Remembering a pan-Africanist

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By Elizabeth Sitotombe

THE death of President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli comes as a blow to the African continent at large. 

He was born in Chato, north-west Tanzania in 1959. He got a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in 1988 at the University of Dar es Salaam and went on to earn himself a Masters and Doctorate in 1994 and 2009 in that order. He was elected lawmaker for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party in 1995 and went on to serve as Works and Infrastructure Minister for a decade. He was to be elected President in 2015 and had recently won a second term in office.

Nicknamed the ‘bulldozer’ for his no-nonsense goal-oriented leadership style, he was well admired for his stance on corruption and intense dislike in wasting state resources.

 A great pan-Africanist leader who, like his predecessors the late Robert Mugabe and the late Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, was criticised by Western countries for allegedly oppressing his people and working against foreign companies Magufuli waged war against the Western countries seeking to exploit his country. 

In 2017, a foreign-based Gold Miner, Acacia, was accused of evading taxes and served with a US$190 billion fine, a move that was seen as a way of stifling foreign investments. He later passed legislation stipulating that government take a 16 percent stake in all mining projects.

He was then accused of “…choking the regulatory environment for foreign businesses in a misguided attempt to achieve economic justice and strengthen national industry.” 

The US Department of State is said to have warned that “…although Tanzanian officials openly welcomed investment, their government policies and actions do not effectively keep and attract investment.”

To express their disappointment, they attacked him in the media. According to Western news they said; “…it is Western powers that Magufuli is most suspicious of, and he accuses local puppets, usually a cast of opposition politicians, rights activists and critical journalists of championing the interests of their masters.”

They tried to label him in the worst manner possible. 

Bloomberg News once reported: “Tanzania’s maverick President John Magufuli has used his strong personality to cow corrupt civil servants and force foreign mining companies to pay millions of dollars in outstanding tax.”

The problem with the Western states is that they would like to push the narrative that without foreign investment and foreign aid, Africa cannot stand on its own.

Africa is the backbone of the world; with the vast raw materials needed in the world. Many Western nations have for a long time been trying to exploit those resources for their own personal gain and when they are met with resistance, they come up with man-made crises that include the emergence of opposition parties and so-called human rights organisations, in order to foment strife and then find a way to penetrate and help themselves to these resources without formally colonising Africa.

Each time an African leader emerges and is not inclined to the Western narrative, he/she is blamed for being headstrong and accused of ruling with an iron fist 

Magufuli contributed to the development of his country by reviving the Tanzanian National Airline; he acquired six Air Tanzania planes and expanded the Julius Nyerere International Airport.

He invested in several large infrastructure projects such as the creation of a standard gauge railway to connect the country to its regional neighbours.

He introduced free education in government schools.

He banned foreign travel in his country and a central bank report showed that he had saved over 330 million pounds on foreign travel in just one year.

His attitude in office inspired the Twitter hashtag #WHATWOULDMAGUFULIDO.

He helped to craft various policies applicable to other countries, for example Vision 2025. Vision 2025 was crafted with the aim of transforming Tanzania into a strong middle income economy by 2025. 

His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa said: “…Zimbabwe was inspired upon learning that Tanzania had achieved lower middle-income status five years ahead of target.”

Under the new dispensation, Zimbabwe also hopes to transform and achieve a middle-income economy by 2030 and President Magufuli proved that it is even achievable ahead of time.

As SADC chairman from 2019-2020 the late President Magufuli helped support the march against sanctions in Zimbabwe and went on to set aside October 25 as a day for a collective protest against sanctions in the country. 

The relationship between Zimbabwe and Tanzania dates back to the days of the liberation struggle when Tanzania offered both moral, material and political assistance to the country.

When Zimbabwe was hit by Cyclone Idai, the late President Magufuli was the first to offer his assistance to the nation.

Therefore, the death of President Magufuli is not only a loss for Tanzania, but for Zimbabwe too. 

Go well son of Africa!

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