Sunday, January 10, 2016

Can New Tanzania President Rise to the Occasion?
January 8, 2016

Dr John Pombe Magufuli, the 56-year-old former chemistry teacher, is the new Head of State tasked to lead East Africa’s most populous nation to greater heights by healing a stuttering economy, and at the same time alleviating the suffering of the Tanzanian people who complain of corruption in the corridors of power.

Magufuli, who cruised to victory in the recent elections, takes over in a country battling rampant rural poverty, which his predecessors Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete also dealt with during their two five-year terms but left unfinished.

Approximately 90% of Tanzania’s poor people live in rural areas, the Rural Poverty Portal reports, adding that the incidence of poverty varies greatly across the country.

“But it is highest among rural families who live in arid and semi-arid regions and depend exclusively on livestock and food crop production.

No region is significantly better off than others, and all are very poor by any international standards.”

This state of affairs is indeed worrying to government and its citizens, and represents one of the serious challenges Magufuli will have to face.

It remains to be seen if he can rise to the occasion and make greater strides, than those made by his predecessors, to ease the poverty.

Furthermore, the new man in charge of Tanzania knows that it will not be business as usual and some things will have to be twisted and turned – even a little – deep inside the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) if the party wants to stay relevant and keep winning the 8.9 million people who voted for him.

The fact that his closest rival, former PM and CCM heavyweight Edward Lowassa, fought hard to win 40% of the votes in his challenge to Magufuli is a tangible proof that the people are starting to watch the ruling party with eagle’s eyes.

“We will be watching them (the ruling party) closely from now,” one university student said recently.

Many observers are hoping that Dr Magufuli will be courageous enough to tackle the unending government corruption that has tainted the CCM’s image, and estranged many voters.

Will President Magufuli be brave enough to do what his predecessor Kikwete did?

He fired, in the late stages of his reign, his Minister of Lands over a multi-million dollar energy sector corruption scandal?

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