Unpacking the Magufuli factor

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TWO poignant lessons with potential to redefine Africa’s stance against imperialism emerge when unpacking the late Tanzania President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli’s policies and the narratives that have come out in the wake of his demise on March 17 2021.

“Let us stand as one. Tanzania belongs to us all and we should put the interests of the country first,” President Magufuli told Parliament in 2015.

That marked the beginning of a reign characterised by affection from Africans, on the one hand, and open resentment from the West, on the other.

In the end, it was his voice that carried the day as Africans, now familiar with the never ending machinations of the West, embraced that great and visionary leader for his push for the development of the continent and upliftment of his people.

Even in death, the arbitrary narrative has been in overdrive to paint a picture of a despot, a dictator who harassed his people.

But we now know better, and history is the best teacher in that regard.

We know that the same whites tried, with no success, to teach us that Captain Thomas Sankara, Robert Mugabe and Muamar Gaddafi, to mention but a few, were dictators who were anti-people.

We know our heroes and we will describe President Magufuli as such.

President Magufuli was a pan-Africanist to the core, a fearless leader who stood up to the West’s bully tactics.

He was undoubtedly one of the leading voices against Western imperialism that has almost nudged the aspirations of the black people to obscurity.

This is why it is important to unpack all that he did for the abused people of Africa.

His untimely death was not only an incomprehensible loss to Africa and the developing world but it presents the continent and the world at large with the much needed fillip in so far as the pursuit of pan-Africanism and the economic empowerment of Africans is concerned.

This is because there has been, time-and-again, an uncanny, sometimes brutish denial by the West to acknowledge that Africa’s resources belong to its people and that the continent can chart its way forward without undue influence and interference from outsiders.

Equally pervasive has been the inescapable reality that the economic trajectory that Africa has embarked on cannot be stopped by the West’s insistence on exploiting the continent’s resources at the expense of the real owners.

It is now common cause in Zimbabwe that any form of empowering the masses is a slap in the face of the West.

The Land Reform and Resettlement Programme, the economic empowerment initiative and our unwavering stance on matters to do with territorial integrity and sovereignty in the country are a case in point.

These principled drives towards the upliftment of the masses have drawn the ire of the West for a reason.

They just cannot fathom a people in total control of their land and resources.

Sanctions are always used to negate that drive.

Their idea is, condemn the people to perpetual poverty, suffering and unmitigated exploitation of their land and resources.

This is the compelling reality that President Magufuli stood against until his death.

He stood for the emancipation of the masses.

He stood for the development of the continent.

Crucially, he stood for, and with, the people of Zimbabwe whose potential has been obfuscated by the illegal economic sanctions from the West.

Said President Magufuli soon after taking over as SADC chairman in August 2019: “As we are all aware, this brotherly and sisterly country has been on sanctions for a long time. 

These sanctions have not only affected the people of Zimbabwe and their Government but our entire region. 

It is like a human body: when you chop one of its parts, it affects the whole body.  

Therefore, I would like to seize this opportunity to urge the international community to lift sanctions it imposed on Zimbabwe. 

This brotherly country, after all, has now opened a new chapter and it is ready to engage with the rest of the world. It is, therefore, I believe, in the interest of all parties concerned to see these sanctions removed.

In this respect, I wish also to urge all SADC member-states to continue to speak with one voice on the issue of Zimbabwe.”

His was a glowing story.

An October 26 2020 report by Reuters titled Tanzania’s ‘Bulldozer’ president hopes mega-projects impress voters, brings to the fore some interesting insights into President Magufuli’s policies.

“State-led projects have fueled average growth of just below seven percent over the past five years, official figures say, propelling Tanzania to lower-middle income status this year. Under Magufuli, construction has become the main driver,” reads the report in part.

“Mining reforms passed in 2017, stipulating a 16 percent Government stake in projects make it hard for companies to secure financing. 

The government had a long fight with Acacia Mining over alleged under-reporting of revenues. 

Barrick Gold, which took over Acacia last year, ended up paying US$300 million to settle the dispute.”

Upon assuming office in November 2015, President Magufuli instituted a raft of reforms that endeared him to the Tanzanian masses.

For instance, he banned foreign travel.

Also, a central bank report in 2017 revealed that the government had saved US$430m from limited foreign travel from November 2015 to November 2016.

In August 2016, President Magufuli announced that Tanzania had banned exports of metallic mineral concentrates.

He also allowed pregnant girls and single mothers to go to school, among many other infrastructural development projects that became the hallmark of his leadership.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa described the late President Magufuli as ‘a dear brother, a comrade and a man of the people’:

“We have lost a friend of our country, a dear brother, a comrade, an admirable leader and a man of the people. May you take comfort and solace in the awareness that our thoughts and prayers are with you.

The late President John Pombe Magufuli established a reputation as a man of action, in order to hasten the pace of development in Tanzania. He was a true pan-African who believed in the need for Africa to increase economic co-operation and trade for the benefit of our peoples.

The people of Zimbabwe will always remember him for the pivotal role he played as Chairperson in having SADC set aside October 25 as a day for the collective call for the removal of the illegal sanctions imposed on our country.”

Indeed, President Magufuli will always be remembered for the true pan-Africanist he was. 

He was a principled leader who declared war on corruption and was dearly loved by his people and the continent at large. 

Tanzania weeps and so does Africa. 

Fare thee well President John Pombe Magufuli!

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