Infamously nicknamed ‘The Bulldozer’, Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli reign has seen a number of questionable and unusual bans and reforms implemented across the nation since his government took office in late 2015.
Many had high hopes for the new President whose socialist ethos promised to weed out the roots of corruption that were deeply seeded within most high ranking government positions in the country.
Magufuli kicked off his term in style with his early decision to reallocate the budget for the customary presidential election parade and Independence Day celebration towards much-needed upgrades to the national highway, which proved to be hugely popular with citizens.
However, this honeymoon period did not last long as the Tanzanian President has since brought in a number of bizarre directives that have been detrimental to one of Africa’s previously fastest growing economies.
1. Forced Cashews Inflation
Tanzania is one of the worlds leading growers and exporters of cashew nuts, as of 2017 cashew exports alone was more than tea, coffee, cotton, sisal and cloves combined. However, the stable of the cashew industry has been thrown into disarray over the past year.
The origin of this crisis? President Magufuli’s decision to increase the minimum price of cashews. This resulted in sales plummeting and negotiations between farmers and private traders going stale. As a result, Magufuli deployed the military and ordered them to purchase the cashew nuts for $1.43 p/kg to solve the cashew price row.
Although the president has claimed that his actions were solely in the interest of negotiating a better deal for cashew farmers, many critics believe that the President cultivated this crisis for political gain.
2. Pop Star Diamond Platnumz Banned for Being Sexually Suggestive
The Tanzanian pop star was banned from performing in his homeland after he failed to comply with government warnings to refrain from using ‘sexually suggestive’ language. The star was previously under investigationby Tanzanian police form posting video clips of himself playfully kissing a women on Instagram.
The Tanzanian arts regulator, Basata, has also made claims that the artist will be banned from performing internationally, although there is no clear way for the government to enforce this.
3. Gold and Copper Ore Exports
Africa’s richest man, Akiko Dangote, has previously accused Magufuli of scaring away investors. This came after the President announced a ban on the export of metallic mineral concentrates in 2016. Traditionally, Tanzanian miners send large heaps of earth containing metallic ore to Europe and Asia for smelting, however in 2016 Magufuli government issued damming reports accusing London-based Acacia Ltd. of under-declaring the value of the ore and demanded that it retrospectively pay 17 years worth of tax worth an estimated value of over $190bn.
Acacia’s parent company opened talks with the Tanzanian government in an effort to resolve the issue, offering $300m, but no deal has yet been agreed by Magufuli.
4. Cancellation of Live Parliamentary Broadcast
The live parliamentary broadcast holds significant importance among the Tanzanian community with a number of high profile exposures of corruption taking place over the 10 years preceding Magufuli’s reign.
However, since the current president came into office, the government began to limit the coverage of the Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation (TBC). This garnered huge criticism from the opposition who claimed that it was a form of state censorship, but the official state line is that the broadcast was unnecessary and expensive.
5. Assassination Attempt on Opposition Leader
In September 2017, one of President Magufuli’s most vocal opponents, Mr. Tundu Lissu, was shot multiple times in an attempted assassination attempt outside his apartment in Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital city. Speaking with the Financial Times about the attack, Mr. Lissu told the paper that “All hell broke loose… I have been told, because I couldn’t count, that 38 bullets hit my car and out of those something like 16 hit me.”
Furthermore, Mr. Lissu pointed the blame at the current President, stating that the botched assassination attempt was a perfect example of Magufuli efforts to turn“the country into a dictatorship.”