The BBC reports Tanzania’s new President John Magufuli joined hundreds of residents in the main city Dar es Salaam today to take part in a public clean-up operation. “Mr Magufuli picked up rubbish from the street outside State House as part of the scheme, which he had ordered to replace independence day celebrations. The move is being seen as symbolic of the president’s promise to tackle corruption. Thousands of people across Tanzania are reported to have joined the clean-up.
“Last month, Mr Magufuli cancelled traditional independence day celebrations, which usually include a military parade and concert, saying it would be “shameful” to spend huge sums of money while the country was facing a serious cholera outbreak.”
“Let us work together to keep our country, cities, homes and workplaces clean, safe and healthy,” Mr Magufuli told a crowd of surprised onlookers as he picked up rubbish off the street, AFP news agency reports.
“Tanzania has changed – this is a new Tanzania,” one resident told AFP, on a break from cleaning up the city’s public beach.
Since coming to power in October, Mr Magufuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for his no-nonsense approach, has announced a range of cost-cutting measures, including a ban on unnecessary foreign travel by government officials.
The hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo, coined after the initial cancellation of festivities last month, has been trending on social media in Tanzania and across East Africa, as people come up with their own money-saving initiatives.
Last month, Mr Magufuli ordered the cost of a party to inaugurate the new parliament to be slashed from $100,000 to $7,000. He also sacked the head of the main state hospital after finding patients sleeping on the floor during a surprise visit to the facility. Some officials have been jailed for lateness, the head of the tax authority has been suspended and the use of public funds to pay for Christmas and New Year greeting cards banned.
The 56-year-old is a former school teacher, industrial chemist and outgoing works minister. He is a devout Catholic with a corruption-free reputation. He loves singing in the church choir and playing traditional drums. He performed push-ups on the campaign trail to prove he was fit.