Africa Can Learn from Magufulification

Published on 31st March 2020

When some dudes in Zimbabwe (New Zimbabwe, Jan., 10, 2016 cited in Mhango, 2018) coined the term Magufulification, I did not know that the term would become a buzzword. The term was coined a few months after Tanzania president John Pombe Magufuli came to power and did things in a very different manner and spirit. Magufuli’s mantra has always been: Africa can and should.

Not many took Magufuli seriously. This is because many postcolonial African governments became a toto bomb minus Botswana, Mauritius and Seychelles. Practically, freedom to many African countries is endemic and systemic beggarliness, dependence and thuggery. Nations survive on begging while sitting on colossal natural resources of value. Actually, Independence in Africa was nothing but the replacement of one type of colonialism with another. External colonisers were shown the door to allow internal ones to replace them and perfect the squander of almost everything that Africans fought hard for.

While many people wrongly thought that Magufuli’s manner of doing things was a passing cloud, being a rara avis and rare breed, Magufuli has proved them wrong. Magufuli has held that Tanzania in particularly Africa in general are not supposed to beg.  He has said that Tanzania is not going to beg while it sits on humongous natural resources of value. To prove his point, Magufuli has never neither toured the West  nor Asia in the mission of begging. Instead, he has increased revenue collection as he embarked on the industrialization of Tanzania. As if this is not enough, Magufuli has practically taken on corruption, laziness and embezzlement of public resources. He does not spend any money on public holidays.

Africa needs able leadership that can marshal people and resources around investing in the future for self-reliance instead of begging. Magufuli has turned Tanzania into a huge and active workshop wherein mammoth projects such as the construction of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), expansion of the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere International Airport, construction of the Stiegler Gorge Hydroelectrical Dam, construction of many roads and port expansion have taken place. He has moved the capital from Dar to Dodoma.  These have translated into Tanzania becoming the economic powerhouse of the region. Despite facing resistance from abroad, Magufuli has stood his ground in constructing the Stiegle Gorge hydroelectrical dam with the aim of bringing the price of electricity in the county down to enable Tanzanians to produce more competitively and efficiently and make Tanzania a middle-income country (MIC). Even before the completion of this project, the Rural Electrical Agency (REA) has already embarked on the electrification of Tanzania under the Magufulification. According to the Xinhua (Feb., 20, 2019), the program aims at connecting 2.5 million Tanzanian households in rural areas to the national electricity grid over the next 5 years.

Magufuli has bought a couple of brand-new airplanes to revive the national carrier, the defunct Air Tanzania. Up until now, the Air Tanzania Ltd has the fleet of two 787-8 Dreamliner, two Airbus A220-300 jets and three DHC Dash 8-400 aircraft, formerly known as the Bombardier Q400 turboprop all paid cash. Magufuli still believes that Africa needs to have its own airplanes in order to attract and transport its people and tourists visiting Africa. Magufuli wants to see Air Tanzania Ltd compete with other international airlines.

To effectually and freely move goods and people, Magufuli has already revivified the Dar-Arusha railway and the central one that soon will be replaced by the SGR thereby link Tanzania with Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda after completion. He has enacted a new style of running the country based on hire and fire to see to it that public officers deliver. Leading by example, he has competently managed public finances and resources. For example, in 2017, Magufuli banned the export of mineral sands arguing that companies dealing with minerals should have smelters in the country. He  put a stop on mineral smuggling by ordering the creation of local mineral trading centers in mineral-producing regions. Magufuli’s efforts have paid dividends. For, up until now, Tanzania has experienced an upwelling in revenue collection. Tanzania revenues rose by 12.7 percent in the first half of the fiscal year from the same period a year ago as collection improved (Reuters, 2017). The Tanzania Revenue Authority collected TZS 1.767 trillion in September 2019. The amount was an increase of 29.18 percent from TZS 1.335 trillion in August ( Oct., 2, 2019).

Magufulification does not lack detractors and haters who see the man behind it as a dictator. Again, if we consider how expensive democracy has been, especially for Africa, is there any way China would have made such great gains under democratic regimes? I am not trying to justify dictatorship or anything close to it. But when I consider countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and now China and the way they quickly made it out of penury, I must admit that sometimes, I concur with the man who transformed Singapore from a poor country to an opulent one. He once said that to develop a country, we need to sacrifice some rights. This is because nobody can put democracy on the table and eat it with family.

In sum, as was former US president, Barack Obama’s slogan, yes, we can, if Africa gets adept and devoted leaders like JPM, as Magufuli is famously known in Tanzania, to Magufulify Africa, it can and does not have any logical reason to become a perpetual beggar while it sits on humongous resources of value. This is the story of the Magufulification that Africa needs to study and learn from. Again, is Africa ready to learn? This is the story for another day.

By Nkwazi Mhango

The author is a lifetime member of the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador (WANL) and author of over 20 books among which are Africa Reunite or Perish, 'Is It Global War on Terrorism' or Global War over Terra Africana? How Africa Developed Europe and contributed many chapters in scholarly works on many issues of importance on Africa with the specialisation in the deconstruction and decolonisation theories he has been working on for a while now.

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