Obituary: John Magufuli


Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has died at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, the country’s vice president announced in a televised address on Wednesday. He was 61. “President John Magufuli died of a heart ailment that he has battled for over 10 years,” Samia Suluhu Hassan said.



 John Pombe Joseph Magufuli was born on 29th October 1957 and died on 17th March 2021. Until his death, he served as the fifth president of Tanzania.  Mr. Magufuli served as the Minister of Works, Transport, and Communication from 2000 to 2005 and 2010 to 2015 and was the chair of the South African development community from 2012 to 2020. He was first elected into the national chambers in 1995.

Before then, the late had taught Chemistry and mathematics at The Sengerema secondary school; that is; between 1982 and 1983 and then employed by The Nyanza Cooperative Union Limited as an industrial chemist (1989-1995).

Magufuli won the October 2015 presidential election and was sworn in on 5th November 2015 and subsequently re-elected in 2020. During his tenure, he reduced government corruption while investing in Tanzania’s industries. According to the academic and political scientist Rwekaza Mukabadala, Magufuli was elected on a program to “regain economic sovereignty in the face of international financial institutions”

After taking office, Magufuli imposed measures to curb government spending, such as barring unnecessary foreign travel by government officials, using cheaper vehicles and board rooms for transport and meetings respectively, shrinking the delegation for a tour of the Commonwealth from 50 people to 4, dropping its sponsorship of a World AIDS Day in favor of purchasing AIDS medication and reduced his salary from US$15,000 to US$ 4000 per month. He also suspended Independence Day festive for 2015 in favor of a national cleanup campaign to reduce the spread of Cholera where he personally participated and used the cash meant for the 54th Independence Festive to improve hospitals and sanitation.

On 10 December 2015, Magufuli reduced the cabinet size from 30 ministries to 19 to help reduce costs. On 12 April 2016, Magufuli met his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame and inaugurated the new bridge and one-stop border post at Rusumo. He also attended the 22nd anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.

In July 2016, Tanzania banned Shisha smoking, with Magufuli citing its health effects among youth as the reason, and in March 2017, he banned the export of unprocessed ores, in an effort to encourage domestic smelting. He also introduced a fee-free education for all the government schools in 2016.

Magufuli’s government worked on various infrastructure projects targeting economic development such as Air Tanzania to revive the national carrier and expansion of terminal III of Julius Nyerere International Airport, construction of Tanzania Standard Gauge railway, Mfugale just to mention a few. He also discouraged family planning and asked them to work hard in order to build the economy.

Magufuli also refused to close churches in the country as other countries were doing the same, asserting that the Covid-19 pandemic is a devil and it can only be battled out by God, he called for national prayers.

First forward, John Pombe Magufuli passed on a heart attack on 17th of March 2021, 61 years, it was confirmed by his Vice-President Samia Suluhu. He died at Mzena in Dar-es-salaam where he received his treatment. Magufuli was also a father of three and a husband to Janeth Magufuli, a primary school teacher.

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