PRESIDENT John Magufuli’s mode of administration is still sending shock waves throughout the country, Reporter at Large can reveal. With a cry of Hapa Kazi tu, his modus operandi of galvanising people into action has set him apart as new and different leader taking the people into the industrial era.
To do that, he has created diligence to begin with. Immediately after his election President Magufuli adored as Jembe - hoe, proved to have a unique administration. He took nearly a month to form a cabinet, governing the country with only the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa and principal secretaries.
Of course the President wanted the right people to work with. Pragmatism of that team under his leadership is reverberating all over the country today. Last Thursday Reporter at Large came upon an Asian businessman, who was experiencing the taste of Dr Magufuli’s brand of administration.
The man, some balding octogenarian, started telling his story by banning me from men tioning his name. “I don’t want to get into trouble,” he said. “There can be no trouble if your thought is constructive,” I told him.
I tried to coax him to allow me to use his name in my story. I hate writing stories without the name of my source. Moreover, the name lends credibility to my story. “If that is so, then don’t write the story,” he spat firmly.
But I knew what he wanted to say was interesting and it was irresistible to me to miss the information. He, however, would not change his mind. Under no circumstance was I to mention his name. He won.
Dr Magufuli’s government impressed him! As a businessman, he hated a situation of multiplicity of taxes. “Dr Magufuli’s government is comparable only to that of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said.
I could hardly imagine similarities between the India’s Prime Minister and our President. The businessman, however, looked at the two through a prism of tax. The businessman would ramble in his talk only to settle at last on tax.
He loved Dr Magufuli’s exemption of taxes to the common man. The businessman reminded me of taxes on crops the President recently abolished. He waived taxes on amounts of crops like maize, rice or cassava less than a tone.
According to the President, the taxes were a bother to the farmer. The step was hailed in the country as a great act by the President. Having so many varied forms of taxes complicated their payment and made them a hassle.
But, according my nameless Asian, President Magufuli has made it even simpler for the people to pay tax than Modi has for his Indian citizens. “Modi has lumped together all taxes into one form of a tax, simplifying payment.
But President Magufuli has made life even more enjoyable by abolishing some taxes. Some taxes were slapped on the people even without the permission of the government, it so apparently seemed.
That meant the taxes never reached the coffers of the state and maybe it was reason their collection was so ruthless because the thieves wanted to line their pockets with the cash. What the Asian said reminded me of the colonial days. People seemed to smell tax collector from a distance. They had no uniforms, but people would detect them wherever they were.
Adult males darted from their huts like weaver birds from their nests and headed for the hills, scampering like monkeys with their spoils from plantations on plains. On one occasion I saw a man who had failed to make it to the hills disappear into a corn granary monkey style.
The man had been gobbling food in the house when a woman whispered to him from behind the house about the danger outside. “They will see you if you run out through the gate,” she said.
The man ran out of the hut, darted to a granary half-full with maize, squeezed himself through the structure’s opening and dropped inside it like a lizard. “You see, some governments think the best means to collect taxes is to swamp the people with a myriad of taxes,” said the businessman.
Dr Magufuli’s fifth government has differed from such authorities and devised ways to allow the simple citizen respite. If there were any fear from Dr Magufuli’s government, it came from some of his functionaries, the Asian revealed.
I would not let that ride without details. “Please explain,” I demanded. Some officers of the Im migration office prowled the streets at odd hours of the night, he said. These officers had an uncanny ability to detect foreigners for financial harassment.
Sometimes they missed their prey and stopped even Asian citizens. “But their goal is the same,” he said. “They will ask to see your passport and ask if you have a permit for this and for that. Then they want money.”
Unknown to the man, it is the work of an immigration of ficer to know who is a foreigner and what they are doing in the country. When I told him that he answered and said: “Why do police also harass us about such things then?” he asked.
Both the police and the immigration office belong to the Ministry of Home Affairs part of whose work it is to know the status of a foreigner. The police, however, should notify the immigration when they learn of a foreigner improperly in the country and let immigration proceed with their work.
It is not wrong therefore that one of them has demanded to know of a foreigner’s status. Basically, it is a matter of national security. “They don’t do this in India,” he said. “Foreigners go around the country and visit places they are allowed to visit without such fuss.
But in Tan zania what is happening will discourage foreigners from visiting Tanzania.” I thought he had a point. Attending foreigners is a sensitive matter. Observation of the law notwithstanding, there ought to be respect and freedom for visitors.