John Pombe Magufuli: Early life of Fallen Tanzanian President

John Pombe Magufuli: Early life of Fallen Tanzanian President

- President John Pombe Magufuli breathed his last on the night of Wednesday, March 18, at Mzena State Hospital in Dar es Salaam

- Magufuli was first elected as the president of Tanzania in 2015 and subsequently re-elected in 2020

- The CCM leader's comprehensive measures to reduce government corruption characterised his reign

- The deceased married Janeth Magufuli and were blessed with three children

Tanzania's President John Pombe Magufuli is dead.

Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli in a past address. Photo: Getty Images.
Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli in a past address. Photo: Getty Images.
Source: Getty Images

The head of state breathed his last on the night of Wednesday, March 18, at Mzena State Hospital in Dar es Salaam.

Magufuli succumbed to heart complications according to the country's vice president Samia Hassan.

His death comes after missing in the public eye since February 27, raising concerns about his whereabouts and health.

Early life and education

Magufuli was born on October 29, 1959.

In 1967, he started his education at The Chato Primary School then proceeded to Katoke Seminary in Biharamulo for his secondary education.

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In 1981, he joined the University of Dar es Salaam where he acquired a Diploma in Education Science, majoring in Chemistry, Mathematics and Education.

He later in 1994 and 2009 earned his masters and doctorate degrees in Chemistry respectively from the same institution.

The head of state married Janeth Magufuli and they were blessed with three children.

Political journey

Magufuli was elected as the president of Tanzania in 2015 and subsequently re-elected in 2020 on the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) ticket.

In the October 2015 polls , he faced a strong challenge from Edward Lowassa but was declared the winner after garnering 58% of the total votes.

He was sworn in on November 5, 2015.

He was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 1995 to represent Chato district.

The deceased earlier served as the 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.

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Governance

Magufuli's comprehensive measures to reduce government corruption and spending whilst and also investing in Tanzania’s industries characterised his reign.

He was nicknamed 'The Bulldozer' for pushing though projects when he worked as a Minister of Works.

His firm stance on corruption won him attention and admiration worldwide.

After he assumed office, he imposed measures to curb government spending, such as barring unnecessary foreign travel by government officials.

To serve as an example in reducing government spending, he reduced his salary from KSh 1.8 million to KSh 440, 000.

He also suspended the country's Independence Day festivities for 2015 in favour of a national cleanup campaign to help reduce the spread of cholera which he personally participated in.

In terms of infrastructure, he will be remembered for various projects including the addition of six Air Tanzania planes as a way of reviving the national carrier.

However, Magufuli's government has been accused of suppressing the opposition to his leadership, including laws restricting opposition rallies.

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Opposition leaders such as Tundu Lissu have had to seek asylum from other countries.

COVID-19

Despite his economic development, the CCM leader's biggest controversy was his firm in downplaying the deadly COVID-19 which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Magufuli had initially refused to lock down his country when neighbours did so to reduce COVID-19 infections.

He also did not issue compulsory mask-wearing in public and instead asked people to pray. For months, the deceased played down COVID-19 and urged Tanzanians to trust God and use remedies such as steam inhalation.

In public, he also mocked the coronavirus test and had dismissed the vaccines initiated as part of a Western conspiracy to take Africa's wealth.

But after the death of a senior official early this year, Magufuli seemed to soften his stand and at one point in a church, the congregation said the government had not forbidden mask-wearing.

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