Ignatius’Nat Muotoh writes a moving tribute to celebrate the life and times of the late President John Magufuli of Tanzania
The death of the Tanzanian President Dr John Pombe Magufuli on Wednesday 17th March, 2021 has brought to an end one of the best African presidency. Certainly, the best President to come from the continent of Africa in recent times. Prior to becoming the President of Tanzania at the age of 55, the average age of an African President as at 2016, oscillates around 83 years. Going by this average age for an African President in 2016, one must appreciate the unique achievements of Magufuli at the age of 61 years.
Dr John Pombe Magufuli popularly known as the Bulldozer, passed away after a terminal heart failure which according to rumours by the opposition party in his country Tanzania; was directly linked to the COVID-19 complications. He was undoubtedly a known sceptic of the Coronavirus pandemic, with critics blaming him for his own death and that of other Tanzanians. A mere mortal of course, hence an unpopular sceptic of the Coronavirus pandemic, he was by an exceptional standard, a really down to earth man who left his nation far much better than he met it.
Magufuli defied all odds to rise from being a secondary school teacher with only a Diploma in Education; majoring in Mathematics and Chemistry, to earn a Doctorate degree in Chemistry. He represents a true son of Africa who despite a very tough background, worked so hard to make an exemplary success in his chosen field. He ventured into politics, and would later go on to become an MP at the young age of 35.
As the President of Tanzania under The Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, which in Swahili means “The Party of The Revolution” at the age of 55, the CCM party became the dominant ruling party in Tanzania; and the second longest-ruling party in Africa, only after the True Whig Party of Liberia.
Despite being a president for only five years which is not in tandem with a typical African president’s quest for a 2nd, 3rd or even a 4th term ambitions; Magufuli achieved unprecedented successes for his country Tanzania during his first five years. His tremendous successes are considered impossible by many for a typical African president.
Though Tanzanians are mourning a great statesman; they take solace in the loss of a leader who has accomplished tenfolds in a short period of five years, that which hadn’t been achieved in the past 50 years.
Looking at the litany of his successes, one wonders if he really was first an African, and secondly if he really was a president of an African nation.
Within his first five years in office, the Bulldozer, sacked over 13 ministers and over 19,000 civil servants for corrupt practices and inefficiencies
Within the same period also, he built 96 district hospitals, and over four hundred 400 health centres in Tanzania.
Again under his presidency within the first five years of his administration, over 90% of the whole country were connected to the national electric grid, an unprecedented record for an African president. This was up from 20% national electrification at the time his predecessor, Mr Jakaya Kikwete left office in 2015.
It is anticipated that by the end of this year 2021, Tanzania will be the first African nation to electrify the whole country thus achieving a 100% electrification of the entire nation.
Of course, this is a rare feat for an African nation.
During the same period, Magufuli built a water project similar to that of the late President Gaddafi of Libya. He tunnelled and channelled water from Lake Victoria 500kms away to Tanzanian cities.
His administration, controlled the mining and selling of tanzanite thereby ending the monopoly India and Kenya had as the leading sellers of tanzanite in the world market. As an ardent believer in Africa, President Magufuli never left the continent of Africa, and only visited two African countries of Kenya and Rwanda before his demise. Amongst his other achievements, is his most ambitious project which is the construction of the most modern and longest railway in Africa- the Tanzania Standard Gauge Railway (TSGR).
The Tanzania Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is a railway system currently under construction, linking his nation to the neighboring countries of Rwanda and Uganda; and through these two countries, to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is a part of East African Railway Master Plan, with a total length of 1,800 km (1,100 miles). When completed, it will be operated by the (TRC) Tanzania Railway Corporation; and will be powered by a 25kv 50 Hz AC electrified overhead catenary.
This project is expected to be completed and operational by the third quarter of 2021.
Again, under President Magufuli, Tanzania in collaboration with Egypt, is currently building the largest Power Dam in the whole of Africa at River Rufiji which is approximately 220 kilometres South-west of Dar es Salaam. It is expected that this dam will generate 2GW of electricity when completed. That’s not the end of the list of his achievements.
Magufuli succeeded in modernising most of the infrastructures in Dar es Salaam, making it the fastest growing city in Africa. In addition to these, he negotiated an oil pipeline project with Uganda that will earn his country billions of dollars in revenue for the next 30 years. Again, under his government, Tanzania was able to nationalise the mining sector, bringing all the mines under the effective control of his government.
Discipline and a zero tolerance for corruption was his mantra. And he was able to pass such mindsets to the Tanzanian civil service. It is said that no civil servant despises another in any government office, since one could unwittingly be despising an undercover cop at his own peril.
Under his education policy, he completely reorganised and refurbished the nation’s educational institutions with the result that Dar es Salaam University, currently has the largest library in the East and Central Africa. He promoted Kiswahili as the official language for all government businesses within Tanzania. Kiswahili language is now used in all court proceedings running up to the Supreme Court. The Bulldozer as he was popularly called, went as far as defying the Western imperialists nations from forcing his country to support same sex marriages. While these policies attracted some backlash from some Western nations, they were found very favourable and popular by the people of Tanzania.
Did I forget his other achievements within the same five years period in office as the president?
Yes I did.
He constructed the largest Children Cancer Centre in the entire East African sub-region at Muhimbili Dar es Salaam.
Finally, Dr. John Pombe Magufuli was truly a nationalist in the real sense of the word and a man who truly lived for, and died for his country.
May the soul of this unsung hero of Africa, a President par excellence, Rest in Perfect peace.
Within his first five years in office, the Bulldozer, sacked over 13 ministers and over 19,000 civil servants for corrupt practices and inefficiencies. Within the same period also, he built 96 district hospitals, and over four hundred 400 health centres in Tanzania. Again under his presidency within the first five years of his administration, over 90% of the whole country were connected to the national electric grid, an unprecedented record for an African president. This was up from 20% national electrification at the time his predecessor, Mr Jakaya Kikwete left office in 2015