The current President of Tanzania Dr. John Pombe Magufuli (JPM) was never expected to be president of this beautiful land. When Election Day came on October 25, as people thronged polling stations, no one was sure who would carry the day. To some extent though, those in the opposition believed that their man would win and those supporting CCM believed, as has always been the case, the CCM candidate will emerge victorious. And as always, to the surprise of the opposition (Ukawa), it was CCM day again and JPM was announced the winner of the presidential elections and would be president for the next 5 years. The opposition cried foul and temporarily tried to stage a protest of the presidential results, it proved helpless especially following what JPM did after being sworn into office.
President Magufuli – the change Tanzanians so far believe in
Following his swearing in ceremony on Nov 5 at Dar es Salaam Uhuru grounds, all Magufuli’s actions have been music to the ears of the public, for both CCM and largely in the opposition. His austerity measures, have made him a talk of global politics and have earned him admirers especially in the African region. In Tanzania, there are those who think that his actions are reminiscent of an opposition candidate and un-CCM. In less than two months in office, he has won the hearts and minds of the majority in the opposition and a couple of frowns from his own party, especially those who voted him expecting business as usual. What MagufulI is implementing is what has been the opposition agenda for years. There are even those who think, rightly so, that if he remains consistent and continues with the same vigor at doing what he is doing, there is danger that the opposition in the country might die or else the opposition to CCM will have to change their agenda, strategy and tactics. After a long time, there is a President who is seen to be doing what he promised to do as he went around the country campaigning – Tanzanians are starting to see glimpses of the change they needed, the change Magufuli promised them.
Some of the things he has done in his few days in office would provide a picture of where he wants to take the country. In his first day in office after the inauguration, he walked from State House to the Ministry of Finance (MoF) across the road, unannounced. When at MoF, he wondered why some officers were not at their desks during work hours. When word got out that the president had made an impromptu visit to the MoF, every other government office started working under the mode that they would soon be visited without notice. The action caused public officers getting into their offices early in the morning and some that were not going to work started to attend to their offices resulting into a rise in traffic jams one hour earlier than normal in Dar es Salaam. From Mbezi beach where I live, it was safe to leave home by 6:30am and get to office without facing morning traffic jam but that quickly changed after JPM was sworn into office. The business community was elated; hope had finally returned to Tanzania
Then he visited Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), the country’s main referral hospital. At the hospital, he found patients including mothers sleeping on the cement floor, the MRI and CT-Scan equipment had not been working for over two months and most of the required drugs and medicines were out of stock. Surprisingly and within three days after his visit, the MRI and CT-Scans were back to work at Muhimbili, following the president’s order. Two weeks later, the national drugs store (Medical Stores Department – MSD), opened a pharmacy store at the national hospital to make availability of essential drugs easy to patients. On the very day of his visit to the MNH, after establishing that the main problem at the hospital was poor leadership and management, he quickly fired the board of directors and the hospital Director General. He told the new DG that he too would face the axe if he didn’t put his acts together. The message all along since President Magufuli started work is, you either deliver or you go – new standards of work performance in the public sector are being set in the country!
So far, JPM is putting into action his campaign promises and seems to continue doing so in the days to come. JPM is now a love of almost every citizen…he is not the normal politician who says this and once he is in office starts to do something completely different. Some are now calling him the messiah we have been waiting for. People don’t want him to die anytime soon and already there are church services going on in the country of people praying for his good and long life.
On November 20, JPM gave a speech in parliament that generally highlighted his vision for the country. But for me, I think, it was the speech that he gave before the Business Community on Dec 3 at State House that put his goals for the country prosperity in context. In this speech, he generally called for political and economic inclusivity in building the Tanzania of Magufuli, this is the Tanzania he wanted – inclusive Tanzania. . By now, the message that you either perform or go was slowly beginning to sink to a public service that was used to entitlement culture of the previous regime.
With the economy growing at 7% during the inefficient years of the past, President Magufuli can propel this to at least 10%. This “magufulification” of the country has given Tanzanians a new hope for a better tomorrow; Tanzanians have started to believe in their government at last. Visiting government offices now shows a completely different culture starting to build and people hope for its sustainability. President Magufuli has also caught the attention of the neighboring countries and Africa at large and beyond. some now want their leaders to do what Magufuli is doing in Tanzania. Twitter caught fire with a discussion with a hash tag #whatwouldmagufulido?#. Today Tanzania has a president who is known abroad more because of what he does well at home than because of his frequent foreign trips – the now called messiah does not seem to be travelling abroad anytime soon! He believes that Tanzanians have the primary responsibility to develop their own country, they have no uncle abroad to help them on that. It seems to me that in the next five years his attention should be on improving business environment in the country, performance in the public service, quality of education provided to our kids, infrastructure (energy, central railway line, Dar and Bagamoyo ports, decongesting Dar), industrialization initiatives and sorting out the Zanzibar question. And on that, the country is behind him.