Earlier this week, President John Magufuli of Tanzania revealed his monthly takings which pale in comparison with the monstrous figures other leaders are taking home. Magufuli revealed that he earns $4,000 per month which makes him one of the lowest paid African leaders (and we dare say world leaders too). While it would surprise us if it were some other leader, it is totally in character for Magufuli who is known for his frugality. It seems the “Bulldozer” is not scared to mow down even his own luxuries in the pursuit of national development.
While speaking to local officials, President John Magufuli said, "My salary is nine million (Tanzanian Shillings). I have not increased my salary and I will not increase it. Because my obligation is to serve Tanzanians first. Citizens are tired of their money getting stolen.” This equates to around US $4,000, a quarter of what Jakaya Kikwete used to take after a month’s work during his tenure as President of Tanzania. Kikwete reportedly earned $192,000 per year, as per African Review report. This translates to a solid $16,000 per month which was 109 times the average income in Tanzania.
Still, Kikwete’s salary was dwarfed by those of Jacob Zuma, King Mohammed VI and Paul Biya who earned $272,000, $480,000 and $601,000 respectively. Some African leaders clearly make a killing which kills and destroys economies. Africa Ranking’s 2017 list of Highest paid African leaders features Jacob Zuma at pole position with annual takings of $272,000 while Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika is second place with a whopping $168,000 per year. The Goliath salaries are still a present reality and are even more sickening when analysed in the context of economic size.
Magufuli is just the man needed to restore sanity and hopefully some shame in leaders who feel entitled to economy crippling salaries and perks. In fact, Magufuli has done something unexpected of any man, leader or not. He pegged the salaries of state entity bosses at $6,700, a considerable amount above his own. No wonder he then remarked, “They can leave if they don’t want it.”
He has not left office for his $4,000 and surely had a right to tell off complaining executives who earn more than the president. Magufuli has also removed ghost workers from the state payroll and restricted foreign travel for officials.
Magufuli’s thriftiness has, however, courted criticism from the International Monetary Fund which found the leader’s approach a little extreme. Earlier this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said some Tanzanian government policies and the uncertainty of its actions could dent Tanzania's record of a stable economic growth achieved in recent years. The IMF said President John Magufuli's approach to the management of the economy faced four key challenges with a risk of undermining the country's macroeconomic stability namely a tight stance on macroeconomic policies, the slow pace of credit growth that may become protracted, slow implementation of public investment, and private sector uncertainty about the government's new economic strategies.
Whatever risks Magufuli’s approach poses are clearly less potent than corruption and greed. Magufuli is leading Africa in the right direction. The rest of the leaders finally have a forward thinking leader to be compared to.