On a day Tanzania would normally be celebrating its independence, its newly elected president wasn’t attending any fancy celebrations. He was out cleaning up the streets of the city.
On Wednesday, John Magufuli – who was elected five weeks ago and inspired the hashtag movement #WhatWouldMagufuliDo because of his no-nonsense, clean-up-the-government, anti-corruption attitude – was outside State House in Dar es Salaam helping others clean the streets.
Cleaning up the country – literally – was one of the many issues that Magufuli raised after he was elected. He said it would be “shameful” to spend huge sums of money on the independence day celebrations when people were dying of cholera. Instead, the day was set as a national day of cleanliness, and the money that would have been spent on celebrations will go toward street-cleaning services. Magufuli encouraged everybody to pick up their tools and clean their backyards.
Dozens of fishermen reportedly joined in the cleanup with Magufuli, who shovelled leaves and plastic rubbish close to a fish market near the presidential palace as a crowd of hundreds looked on.
“Let us work together to keep our country, cities, homes and workplaces clean, safe and healthy,” Magufuli reportedly said, as he picked up litter.
Other things Magufuli has already done is to drive to the opening of parliament in Dodoma from Dar rather than fly; spend money meant for government parties on much-needed hospital beds; restricted overseas travel by government employees; he banned the use of public funds to pay for Christmas and New Year greeting cards; and he has promised to cut public spending, fight corruption and enhance accountability in public service.
In a video from Wednesday after cleaning, Magufuli talks to reporters. Even if you can’t understand what he’s saying, he sounds great.
In the interview above, President Magufuli thanks the people for making the clean up programme a celebration in itself and speaks about the importance of cleanliness, and how when we all work together, we become one. We overcome poverty. He said Tanzania now has a strong government made up of young and old.