After being sworn in as President of Tanzania in November 2015, President John Magufuli directed funds that would have gone to celebratory events towards efforts to battle a cholera outbreak. Furthermore , he urged citizens across the country to make efforts to clean up their cities and towns and even banned government offices from giving Christmas cards at the taxpayers’ expense.
All of this thrifty behavior didn’t just gain plaudits but also earned him a meme on the internet:
This resulted in a rash of hilarious photos across the internet. These are some of my favorites:
As someone who has known Tanzania reasonably well for the past twenty plus years, from my semester in Arusha with School for International Training to my extensive field research in access to water in Dar es Salaam while based at King’s College London to my recent work on rural sanitation with the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program, I am trying to put all of this in context. This is a country where the urban private sector has been marginalized by the “Weka Jiji Safi” (Keep the City Clean), electricity outages and associated cholera outbreaks have occurred in the slums of Dar es Salaam, and the Tanzanian Parliament was dissolved in response to the Richmond Electricity scandal.
Don’t get me wrong- Tanzania is not the most corrupt country in the world. Heck, some say that Kenya is jealous.
The main question I would like to ask is
“Has social media played a positive part in improving the Tanzanian democracy and has this improved water, sanitation, health, or electricity service delivery?”
I am going to share this with as many Tanzanians as possible, because I would love to hear thoughts on this.