Tan­za­nia’s graft Bull­dozer

New east African pres­i­dent has cut back on state spend­ing and is smash­ing cor­rup­tion, writes FES­TI­VAL BUD­GET LAV­ISH STATE BAN­QUET

CityPress - - Voices -

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

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