The 11th of February marked 100 days since John Pombe Magufuli was sworn in as the 5th President of Tanzania. So far, most Tanzanians feel satisfied with his performance. A survey commissioned by Mwananchi Communications Ltd (MCL) shows that an overwhelming majority of Tanzanians have given the thumbs up to their President. About 90% of the respondents said they were satisfied with how President Magufuli is managing the government. Whichever way one looks at it, Tanzania’s new President is currently the man of the moment. His words and actions, from the day he was sworn in to succeed the former President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, have impressed many people. He has taken into office with gusto, and has lived the spirit of his campaign in a true fashion. Having emerged victorious from the bruising battle with a bolstered opposition, the President has demonstrated that he is keen to deliver on his promises. Since being sworn in as Tanzania's president on November 5, John Magufuli has been cracking down on corruption and wasteful spending, which are problems that continue to plague many African nations.
During his first days at the State House he made a surprise visit at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH). The President found that key diagnostic apparati such as the CT-Scan and MRI were not working. Patients who needed to undergo testing had to pay exorbitant fees for the services at private hospitals. The President expressed concern over the laxity of the management to fix the machines, which had not been working for three months. The hospital’s acting director, Hussein Kidanto, became one of the first executives to be booted out over inefficiency by President Magufuli. The President appointed a new management led by Prof. Lawrence Museru to spearhead reforms at the country’s biggest hospital. In response, a brand new CT scan apparatus was recently installed.President Magufuli has conducted a number of reforms including reducing the size of his cabinet from 60 to only 34 members.
President Magufuli has conducted a number of reforms including reducing the size of his cabinet from 60 to only 34 members. He has also instituted strict controls in financial management among public servants by banning all but important foreign trips, which should be sanctioned by his office. He has also barred fancy national parties, which used to be a source of ill-gotten money by government officials. For instance, the President scrapped last year’s Independence Day celebrations and ordered that the day be dedicated to a rare clean-up campaign in a bid to tackle the cholera outbreak that had spread in some parts of the country killing more than 200 people. Magufuli himself participated in these efforts by personally cleaning up the rubbish outside of the state house.
Magufuli has focused on revenue collection with his efforts helping the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) to raise monthly tax collection to more than Shillings 1.5 trillion from 900 billion. The President has adopted a no-nonsense approach as he implements reforms in public service. He has stormed public offices and institutions unannounced and warned public servants that he will not tolerate lazy and thieving civil servants.his efforts have helpED the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) to raise monthly tax collection to more than Shillings 1.5 trillion from 900 billion.
The President has acted on the towering problem of corruption and laxity. In his inaugural address to the 11th Parliament in November 2015, he did not mince words when he spelt out his administration’s main priority in a familiar, symbolic Swahili phrase—kutumbua majipu, loosely meaning “opening boils”. The President chose a perfect symbolism to describe the ills bedeviling the country as “boils”—the painful, firm reddened skin bumps that house a collection of pus beneath the skin. Boils in Magufuli term means ills, the corrupt, unwanted, retrogressive elements that have stalled the nation’s progress. He has gone out full scale to do exactly that. To date, as I write this article, President Magufuli’s government has sacked more than 150 officials.President Magufuli’s government has sacked more than 150 officials.
Within a few days of his leadership, Magufuli cracked the whip, throwing out of office top officials of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) over a tax evasion scam at the Dar es Salaam Port. The former TRA Commissioner General Rished Bade was fired on November 27th, 2015. He was among the first to go. Bade was dismissed together with five other TRA officials to pave the way for investigations into a mega Sh. 80 billion tax evasion scam. A surprise visit had been done to the TPA by Prime Minister Majaliwa Kassim Majaliwa where it was reported that about 349 containers had been released from the port without owners paying duty for the goods.349 containers had been released from the port without owners paying duty for the goods. On December 6th, 2015 the TRA Commissioner for Customs and Excise, Tiagi Masamaki was also dismissed for his alleged involvement in the same tax evasion scam. Together with other five TRA officials, he was charged with economic sabotage and causing the government a loss of unpaid taxes. The Director General of TPA, Awadhi Massawe was not spared either, on December 7, 2015 together with his top lieutenants faced the chop amid allegation of corruption and lack of accountability at the TPA.
He even fired the anti-corruption director, Dr. Edward HoseahThe President did not end there. He even fired the anti-corruption director, Dr. Edward Hoseah. On Wednesday 16th, 2015 Dr. Hoseah who had presided over the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) for nine years was shown the door. During his nine years tenure at the helm, PCCB was heavily criticized for not acting on grand corruption. In dismissing him, the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa noted that the President felt the PCCB boss would not move at the same pace as the new administration. President Magufuli also accused him of failing to act against massive bribery that had just been exposed at the TPA and TRA.
Other senior officials who have been sacked include, the Commissioner General of the Immigration Services Department, Mr. Sylvester Ambokile, who was suspended over corruption allegations and incompetency; the Managing Director of Reli Assets Holding (RAHCO), Mr. Benhadard Tito who was suspended to pave the way for investigations into gross procurement flaws in the awarding of a tender for the construction of the $ 7.6 billion standard gauge railway line; the Director General of Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, Charles Chacha, who was suspended by the Minister for Works to pave the way for investigations over transactions in the purchase of aircraft guiding equipment known as Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) valued at Euro 1.5 million, but remained out of order since installation in November 2015. Mr. Chacha was also suspended for incompetence as far as managing revenue collection and procurement procedures are concerned. Also on the list includes, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Dr. Shaaban Mwinjaka, who was kicked out after an inspection established that Shs. 13 billion had been misused at the Tanzania Railway Limited (TRL), which falls under the ministry. Another one is Mr. Dickson Maimu the former Director General of National Identification Authority (NIDA) who was dismissed on Monday, January 25, 2016 following the alleged questionable expenditure of Shs. 179.6 billion in the national identity cards project. The President has since directed the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), PCCB and the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) to investigate the case. On the same day four other senior NIDA officials were also suspended.
President Magufuli said that he had been forced to act the way he has in the few days in power to “restore sanctity in the use of public resources”President Magufuli said that he had been forced to act the way he has in the few days in power to “restore sanctity in the use of public resources”. The citizens have been excited. Erstwhile hidden rot in public services has been exposed and measures have been taken to restore people’s confidence in the government. Indeed, discipline ethics in ministries, parastatals, local administration and so forth, have been revived and cutting corner tendencies are vanishing fast for fear of sacking and even imprisonment. By and large, Dr. Magufuli has received a positive reception, by his terrific speed and evident sincerity in fulfilling 2015 election campaign promises under the ruling party banner. It can be argued that Magufuli has “demolished the soft state”.Tanzania under the previous regime had regrettably turned into what Professor Galal Amin of the American University in Cairo described as a “soft state” meaning a state that passes laws but does not enforce them. The elites and economically powerful could afford to ignore the law because their power protected them from it; while others paid bribes to work round it. In sum, corruption was encouraged and made to prosper under the arrangements of the soft state. President Magufuli is thus transforming the State and making it very difficult for corrupt officials. His statement at the Law Day on February 4, 2016 where he called upon the Chief Justice to quickly embark on establishment of a Special High Court to deal with cases of corruption is a clear manifestation of the President’s seriousness in combating this scourge.
#WhatWouldMagufuliDoIn his 100 days in office President Magufuli has become an internet sensation. He has inspired social media across the region. The hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo became a Twitter obsession not only among social media users in Africa, but also globally. The hashtag took Twitter by storm in December and January. It was not based on Magufuli’s daily activity on social media but rather it was about people using the Twitter hashtag to post funny creative pictures that were inspired by the President’s war on waste and inefficiency. “What Would Magufuli Do" has become a popular trend on social media in Africa, in which people post pictures of themselves applying Magufuli's values to their daily lives by saving money in ridiculous ways. For instance, there were photos of a bride and bridegroom cutting a loaf of bread instead of a cake with words that read like “I wanted to buy a wedding cake but thought #WhatWouldMagufuliDo?” or another one eating plain rice with a picture of a chicken leg arguing, “I wanted to buy myself chicken to go with this rice for lunch, but I asked myself #WhatWouldMagufuliDo?
How successful Magufuli will be at addressing Tanzania's economic problems in a sustainable manner remains to be seen. Critics are skeptical over just how long Magufuli's reforms will last. Others have pointed out that Magufuli is far from the first East African President to promise to battle corruption and that such promises in the past have proven to be empty. Cynics also point to the fact that Magufuli is still a member of the same Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) political party which has overseen the very government corruption that Magufuli is combating. Whatever the case may be, Magufuli has already taken steps to curb corruption and waste in his nation which African leaders would do well to follow. All in all, President Magufuli deserves a big salute as he marks his first 100 Days in office. Most, humbly however, Tanzanians are earnestly requesting the President and his team to apply a rational combination of rigid enforcement of discipline and zero tolerance of corruption and other misdeeds, with cautious methods without compromising the rule of law and respect for due process.