Tanzania scraps independence celebration, diverts funds to kids

President Samia Suluhu Hassan redirected this year’s budget to building dormitories for children with special needs.

Tanzania’s newly elected President John Magufuli has cancelled independence day celebrations, and has ordered a clean-up campaign instead.

Tanzania’s president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has canceled Independence Day celebrations scheduled for Friday and directed that the budget instead be used to build dormitories for children with special needs.
The 61st Independence Day event was to cost $445,000, money that will be used to build eight dormitories in primary schools around the country.
Tanzania’s minister of state, George Simbachawene, on Monday said the money had been disbursed. He said the East African country will celebrate Independence Day by having public dialogues on development.
Usually, Independence Day celebrations are marked with pomp and state banquets.
This is not, however, the first time Tanzania has canceled the celebrations.
In 2015, then-President John Magufuli canceled celebrations and diverted funds towards the building of a road in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.
In 2020, he did the same and directed that the budget be used to buy medical facilities.
The current president, Hassan, is Tanzania’s first female head of state. Currently, only Tanzania and Ethiopia have female heads of state, though the role in Ethiopia is largely ceremonial.
Hassan previously drew attention by ordering big-bellied policemen to lose weight to be more effective at work.
She also reversed her predecessor’s stance on contraceptives by urging Tanzanians to embrace family planning. Magufuli discouraged the use of contraceptives.

RELATED: John Magufuli – Tanzania’s ‘Bulldozer’ president in profile

The son of a peasant farmer, John Pombe Magufuli became Tanzania’s president on his 56th birthday in 2015 and has gone on to be a controversial leader.
Before he was president he acquired the nickname the bulldozer for driving a programme to build roads as minister for works, and later was hailed for his anti-corruption stance and his distinct dislike for wasting money.

But his time in power has attracted considerable criticism for changes that critics say threaten freedom of expression and business.

On his first day in office in November 2015 he made a big impression.

He made a surprise visit to the finance ministry to check on how many people had actually turned up to work – sending a message that he would not tolerate the reputation Tanzanian civil servants have for absenteeism.

That same week, as an economising measure, he also banned all foreign trips for public servants.

It appeared to work. A central bank report in 2017 revealed that the government had saved $430m (£330m) on foreign travel in just one year.

He also scrapped costly independence day celebrations, instead declaring it a national clean-up day and was pictured picking up rubbish outside State House in the main city, Dar es Salaam.

RELATED: Five things Tanzania’s President ‘Bulldozer’ Magufuli has banned

This year began with a new ban in Tanzania – all public hospitals were forbidden from televising entertainment programmes and told to show only health-related content.
Since President John Pombe Magufuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer”, came to power three years ago, his government has been infamous for issuing hasty directives.

Just days after taking office in late 2015, he cancelled the symbolic independence day fete and directed all the funds budgeted for the event to be used to widen a part of a highway notorious for gridlocks in the main city of Dar es Salaam. That was coupled with firing a number of government bigwigs in his anti-corruption crusade.

Africans on Twitter loved all of it – the hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo? saw other African presidents either being mocked or called into action to emulate the no-nonsense Tanzanian leader.


By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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