After the revolutionary spirit of many African masses was drastically dumped into the abysmal hopelessness, following the brutal murder of a rare African icon, former President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, on 15 October 1987, at the ripe age of 38, allegedly by his bosom friend, ex President Blaise Compaore, only a few die hard optimists would believe that many African countries would embrace, within a short time, a genuine socio-political change from its leader. Clearly, the newly elected President of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli is gradually proving the pessimists wrong with his bold leadership steps, very unusual for usually inefficient African leaders. Has Thomas Sankara resurrected from the Macbethial death?
Elected on 29th October 2015, the 56-year-old President John Magufuli, nicknamed ‘The Bulldozer’ for his non-nonsense approach to the problems facing his country, including new road construction programme, is not the type that would rather plaster his butt in the air conditioned office and delegate powers. No! He does not only want to see the challenges he is set to tackle, but he equally intends to be directly involved in solving them. You hardly can see the likes of David Camerons of the UK sweeping the street or picking up rubbish, Can you? But those tasks are a norm to the newly elected President of Tanzania, who strongly believes that leadership means living by example, rather than being aloof of the people. There is a visible political metamorphosis, which has given birth to a new Tanzania. Gone are the days when civil servants ““ especially the big Ogas ““ would walk into their offices when they preferred. Definitely, not when Tanzania’s new president would surprisingly surface in your office ““ as he did at Muhimbili National Hospital, where he sacked the head of the main state hospital after he was alarmed at the terrible state of the hospital, including malfunctioning main scanning and diagnostic machines and miserable patients sleeping on the floor. His discovery has not only forced the new President to sack the head of the hospital, but he equally dissolved its governing board. Likewise, many of the once untouchable officials have been jailed for lateness since President Magufuli took office. Recently, the country`s head of the tax authority was suspended for irregularities.
Not really surprise steps for the president known by those close to him as Mr perfectionist, who is keen on details and cannot rest until any assignments he embarks on are completed ““ a rigid principle that has made him lose friends. Perhaps to President John Magufuli, losing friends for the things he believes in, is one of huge sacrifices one must make for the sake of bringing sanity to their country. There is little doubt that Tanzania is systematically embarking on a sanity journey indeed, since Dr Mugufuli came to power. Rampant corruption, gross inefficiency, tax evasion, lack of accountability, abuse of office and other endemic social anaemia, typical of Africa are carefully being tackled by the Tanzanian “Bulldozer.’ His financial discipline has resulted in banning “national“ celebrations and norms like annual independence celebrations, featuring colorful military parades and traditional dances, unnecessary foreign travel by government officials, New Year greeting cards, are a forgotten wasteful practices, which Dr Magufuli has completely stamped out.
Perhaps the fear of the fearless, unpredictable Mugufuli is the beginning of wisdom. His unpredictability and innovation have given rise to the coined hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo, a hot cake on the social media in Tanzania and across East Africa, which has equally given the masses an opportunity to air their views on other money-saving initiatives to be embarked by President Mugufuli.
Born into a miserably poor peasant farmer`s family, President John Magufuli had to ” herd cattle, as well as sell (ing) milk and fish to support my family,” he narrated. But rather than allowing his poor upbringing to make him go after those material things he never had as a child, his poor childhood ironically helped him understand the predicaments facing his poor populations of his country.
“I know what it means to be poor. I will strive to help improve people’s welfare,” President John Magufuli promised.
For a tested civil servant, the former minister of works for years, who had been exposed to billion of dollars and other money temptations, which only a very few disciplined leaders can resist, President John Magufuli is a rare special Africa species. Listen to the confession of Joseph Warioba, the country`s former prime minister, about the new president of Tanzania:
“He was for many years minister of works, supervising the execution of mega projects worth trillions of shillings, but was never implicated in any corruption scandal“¦..He could have been the richest politician in the country.”
From the father of the Tanzanian politics, Julius Nyerere to the most recent former president Jakaya Kikwete, who just stepped down after his constitutional term limit, Tanzania is gallantly joining the likes of Botswana, the oasis of the African democracy, in setting a high democratic standard in Africa. To these leaders, personal riches mean more or less a spiritual fulfilment of the leaders; the welfare of the citizens comes first. Definitely that was what Captain Thomas Sankara had in mind when he took over power with his bosom friend ex President Blaise Compaore. Little did Sankara know that his best friend would soon turn into a traitor and allegedly murder him. But former Presiden Thomas Sankara puts it rightly:
“While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.“
With the latest efforts being made to bring ex President Blaise Compaore, the alleged murderer of President Thomas Isidore NoÃ«l Sankara, to book, coupled with the exemplary leadership style displayed by some new breed African leaders like President John Pombe Magufuli, would there be a better way to rest the restless soul of our young dedicated Africa`s che Guevara?
Is President John Pombe Magufuli the kind of leader Sankara was aspiring for Africa? Please share your views, using the comment space below.