Profile: Tanzania’s ‘Bulldozer’ President John Pombe Magufuli


John Pombe Joseph Magufuli (born 29 October 1959) is the President of Tanzania, in office since 2015.

First elected as a Member of Parliament in 1995, he served in the Cabinet of Tanzania as Deputy Minister of Works from 1995 to 2000, Minister of Works from 2000 to 2006, Minister of Lands and Human Settlement from 2006 to 2008, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries from 2008 to 2010, and as Minister of Works for a second time from 2010 to 2015.


Standing as the candidate of the ruling CCM, he won the October 2015 presidential election and was sworn in on 5 November 2015.

Magufuli started his education at Chato Primary School from 1967 to 1974 and went on to Katoke Seminary in Biharamulo for his secondary education from 1975 to 1977 before relocating to Lake Secondary School in 1977 and completing in 1978.

He joined Mkwawa High School for his A levels in 1979 and completed 1981 and that same year he joined Mkwawa College of Education for a Diploma in Education (Sc.) Chemistry, Mathematics and Education.

Magufuli earned his bachelor of science in education degree majoring chemistry and mathematics as teaching subjects from theUniversity of Dar es Salaam in 1988. He also earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam, in 1994 and 2009, respectively


Magufuli ventured into elective politics after a short hiatus as a teacher at Sengerema Secondary School between 1982 and 1983. He taught chemistry and mathematics. Later on, he quit his teaching job and was employed by the giant Nyanza Cooperative Union Ltd as an industrial chemist. He remained there from 1989 to 1995, when was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Chato.

He was appointed as Deputy Minister for Works in his first term as MP. He retained his seat in the 2000 election and was promoted to a full ministerial position under the same docket. After President Jakaya Kikwete took office, he moved Magufuli to the post of Minister of Lands and Human Settlement on 4 January 2006. Subsequently he served again as Minister of Works from 2010 to 2015.

On 12 July 2015 Magufuli was nominated as CCM’s presidential candidate for the 2015 election, besting Justice Minister and former UN Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro and African Union Ambassador to the United States Amina Salum Ali for the party’s nomination.

Although he faced a strong challenge from opposition candidate and CCM defector Edward Lowassa in the election, held on 25 October 2015, Magufuli was declared the winner by the National Electoral Commission on 29 October; he received 58% of the vote. His running mate, Samia Suluhu, was also declared Vice President-elect. He was sworn in on 5 November 2015.

As he began his term as President, Magufuli displayed unusual zeal for austerity and impatience with corruption and waste. He cancelled Independence Day celebrations, traditionally a time for the government to spend big on a public display of nationalism. Instead the time is to be spent on street-cleaning to improve sanitation and arrest the spread of a cholera outbreak.

Magufuli also downsized by more than 90 percent the budget for the opulent state dinner that usually marks the opening of parliament and ordered the money saved to be spent on hospital beds and roadworks. He also cancelled foreign travel for officials and banned the purchase of first-class air tickets, although the president, his deputy and the prime minister were exempt.


Furthermore, he ordered that government meetings and workshops be held in government buildings rather than expensive hotels and cut a bloated delegation of 50 people set to tour Commonwealth countries to just four. He also publicly issued a serious warning to the people he will select as ministers that he would not tolerate corrupt and bureaucratic government officials and that the ministers would have to work tirelessly to serve Tanzanians along with him.

On 10 December 2015, more than a month after taking office, President Magufuli finally announced his cabinet, composed of 19 ministries. It had 11 fewer ministries than the previous government; some ministries were merged to save money.


Comments are closed.