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Personal tribute to the late President John Pombe Magufuli

“NDUGU wananchi, kwa masikitiko makubwa nawajulisha kuwa, leo tarehe 17 Machi mwaka huu 2021, majira ya saa 12 jioni, tumempoteza kiongozi wetu shupavu, Rais wa jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania, Mheshimiwa Dkt John Pombe Joseph Magufuli; ambaye amefariki kwa maradhi ya moyo katika hospitali ya Mzena jijini Dare es Salaam, alikokuwa anapatiwa matibabu”.

That was the terse short statement which was made by Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan, when she announced to Tanzanians, and to the rest of the world, the untimely departure from this world, of our most beloved President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, and the first Tanzanian President to die in office. May his blessed soul rest in eternal peace. AMEN.

And, as would normally be expected, this sudden announcement produced a great deal of shock in all those who heard it, and will likely remain to be their moment of sadness that will take them years to forget. This article is intended to be my personal tribute to the fallen President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The Advanced Learner’s Oxford Dictionary defines the word “tribute” in the following terms: “a statement that is intended to show one’s respect, or admiration, especially for a dead person”.

At different times and occasions following the above quoted announcement of former President Magufuli’s death on 17th March, 2021; everyone who has had the opportunity to make a public statement regarding that tragic event, has paid his own personal tribute to our departed President JPM.

We have all seen, or heard, such personal tributes being expressed in the print and electronic media. I have therefore decided, in this period of mourning, to dedicate today’s article to that special purpose, namely tribute to the late President John Pombe Magufuli.

Many of our regular readers will probably remember, that I have consistently been presenting my personal comments in this column, about our departed President’s supreme efforts in raising the general welfare, and wellbeing, of our country Tanzania, and of all its people. The late President had always paid particular attention to the poorer segment of the population.

It may be remembered that I made my first such presentation, immediately after President Magufuli had just completed his first hundred days in Office. And thereafter , I continued making similar presentations at the end of each of the subsequent years in office during his first term.

In this article, I will therefore base this personal tribute largely on those previous presentations. However, before focusing on that substantive matter, I would first like to join the purely academic debate which is currently taking place in the social media, concerning a very important constitutional issue, in which a substantial section of our community, strongly feels that “there has occurred a serious breach of the country’s Constitution” caused by the continuation in office of Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, and of the other Ministers and Deputy Ministers; after the assumption of office of the new President, Samia Suluhu Hassan.

The said debate concerns an alleged breach of the provisions of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, which relate to the automatic removal from office, of the leaders specified therein, upon the occurrence of any of the specified events. Such events, include “the moment when a new President takes the oath of office” (article 51 (3) (a)).

The contending parties in this ‘learned brothers’ debate, allege that this provision has been breached. There is another provision, namely article 52 (2), which specifies the procedure to be followed before a newly appointed Prime Minister can start performing his functions and duties, which requires that the nominated Prime Minister must first be approved by the National Assembly, before he can start performing the functions and duties of his office.

The contending parties in this debate, allege that the current Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa is in office illegally, for the reason that having been automatically removed from that office by operation of article 51 (3) (a) (at the precise moment when President Samia Suluhu Hassan took the oath of office as President of the United Republic of Tanzania), Kassim Majaliwa’s continuation to hold office without having first been confirmed by the National Assembly is a breach of that article of the Constitution.

They argue further that consequently, the continuation in office of the other Ministers and Deputy Ministers is also a breach of article 57 (2) (e) and (f) of the Constitution, which clearly specify the events whose occurrence automatically removes them from office. Now, in the absence of any other evidence to rebut this contention, it would appear that this is indeed what actually happened.

Thus, my own reflection on this matter makes me wonder how the Hon Attorney General, the officially recognised Legal Adviser to the Government, plus his strong team of legal pundits located in his office; somehow, all of them miraculously failed to notice this constitutional requirement, and to take the necessary action for avoiding this breach of the Constitution, a matter which I very sincerely doubt.

I therefore believe, that some form of action must have been taken, such as issuing a Presidential Order in the form of a Government Notice (GN); which extended the tenure of the Prime Minister and other Ministers who had been appointed by the suddenly departed President Magufuli; or something else to that effect; at least to cover the official mourning period.

However, it has been said repeatedly, that “ to err is human”. Hence, such kind of human error could indeed have, unwittingly, been committed, considering the confusing environment which was created by the absolute shock that had paralysed the entire nation at that material time, And if such error was indeed committed, then I humbly beg forgiveness for my being the odd, Biblical “doubting Thomas” in the matter of this particular event.

A personal tribute to the late President John Pombe Magufuli. In my presentation after President Magululi’s first hundred days in office, I identified some of the special ‘leadership qualities’ which he had already displayed, even during that very short period in office; the main one being his clear determination to implement his election promises; and, where possible, to implement them at once.

For example, one of his major promises was “to eliminate all wasteful public expenditures”. He had, already implemented this promise within his first hundred days in office when, among other things, he prohibited the purchase of ‘hard drinks’ for consumption at the social evening party for Members of Parliament, which was organised to celebrate the official opening of the 11th Parliament; and ordered the money so saved to be spent on purchasing hospital maternity beds for Muhimbili National Hospital.

He also prohibited the expenditure of funds which had been set aside for the annual pompous military parades that were normally held at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam to celebrate the anniversary of the country’s independence day on 9th December 2015; and ordered the money so saved, to be spent on expanding part of the heavily traffic congested Bagamoyo Road in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam.

I am also reminded of the Daily News issue of 9th December, 2015, which reported as follows- “President Magufuli has become a continental icon with just a month in office, and without even crossing the country’s borders”; and reproduced captions from the leading newspapers of South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe; all of which showered praise on President Magufuli’s exemplary performance.

The English word “euphoria” means “an intense feeling of happiness and pleasant excitement”. Hence, in other words, President Magufuli had generated what could be rightly described as “Magufuliphoria”. It should be noted that all of this euphoria was generated as a result of President Magufuli’s extraordinary performance within a mere hundred days in office.

My next presentation was made immediately after President Magufuli had completed his first year in office; during which President Magufuli had demonstrated his other outstanding leadership tenet, specifically, his constant reliance on God’s divine guidance.

He had clearly demonstrated, through his actions and personal behaviour, that he was, indeed, a person who fully fits the description provided for a ‘good leader’, in the Gospel of St. Mark, 10: 35 – 45, which says the following: “Mwajua ya kuwa wale wanaohesabiwa kuwa wakuu wa mataifa huwatawala watu wao kwa nguvu, na huwatumikisha. Lakini haitakuwa hivyo kwenu, kwani yule atakayekuwa mkubwa kwenu atakuwa mtumishi wenu”.

President Magufuli had clearly demonstrated, through his own statements and actions, that he truly was “ mtumishi wa watu”. I made further reflections on President Magufuli’s performance, when President Magufuli had just completed his second year in office; in which I drew attention to his refreshing new ‘style of governance’.

For example, he had adequately demonstrated his personal qualities in the following areas: (i) that he was a “doer”, i.e. a person who makes things happen; more popularly referred to as “a man of action”. (ii) that was a “man of his word”; that is to say, a person who does whatever he promises to do, more popularly referred to as a person “who walks his talks”.

(iii) that he was an innovator, i.e. a person who introduces new things, or ideas, or new ways of doing things. But a more ‘performanceoriented’ presentation was made at the end of his three years in office.

This presentation was again based on President Magufuli’s Government’s delivery performance; i.e. the delivery of goods and services that the public is ordinarily entitled to receive from the government; in relation to the country’s social, economic, and political development.

His most outstanding achievements in the economic segment, included his most effective tax collection drive; his embarkation on mega infrastructure development projects all funded entirely from the country’s own internal sources; specifically those relating to: (a) the move of the government capital to Dodoma; (b) the construction of the ‘Stiegler’s Gorge’ electricity generation project; (c) injecting a healthy new life in the ailing national airline, Air Tanzania Corporation, by purchasing for it a large new fleet of eleven new aircraft, including the latest long distance aircraft that are available on the market; (d) the construction of the Standard gauge railway line; (f) the construction of a large number of new passenger and cargo vessels which will operate on lake Victoria, and lake Nyasa; and (g) his supreme efforts in combating corruption, and poverty alleviation.

While his most outstanding performance in the social development segment included the provision of free primary and secondary education; the provision of improved infrastructure facilities for education; health; water; and sanitation service; and his introduction of ‘sanity’ in the public Service. This was confirmed by guest speakers at his official funeral ceremony.

piomsekwa@gmail.com / 0754767576.

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Author: PIUS MSEKWA

1 Comments

  • avatar
    Tony Zacharia
    13/04/2021

    All of those things you mentioned above are facts which cannot be disputed. He did in five years what no president in Africa has achieved in 20. Not even the great Lee Kwan-Yu of Singapore was able to do so much, visible high impact stuff in such a short time. However, JPM's greatest achievements are immeasurable....and invisible! 1. Instilling a sense of pride in Tanzanians...that WE ARE NOT POOR but rich. we can succeed without aid.. Now Tanzanians believe this. 2. By ensuring the public servants delivered services on time without asking for chai, he has RESTORED national and international confidence in the public service of Tanzania. Government now delivers. 3. He put food on the table of ordinary Tanzanians by a) refusing to lock-down during Corona; and b) by government shouldering the major part of burden of education, health services and infrastructural investments. 4. He took away the burden of the middle class....when JKs govt could not pay for services, it is we/us, the educated folks, who had jobs and income who became the extended family credit card and source of "soft loans and grants" for our relatives, friends and neighbours. We are not carrying that burden. 5. Be supporting free education to Form IV, we no longer see the hordes of street children in our cities and towns. And early marriage /pregnancy must have been reduced. Girls are still in school. When they finish F4, they are above 18 years, even if they get married then, they are fully grown so fewer complications of pregnancy and child birth. 6. Is it true that now 70% or more of our population has access to electricity? This will have strong impact over time of reducing rural-urban migration, not to mention stimulating income generating activities and perhaps entrepreneurship in rural areas of Tanzania. Which country in Africa has 70

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