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Magufuli leaves behind incorruptible, no-nonsense legacy

Magufuli leaves behind incorruptible, no-nonsense legacy

The United Republic of Tanzania was plunged into mourning on 17 March following the announcement that President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli was no more.

What started off as just another tranquil night quickly turned into a nightmare after Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan went live on the Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation around 11pm local time (2000 GMT) to break the news about the passing of a man that many had come to refer to as the bulldozer for his record in driving government programmes.

President John Magufuli died of a heart ailment that he has battled for over 10 years, Hassan said.

She added that the president had been receiving treatment at Mzena hospital since Sunday, and announced 14 days of national mourning.

According to the Tanzanian constitution, the Vice President will take over as President for the remainder of Magufulis five-year term that ends in 2025.

Hassan will become the first woman to hold the office of President since the country gained independence in 1961.

Dr Magufuli has been the fifth president of Tanzania since he won 58.46 percent of the vote in presidential elections held in October 2015.

He bettered that performance during the subsequent election held in October 2020, this time resoundingly collecting more than 84 percent of the votes cast against 13 percent for his main rival, Tundu Lissu of the main opposition Party for Democracy and Progress, commonly known as Chadema party.

One of his legacies is his desire to rid Tanzania of corruption as well as his no-nonsense approach to the way the government operated.

My government will put emphasis on fighting corruption, job creation and industrialisation,” he pledged on the day before the election in 2015, also promising to end power shortages and to exploit the countrys natural gas discoveries.

Before he was president he acquired the nickname “the bulldozer” for driving a programme to build roads as minister for works, and later was hailed for his anti-corruption stance and his distinct dislike for wasting money.

On the very first day of his presidency, he sent a stark message that he would not tolerate absenteeism in its civil service when he visited the Ministry of Finance offices in the administrative capital Dodoma, asking for the whereabouts of those not at work.

True to his no-nonsense approach, Magufuli also purged thousands of so-called ghost workers from the civil service payroll, and fired officials considered corrupt or under-performing.

As part of his promise to curtail what he saw as extravagant spending, the Tanzanian leader surprised many when he cancelled Independence Day celebrations in 2015 the first time this happened since the countrys independence 54 years earlier.

Instead, he ordered a public clean-up, getting his own hands dirty by picking up rubbish outside State House.

Magufuli was born on 29 October 1959 and held a doctorate degree in chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam.

Before becoming president he had previously served as a Member of Parliament for past 20 years, representing Chato constituency in the gold-mining district of Geita in northwestern Tanzania near Lake Victoria.

He served in various cabinet posts under late President Benjamin Mkapa as well as under President Jakaya Kikwete.

Several leaders commiserated with Tanzanians following the death of Magufuli.

Condolence messages came from fellow Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders, President Hage geingob,  President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.


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