Today Tanzanians lay to rest their fifth president, the late Dr John Pombe Joseph Magufuli. Sworn into office as President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Commander-in-Chief on November 5, 2015, Dr Magufuli was again sworn into the Presidency for a second five-year term on November 5, 2020.

This was after he had won the October 28, 2020 presidential election with an overwhelming majority of 12,516,252 (84.40 percent) of the valid popular votes. In both the 2015 and 2020 elections, Dr Magufuli stood with Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan of Zanzibar as his Vice Presidential candidate.

The two national leaders worked in great harmony and imagination in the best interests of Tanzanians during their joint leadership.

That was when the Union government of President Magufuli recorded several major socioeconomic development achievements for his country and its people, beginning with the fifth-phase government following the 2015 elections.

These were largely in infrastructure development, healthcare-related improvements, and the upholding to a certain extent of human rights.

For instance, economic infrastructure projects that were initiated by President Magufuli were the virtual revival of the national air carrier, ATCL, by the addition of about half a dozen modern airplanes; expansion of Terminal 3 of the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, and construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR) from Dar es Salaam to some landlocked neighbouring countries up the central transport corridor.

Other projects are the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station along River Rufiji; the Kigongo-Busisi Bridge (the longest bridge in the East African region); the Aga Khan Hospital-Coco Beach Bridge across the Salendar Bridge Creek; as well as the Kijazi (Ubungo) Interchange and Mfugale Flyover in Dar es Salaam.

Expansion of Dar port

This is to say nothing of the expansion of Dar es Salaam Port, the Dodoma Bus Terminal, and the Magufuli (Mbezi Luis) Bus Terminal; assorted water supply projects; a wind farm project; a gold refinery plant; the proposed Hoima-Tanga Oil Pipeline from Uganda to Tanzania the Uhuru Hospital Project in the nation’s capital Dodoma, and numerous other healthcare projects across the country.

As President of the United Republic, Dr Magufuli has been able to instill a sense of discipline and uprightness in public service, as well as enforce austerity measures in the government and other public institutions in the last five years or so of his administration.

In 2016, the President Magufuli government introduced free primary school education in government schools, a move which swelled school enrolment across the country. This was just as soon followed by free secondary school education.

In 2017, the President revisited the country’s mining regime, whereby he started by banning the export of unprocessed mineral ores in an effort to encourage domestic smelting, followed by changes in the extractives policy and regulatory frameworks.

Although some of the changes were heavily frowned upon by investors and others with selfish, narrower/personal interests, they nonetheless have unquestionably had positive results all-round.

Now that Magufulli is no longer with us physically, we will nonetheless hold him in high esteem as a President who made a positive impression on our motherland – and look forward to his successor, President Samia Suluhu Hassan, picking up from where he left off.