4 October 2017

Tanzania: Is Magufuli's Presidency As Bad As His Critics Claim?

Photo: The Citizen
President John Magufuli

There are cries from some quarters that President John Magufuli's presidency is wanting. Those buying into such charges quote Dr Magufuli, on different occasions, as saying that he wasn't prepared to become president. This being the argument, let's see if it is logical or just politicking.

I have a few reasons that rebut assertions that Magufuli is a president who is poised to nose-dive.

First, presidency is not a professional job; it is an institution that is not run by an individual person namely the president. Presidency has many advisors that are specialised in many fields. Therefore, there is no way Magufuli can be treated as a wanting president.

Secondly, if you look at those making such allegations, some have their personal vendetta because Magufuli's regime has come up with a unique style of not budging when it comes to taking on the status quo. One of those who alleged that Magufuli is not very effective as a president is former Prime Minister Fredrick Sumaye.

We all know Magufuli's regime recently expropriated Sumaye's farms. Such a person can't see any good quality in Magufuli.

Thirdly, to know if Magufuli is fit or unfit for the presidency, one must also look at his track record as a minister; and thereafter, as president. Apart from the father of the nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, no president has ever attracted attention like Magufuli has recently.

Refer to how many leaders the world over admire his brand of leadership. Indeed, nemo propheta in patria sua as the Latin sage has it that no one is considered a prophet in his or her homeland. Hate or love somebody. Again, give the devil his due. Looking at Tanzania today under Magufuli vis-à-vis fighting graft and managing public resources, I see a very shining star. Maybe, due to the fact that I'm not a politician, my lenses may be faulted.

Fourth, if one looks at how Magufuli is managing public funds and resources, he or she'll be convinced that all noises about Magufuli's unfitness for presidency become illogical and misguided so to speak.

Methinks the problem is the lack of room for detractors to vent and politick, as it used to be under former regimes that used to underperform; and let tongues wag without necessarily reprimanding them. This is why many detractors are now eulogising such regimes while they hated them previously.

Fifth, to know if Magufuli fits the bill, look at service delivery in the country. Go to public hospitals, public offices and schools among others. People are now enjoying services they used to pine for previously. Pupils have desks to sit on; and, at least, some hospitals have beds for patients to sleep on. What's wrong with such achievements?

Sixth, I couldn't agree more with Magufuli when he says he avers he isn't a politician. Truly, he is not the type Tanzania was used to. He isn't an artiste who tells lies in order to get away with murder. He says everything point black. For example, when he told the victims of famine that his government didn't have food to dish out simply because it is unable, it was misconstrued as telling them to go to hell. Nay, did they want him to assure such victims that he'd solve the problem to end up not making good on it as they were used to?

Magufuli is not an angel. He is human. He therefore has some minor flaws to tweak i.e. denying political parties to do politics as they used to. So, too, Magufuli needs to listen to his advisors instead of courtiers and all those who want to take him for a ride by pretending they love and respect him while they actually are using him. One of those is one of his appointees accused of forging academic certificates. Such elements are dangerous to Magufuli's presidency simply because they don't tell him the truth. Instead, they dent his reputation in their attempts to please and thereby use him.

Another thing that Magufuli needs to tweak is his stance on the Draft Constitution. It is the right time for Tanzania to have a new constitution. For, it is not only needed but also it'll help him to take graft on.

In sum, those avowing that Magufuli isn't fit for presidency are not doing him and Tanzania justice. They must wait and see how he'll perform in the next elections after lapsing his five years in office. Keep it up Magufuli. Keep on as you rectify some shortfalls.

Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian writer who is based in Canada


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