What Magufuli did: The anti-corruption purge and austerity

Monday December 19 2016

In the war against corruption, President John Magufuli hit the ground running, and has sent home a number of public servants.

Before he sacked the city director in public over irregularity in awards of contracts, he had sent packing the entire board of the Tanzania Revenue Authority for approving the depositing of Tsh26 billion in fixed accounts in three commercial banks.

READ: Magufuli reveals why he dissolved tax authority board

He also sacked regional administration officials after they were implicated in siphoning relief funds for quake victims in western region of Kagera, where 16 people perished and hundreds were rendered homeless.

While corruption has not been completely eradicated, the situation is certainly not what Tanzanians used to experience over a year ago. In addition, the business-as-usual conduct of civil servants is no more.

Although President Magufuli has gone easy on making surprise visits to government offices, the civil service has changed considerably. Civil servants are now among the early risers, especially in Dar es Salaam.


READ: Magufuli applies shock therapy, but needs to shake up whole system

With the exception of the four-kilometre stretch from Morocco to Mwenge along the Ali Hassan Mwinyi dual carriageway, nothing has been done to upgrade other city roads. But the number of police traffic officers on the roads has been increased considerably and in some city roads they report to work as early as 5.30am.

Re-energised police force

The same police force that had failed to manage traffic, has re-organised itself to reduce congestion on roads.

One week after his inauguration, President Magufuli told the nation that he was going to turn traffic jams, especially in Dar es Salaam, into history. The rest was left to the top brass in the police force to work out how they were going to make the president’s promise reality.

For their part, traffic police have turned traffic offences into a major source of revenue for the government, competing with different tax collection institutions in the country.

In the past, erring motorists could negotiate and get away after paying “something” to a traffic police officer.

But those days are gone as each traffic officer is not only armed with a device for issuing tickets to drivers for traffic offences, but have daily targets.

Magufuli’s economic austerity measures have also affected, quite considerably, hotels most of which used to make business through meetings and conferences organised by government and public institutions.

No travels abroad

Dr Magufuli has not only stopped foreign travel by civil servants, but has also cut down on treatment abroad by civil servants and senior party and government officials.

The president has more than once challenged medical doctors and specialists at the nation’s leading referral hospital, Muhimbili, to fill in the void caused by the ban on treatment by civil servants, party and senior government officials abroad.

To prove to the nation that he was serious about banning treatment abroad, the First Lady, Mama Janeth Magufuli, was a few weeks ago admitted at the Muhimbili National Hospital.

Leading from the front on the ban on foreign travel, the president has made only three visits abroad: To Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.

President Magufuli’s zero tolerance to corruption may be prescribed in the laws but hugely remains to be his personal traits that need a firm constitutional backing.

A pro-people and reformist constitution like that proposed by the Warioba Commission is the only way to ensure that the Magufuli legacy lingers for generations to come.