President John Pombe Magufuli yesterday responded to critics of his drive to ‘open up boils’ and vowed he would not relent on the war against corruption and misuse of public funds.
He said he had been criticised on the way he has conducted the crackdown on irresponsible public officials but affirmed that would not scare him because he has the support of Tanzanians who elected him.
He admitted when addressing a gathering at Tengeru outside Arusha during a launch of a road project that he still had an immense task ahead of him because fighting against corruption was a difficult task.
“It is a difficult job. If not done properly there is no need of me being called a president with executive powers”, he said to the applause of scores of people who turned out at a brief ceremony on the road side.
Dr Magufuli, who has been in Arusha for days hosting the East African Community (EAC) meetings, said he was ready to make a sacrifice for Tanzania if he was hard pressed between fighting graft and unwarranted pleas for mercy.
He stated that although his crackdown on people who squandered public resources had the support of majority of Tanzanians, it has equally earned him a bad name among those who benefitted from the scam, including those suspended to pave way for investigations.
“I would not mind if the number (of those forced to step aside) reaches 2,000 as long as it is for the benefit of 50 million Tanzanians”, he said as his fellow leaders Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda looked curiously as the new Tanzanian leader spoke for nearly an hour on one measure after another on how to tame graft.
He diverted the attention of the audience from the launching of a key road project in the region to his war against impunity which has been received well even beyond the country’s borders but which has received veiled criticisms from a section of people for the way it is conducted.
In his address at Tengeru yesterday openly admitted before fellow leaders from the EAC partner states, foreign diplomats and representatives of the development partners that there was every justification for his ‘house-cleaning’ drive.
“For many years Tanzania has been turned into ‘shamba la bibi’ ( a cash cow). It is now time to work for the Tanzanians”, he said, remarking that the measures his government is taking was for the benefit of the ordinary wananchi who have suffered for years.
Dr Magufuli said having served for over 20 years as a cabinet minister he seen a lot of tricks used by smart public officials to steal money from the government and its corporations, constraining the state coffers’ capacity to provide medicines to public hospitals and desks to the schools.
He reiterated a promise he made on Wednesday during the EAC Summit at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge outside Arusha that if he was given chance he would deal with the reported misuse of funds at the EACV Secretariat. His mandate as Chair of EAC Summit of Heads of State was extended by another year by the Summit.
He cited the recent disappearance of Sh 400billion at the state-run Tanzania Communications Regulations Agency (TCRA). This led to the suspension of three senior officials. The money, according to him, was enough buy large airbus jets.
South Sudan second vice president James Wan Iga said by electing Dr. Magufuli the fifth Union President, Tanzanians have made the right choice.
“He is the right leader, taking the country ahead, especially his determination to combat corruption and elevate this country economically. Very soon this country will see a real change”, he explained.
The Citizen Tanzania