Thursday, August 22

Facts The Economist Got Them Wrong on Magufuli


By Dr. Herman Louise Verhofstadt
 “A BIT like President Donald Trump, Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, likes to fire employees on television. In November Mr. Magufuli used a live broadcast from a small town in the north of the country summarily to dismiss two officials,” this is an extract from a recent online article I came across from the newspaper that I admired when I was growing up in Europe back in 1990’s; the Economist. 

 Before I venture into other serious issues, the excerpts above contains gross factual errors; my own fact-check indicates that in the named public rally during the opening of Kagera Airport, there was no summary dismissal of the two officials instantly on television, as alleged. Instead, the two, one District Executive Directors for Bukoba Urban and another for Rural were relieved their duties later through a press release from President’s Office. 

 This is my prima impressio reading the Economist this week, a publication known for its top notch ethical and analytical standards, that has now vanished into a hell of sensational journalism, half baked facts, lack of objectivity and a clear sense of bias. 
 Contrary to the fact deprived article, it is my candid observation that to objectively critique Magufuli’s presidency in the circumstances of the transformation he is doing for his people in Tanzania, requires the level of conscious that is unfortunately lacking in the current editorial team at the Economist. 
 Living in Tanzania for close to half a decade now, it makes me a better eye-witness than the Westminster based editorial team. To say the least, this man Magufuli rose into power in a country that was downed by massive corruption scandals, political demonstrations that caused deaths and worse enough he found media fraternity that was being corrupted to work for interest groups. In my stay here before and after his presidency, I have witnessed real transformation, his work is exemplary and fascinating one. 
 Everybody here—may be just like what Theresa May is doing in London and what Trump is focusing in Washington, is aware that Tanzania is on the move towards pro-people development; something the Economist is unhappy for and would frame it with usual western biases; suppression of democracy, violation of press rights etc etc! 
 Under Magufuli’s “rogueness” I have seen leaders going into prison or dismissed for lack of action in protecting public funds, I’m seeing public service regaining its lost fame and massive social projects being implemented across the country-sadly the Economist would reduce all these far-fetching achievements to nothing but “rogueness.”

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