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When bid to apply Magufuli leadership style flopped badly

By CA GWINSO
Monday, March 22nd, 2021
The late Tanzanian President John Magufuli. Photo/File
In summary

Whatever people may say about the fallen Tanzanian leader, John Pombe Magufuli, he remains my hero. 

I adored his on-the-spot, kuanzia leo declarations. I admired the way the ‘bulldozer’ made inept leaders shake in their boots in public, in front of the very masses they lorded over!

In one incident, JPM visited a market centre. As was his custom, he gave the people opportunity to air their grievances. A man came forward and complained of lack of toilets in the market.

“Where is the person in charge of the market?” asked the President. A terrified looking man stepped forward. 

Bulldozer glared at him and asked: “How much money do you collect from the traders per day?” The man mentioned a colossal amount.

“And yet you cannot build even a single simple toilet?” fumed the Head of State. The no-toilet builder was tongue-tied. “Where is your office?”

“It...it…is there, sir.” The man pointed at a building at the corner.

“Does it have a toilet?” 

“Er…er…yes, sir.”

Then came the shocker, “Kuanzia leo, all the people at this market will use your office toilet until you construct one for them,” declared the President, amidst deafening cheers.

It obviously did not take a week before toilets were erected in the market. It was such impromptu actions that I found worth emulating. Indeed I once did it, but with disastrous results.

It was during my first term as MCA , and those were the days I was in the governor’s good books.

I was a member of the Finance and Planning Committee – I believe the county boss had a hand in my inclusion in the committee as a reward for the role I played during his campaigns.

From our meetings, I came to know the amount of money the county government spent on different sectors of the county. I was taken aback by the huge amount spent on the health sector and made up my mind to do a ‘Magufuli’ to one of the health centres. 

I wanted to find out whether the services they offered were worth the amount of money spent on them.

As a member of one of the most powerful committees in the county, I would sack on the spot any staff member I found lazing around, or offering unsatisfactory services.

I even rehearsed in my mind how I would issue the marching orders. “Kuanzia leo, huna kazi!” I would thunder at some hapless staff. After all, I had the governor’s backing – or so I thought.

When I drove into the health centre, my first task was to find out why there was such a long queue. Was someone being negligent? I strode past the line straight towards the front.

Wewe, fuata laini,” came a gruff voice.

“Wacha madharau,” said another, and soon there were several voices protesting my ‘jumping’ the queue.

I thought it wise to remind these people who I was, just in case they had not recognised me. 

“I am an MCA, in fact, a member of the committee which decides how money is used in this county.” I spoke with the confidence of a benevolent billionaire.

MCA kitu gani? Panga laini!” bellowed a fellow with a particularly sickening frown.

My attempts to explain that I was not a patient, and that my visit would actually benefit the patients went unheard.

Fortunately, one lady managed to calm down the patients, who had become impatient. “Let us listen to him. Perhaps he has something important to tell us,” she pleaded.

I then re-introduced myself and explained my oversight mission at the health facility.

Bwana MCA, how much allowance will you be paid for this visit?” asked a bored-looking fellow. I did not think his question was worth my breath, so I ignored him.

“So how will your visit benefit us?” the lady asked calmly.

“Don’t you understand the meaning of oversight?” I said, feeling a little irritated.

“Usituletee kizungu mingi hapa,” came the gruff voice. “Kwanza you MCAs have eaten all the money, leaving nothing for health care.” 

One of the staff members came to find out what was happening. I explained everything. He then hurled a contemptuous sneer at me and asked for a letter of introduction.

“Come on, I don’t need it. I am an MCA!” I retorted.

“My friend, if you have come here on an extortion mission, pole sana,” he said and walked away, leaving me at the mercy of the impatient patients.

Quick thinking told me to ‘receive’ a phone call and walk away.

I did exactly that and left the health centre. Since then, I have learnt to avoid impromptu visits. Hizo achia kina John Joseph Pombe Magufuli. RIP, Bulldozer of TZ.  [email protected]

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