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John Pombe Magufuli and the Politics of the Union in Tanzania

So far what President John Pombe Magufuli – my friends call him JP – has done is to appear as tackling rampant corruption in Tanzania through roadside declarations and uncoordinated, unrelated decisions. He earned for himself the bulldozer tag, of course, he really can bulldoze. If you doubt it, go and ask one Nape Nnauye, his former minister of information.

But hold on, the president has been harassing foreigners; Kenyans in Tanzania have been on the receiving end these days.  JP, really wants to make Tanzania great again! Oh no, to make it great. That is if it never was. Depends what greatness means anyway. And to do this, he has to get rid of foreigners it seems, close Tanzania in, and make haste government decisions that will spur economic growth and progress of his people and nation. At a glance it looks like a deal. But one thing, he does not seem to know is that he may need the very people he is being ‘hard on” for the development of his country. Ask those who know how nations develop; they might allude to the significance of the use of aliens and visitors. After all, Tanzania does have, within its borders, expertise widespread enough to meet its development and/or progress agenda. But hey, the president must also guard his country against external inversion. If you allow those people, especially Kenyans, to drop in one after another, they may soon grab the whole country you know! So, let the president do his work, after all, he is mandated by law to ensure security and safety of his people and country. But what become of EAC? Drop it, I don’t think JP cares about that.

Now, it is not how JP deals with foreigners that will make him great; actually it will diminish his stature in a world that is growingly becoming interconnected unless, of course, joining DJ Trump is his hobby. History will judge. Neither, is it the roadside populist decisions and decrees that will make JP embody the “new crop of leadership” that Africa has been yearning for. The Musevenis and the Zenawis of this continent failed; he risks failure too. JP will not be the heroic president that Tanzania has been waiting for; he is not the heaven-sent; God-sent. The reason is simple, since ascending to power JP has dwelled so much on what makes leaders weak and shied off from tackling what makes leaders great.

Successfully handling delicate (often highly divisive and deeply emotive) matters of national importance is one of the things that make rulers of people and nations great.  Handling such issues in a manner that is inclusive and involving while respecting the feelings, opinions and views of others, makes it even better in civilizations that espouse democracy. If a leader is able to lead a nation towards self-rediscovering; towards a resolve to peacefully address deep and contentious issues and towards a common understanding and soldering in the pursuit of national prosperity, such a ruler will be considered a great leader. He/she may never resolve everything, sometimes all they do is resolve just one thing that is of great concern and significance to their people and they will be declared great, revered and immortalized.

Someone tell JP that Kenyans and other people in Tanzania may help build the economy. Let the country formulate good policies that regulate and govern migration, emigration and immigration (whatever those mean) and leave state functionaries to enforce such. As president of the United Republic of Tanzania, the single most important issue that demands the full mind and heart of the president is the question of the union (muungano). The union – and not some few foreigners – is the greatest threat to the existence of Tanzania as we know it. It is only that man or woman who will bring his/her wisdom to bear in addressing and resolving, conclusively and to the satisfaction of all, the issues around the union that will determine whether they be great rulers or not. Someone may say ‘but it is a very complex issue!’ And, I say, presidents are never elected to handle simple issues.

You can grow the economy; you may deal with the corrupt and corruption (though JP is doing it very badly!) but all can go up in ashes if and when the center cannot hold anymore. The union is right at the heart of what Tanzania is and should be. JP’s position regarding the union is largely unknown. Unless he makes his position known and seeks a solution to the union, he is just another weak president of Tanzania. 
John Pombe Magufuli and the Politics of the Union in Tanzania John Pombe Magufuli and the Politics of the Union in Tanzania Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on April 07, 2017 Rating: 5

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