Magufuli not a populist but simply a popular president

Sunday October 23 2016

Columnist Nic Cheeseman in last week’s Sunday Nation (16/10/2016) argued that Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli is a populist and went on to cite examples of other “populists” who, in his opinion, did not last their course in their brand of leadership.

I would not disagree more with this observation of the Tanzanian leader. Many in Tanzania were surprised by the choice of the little-known Magufuli to be the ruling party’s flagbearer.

There were many heavyweights that were expected to carry the day as candidates for the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) but such is the genius in the independence party’s top hierarchy that they settled for Mr Magufuli.

His choice was informed by his sheer dedication to his work as a party member, minister and patriot.

Magufuli is no ordinary character. He is a down-to-earth individual who would make the founding father of that nation smile in his grave. The man is reputed for his “cleanliness”.


He has not been mentioned in any impropriety in a country that, as it grows ever more prosperous, leaders especially in the CCM are increasingly becoming super millionaires through the use of their high office.

He has, in his short reign, introduced austerity measures to cut back on public expenditure and end official sleaze. He has demanded that public servants report early for work.

Mr Cheeseman, President Magufuli is no populist, it his workmanship that is popular. This man’s quality of workmanship in Tanzania is peerless. Research conducted before and after the elections consistently showed that the man was more popular than his party.

Since his election to office, he is yet to visit Kenya, a country that the founding father of Tanzania and his role model, Julius Nyerere, described as a “man eat man society”.

A man of Magufuli’s credentials would find little incentive in coming to “benchmark” in a country where you cannot differentiate between the ruling party and the opposition as all are engaged in an unholy alliance in fleecing public coffers and promoting tribal hate.