Tanzania’s President Dr. John Pombe Magufuli – an obituary

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.”

Adored at home — but not abroad

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.

4 Comments

  1. Here in Germany you will find rumors that this presdent was murdered because of political and economic reasons – specially because of his views against the corona vaccines.

    • OMG…..I knew it would come to this – Big Pharma wielding the self-centered scepter of Colonial power has done it once again quite discreetly by extinguishing the brightest light that has been shining in our poor regressive Africa in recent years – a million thanks to you once again Mr Wiecha as usual you sincerity hasn’t failed to impress me…OMG …folks Africa needs to get her act together real fast.

  2. President Magafuli was a great and exemplary leader, the likes of which are extremely rare in Africa. He feared no one in the process of positively transforming his country, including those who believe that they own the world. He was a natural economist who gained notoriety for being clean in his style of governance , dismissed ministers and civil servants for corruption, cut down his salary and made the civil service lean and responsive.

    He didn’t travel much because he said it was too expensive. He cared only about his Tanzania and his people. Western leaders considered him strange because he never travelled to their respective capitals for a photo op, instead preferring to stay put in his Tanzania – his foreign minister did all the travelling in economy class.

    Which leader have we had who comes close to qualifying to wipe the shoes of John Pombi Magafuli? The current one cannot even quality to get a smile from the great man. John Maguli, you came by, you walked by , not hurrying to arrive, you went much faster than those of us who run without thinking. May your soul be granted perpetual peace by the Almighty .And please we need your spirit in Sierra Leone.

  3. Great men are not spared neither are the weak, vulnerable and poor; Every one of us must allow the mysterious supernatural winds that transform all physical things into ethereal to whisper kindly into our ears that our day will also come. This enchanting place called Earth was once home to Great kings, and Sultans wearing majestic robes that stretched behind them like rivers glittering with rubies and diamonds; rivers flowing tirelessly and anxiously to meet the boundless sea. Indeed those we loved the loveliest and the brightest among us have also not been spared – not spared despite the copious overflowing tears that gushed and rushed down our faces like waterfalls flowing rapidly during the mesmerizing rainy season in my beautiful Sierra Leone.

    All strong twigs must eventually break and every scorching flame will after a period of time be also snuffed away by the coldness of the wayward wind – such are the ways of Existence – here today gone tomorrow never to be seen or heard of ever again. A great warrior is no longer with us; Who are those with generous hearts that will sing his praises tirelessly like Nightingales at the break of early dawn? Who is it among you millions in Tanzania and Africa that has already began chanting the heartfelt words of appreciation:

    O gentle wind, sail not in haste away from our shores to those of Omnipotent Heaven with one of our own without permitting those he loved to cry over him, thank and bless him for the great work he has already done – Take him not away from us with haste until we taste the years of salt of our own tears; Angels soaring WEST,EAST,NORTH and SOUTH blow loud the trumpets, an African hero approaches those same pristine shores where Mandela,Lumumba,Dr King,Nkrumah and Sankara once greeted each other with the most sublime ecstasy and joy. Africa thanks you President John ‘Bull Dozer’ Magufuli; We shall all surely meet again with tears, smiles and laughter unfazed under the watchful gaze of the Great Architect and Master of all of Creation.

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