magufuli, as someone who had been in Tanzanian government machinery since 1995 had learned a lot and began to apply his insights on the go as he assumed leadership. Fighting corruption vigorously, Magufuli had shown, should be the top of development agenda in east Africa and beyond. Magufuli stopped tens of thousands of workers illegally sneaked into government payroll without due diligence. Halting the leaks in the budget saved his administration millions of Shillings to be used for other sectors that urgently needed services.
The hashtag, “whatwouldmagugulido” was an imaginative way of bringing to attention the possibilities where change was needed but was unfortunately not forthcoming for so long until the advent of the Bulldozer! The Tanzanian leader gave the country he dearly loved, a great lift forward in his short stay at the helm.
Magufuli didn’t stop at fighting corruption, cronyism and other malpractices in government alone. He moved to assert the sanctity of the borders of Tanzania as regulated by law. To re-enforce this point, the Tanzanian court in one of the rare cases auctioned Kenyan Masaai cattle because the owners could not raise court-imposed fines on them. That happening caused a heightened unease in Kenya but Magufuli was unapologetic. He reiterated that he would do it again and again. What would Magufuli do in Tanzania and the region?
And then that frequent travel to UK, US and other destinations for medical and other wants by government officials. John Magufuli put a stop to that and saved his government hundreds of thousandsof Dollars a year. The ban worked wonderfully for Tanzania. The government was reported by the Central Bank of Tanzania to have saved $430m between 2015 and 2016. The foreign travel ban was in addition to other restrictions such as political rallies, live parliamentary broadcasts, pregnant schoolgirls and gold and coper exports as highlighted by the BBC. Who else on the continent can challenge mining companies for treachery and downright brinkmanship? Magufuli slapped Acacia Ltd with 190bn tax bill for tax evasion. Acacia had been mining gold in Tanzania for over seventeen years but used to under declaring revenues as revealed by committee findings commissioned by his vigilant administration.
Magufuli was a people’s president. The government he led went down to the level of common wanainchiof Tanzania. His policies resonated with the grassroots tremendously. This of course, was to the displeasure of the rest of the world, especially, China the new African infrastructure creditor. John had nothing to do with it. He stopped tens of millions of Dollars loans from China with no or little adverse effect on development in Tanzania.
On his untimely and unfortunate passing, the Tanzanian leader received so many glowing tributes from past leaders like Jakaya Kikwete and Zanbarileader, Hassan Mwinyi. Kikwete assured that he never lost trust in Magufuli and whatever he was doing for the country. He said that he supported him all the way to the top job from CCM party room.This was in addition to having him in his government for ten years when he was the president. Maguguliwas, according to Kikwete, reliable and trustworthy full stop.
The outpouring of grief on the passing of Magufuli was another testimony that the country was fully behind him in all that his government did. Although the period of Magufuli leadership was deemed short, many observers testify that a leader does not need forty or fifty years to make a difference in their nation.
There are several countries in Africa with long serving leaders, but the marginal returns are reducing.
The true radar under which Magufuli will be judged is many years ahead. This of course, will be the standards his predecessor sets or follows. The late Tanzanian leader has left big shoes for anyone to fill. Ms. Suluhu Hassan, the new Tanzanian president,has two stark courses to follow – Magufulication/Magufulism or the old, tested way characterized by unchecked graft and subsequent underdevelopment.
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