John Magufuli

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John Magufuli
John Magufuli 2015.png
5th President of Tanzania
Assumed office
5 November 2015
Vice PresidentSamia Hassan Suluhu
Preceded byJakaya Mrisho Kikwete
Minister of Works, Transport and Communication
In office
28 November 2010 – 5 November 2015
PresidentJakaya Mrisho Kikwete
Preceded byShukuru Kawambwa
Succeeded byMakame Mbarawa
In office
November 2000 – 21 December 2005
PresidentBenjamin William Mkapa
Succeeded byBasil Mramba
Minister of Livestock and Fisheries Development
In office
13 February 2008 – 6 November 2010
Preceded byAnthony Diallo
Succeeded byDavid Mathayo David
Minister of Lands and Human Settlements
In office
6 January 2006 – 13 February 2008
PresidentJakaya Mrisho Kikwete
Succeeded byJohn Chiligati
Member of Parliament for
Biharamulo East and Chato
In office
November 1995 – July 2015
Succeeded byKalemani Medard
Personal details
Born (1959-10-29) 29 October 1959 (age 60)
Chato, Geita, Tanganyika
Political partyCCM (1977–present)
Spouse(s)Janeth Magufuli
ChildrenJoseph Magufuli, Jessica Magufuli
Alma materUniversity of Dar es Salaam
Twitter handleMagufuliJP
Military service
Allegiance United Rep. of Tanzania
Branch/serviceNational Service
Years of serviceJuly 1983–June 1984

John Pombe Magufuli (born 29 October 1959) is a Tanzanian politician and the fifth President of Tanzania, in office since 2015. He was the chairman of the Southern African Development Community from 2019-2020.[1][2]

First elected as a Member of Parliament in 1995, he served in the Cabinet of Tanzania as Deputy Minister of Works from 1995 to 2000, Minister of Works from 2000 to 2006, Minister of Lands and Human Settlement from 2006 to 2008, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries from 2008 to 2010, and as Minister of Works for a second time from 2010 to 2015.[3]

Running as the candidate of the ruling party in Tanzania (CCM), he won the October 2015 presidential election and was sworn in on 5 November 2015. Magufuli's presidency has been marked by a focus on reducing government corruption and spending and also investing in Tanzania's industries.


John Joseph Magufuli started his education at The Chato Primary School from 1967 to 1974 and went on to The Katoke Seminary in Biharamulo for his secondary education from 1975 to 1977 before relocating to Lake Secondary School in 1977 and graduating in 1978. He joined Mkwawa High School for his Advanced level studies in 1979 and graduated in 1981. That same year he joined Mkwawa College of Education (a constituent college of the University of Dar es Salaam) for a Diploma in Education Science, majoring in Chemistry, Mathematics and Education.[4]

Magufuli earned his bachelor of science in education degree majoring in chemistry and mathematics as teaching subjects from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1988. He also earned his masters and doctorate degrees in chemistry from The University of Dar es Salaam, in 1994 and 2009, respectively.[5] In late 2019, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Dodoma for improving the economy of the country.[6]

Early life and political career[edit]

John Joseph Magufuli ventured into elective politics after a short period as a teacher at The Sengerema Secondary School between 1982 and 1983. He taught chemistry and mathematics. Later on, he quit his teaching job and was employed by The Nyanza Cooperative Union Limited as an industrial chemist. He remained there from 1989 to 1995, when he was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) representing Chato district. He was appointed Deputy Minister for Works in his first term as MP. He retained his seat in the 2000 election and was promoted to a full ministerial position under the same docket. After President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete was requested to take office, he moved John Joseph Magufuli to the post of Minister of Lands and Human Settlement on 4 January 2006.[7] Subsequently, he served as Minister of Livestock and Fisheries from 2008 to 2010 and again as Minister of Works from 2010 to 2015.

2015 presidential election[edit]

On 12 July 2015 Magufuli was nominated as CCM's presidential candidate for the 2015 election, winning the majority votes against his opponent Justice Minister and former United Nations Deputy Secretary General Miss Asha-Rose Migiro and the African Union Ambassador to the United States of America, Miss Amina Salum Ali for the party's nomination.[8]

Although Magufuli faced a strong challenge from opposition candidate and previous CCM political party member Edward Lowassa in the election, held on 25 October 2015, Magufuli was declared the winner by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on 29 October; he received 58% of the vote. His running mate, Samia Suluhu, was also declared Vice President. He was sworn in on 5 November 2015.[9]

Magufuli was elected on a programme to "regain economic sovereignty in the face of international financial institutions", according to the academic and political scientist Rwekaza Mukandala.

2020 presidential election[edit]

In July 2020 Magufuli was nominated as the CCM's presidential candidate in elections scheduled for October 2020. His nomination was not opposed after the expulsion from the party earlier in the year of Bernard Membe, a former foreign minister who had planned to challenge the nomination.[10]


After taking office, Magufuli immediately began to impose measures to curb government spending, such as barring unnecessary foreign travel by government officials, using cheaper vehicles and board rooms for transport and meetings respectively, shrinking the delegation for a tour of the Commonwealth from 50 people to 4, dropping its sponsorship of a World AIDS Day exhibition in favour of purchasing AIDS medication, and discouraging lavish events and parties by public institutions (such as cutting the budget of a state dinner inaugurating the new parliament session).[11][12] Magufuli reduced his own salary from US$15,000 to US$4,000 per month.[13]

Magufuli suspended the country's Independence Day festivities for 2015, in favor of a national cleanup campaign to help reduce the spread of cholera. Magufuli personally participated in the cleanup efforts, having stated that it was "so shameful that we are spending huge amounts of money to celebrate 54 years of independence when our people are dying of cholera". The cost savings were to be invested towards improving hospitals and sanitation in the country.[14][11][15]

On 10 December 2015, more than a month after taking office, Magufuli announced his cabinet. Its size was reduced from 30 ministries to 19 to help reduce costs.[16][17]

On 12 April 2016, Magufuli conducted his first foreign visit to Rwanda, where he met his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame and inaugurated the new bridge and one-stop border post at Rusumo. Magufuli also attended the memorial of the 22nd anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.[18]

In July 2016, Tanzania banned shisha smoking, with Magufuli citing its health effects among youth as the reason.[19] In March 2017, Tanzania banned the export of unprocessed ores, in an effort to encourage domestic smelting.[20] In January 2018, Magufuli issued a directive ordering the suspension of registration for foreign merchant ships, following recent incidents surrounding the seizure of overseas shipments of illegal goods (particularly drugs and weapons) being transported under the flag. Tanzania and Zanzibar had gained reputations for being flags of convenience.[21][22]In the same year, He introduced a fee free education for all the government schools in 2016.[23]

The country has amended the laws governing the award of mining contracts, giving itself the right to renegotiate or terminate them in the event of proven fraud. The new legislation also removes the right of mining companies to resort to international arbitration. The tax dispute with Acacia Mining, accused of having significantly undervalued its gold production for years, finally resulted in an agreement: Tanzania obtains 16% of the shares in the mines held by the multinational.[24] In May 2020, Acacia Mining paid $100M to the government to end dispute as the first tranche of the $300M.[25] However, this anti-corruption policy has also "frightened investors, who now fear they will have to deal with Tanzanian justice, and weakened growth," according to Zitto Kabwe, one of the leaders of the opposition ACT party. With one of the highest economic growth rates on the African continent (5.8% in 2018 and an estimated 6% for 2019 according to the IMF), the Tanzanian government is embarking on a vast program of infrastructure development, particularly rail infrastructure. The small fishing port of Bagamoyo, to which $10 billion of investment has been allocated, is expected to become the largest port in Africa by 2030.[26]


Magufuli's government worked on various infrastructure projects targeting economic development.[27] Projects include the addition of half a dozen Air Tanzania planes as a way of reviving the national carrier,[28] the expansion of Terminal III of Julius Nyerere International Airport, construction of Tanzania Standard Gauge Railway, Mfugale Flyover, Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station, Ubungo Interchange, new Selander Bridge, Kigongo-Busisi Bridge, Huduma Bora Za afya, Vituo Bora Za Afya, Expansion of Port of Dar es Salaam, Dodoma Bus Terminal, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant, Water project, Wind farm project,Uhuru Hospital project and Gold refinery plant.[29][30][31][32][33][34]

Magufuli has received the nickname "The Bulldozer" in reference to his roadworks projects, but the term has also been used about his moves to reduce spending and corruption within the Tanzanian government.[35][35] Following Magufuli's initial rounds of cuts post-inauguration, the hashtag "#WhatWouldMagufuliDo" was used by Twitter users to demonstrate their own austerity measures inspired by the president.[11]

Economics Statistics Controversy[edit]

An editorial in the Economist in July 2020 highlighted doubts about the claims to continuing rapid economic growth, pointing out that 'tax revenue fall by 1%? And why has bank lending to companies slumped? Private data are bad, too. In 2019 sales at the biggest brewer fell by 5%. Sales of cement by the two biggest producers were almost flat.' It also observed that 'Two years ago Mr Magufuli's government wrote a law (since amended) under which people could be locked up for three years for disputing official statistics. The government has arrested Zitto Kabwe, an opposition MP, for questioning GDP numbers'.[36]

Tim Staermose, a proponent of African investment, has refuted these data.

Human rights[edit]

Magufuli's government has been accused of repressing opposition to his leadership, including laws restricting opposition rallies, the suspension of the Swahili-language Mawio newspaper in 2016 for publishing "false and inflammatory" reporting regarding the nullification of election results in Zanzibar, threatening to shut down radio and television stations that do not pay licence fees, and a 2018 bill requiring blogs and other forms of online content providers to hold government licenses with content restrictions.[37][38][39][40][41] A devout Catholic, he has been publicly criticized by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Tanzania for taking measures that suppress constitutional freedoms and, in the view of the bishops, represent a threat to national unity.[42]

People in Tanzania have been arrested for cyberbullying the President.[43]

LGBTQ intimidation and abuses[edit]

People convicted of same-sex liaisons in Tanzania can be jailed for up to 30 years. In October 2016, the Tanzanian government banned HIV/AIDS outreach projects and closed US-funded programs that provide HIV testing, condoms and medical care to the gay community. The countrywide closure of private HIV clinics began soon afterward. In late 2018, Magufuli initiated a nationwide crackdown, threatening to arrest and deport anyone campaigning for gay rights and making it difficult to find a lawyer who will defend cases of violence against LGBTQ people.[44]

Paul Makonda, Magufuli's regional commissioner of the capital Dar es Salaam, stated in 2016: "If there's a homosexual who has a Facebook account, or with an Instagram account, all those who 'follow' him — it is very clear that they are just as guilty as the homosexual".[45] Two years later, he announced that a committee of 17 members consisting of police, lawyers and doctors, had been formed to identify homosexuals. Within one day of the announcement authorities reportedly received 5,763 messages from the public, with more than 100 names.[46] Hamisi Kigwangalla, Tanzania's deputy health minister, said he supports the use of 'anal exams' to prove whether someone is having gay sex. The test is widely considered to be a violation of human rights by medical experts.[47]


Birth control[edit]

In September 2018, John Magufuli told a rally: "Those going for family planning are lazy ... they are afraid they will not be able to feed their children. They do not want to work hard to feed a large family and that is why they opt for birth controls and end up with one or two children only."[48][49] He urged people not to listen to those advising about birth control, some of it coming from foreigners, because it has sinister motives.[50] The statement has drawn criticism from Amnesty International and others.[51]


Religious aspect[edit]

When questioned about closing churches during the COVID-19 pandemic in Tanzania, he stated "That's where there is true healing. Corona is the devil and it cannot survive in the body of Jesus."[52] Magufuli and Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda announced that the disease had been defeated by national prayer, and called for a public celebration.[53] "The corona disease has been eliminated thanks to God", Magufuli told the church congregation in Dodoma, the country's capital. The World Health Organization (WHO) has queried the government's approach to COVID-19. By June 2020, the government had not published data on the coronavirus since late April and no one die to current.[54]

PCR kits[edit]

He instructed security forces to blindly test coronavirus PCR test kits for quality on goats, papaya, sheep, pawpaw and motor oil. All of them, he said, had been found to be positive for Covid-19.[55]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Janeth Magufuli, a primary school teacher, and they have three children.[56]

Honours and awards[edit]


  • 2020 : Top Tanzania Assemblies of God Award[57]

Honorary academic awards[edit]

Year University Country Honour
2019 University of Dodoma  Tanzania Honoris Causa[58]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "President Magufuli assumes Sadc chairmanship, calls for the West to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe". The Citizen (Tanzania). 17 August 2019.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Member of Parliament CV". Parliament of Tanzania. Archived from the original on 13 July 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  4. ^ "Hon. Dr. John P. Magufuli's CV". Archived from the original on 4 December 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Hon. Dr. John P. Magufuli (MP)". Tanzania Ministry of Works. Archived from the original on 3 November 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  6. ^ "John Magufuli gets honorary PhD for outstanding leadership". The EastAfrican. 21 November 2019.
  7. ^ Hassan Muhiddin, "JK’s beefed up team", Guardian, 5 January 2006.
  8. ^ CCM [@ccm_tanzania] (12 July 2015). "MKUTANO MKUU WA TAIFA umefanikiwa kumteua mgombea Urais 2015 ambaye ni Mhe.John Joseph. Magufuli #UmojaNiUshindi" [The NATIONAL CONFERENCE has been successfully appointed presidential candidate 2015 which is Mhe.John p. End #UmojaNiUshindi] (Tweet) (in Swahili). Retrieved 12 July 2015 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ "Ruling party wins Tanzania presidency". BBC News. 29 October 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Tanzania's Ruling Party Nominates Magufuli for Re-Election". BloombergQuint. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Voices, Ndesanjo Macha for Global; Network, part of the Guardian Africa (1 December 2015). "What would Tanzania's cost-cutting president do? Twitter responds". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Zambia : New Tanzanian President John Magufuli makes radical changes". Lusaka Times. 26 November 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  13. ^ Ristel Tchounand, "Tanzanie: touchant 4 fois moins que son prédécesseur, le président Magufuli dévoile son salaire", La Tribune Afrique, 4 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Magufuli strikes again: Uhuru Day scrapped". The Citizen. 24 November 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Tanzania's Magufuli scraps independence day celebration". BBC News. 24 November 2015. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  16. ^ Mohammed, Omar (11 December 2015). "Tanzania's Magufuli finally names his cabinet—and it's almost half the size of his predecessor's". Quartz. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  17. ^ Lazaro, Felix (11 December 2015). "Tanzania's Magufuli appoints lean cabinet". Daily Nation. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Tanzania: Magufuli's Visit to Rwanda to Positively Impact On Dar, Kigali". Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  19. ^ "Tanzania bans shisha pipe smoking". BBC News. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Acacia warns of mine closure unless Tanzania lifts export ban". Financial Times. Retrieved 25 April 2018.(subscription required)
  21. ^ Allison, Simon. "Tanzania's flags of inconvenience". The M&G Online. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  22. ^ Kapama, Faustine. "Lawyers back govt curb on foreign ship registers". Daily News. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  23. ^ "Free education in Tanzania". Africa Times. 9 February 2016.
  24. ^ "Why Tanzania deserves a bigger share in Barrick Gold deal". The Citizen. 26 October 2019.
  25. ^ "Tanzania receives initial $100 million payment from Barrick". The Citizen. 26 May 2020.
  26. ^ Tanzania’s port out of Africa, George Miller, February 2019
  27. ^ "Top ongoing mega projects in Tanzania". Construction Review Online. 24 April 2020.
  28. ^ "Air Tanzania expansion on course as country receives Dreamliner". The East African. 26 October 2019.
  29. ^ "Tanzanian envoys commend President Magufuli's efforts on projects". The Citizen. 22 August 2019.
  30. ^ "Tanzania's major projects set to boost the economy by 2025". The Exchange. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  31. ^ "Magufuli: this is why Tazara Flyover is named after Mfugale". The Citizen. 27 September 2018.
  32. ^ "Work set to begin on new Dar es Salaam bridge". The Citizen. 22 July 2018.
  33. ^ "A look at Tanzania's first wind farm". Power Technology. 22 June 2020.
  34. ^ "Tanzania grants Chinese firms licences to build gold refineries". Al Jazeera. 24 July 2019.
  35. ^ a b "John Magufuli is bulldozing the opposition and wrecking the economy". The Economist. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  36. ^ "Tanzania's statistics smell wrong". The Economist. 23 July 2020.
  37. ^ Carlitz, Ruth; Manda, Constantine (25 January 2016). "Tanzania loves its new anti-corruption president. Why is he shutting down media outlets?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  38. ^ Dahir, Abdi Latif. "Tanzania social media and blogging regulations charge to operate online". Quartz. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  39. ^ Nesoba, Ruth (24 November 2015). "Tanzania's John Magufuli in profile". BBC News. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  40. ^ "John Magufuli is bulldozing the opposition and wrecking the economy". The Economist. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  41. ^ Dahir, Abdi Latif. "Tanzania's John Magufuli imposes bans on foreign ships, pregnant schoolgirls, and public rallies —". Quartz. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  42. ^ "Bishops in Tanzania denounce government for suppressing freedoms". Catholic News Agency. 14 February 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  43. ^ "Tanzanian Comedian Idris Sultan Arrested for 'Cyber-Bullying' President". OkayAfrica. 22 May 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  44. ^ Zee, Bibi van der (26 October 2017). "Tanzania illegally detains human rights lawyers for 'promoting homosexuality'". the Guardian. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  45. ^ "Tanzania suspends U.S.-funded AIDS programs in a new crackdown on gays". Washington Post. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  46. ^ Ratcliffe, Rebecca (1 November 2018). "Thousands 'living in fear' after Tanzania calls on public to report gay people". the Guardian. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  47. ^ "Tanzania's president is cracking down on LGBTQ rights. He says cows would approve". Vox. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  48. ^ "Tanzania's president says women using birth control are too 'lazy' to feed a family". Independent. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  49. ^ "'Don't use birth control,' Tanzania's President tells women in the country". CNN. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  50. ^ "Magufuli advises against birth control". CNN. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  51. ^ "Amnesty International condemns Tanzania's 'attack' on family planning". CNN. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  52. ^ "Coronavirus in Africa - Not immune". The Economist. 9187: 42. 28 March 2020.
  53. ^ "Tanzania Says COVID-19 Defeated With Prayer Despite Fears". Time Magazine. 22 May 2020. Archived from the original on 22 May 2020. flood the streets this weekend to celebrate. "Make all kinds of noise as a sign of thanksgiving to show our God has won against disease and worries of death that were making us suffer.
  54. ^ "Coronavirus: John Magufuli declares Tanzania free of Covid-19". BBC News. 8 June 2020. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  55. ^ Tanzania: goat, paw paw, jackfruit test positive for coronavirus
  56. ^ "Profile: John Pombe Joseph Magufuli", The Citizen, 24 October 2015.
  57. ^ "MAGUFULI AWARDED FOR BATTLING COVID-19". Daily News. 15 August 2020.
  58. ^ "Tanzanian president conferred with honorary doctorate degree over outstanding leadership". Xinhua. Xinhua. 21 November 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2020.

External links[edit]

Official website

Political offices
Preceded by
Jakaya Kikwete
President of Tanzania