The late Tanzanian President John Magufuli was in his component on 24 February whereas unveiling a large street challenge in Dar es Salaam – an accomplishment he boasted might solely be achieved by the ruling CCM celebration.
“It was accomplished on time as a result of no-one used corona as an excuse to delay it,” he mentioned, whereas applauding the contractors and in addition instructing authorities officers to not entertain anybody utilizing the pandemic as an excuse to postpone the supply of initiatives.
This one was no totally different to earlier public capabilities – a choir serenaded him, and he ended it with a attribute speech extolling his mantra of Hapa Kazi Tu (Work is My Solely Focus).
“Tanzania is a wealthy nation, we’ve to make use of our wealth with the intention to develop,” he mentioned in his remarks, which additionally chastised tardiness and exhorted Tanzanians to pay their taxes. Three days later Magufuli can be seen in public for the final time.
Since his first election in 2015, Magufuli cultivated the picture of an rambunctious motion man, a departure from his predecessors’ demure and stately fashion.
His interventionist – supporters known as it “hands-on” – management fashion received him followers past Tanzania, particularly within the East African area, the place he impressed the #WhatWouldMagufuliDo Twitter hashtag, praising his no-nonsense strategy to preventing corruption and tirelessly following up infrastructure initiatives to make sure they’re accomplished.
What most Tanzanians cared about, his followers argued, was service supply and Magufuli’s populist governing fashion was efficient and a mannequin for different African leaders.
A person of the folks
His supporters will miss the hours-long street journeys he launched into throughout the nation which concerned a number of stops so he might communicate with the general public.
These journeys, which unnerved authorities officers, have been typically broadcast stay on TV and have become in style with some Tanzanians who noticed them as a possibility to get prompt redress to their issues.
Crowds of individuals typically gathered and shuffled across the presidential convoy on shut watch of the closely armed bodyguards.
Those that have been decided acquired an opportunity to ask him questions, however most individuals used the chance to plead with the president to intervene on a myriad of points reminiscent of fixing delayed street initiatives, unending court docket instances, complaints about water provide, or grievances towards native officers.
Standing out of the sunroof of his armoured car, with a microphone in hand, Magufuli listened and generally requested follow-up questions. His responses have been combined however by the point he was accomplished, a brand new coverage would have been proclaimed, an official both sacked or promoted, or the one that requested the query humiliated.
He as soon as berated a person in a Dar es Salaam neighbourhood who had complained that it was costly to make use of public bathrooms: “Then depart your faeces at residence,” he answered again, to nice amusement and consternation.
Political opponents, neighbouring nations, mining companies, Western nations and anybody he considered as undermining Tanzanian pursuits have been additionally targets of his abrasive governing fashion.
Critics mentioned he was an autocrat with skinny pores and skin, a person obsessive about constructing a persona cult and who didn’t entertain any slights or jests whether or not from musicians, comedians or commentators on social media.
He instilled such concern within the nation that even throughout his greater than two-week absence from public, his draconian insurance policies continued unabated – police arrested those that speculated concerning the president’s whereabouts or requested merely: The place is Magufuli?
This state of affairs is one thing of a contradiction to his casting himself as a defender of the dignity of Tanzanians.
Discover out extra about John Magufuli:
He additionally muzzled Tanzanian media, shutting down a number of newspapers, radio and TV stations in addition to social media platforms merely for reporting what the federal government did not like.
He was additionally criticised for implementing insurance policies reminiscent of banning women who acquired pregnant from going to high school.
However it was his dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic that was arguably his most damning failure.
In his latter days he hectored critics who did not purchase his narrative concerning the nation being “covid-free” – a stance which was surprisingly in distinction to his sober, science-led strategy in the course of the early days of the pandemic.
Magufuli, a former chemistry trainer, would later push conspiracies about plots to hurt Tanzanians whereas expressing doubt concerning the security of masks and vaccines.
At one level he despatched papaya and goat meat samples to be examined for Covid-19 and used the outcomes to justify his denial of the virus.
The true value of this negligence and dereliction of responsibility might be counted within the variety of lives misplaced in consequence.
Strongmen or sturdy establishments
There will probably be vigorous debate in Tanzania about Magufuli’s legacy and whether or not his successor ought to keep the course or change.
This debate can’t be divorced from the divide about whether or not the continent wants strongmen or sturdy establishments.
Magufuli appealed to many as a result of he was unencumbered by institutional limits. He issued edicts and issues occurred and to many voters who had grown pissed off by incompetence in authorities, this was refreshing.
However equally many Africans wish to stay in law-based nations, to take pleasure in a lifetime of dignity freed from brutality, to have leaders who govern honesty and in truth, and a authorities that respects them and doesn’t conceal details about their president’s well being.
Mr Magufuli’s loss of life has been blamed on “coronary heart issues” however many will nonetheless suspect that he succumbed to Covid-19.
It’s an irony that the pandemic he strenuously denied has outlasted him, turning his once-heralded presidency right into a cautionary story for the area and the continent.