President Magufuli’s first official visit to Ukerewe

THE biggest news during the whole of last week, was President John Magufuli’s official visit to the Lake Zone Regions of Mwanza, Mara, and Simiyu, and the tour programme was arranged in that precise order.

Thus, his tour of Mwanza Region commenced on 3rd September, 2018. Ukerewe, being one of the Districts of Mwanza Region, the programme brought him to our District on 4th September, 2018, which was only the second day of his seven day tour.

In my capacity as a retired national leader (former Speaker) who hails from Ukerewe, I was conveniently present there, to join the multitudes of other Ukerewe residents in welcoming President Magufuli to our ‘motherland’ District, in strict adherence to the famous Kiswahili adage of “Mtu kwao”.

My direct participation was confined to Ukerewe, but I was able to follow the remainder of his tour very closely, courtesy of the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC).

The purpose of this article is just to put on record my impressions of President Magufuli’s tour of the three Regions. In my considered opinion, the following were some of the most outstanding features of this Zonal Presidential tour :- (a) the unprecedented mammoth crowds which turned up to welcome him everywhere in all the three specified regions.

This was probably caused by a combination of the curiosity and the urgent desire to see and hear directly from this ‘unusual’ man, who had received international accolades within only one year of his assuming the Presidency.

For, according to the DAILY NEWS of 9th December, 2016, appearing under the headline “Magufuli’s style wins the hearts of Africa”, was the story that “President Magufuli has become a continental icon within just a year in office, without even crossing the country’s borders”.

The ‘DAILY NEWS’ also reproduced captions from leading newspapers in South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, all of them showering praise on President Magufuli’s exemplary performance, which they aptly called “Magufuliphilia”.

(b) The strong and appealing messages contained in the speeches which he delivered.

(c) The forthrightness with which he spoke (he called a spade a spade); and (d) The direct engagement of all the relevant Ministers, plus the local area leaders, to share the platforms with him.

These were the most outstanding features of the President’s tour which, in my humble opinion, clearly exposed, and fully revealed, President Magufuli’s unique personal character, and his equally unique leadership style.

And this, in fact, is what gave me the motivation to put all these matters on permanent record in the form of this article, for the benefit and convenience of future references.

My attendance at the President’s rallies was confined to Ukerewe, this rather little known district.

Hence, in that connection, I must acknowledge the absolutely amazing ‘humanity aspect’ of President Magufuli’s character, which he unexpectedly demonstrated on the side of his official tour, when he kindly invited me and my wife Anna Abdallah, to a private ‘tete-atete’ with him, just before his departure to Mara Region.

We had a very pleasant one hour of cordial talks, at the end of which he asked the Director of the Presidential Communications Unit to take some memorial pictures of the three of us together, plus inviting us to make brief statements. Both of these (the pictures and the statements) were subsequently released to the social media.

It certainly was, for us, a very memorable, fine ‘day to remember’. Ukerewe District profile I have referred to Ukerewe District as being ‘little known’ to many people.

This is because of its unusual geographical location, which puts it outside the land mass of Tanzania Mainland (former Tanganyika), being almost invisibly tucked away inside the massive Lake Victoria, located between latitudes 1.45 and 2.15 south of the Equator. This seemingly ‘out of the way’ district was established by the British colonial Administration way back in 1947, mainly for the reason that, considering the totally undeveloped transport infrastructures at that time, its location made it very difficult for it to be administered from the Provincial headquarters at Mwanza.

Ukerewe District consists of 38 separate islands; the majority of them are tiny, uninhabited islets. The larger, inhabited ones include Ukerewe Island (640 square kilometers) and Ukara Island (80 square kilometers).

The smaller inhabited islands, varying in size from 13 square kms to only 4 square kms, include Irugwa, Bwiro, Kamasi, Sizu, and Kweru.

The 2012 population census statistics show that the population of Ukerewe District at that time was 345,147 people. It is a wholly rural District, but has an unusually high population density of 632 persons per square kilometers, which is equivalent to urban population densities! ‘Magufuliphilia’: President Magufuli’s unique leadership style.

My little participation in President Magufuli’s official tour of these Lake Zone Regions, gave me the opportunity to observe his performance on such tours; as a result of which, I was motivated to make the following conclusions regarding his unique style of leadership:- (i) That he is a leader who truly ‘walks his talks’. In other words, he is ‘a man of his word’.

(ii) That he is an ardent follower of Mwalimu Nyerere’s leadership footsteps. The paragraphs below will endeavor to elaborate on these (rebuttable) presumptions.

President Magufuli ‘walks the walk’ The Oxford dictionary description of the words “walk the walk” is given as “to act in a way that shows people you are really good at what you do, and not just good at talking about it”, which is sometimes rendered as “walk the talk”.

It will be remembered that during his election campaign rallies, the President repeatedly promised to bring real and substantive changes (“kuleta maendeleo ya kweli”), should he get elected. Now, in his various speeches during this Zonal tour, President Magufuli has clearly demonstrated that he is indeed ‘a man of his word’, that is to say, a person who actually delivers on his promises, or who ‘walks the walk’.

The President made liberal use of the opportunities provided by this tour, to explain to his audiences some of the achievements which have been secured by his fifth-phase Government so far.

He talked specifically about the huge successes which had been achieved in the collection of taxes, a factor which has enabled him to allocate all the moneys required for the implementation of socio-economic development projects, such as the provision of free Secondary education; and the construction of mega infrastructures, including huge water projects and road construction projects, in all of the Districts covered in his tour programme.

And wherever he was dissatisfied with the progress made in the execution of any of the projects, he immediately ordered tough measures to be taken against the culprits.

This is what befell the contractor who had delayed completion of the 16 bn/-Bunda water project for eight long years.

In the long list of the achievements of the fifth-phase Government, the President also mentioned the successful implementation of projects relating to the construction of hundreds of tarmac roads in all the regions of the country; plus the numerous other mega national projects which are currently being implemented, using the country’s own funds raised through taxation.

These include the purchase of new aircraft such as the marvelous new Dreamliner; the construction of large new passenger and cargo vessels, which will operate in Lake Victoria and Lake Nyasa respectively; the flyovers in Dar es Salaam; and the upcoming construction of the huge electricity generation facility at Stigler’s Gorge (which he said would be re-named ‘Nyerere’s Gorge’ after completion in recognition of Mwalimu Nyerere’s efforts in its initial project planning stages).

Additionally, the President also informed his audiences of his relentless efforts in the fight against corruption; and quickly demonstrated his fury when he discovered that there had been a serious lack of ‘commitment to duty’, on the part of the Prevention and combating of corruption Bureau (PCCB), relating to its deliberate failure to attend to a genuine complaint raise by a resident of Bunda District.

Upon being satisfied regarding this unwarranted failure, the President immediately revoked the appointment of the Director- General of that Institution, and appointed a replacement.

“Magufuli spits fire” was the reaction of DAILY NEWS, which it announced prominently in its main front page headline of Tuesday, 6th September, 2018.

His following of Nyerere’s leadership footsteps There are two main aspects of this matter which emerged in his speeches. One was his plea to all the public leaders, to maintain the “Nyerere spirit”.

The other was his plea to all Tanzanians, to continue honouring Mwalimu Nyerere, not only through words, but also through concrete actions, by adhering to the foundations (misingi mikuu) which were firmly laid down by the founder President, in order to secure the continued prosperity and wellbeing of all Tanzanians, particularly the poor (wanyonge).

It may be useful to remind the current generation, that there are three basic foundations which were laid by the founder President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, for the stated purposes.

They are recorded as follows in the ruling party archives:- (a) “Umoja wa Taifa” (the unity of the nation) (b) “Maendeleo ya watu” (peoples’ development); and (c) “Amani na Utulivu” (peace and tranquility).

Indeed, these were the main themes of all his speeches during this tour, particularly during the Mara Region segment; where he repeatedly implored the people of that region to take the frontline in honouring Mwalimu Nyerere, because of the fact that this his birth place.

He called for honesty and integrity in the execution of government projects therein, as the best way to honour the father of the nation.

In that connection, he was visibly saddened by the uncompleted projects, particularly the state of disrepair and utter dilapidation of some memorable infrastructures such as Mwisenge Primary School, where Mwalimu Nyerere received his primary education.

He quickly ordered the immediate renovation of that School. He also repeatedly reminded his audiences in that Region, and the rest of the country, to maintain unity, peace and tranquility as a tribute to Mwalimu Nyerere’s efforts in building the foundations for these valuable society assets.

His engagement of Ministers in this tour The participation of Ministers is another indicator of his refreshingly different leadership style.

The Ministers played a very useful role in supplementing the President’s own presentations regarding his Government’s achievements.

They appear to have been selected on the basis of the issues which the President had decided to tackle on this tour.

The main issues were: the preservation of fish in Lake Victoria and the campaign against illegal fishing; the provision of clean piped water to the relevant wananchi; and the construction, or improvement, of the roads and bridges infrastructure.

He, therefore, brought with him the Minister responsible for the said sectors. But In addition, he brought with him several other Ministers, including the Minister responsible for Home Affairs, who helped to explain the steps that are being taken to ensure the peoples’ safety and security; and an assortment of a few others.

In that way, the fifth-phase Government’s activities and achievements, plus the challenges, were fully explained to the respective audiences.

His engagement of the local area MPs The President had, apparently, given instructions to the respective Regional Commissioners, to include the area Members of Parliament among the persons who would address his audiences prior to his own speeches.

In the districts which were covered during this tour, there are several constituencies whose members of parliament belong to CHADEMA, the Opposition political party.

The President skillfully used that opportunity to admonish these MPs for their negative voting in Parliament to reject the Government Budget, by reminding them of the fact that despite their rejection of the Budget, which includes the development portion that is being used to fund the water and other mega projects that are being implemented in their constituencies, the Government has nevertheless not stopped implementing the said projects, thanks to the votes of the MPs who belong to CCM, which were enough to get the Budget approved.

He repeated his often stated stance, that he is the President of all the people irrespective of their political party affiliations, and also that development must be divorced from partisan politics (“Maendeleo hayana vyama”).

piomsekwa@gmail.com / 0754767576.

Author: Pius Msekwa

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