Dan Paget writes on Tanzanian President Magufuli and his ‘masterclass in political manoeuvring’

Dan Paget has written two articles, one for African Arguments (17 July) and one for The Conversation (27 July), on President John Magufuli.

He writes, “Ever since his election in 2015, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has been a subject of public fascination. At first, his war on graft promised to cleanse the state of corruption, while his patriotic thrift inspired the hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo?

But as this campaign of tumbua majipu (“lance the boils”) was becoming old news, Magufuli became associated with another d-word. To “development” was added “dictatorship”. Public rallies were banned, radio stations shut down, and newspapers publicly threatened. It became apparent that Tanzania was taking a sharp authoritarian turn.

Now, Magufuli’s image is shape-shifting once again. Over a matter of days earlier this month, the president turned Tanzania’s mining policy on its head. A regime of low taxes, free enterprise and light-touch regulation ended at the stroke of a pen. Magufuli assumed a new identity: the president that took on the multinationals.”