Tanzania’s graft Bulldozer
New east African president has cut back on state spending and is smashing corruption, writes FESTIVAL BUDGET LAVISH STATE BANQUET
Anew broom, or rather bulldozer, has taken charge in Tanzania. Within three months, he has taken major steps against corruption. The question is whether President John Magufuli can keep it up. When Tinga Tinga (The Bulldozer) took over as Tanzania’s fifth president, he did not let the grass grow under his anti-corruption feet. On his first day in office in November, he made a surprise visit to the finance ministry and told off the officials who weren’t at their desks.
Shortly after, he cancelled the exorbitant independence celebrations. “It’s a disgrace that we should be spending money on celebrations while our people are dying from cholera,” Magufuli told German news agency DPA.
The festival budget of $1.9 million (R30 million at the current exchange rate) was reallocated to a clean-up campaign, for which he put on gloves himself and picked up litter in Dar es Salaam’s streets.
Money for the commemoration of World Aids Day was reallocated to buy antiretroviral drugs for HIV-positive Tanzanians. The budget for the lavish state banquet after the opening of Parliament was cut and the money used for beds for the public hospital in Dar es Salaam. This after Magufuli paid a surprise visit to the hospital and found patients on the ground. He sacked the head of the hospital.
Magufuli reduced Tanzania’s Cabinet from 55 to 34 (ministers and deputies) and placed severe restrictions on foreign visits, CNN reported. He himself travels only by car.
Officials in the Tanzanian revenue office were suspended and corrupt managers at the ports authority were dismissed.
One of his newest decrees is that there will be nothing except nuts, fruit, water and juice at meetings that last less than two hours.
These are just some of the steps Magufuli took within three months in a country rejected by international donors in 2014 because of corruption and misappropriation.
Dr Mzukisi Qobo of the Pan-African Institute at the University of Johannesburg said: “He has moved very fast after becoming president and this has struck a chord with the popular view in Tanzania and the rest of the continent.”
On Twitter, the hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo appears regularly, with Tanzanians posting funny pictures (and sometimes serious ideas) on how cash can be saved.
Magufuli won with a strong anti-corruption message in Tanzania’s most competitive election since independence in 1961. He was the candidate of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and collected 58% of the votes.
Magufuli, a devout Roman Catholic and father of five, used to be a chemistry and mathematics teacher, obtaining a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam in 2009. He was an MP for a long time and served as the minister of public works. In this portfolio, he was nicknamed The Bulldozer, thanks to the multibillion-dollar road-building projects he successfully managed.
Joseph Warioba, a former prime minister, told BBC Africa: “For many years, he was the minister of public works, where he managed megaprojects, but he was never involved in a corruption scandal. Magufuli is not new to the Tanzanian government. He has observed the challenges and what corruption has done to the country.
CORRUPTION FIGHTER John Magufuli