Magufuli, Tanzania’s ‘Bulldozer,’ Remembered

Tanzanian?President John?Magufuli, who died Wednesday at age 61, was straightforward and unpredictable but also a?skillful?politician. He branded?himself as a man of action,?a departure from?the more modest, stately styles of his?predecessors.

Vice President Samia Hassan announced his death to the nation, saying Magufuli had succumbed to heart disease at Mzena?Hospital in Dar es?Salaam.

Born in 1959 to a peasant farmer,?Magufuli?entered politics in 1995, when he was elected to parliament.? As?public works?minister, a post he served in from 2000 to 2005 and 2010 to 2015, he was nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for his stewardship of programs to build roads, railways and other infrastructure. He came to the presidency in 2015 on a platform of fighting corruption.

His handling of the coronavirus pandemic?over the past year was widely criticized.?He urged Tanzanians to put their faith in home remedies and dismissed vaccines and lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the virus?as a Western conspiracy.

At a funeral earlier this year, Magufuli asked religious leaders to insist on prayers and said God had never left his nation.

Magufuli’s death?came?after a long absence from the public, which had sparked rumors?that?he?contracted COVID-19.

Reactions vary

Reaction to his passing was mixed. Many, like Rajabu Mdundu, said the country had lost a man of the people.

He said Magufuli?was a man of action and a leader who put the interests?of every Tanzanian citizen first. He added that the president had always urged people to work hard. Although Magufuli has left us, Mdundu said, his slogan, “Strictly business,” will last.

Some political analysts,?like Onesmo Kyauke, agreed?that Magufuli?had left his country more prosperous.

He said Magufuli had left?a?country?in which?corruption has decreased and implemented discipline?in?the government that was not there before. Magufuli left?Tanzania?with many projects,?such as airports and electricity infrastructure, that will boost the country’s economy, he said.

But Magufuli was also criticized for actions that many saw as threatening freedom of expression. Ado Shaibu, secretary-general of the opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency party, said some opposition priorities received no attention under Magufuli’s leadership, and he urged the president’s successor, Hassan, to accent economic and?political issues and human rights.

Hassan, as the East African nation’s first female president, will lead the country for the remainder of?Magufuli’s?term, until 2025.

Source: Voice of America

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