Will Magufuli’s Popular Anti-Corruption Drive in Tanzania Last?

Will Magufuli’s Popular Anti-Corruption Drive in Tanzania Last?
Tanzanian President John Magufuli during his inauguration ceremony, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Nov. 5, 2015 (AP photo by Khalfan Said).

Since taking office last November, Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli—a former minister of works known as the Bulldozer for his ability to push through his agenda—has seemed to adopt a new title: the broom. He wants to sweep away the country’s reputation for endemic corruption and poor public service. Magufuli has identified three areas of priority for his government: cutting wasteful and unnecessary expenditure; improving public services; and tackling the corruption that has long plagued public life and placed Tanzania 117th out of 168 in the Transparency International 2015 corruption index.

From the start, these commitments have been matched with action. In his inaugural address, Magufuli announced the creation of a special court to deal with corrupt public officials. Last November and December, a number of senior officials in the Tanzania Revenue Authority, including its commissioner general, and in the Tanzania Ports Authority were suspended over a scandal involving the nonpayment of $40 million in import taxes. In December, the director general of the state’s Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) was sacked, accused of incompetence in relation to the ports scandal. In January, the official in charge of rolling out Tanzania’s national identity card program was fired over allegations of graft.

Magufuli has criticized the judiciary for failing Tanzanian citizens through what he calls laziness and corruption. He has also insisted that all government officials must sign a pledge of integrity before taking office. Any Cabinet ministers failing to take the pledge—or failing to declare assets, as they are legally obliged to do—would be sacked immediately.

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