Tanzanian President  ‘Bulldozes’ Waste, Corruption

Tanzanian President ‘Bulldozes’ Waste, Corruption


Tanzanian President John Magufuli is going full throttle in the fight against waste and corruption.

Tanzanians say they like his take-charge approach, though it is not new for him. Magufuli was nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for similar efforts during his 15 years as minister of works.

On his first day in office in November 2015, Magufuli made a surprise visit to the Finance Ministry, where he castigated civil servants who were not at their desks. Magufuli has banned foreign travel for most government officials. He cut a bloated delegation for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta from 50 to just four.

Photos of Magufuli cleaning up garbage in the streets have been all over social media. He canceled lavish Independence Day celebrations in November 2015 and instead ordered that the funds be used to fight a cholera outbreak that had killed dozens of people and sickened nearly 5,000 more.

Evidence of official corruption had been on the rise. In 2014, a scandal broke revealing that government ministers using escrow accounts had allegedly stolen $180 million from the Central Bank. Magufuli suspended the commissioner general of the Tanzania Revenue Authority on suspicion of abetting corruption and tax evasion at the Dar es Salaam port. That official is now under arrest along with five others.

Abdulrahman Kinana, secretary general for the ruling party, praised the move, saying that “this will regulate the various sources of income to ensure that all loopholes are sealed and everyone pays tax to the government so as to enable us meet our targets.”

Senkai Kilonzo of the Tanzanian Policy Forum, which deals with governance issues, noted that Magufuli was drawing from his experience.

“The president has been a minister for about 20 years. He would have seen what the issues are, and he would have been very concerned about wastages, outright corruption, outright theft of the public coffers,” Kilonzo said. “He would have been very uncomfortable in all those years, and I assume perhaps he’s now been given the opportunity to make amends, and that’s what he’s trying to do.”