Magufuli: Remarkable crusader for social justice

PEACE and development are synonymous – two sides of the same coin – you lose one and soon you will not have the other. However, the notion of democracy does not always guarantee either fairness or development for all in society.
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This is not to say that it is undesirable, far from it; nevertheless a great deal of caution is called for regarding the manner in which people interpret and demand democracy.

Extra care should be taken not to allow a blind pursuance of democracy as a principle in itself to put at risk a culture of peace, tranquillity and social justice where these have been successfully established.

Opposition Parties in the so-called ‘developed’ countries have always drawn a clear distinction between party interests and national interests, a factor often overlooked in many of the ‘developing’ countries.

Some of Tanzania’s current Opposition Parties, CHADEMA being the clearest case in this regard, are at risk of not making this distinction. CHADEMA is intent on “preventing the Government from governing through endless demonstrations”, to quote Edward Lowassa from his interview telecast in AyoTV.

I am afraid Mr Lowassa is wrong; the brief of any Opposition is not to paralyse the Government and prevent it from doing its work, which is clearly acting against State interests and should not be allowed.

The duty of any opposition is to provide constructive criticism of the government’s programmes and to offer an alternative vision for their country. The Tanzanian intelligence system is not blind and it is fully aware that CHADEMA on its own is incapable of disrupting this great nation of ours.

Our only advice to outside nations that are close to us both politically and economically and may be considering supporting CHADEMA’s actions, is that Tanzania’s traditional guiding principle of Self – Reliance “Kujitegemea” has not been changed by the passage of time and remains an integral part of our Tanzanian DNA.

In our Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s words “we do not allow our friends to decide who our enemies should be.” Tanzania’s President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli is a uniquely remarkable leader, not only in Tanzania but in Africa as a whole.

On the basis of his steadfast dedication to serving the interests of the majority of Tanzanians, he is second to none, so to disrupt what he is doing is in fact a declaration of war against the ordinary people of our country. Why is Dr Magufuli remarkable? The answer is because he has accomplished in less than a year what our three previous governments could not do in thirty years.

The list of his achievements would be impressive even for a full or two-term administration, let alone one only established in November 2015. He has increased the Education budget tremendously and brought back free education up to secondary school level, resulting in Standard One enrollments rising from one to two million.

He has increased the Health budget massively and the budget for restocking pharmacies by a whopping 100 percent and our hospitals, which had effectively degenerated into hospices for the dying, are once again treating and healing our sick.

Many women were giving birth two-to-a-bed at Muhimbili National Hospital, the country’s main hospital. The President took over a three storey building which was occupied by Health Ministry pen-pushers, refurbished it and turned it into a maternity ward.

Magufuli has also exposed and eliminated some 12,500 ‘ghost workers’ from the Government wage bill, a corrupt loophole which has allowed some public figures to amass considerable personal fortunes, both at home and abroad.

He has also made overseas trips by Government officials subject to State House approval, another cause of haemorrhaging of funds from state coffers for decades. He has also restricted the use of VIP lounges in airports to the President, Vice- President and the Prime Minister because some unscrupulous officials were using these lounges for drug smuggling activities.

Magufuli has also restricted the budget for the party for the opening of parliament, which previously used up an absurd amount of public funds, and has utilized the bulk of the considerable savings to buy 300 beds and bedding for Muhimbili hospital where patients were sleeping on the floors reminiscent of a war zone.

Tanzania’s national carrier, Air Tanzania, was down to one aircraft which was more often on the ground than in the air. Magufuli has already ordered three brand new aircrafts from Canada, which will be paid for and delivered by the end of 2016.

A new vessel capable of carrying 1,000 passengers and 40 ten ton lorries has been commissioned and will ply between Mwanza and Bukoba, so greatly developing the social and economic infrastructure of the area.

The construction of a standard gauge railway between Dar Es Salaam and Kigoma will commence before the end of this year, enabling people to travel in modern comfortable conditions and greatly improve movement of goods and products to and from Lake regions and its international port facilities.

Magufuli has also made great improvements to the national supplies of electricity and water, so improving both the efficiency of the economy and social infrastructure and the quality of life for all citizens.

The budget for the 2016/2017 has topped the Tanzania Shillings 29.5 trillion mark, of which 40 percent will go to development projects, up from 26 percent the previous year. Tax collection measures have been greatly tightened to support this budget and sanctions for tax evaders made significantly more serious.

But perhaps the most important of our President’s achievements is the putting an end to a culture of public officials treating state coffers as their own private bank accounts with impunity which has built up over past administrations.

He has established special courts for such looters which are bringing this corruption to light with due punishments and not before time as this corruption has been slowly strangling Tanzania’s economy and development for decades.

This impressive record of President Magufuli is one which will indeed make it hard for CHADEMA and its cronies to recruit people to demonstrate against our President and his style of leadership. It will also sweep away any sympathy people may have had for their cause and what they are trying to achieve.

After all, what exactly is CHADEMA demonstrating against? The vastly improved Education and Health systems? The widespread exposure of corruption within previous administrations? The planned improvements to transport and economic infrastructure to support a revived economic base?

The re-birth of Tanzania’s founding principles of social justice and of a real hope for the future of our nation and its people? Where were CHADEMA’s concerns for ‘democracy and the constitution’ when the country was sinking deeper and deeper into the economic and social morass which Magufuli inherited in November 2015? Why have CHADEMA not demonstrated against social injustice and corruption during the last 30 years?

One could argue that CHADEMA is merely claiming their ‘democratic right to free speech’ at their demonstrations – but if this is at the cost of undermining Tanzania’s recent and significant moves towards a better and more socially just society for most of our citizens under President Magafuli, one should also ask if such demonstrations should be allowed?