Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 March 2021:
President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. John Pombe Magufuli died aged 61 at Mzena Hospital, in Dar es Salaam. According to the statement released by Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Dr. Magufuli died from ‘heart disease’.
John Pombe Magufuli will be remembered as a man who lived and died by his own principles.
Born on October 29, 1959, Magufuli earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1994 and 2009, respectively. After a short stint of teaching at Sengerema Secondary School and later working as an industrial chemist, Magufuli went into politics under the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.
He was elected a member of parliament in 1995 and that same year appointed deputy minister of works, receiving the title of minister in 2000. In 2010, he gained popularity after he was appointed Tanzania’s minister for works and transportation for the second time.
His bullish leadership style and fight against graft in the road construction industry was endearing for Tanzanians, who later nicknamed him “the bulldozer.”
He ran as president in 2015 and won 58% of the vote, defeating Edward Lowassa of the Chadema opposition party. In 2020, he was re-elected in a vote — a win that opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu decried as fraudulent.
In his inauguration address, Magufuli was full of praise for the country’s electoral conduct. “As you are aware, elections have been a source of conflict in many countries, but we Tanzanians have safely passed this test. This is proof to the world that Tanzanians are peace-loving, and we have matured in our democracy.”
In Tanzania, President Magufuli was a popular figure. His lean government and cost-cutting measures greatly earned him respect among citizens.
For example, in 2015, he suspended the country’s independence celebrations, instead urging citizens to clean up their communities to fight a cholera outbreak.
He also embarked on major infrastructure projects such as the port of Bagamoyo, a new railway, and upgrading the Dar-es-Salaam International Airport.
His hands-on war against corruption was admired not just in Tanzania — but the entire continent. “Magufuli came in on the platform of fighting corruption and empowering the masses,” Martin Adati, a Kenyan political analyst, told DW. “It is the people who have been benefitting from corruption and all these other fuuny things who are not very happy with him.”
However, his popularity at home was tainted abroad by human rights groups who accused him of trampling on basic rights such as freedom of press and expression.
In 2020, his government introduced a law that made it a punishable offense for local media to publish international content without authorization.
For exiled opposition leader Tundu Lissu, Magufuli’s presidency was riddled with autocratic tendencies despite his accomplishments. “Yes, he has built all these things, but that does not justify misrule, that does not justify the draconian and very authoritarian policies that he has imposed on the country,” Lissu told DW, adding that the late president’s actions did not legitimize the destruction of the country’s democratic processes.