What would Tanzania’s cost-cutting president do? Twitter responds

3273 A Tanzanian supporter holds a poster featuring the newly elected president John Magufuli. Photograph: Emmanuel Herman/Reuters

Tanzania’s newly elected president, nicknamed “the bulldozer”, has become a Twitter sensation across Africa after introducing radical government cost-cutting measures.

Immediately after his inauguration, John Magufuli scrapped independence celebrations, choosing instead to spend money on sanitation, fighting cholera and new beds and equipment for hospitals.

John Magufuli winning the vote in early November. Photograph: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Declaring it shameful to be “spending huge amounts of money to celebrate 54 years of independence when our people are dying of cholera”, Magufuli said that on independence day, every household will be required to participate in a nationwide cleanup campaign.

A state dinner for the official opening of the country’s parliament, for example, was going to cost 300m Tanzanian shillings (£92,500). Magufuli slashed the budget to 25m and ordered that the rest of the money be used to buy 300 hospital beds and 600 sheets.

Other austerity measures include a moratorium on foreign travel, meaning no more first-class tickets for government officials (with the exception of the president, vice-president, and prime minister) or expensive hotels and cars. Lavish cocktail parties and dinners hosted by public institutions have also been cut back.

The president has also prohibited public officials from sending Christmas and New Year cards from the government’s budget. The funds set aside for the printing of these cards will instead be used to pay off government debts. Another bold move was that, instead of sponsoring the annual World Aids Day exhibition, the money budgeted for the event will be used to buy drugs for HIV patients.


Impressed by Magufuli’s performance since he was inaugurated on 9 November, Twitter user Talkative Rocker suggested that his influence should spread beyond Tanzania. Indeed, users across Africa have been showing their appreciation for the austerity measures by using the hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo.

Here’s what Twitter users think:

A version of this article first appeared on Global Voices


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