Why Tanzania’s new president John Magufuli is the most talked African leader right now
PLEASANT surprise is a phrase that should describe better the mood of many Tanzanians as they digest President John Magufuli’s wide range of new measures to contain lavish spending by Parliament and government ministries, departments and agencies.
And surely these measures couldn’t come at a better time. The government has always been seen as paying lip service when it called for tightening of the belt or enhancing financial disciplines because it was not seen doing it.
Fuel guzzling ‘shangingis’, unnecessary foreign trips, expensive parties, workshops, exhibitions and board meetings and other similar things have crept up on the image of the government and Parliament, making leaders be seen as being less serious and acting like the proverbial priest who told his members of congregation, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Change was the buzzword during the election campaign.
He told Tanzanians he would bring about genuine changes in running activities in the government. Many people were convinced he is a true leader and a champion of changes and voted him in to power.
Now, the leader is telling the party is over, let’s get down to business. He started by restricting foreign trips by government officers which have always been a drain on our meagre resources and instead directed them to make regular visits to rural areas to learn and help solve problems facing ‘wananchi’.
President Magufuli ordered that all tasks that necessitated government official to travel abroad would now be done by the country’s high commissioners and ambassadors abroad, unless there is an urgent undertaking one could be allowed to travel after getting permission from the President or the Chief Secretary.
And last week he directed over 200m TSH contributed by various organisations for a party in Parliament be used to buy beds and mattresses for the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH). A day after about 300 beds and mattresses were bought and taken to the hospital.
We therefore welcome the introduction of these strict measures as we see they are step in the right direction to curtail government spending and control ballooning recurrent expenditure so as to free up resources for growth-related capital expenditure.
‘Wananchi’ are highly optimistic that Dr Magufuli will deliver on his promise, the doubters are now convinced on his commitment and ability and even the cynics are taking note that business is NOT as usual this time around.