Magu­fuli’s lead­er­ship sets an ex­am­ple for Africa

The Sunday Independent - - DISPATCHES -

AU­THOR of Africa is Open for Busi­ness; me­dia com­men­ta­tor and pub­lic speaker on African busi­ness af­fairs, and a weekly colum­nist for African In­de­pen­dent – Twitter Han­dle: @Vic­torAfrica

‘ Hii ni kwa Magu­fuli, right?’ (This is for Magu­fuli, right?)

Or at least that was what I think my cab driver said. I was in Dar es Salaam, Tan­za­nia, and the driver had just filled up with about 25 litres of petrol. At this quiet ser­vice sta­tion on Bag­amoyo Road near Mbezi Beach, he was stat­ing the ob­vi­ous with his rhetor­i­cal ques­tion. The petrol pump at­ten­dant was giv­ing him a re­ceipt to com­ply with what Pres­i­dent John Magu­fuli wants: that ev­ery trans­ac­tion must be doc­u­mented.

Al­though this was mere ban­ter at the end of a brief stop, it pricked my cu­rios­ity to ask him, once we were on our way again, why he had said that.

“No, the Pres­i­dent says for ev­ery­thing we buy, we must de­mand a re­ceipt to curb cor­rup­tion,” he an­swered.

“So, he is an im­pos­si­ble man, this Magu­fuli, hey?” “No, mzee; he is a good man. “The only peo­ple who are un­happy with him are those who have been steal­ing.”

This was con­firmed later at some of my meet­ings.

A con­sul­tant for one of the Euro- pean aid agen­cies com­plained about the tough crack­down on malfea­sance by Magu­fuli.

She agreed with the fight against cor­rup­tion, but was con­cerned that the man nick­named “The Bull­dozer” was a bit heavy-handed.

Ho­tels are stand­ing empty be­cause he stopped all the con­fer­enc­ing, which had been a source of good in­come for them.

Look around, she con­tin­ued, and you will see mega-build­ing projects not pro­gress­ing as fast as they had been be­fore he took over in December 2015.

Pres­i­dent Magu­fuli, mean­while, was about to host his Egyp­tian coun­ter­part to dis­cuss pos­si­ble in­vest­ments in Tan­za­nia’s health sec­tor. Apart from the re­sump­tion of talks over the Grand Re­nais­sance Dam and its im­pact on Egypt, Magu­fuli and Ab­del Al-Sisi ex­plored prospects of cap­i­tal in­jec­tion to boost Tan­za­nia’s phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sec­tor and agri­cul­ture.

Pres­i­dent Magu­fuli wants to ce­ment trade and in­vest­ment re­la­tions with Egypt to re­duce the $11.2 mil­lion (R143m) his govern­ment spends an­nu­ally to pro­cure medicines and sup­plies.

He also wants a share of that huge meat im­port bill Egypt pays to India, if Egypt can help his farm­ers to build their meat pro­cess­ing ca­pac­ity.

Never shy to aim high, The Bull­dozer even wants to tap into Egypt’s health sec­tor ex­per­tise to en­able

Tan­za­nia’s own Muhim­bili Na­tional Hospi­tal to per­form kid­ney surg­eries be­fore 2020.

It is tempt­ing to dis­miss him as some­one aim­ing too high; but is the lack of am­bi­tion not our prob­lem as Africans? Con­sid­er­ing how many Africans – in­clud­ing those run­ning coun­tries – travel else­where to re­ceive med­i­cal treat­ment, maybe it is bet­ter to aim too high than too low.

My seven days in Dar es Salaam drummed into me the be­lief that Pres­i­dent Magu­fuli might just be the kind of leader most African coun­tries need. If even petrol at­ten­dants know that they need to is­sue re­ceipts for their petrol sales, they must be feel­ing his pres­ence.

It is true that the slow­down in the econ­omy could have dis­as­trous ef­fects on em­ploy­ment. His

cur­rent stand-off with the min­ing com­pa­nies in­cludes his $190 bil­lion (R2.4 tril­lion) tax bill fac­ing UK-listed Aca­cia Min­ing. Ac­cus­ing the com­pany of op­er­at­ing il­le­gally and un­der­stat­ing its gold ex­ports, Magu­fuli has also banned cop­per and min­eral sands ex­ports.

He has redi­rected ex­pen­di­ture to ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture, banned lav­ish In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions and curbed air travel for most govern­ment of­fi­cials. Me­dia pro­fes­sion­als who crit­i­cize him have not been spared ei­ther.

On the Aca­cia dis­pute alone, some an­a­lysts – in­clud­ing from In­vestec – were quoted in BBC re­ports say­ing the tax bill against Aca­cia “is more than twice what all top five global gold min­ers (in­clud­ing Bar­rick) com­bined have paid in taxes since 2000”!

Aca­cia has cau­tioned that his move threat­ens the “se­cu­rity of the 36 200 in­di­rect and in­duced jobs” and its abil­ity to in­vest in ed­u­ca­tion, in­fra­struc­ture and health.

Magu­fuli will cer­tainly dial down on the in­ten­sity of his ac­tions, but he de­serves the ben­e­fit of doubt, for now; and maybe his sec­ond term.

He is do­ing much bet­ter than most African lead­ers we have.

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