Tanzania: Where Magufuli is Waging War on Corruption and Reforming the Country.

January 3, 2020 2:15 pm0 comments by:

By Emmanuel Tayari,

In 2015 Tanzania’s Presidential Elections, there were burning issues prioritised in the minds of the Electorate. Their call was that the next leader needed to demonstrate an ability to tackle corruption which was becoming endemic, reform the mining industry which was short-changing the country, tackle the scourge of illicit drug trafficking, curb tax evasion and deal with the challenge of wildlife poaching that had given Tanzania a bad reputation globally.

As soon as President John Pombe Magufuli emerged winner of the Election doubts emerged from circles both within and outside Tanzania as to whether he was going to live up to the demands of the electorate and implement his promised reforms. These doubts were driven from the fact that in order to succeed, they knew President Magufuli would have to work against powerful factions and interest groups within the ruling party CCM who had benefitted from the status quo.

To the surprise of sceptical analysts and observers, Magufuli has beaten the odds by suffocating the preferences and interests of the powerful factions within CCM. He has equally consolidated power swiftly within the Party and in Government and all at the same time delivering his promises on reform.

Now there are those who argue against the Presidents Human Rights Record. To these it is important to note that Magufuli has done more to consolidate Tanzania’s Human Rights Record since assuming office. Looking at citizens’ rights to quality Education and Healthcare Services as case point, Magufuli has done a commendable job that deserve accolades.  To ensure all children have access to Education, Magufuli abolished school fees. Government hospitals were notorious for poor services. It was a norm to find fake medicines, adulterated drugs malfunctioning equipment that cost lives to the poor who can not afford private diagnostic centre services. 69 District Hospitals are currently under construction across the country fulfilling a promise to improve Health Care infrastructure to the populace.

Despite all this positive developments, many in Africa and beyond with narrow and self interest agenda try to negatively frame the Tanzania’s President Performance. Political campaign entrepreneurs such as Jeffrey Smith are an example. Smith has resorted to brand President Magufuli as a threat to Democracy and Human Rights. Such comments however prove an addition to the old and unhelpful debate that attempt to brand all African reformers as such. Strangely enough, records show some of Mr Smith democratic mentees in power in places like Gambia are have since ended up being accused of committing abuse of power.

When we focus on Mr Magufuli, we find a President who is tougher on Corruption and smarter as a negotiator for Tanzania Interests who knows he cannot rely on some shiny solutions that will magically succeed where others failed such as those espoused by the likes of Smith.

To underscore this quality, Magufuli has shocked even Tanzanians long time allies, the Chinese by suspending indefinitely plans to construct what would have been East Africa’s largest port in Bagamoyo after disagreeing with Chinese investors on the terms. He ensured a notorious Chinese trafficker known as “the Ivory Queen” is jailed after she was found guilty of smuggling tusks of more than 350 elephants to Asia. He terminated a hunting deal with a United Arab Emirates royal family-owned company which was accused for Human Rights abuse in Loliondo, Arusha.

A tougher stance still is Magufuli’s refusal to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and East African Community countries popularly know as EPA. This move marked a turning point in the EU’s relations with Tanzania. Human Rights concerns was used as cosmetic cover, the key reason former EU’s ambassador in Dar, Roeland van der Geer,  was declared persona non grata and returned to Brussels was his aggressive tactics to push Magufuli to reverse his EPA  position. He attempted to do so even after Tanzania Members of Parliament (MPs) unanimously passed a resolution calling the Government not to sign EPA raising their concern of the potential negative implications for Tanzania’s industrialisation strategy if the deal was signed in its current form.

Clearly President Magufuli is paying a huge Reputational cost in his drive towards reforms and in no other are is this more pervasive than in the mining industry reform process he has undertaken.

Tanzania has learned over the years that in the mining industry reform process, the most salient issues faced were ignored, trivialized or addressed incorrectly by those given the mandate to oversee the process. It is therefore not without reason that reforms have failed. Mining Giants did not sit idle either to protect the status quo.

Leaked evidence, show that in former governments, mining multinationals have run sophisticated operations to kill reforms and continued to wield day-to-day influence over the sector.

In 2003, Kroll Africa’s practice headed by South African lawyer, conducted operations designed to infiltrate local Tanzanian communities, institutions, MPs, legal entities and other individuals with whom Barrick saw as a threat or tool to their strategic interests. Kroll targeted current sitting Tanzanian MPs, including Tundu Lissu, gathering compromising information in order to apparently blackmail MPs sympathetic to the activists’ cause and who were campaigning against Barrick Gold in Tanzania.

This operation reveal a secretive industry in which mining firms habitually hire covert operatives to infiltrate political groups to advance their commercial activities.

Given such records it was no surprise that some within Tanzania’s Local scene would brand Magufuli a dictator in his quest for reforming the Mining Industry. A lawyer like Fatma Karume is one such local actor who is seen as a ” Hired Gun” by Acacia by assuming a profile of a mining expert while putting the most negative interpretation of the reforms against Magufuli.

Ms Karume continues to be the fiercest critic of President Magufuli, through twitter, op-ed and TV appearances. However, she has never declared that she was paid by Acacia before it was officially deregistered as a result of Barrick reaching an agreement to settle all disputes with the Tanzanian government with the mining companies formerly operated by Acacia now managed by Twiga Minerals Corporation (“Twiga”).

She is reported to be earning millions of dollars in legal fees and leading the resistance movement of mining industry reforms in all fronts.

As Magufuli made positive gains in mining reforms Karume slowly became a democracy defender employing the ‘’Democracy Agenda’’ as a tool of disinformation and propaganda to distort facts and shape opinions against Magufuli’s Presidency.

In the final analysis Magufuli reforms have huge impact on rent. Opposition is therefore expected from those entities be corporate or private, who run highest rent risks where the Presidents reforms to succeed. These groups and other corrupt individuals will not stop employing anyone in the likes of Jeffrey Smith, Karume and others opposed against Magufuli to derail his reform agenda.  The tension therefore will continue in the foreseeable future. Perhaps those in the former group should be reminded that Magufuli’s mandate for reform was given him by the electorate in 2015. In 2020, they will be the one to determine whether he has delivered on his promises or not. Mr Smith, Karume and Company should sit aside and allow Magufuli to finish his business!


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