“It was completed on time because no-one used corona as an excuse to delay it,” John Magufuli, the Tanzanian president who died this week said, a few weeks ago, as he commissioned a road project in Dar es Salaam. The Bulldozer as he was called never locked down his nation even at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. He died of “heart problems” but many do assume that he fell to coronavirus.
He fought corruption and got projects delivered on time. His hands-on leadership style was legendary because he verified even as he believed. He was the people’s man, and he fought for his nation.
But Magufuli never worked to build institutions. He simply built himself. He decimated the core foundations of modern society where even the Tanzanian scientists, press and doctors could not overcome his covid-free mantra. By testing goat meats and using the data to justify the denial of the virus, he risked many lives.
A strong man, for many, who fought the global mining companies, he left Tanzania where he found it: absence of institutions. In his ephemeral success, he exposed his biggest failures: absence of a national vision beyond Magufuli’s vision.
Magufuli was 61.---
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