President of Tanzania cleaning refuse on Indepedence Day (Credit: Daniel Hayduk/AFP)
President of Tanzania clearing refuse on Indepedence Day (Credit: Daniel Hayduk/AFP)

The president of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli is spending his seventh month in office but the impression he has made on the world may last a lifetime. He has practically unleashed a moral revolution on his country and a new definition of political power may just be emerging.

Dr Magufuli is definitely not the first African leader to attempt to fight official corruption and inefficiency in government. What makes him unique, in the eyes of political watchers, is his style. Now, Tanzanians and people around the world, believe him when he says he would effectively put official corruption in check and make public servants truly earn their pay. He has also pledged to cut down on waste in government business and the people believe him.

Shortly after he was inaugurated, Tanzania’s Independence Anniversary dawned. Everyone in the country expected celebrations. President Magufuli however had his own plans. He told his countrymen and women to use the day for cleaning their streets and compounds. The president personally partook in the cleaning exercise. All forms of official celebration of Independence Day, apart from the cleaning exercise were banned.

President Magufuli
Magufuli during the presidential campaigns

The opening of Parliament is another state function that is traditionally celebrated in Tanzania. Ususally, an appropriate state dinner marks the event. This time however, the dinner was far less stately as its budget was scaled down to the barest minimum. Magufuli ploughed the savings from that into procurement of beds for the Muchimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam—one of the biggest government clinics in the country.

The president has placed a ban on frequent foreign travels by government officials and political office holders. Any official travelling abroad is forbidden from flying first-class or business-class. Only the President, Vice President and Prime Minister may fly those classes.

To make good his resolve to avoid wasteful spending in government, he reduced the country’s delegation to the Commonwealth Summit in Malta from 50 to four people.

President Magufuli
Magufuli belongs to the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Credit: Mpekuzihuru)

Having been inaugurated in November, he did not travel out of the country until April when he visited Rwanda. And if anybody expected the president to fly first-class, he was to be disappointed. President Magufuli did not even travel by air. He drove all the way from Tanzania to Rwanda to the amazement of his host, President Paul Kagame. Kagame, on the occasion of that visit, described Dr Magufuli’s war against waste and corruption as “very refreshing.”

The Tanzanian President has revealed that he has resisted several temptations to travel abroad. The temptations, according to him, have come in the form of several invitations to him by Western countries to attend one conference or the other.

At his inauguration in November, he warned: “I’m telling government officers who are lazy and negligent to be prepared. They were tolerated for a long time. This is the end.” Within two months after he became president, he fired many top government officials including Edward Hoseah who had for several years headed the country’s Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB). Also fired was Rished Bade, the Commissioner General of Tanzania Revenue Authority. The head of the Tanzania Ports Authority, Ephraim Mgawe was placed on suspension.

Magufuli has merged some cabinet positions and reduced the total number from 30 to 19 to cut costs. Tanzanians have now nicknamed their President as ‘the Bulldozer’.

The Tanzanian leader is fondly called 'the Bulldozer'
The Tanzanian leader is fondly called ‘the Bulldozer’ (Credit: Malawi Nyasa Times)

‘The Bulldozer’ is obviously on a moral revolution. He personally goes round ministries and parastatals from time to time to see if government workers and officials are at work.

The president has been a member of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi, the party which has ruled Tanzania since 1977. Under the party, Magufuli who has a doctorate degree in Chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam, was a three-term parliamentarian. He also served as Minister for Works. Today, however, he does not spare his own party in his condemnation of corruption. He has lashed out at the CCM for acts of corruption and misconduct.

His crusade against waste now looks like a gospel in Tanzania and it enjoys admiration and followership from broad sections of the society. The Preident is on Twitter and his hashtag #WhatWouldMagfuliDo has followers who extend beyond Tanzania.

You can check up #WhatWouldMagfuliDo on Twitter (Credit:
You can check up #WhatWouldMagfuliDo on Twitter (Credit:

Many Tanzanians testify that they avoided spending money on luxury or things that were not so necessary just by following #WhatWouldMagfuliDo. Some people in neighbouring Kenya are reportedly wishing they had a President like Magufuli.

Dr. John Pombe Magufuli has displayed a lot of zeal and commitment in his crusade. What appears to make it all so interesting and unique however, is his ability to lead by direct and practical personal example.