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New Tanzania President stuns social media activists

11 February 2016 at 19:22 | 1849 views

PV Staff.

It’s rare for African presidents to be treated kindly on social media. That’s why we find it very interesting that John Magufuli, the new president of the East African country of Tanzania, who assumed power in November last year, is being praised, congratulated and held up as a role model by social media activists and denizens.

From what has been said about him, Magufuli seems very much like Tanzania’s first president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who was a very selfless and caring leader who lived an almost ascetic life-style through out his presidency and was much loved by his people and respected even by his enemies.

Readers should however note that Magufuli is no outsider. He has been part of the Tanzanian governing elite since 1989 when he left his high school teaching job to become a Member of Parliament and later cabinet Minister. But one thing he has been known for over the years is his rejection of extravagance, wastage and unnecessary expenditure in government. Much like Mwalimu Nyerere who must have directly or indirectly inspired him and shaped his character.

Here is what President Magufuli is said to have done after just three months as president of Tanzania:

1. Soon after his election, Magufuli declared there would be no celebration of Independence Day on 9 December because it would be shameful to spend huge sums of money on the celebrations when people were dying of cholera. Instead, the day has been set as a national day of cleanliness and the money will go toward street¬cleaning services. He has said everybody should pick up their tools and clean their backyards.

2. After his first official visit to the Muhimbili Hospital, and seeing the horrible state it was in, he ordered over 200 million shillings marked for parliament parties be used to pay for beds for people lying on the floor and sharing beds.

A few days later 300 beds were delivered. He dismissed the governing board and got a new team in place, and within days the broken MRI was fixed. He also pared down his inauguration party from $100,000 to $7,000 and sent the extra money to the hospital.

3. Three days into his term, Magufuli announced a ban on all foreign travel by government officials. They have been instructed to instead make regular visits to rural areas to learn and help solve problems facing everyday Tanzanians. All tasks that required officials to travel abroad would instead be done by High Commissioners and Ambassadors who are already in place.

4. He has restricted all first and business class travel to government officials, except the President, Vice President and Prime Minister.

5. There will be no more workshops and seminars in expensive hotels when there are so many ministry board rooms available.

6. He suspended the Tanzania Revenue Authority’s chief and other officials pending investigations after a visit by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa to the port of Dar es Salaam found 350 containers listed in its books were missing.

7. When he had to travel 600km to Dodoma, from Dar, to officially open parliament last week, he didn’t order a private jet; instead, he chose to drive.

8. At the National Assembly in Dodoma last week he clearly sent out the message that it will not be business as usual under his leadership.

9. He promised to cut public spending, fight corruption and enhance accountability in public service. He said it is time for Tanzanians to walk the talk.

10. Magufuli reportedly told parliamentary leaders that the people of Tanzania want him to solve their problems and not make speeches.

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