Tanzania's President John Magufuli, aka The Bulldozer, is shaming his peers across the continent, says Victor Kgomoeswana.
Something about Tanzania's President John Magufuli, aka The Bulldozer, makes him worthy of regular profiling. In a world, or Africa, that lacks decisive, centred leaders, he cuts a 21st century reincarnation of Julius Mwalimu Nyerere - for different reasons.
Both the men were teachers. They both ascended to the highest office in the land on the ticket of the ruling party since independence, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
Their job as the leaders of this East African country makes them crucial in crafting a template for the new African statesman - a no-nonsense doer who suffers no sloppiness, inefficiency and corruption.
Mwalimu, the first prime minister of independent Tanzania, taught all of us about Ujaama, summed up in the Arusha Declaration.
Its underlying principles of self-reliance and socialism have yet to sink into the African psyche; and when they do, virtually all our problems will be over.
Mwalimu was not a perfect man, like Kwame Nkrumah.
He had almost pushed the country over the economic precipice by the time of his retirement.
Tanzania still gets off the starting blocks a tad slower than Kenya and Uganda on economic matters.
Furthermore, it depends too much on foreign aid for its own good as a resource hive.
However, its stability and the national pride of Tanzanians remain completely unmatched anywhere else.
Now, the man known as The Bulldozer, because of his single-mindedness in fulfilling his promise as a public servant, is shaming his peers across the continent.
More in the mould of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Magufuli had made significant achievements in his first 100 days in office, proving that African politicians can get their proverbial act together in the fight against corruption and inefficiency.
Fiscal malfeasance by most African leaders is equally attributable to incompetence or corruption.
Incompetence could be the symptom of priorities that are out of sync with the needs of the country.
For instance, African politicians do not mind travelling in luxury with massive delegations to conferences when their hospitals are not fit to treat even their head of state.
Incidentally, Mwalimu died of leukaemia in London - as have many others after him.
The Bulldozer cracked down on his priorities from day one.
He cancelled the extravagant Independence Day celebration and drastically cut the budget for the opening of the Tanzanian parliament in Arusha.
Instead of the usual celebrations on April 26, this year he ordered that the money set aside for the jamboree be used to build roads.
That is akin to cancelling Freedom Day celebrations on April 27 in South Africa to buy supplies for public hospitals; or making President Jacob Zuma read his State of the Nation address on auto-cue via television to the nation, without the disruptions.
The fat budget could be redirected towards the repayment of the Sanral debt for highway improvement.
The Bulldozer has caught many public servants slouching with his surprise visits, in addition to gaining coalface insights into how his country works or not.
He is quick to fire anyone who does not honour their employment contract and has not let up yet.
His latest scalp was that of his Home Affairs Minister Charles Kitwanga in May. Kitwanga’s official transgression was showing up in parliament inebriated.
He reportedly acted in a manner akin to what some of the South African MPs were guilty of during the #GuptaMustFall, only his rendition was a solo act.
The other reason for his removal could be his previous interest in Infosys, a company that was contracted to give expert advice to Lugumi Enterprises, which was in 2011 awarded a tender to procure and install finger-scanning devices in the police service, according to a report in the Daily Nation.
Magufuli is only 56. If he continues in this vein, and hopefully gets a second term, Tanzania might just reclaim its place as the hub of East Africa.
Africa would equally have added another star performer to the public sector where, in the words of East African singer Eric Wainaina, more role models are needed to optimise a continent that desperately craves “a fighting chance to show how good we are”.
Looking for a hero in government on the continent? Then look up Magufuli!
* Kgomoeswana is author of Africa is Open for Business and anchor of Power Hour, which airs from Monday to Thursday on Power FM.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
The Sunday Independent