You have a long way to go, President Magufuli

12Feb 2016
The Guardian
You have a long way to go, President Magufuli

Judging from what President Magufuli has done since he clutched the reins of power on November 5, last year, we can justly say in short, ‘so far so good.’
The speed with which he has effected changes in the government and in public circles is fantastic.

Signs that he will honour promises he touted during the presidential campaigns are evident.

Those government officials who thought they could amass public wealth with impunity are quickly realising that they can no longer do that in the presence of the versatile Tanzanian president.

So far, tax evaders have ruthlessly been dealt with. He is now cultivating a culture of frugal spending in the government offices. He himself has become allergic to foreign trips and wants everyone in the government to follow suit.

By merging some ministries which were once working independently, Magufuli has demonstrated acumen for strong statesmanship.

His leadership motto, shortened as Hapa Kazi Tu, has been an inspirational slogan for advocating devotion to work.

For a country which reeks of corruption, President Magufuli is a perfect fit for Tanzania.

There seems to be consensus both within the ruling and opposition parties that Magufuli was the type of president that Tanzania had longed to have for many years.

President Magufuli is a listener, able to lend an ear and rectify any anomaly which tends to frustrate his efforts to mould a just society based on the foundation of human rights.

We have seen him listening to pleas to lower the tempo of demolitions of houses which were constructed in unplanned areas.

Surely these are palpable achievements by President Magufuli in his 100 days in office. However, given the poor socio-economic situation President Magufuli found himself thrust into, he has a long way to go.

The fact is that the high growth rate which the former regimes claimed to have achieves did not help in achieving poverty reduction.

It needs an economic transformation to bring about meaningful human development. Tanzania is in the bottom quartile of countries with the lowest level of human development, ranking at 159 out of 187 countries.

It should be remembered that Tanzania’s attempt at fulfilling the Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty levels to 18 per cent by 2015was not achieved.
Having grown up in rural Tanzania, we are sure that President Magufuli realises that poverty in the country is a rural phenomenon where living standards are worse than in urban areas.

The use of electricity for lighting in urban areas has doubled from ten per cent in 2002 to 21 per cent in 2012, whereas the use of it in rural areas is still rooted at eight per cent.

Also, in Tanzanian rural areas 63 per cent of the households have no access to water for drinking. In education, although there have been some improvements in the enrolment of students, the quality is still low.

The drop-out cases are still high as lack of competency, reduced morale and lack of motivation among teachers persist.

If all these challenges are overcome, Tanzania will become one of the shining examples in socio-economic growth in Africa. It is upon Tanzanians to give him the support that he needs.