Nickname, The Bulldozer and Chuma (literally meaning Iron)
By Tolberts Joseph Sibuta
Dr. John Pombe Magufuli is the current President of Tanzania. He has been in office for a period of five years since 2015 to date. He is determined to usher unprecedented economic growth in Tanzania.
Aside from his Presidential role, John Pombe Magufuli is the Chairman of Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Tanzania’s Number one citizen, Magufuli was born on the 29th of October 1959 in Chato province, Tanzania. He is currently 71 years of age.
This Tanzanian “bulldozer” portrays himself as a humble man from a poor family background. He often regarded himself as the son of a peasant farmer who has now gone to be a controversial leader.
The “bulldozer” name emanated from the fact that he drafted a programme to build roads, as Minister of work, later he was hailed for his anti-corruption stance and his dislike for wasting money.
It should be noted that whenever corruption scandals hit Tanzania’s political dockets, the “bulldozer” Magufuli does not hesitate to act. To him, making surprise visits is no big deal. He at one time made a surprise visit to the Finance Ministry to check on the Treasury and the pace at which public servants had turned up for work. This sent a strong signal to the lazy government officials who take work for granted at the expense of the citizenry.
It’s on record that Tanzania is one of the best performing African countries on the continent.
He was first elected as Member of Parliament in 1995. He served in the cabinet of Tanzania as Deputy Minister for Works from 1995 to 2000, Minister of works from 2000 to 2006, Minister of livestock and Fisheries from 2008 to 2010 and now president of Tanzania.
He is married to Janet Magufuli, a primary school teacher and they have two children, Joseph Magufuli, and Jessica Magufuli.
Before attaining Tanzania’s top most position, John Pombe Magufuli ventured into elective politics after a short period as a teacher between 1982 and 1983 at Sengerema secondary school. He was mainly teaching chemistry and mathematics. He bolted out in search of greener pasture. Nyanza cooperative Unions Ltd picked up this gentleman and employed him as their lead chemist from 1989 to 1995. In 1995, God blessed him by elevating him to Member of Parliament representing Chato district. He was appointed Deputy Minister for works in his first term as MP for Chato District. He retained his seat in the 2000 election and was promoted to a full Ministerial position under the same cabinet docket. When President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete was requested to take office, John Pombe Magufuli was moved to the post of Lands Ministry and human settlement on the 4th day of January 2006.
Like the saying, “Education is the key to success,” John Pombe Magufuli associates with it. This political icon started his education at Chato primary school (1967-1974). He later went to Katoke seminary in Biharamulo for his secondary Education from 1975 to 1977. He later shifted to Lake secondary school in 1977 and graduated in 1978. He thereafter joined Mkwawa High school for his Advanced level studies in 1979 and by 1981, he was graduating. That same year, he joined Mkwawa college of Education for a diploma in Education in Science majoring in chemistry and mathematics. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree majoring in chemistry and mathematics from the university of Dar-es-salaam in 1988. Magufuli also earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in chemistry from the University of Dar-es-salaam in 1994 and 2000 respectively. In late 2019, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Dodoma for improving the economy of the country.
Taking a stand against the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
His divine ideology on covid-19 disappearance
Covid-19 pandemic is both a health and human rights issue that has caused anxiety among government officials in different countries, human rights activists, organizations, and citizens at large. Globally, over eleven million people are infected by the virus whilst the death toll has surpassed 567,000 and numbers continue to rise. On 11th March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared covid-19 a pandemic and enjoined governments to take urgent action to tame its spread. When John Pombe Magufuli heard this clarion call, he seemingly became unbothered due to the fact that throughout his five year tenure as Tanzania’s head of state, he has branded himself as a staunch African nationalist and devoted Catholic who believes that God has the power to restore things. “I want you Tanzanians to believe that you have a real President, a real rock. I cannot be threatened and I am not.”, said Magufuli in March 2020 at the wake of the Pandemic.
Constant attacks on imperialists for Covid-19 measures.
A dog and cat fight? This was after his overview of not closing worship centers at the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic. It should be remembered that, as many countries declared the need for a lockdown, John Pombe Magufuli did the opposite. He further declared that the Coronavirus pandemic was an ordinary flu, therefore there was no need to shut down worship centers.
When Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, his Ugandan counterpart described the East African Community (EAC) as a household whose members needed to cooperate so as to tame Covid -19 spread, Magufuli treated Museveni’s assertion with contempt. He said at his home town in a local church service that cooperation is majorly to bring development. He lamented that everyone had their own means of resolving the issue at hand.
Unlike Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, Tanzania did not impose a lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. He said the possibility of a lockdown would send the economy to the “dogs” by fuelling acute poverty.
Magufuli Rejects ‘madman’s’ deal with China
As Barrick Boss Mark Bristow walked from the pulpit to shake President Magufuli’s hand at the signing event in January, he said: “What is being done is a challenge to the mining industry and all of us ought to embark on something where we win together or lose together.”
In his response, His Excellency Magufuli did not only burnish his nationalist credentials, but also his religious credentials, saying: “I thank God for the success of this agreement.”
He has also cancelled two deals with China: the building of Tanzania’s first electric railway line linking the main commercial city Dar es Salaam to the capital, Dodoma, about 500km (310 miles) away and the construction of East Africa’s biggest port in Bagamoyo, once the capital of German East Africa, at a cost of $10bn (£8bn) .
President Magufuli said only a “madman” would accept the financial terms negotiated by his predecessor President Jakaya Kikwete’s government for the building of the port.
He has long blamed selfish leadership and a failure to put the nation first for Tanzania’s underdevelopment.
But it is Western powers that President Magufuli is most suspicious of, and he accuses local “puppets” – usually a cast of opposition politicians, rights activists and critical journalists – of championing the interests of their “masters”.
‘A brutal pragmatist’
“This healthy suspicion sometimes fuels paranoia, which is strange for a president who has consolidated so much power,” Tanzanian analyst Thabit Jacob told the BBC.
“His nationalism has also turned illiberal and populist. He is squeezing the opposition, narrowing civic space, cracking down on the media and increasing surveillance. At one point, one of Tanzania’s writers Elsie Eyakuze said he had “brutal pragmatism” that leans on a particular worldview of strong leadership. He further claimed that his leadership does not give room for debate about methodology or possible outcomes as this would ostensibly weaken the government or introduce an element of chaos.
Magufuli has not made a single visit to a foreign country since 2015 when he came to power. He has not as well attended any United Nations (UN) sessions as President of Tanzania.
Annual salary: Tsh 108, 000, 000, 00
Monthly : Tsh 9, 000, 000, 00
Weekly : Tsh 2.016, 923.08
Daily : Tsh 415, 384.62