By Said Ameir
When President John Pombe Magufuli took over the chairmanship of EAC Heads of State Summit during the 17th EAC ordinary summit held early March, 2016 at Ngurdoto, Arusha, none expected that he would give shocking plea to EAC secretariat- stop your lavish spending and spare the community funds to serve the poor!.
His first summit after being elected in power, President Magufuli never showed any newness to the occasion and instead showed his true color by hammering what was unexpected to any of his fellow Heads of State and government.
In his acceptance speech, he never wasted time to pin point that he was of the opinion that the regional body was unwisely spending community funds something which does not reflect the actual state of the economies of the member states.
President Magufuli urged the Secretariat to take cost- cutting measures to rid the regional body from wasting its hard fought resources from their poor citizens and strongly warned members of the secretariat not to mess around with community money!
He pledged to take same measures implementing in his country to reduce government spending including curbing lavish spending on travels and meetings and went further to question as to why the secretariat favors convening meets in expensive resorts instead of using conference halls at the regional body’s headquarters.
The President challenged the Secretariat to become problem solver instead of being always ‘moaners’ and restrict them from being parasitic at the detriment of the poor citizens of member states.
He was of the opinion that the regional body is capable of effectively and efficiently running its business with the merger resources coming from members’ contributions if cost cutting measures were put in place and if Secretariat is to make rational financial decisions.
There were those who were not convinced if that would be possible and some even thought that the President was off target and ill informed. But today, one year down the road, President Magufuli has proved his doubters wrong.
During the 18th Ordinary Summit held in Dar es Salaam recently, where President Magufuli handed over the chairmanship to his Uganda counterpart, President Yoweri Museveni, it was reported that for the first time the regional bloc has managed to save about US $ 2.5 million from its budget due to cost cutting measures imposed during his chairmanship.
President Magufuli has identified himself with group of modern type of leaders who are earnest and shrewd with direct approach to issues. To many Tanzanians and to some of our neighbors, it was not a surprise! He was well known since he was a minister that he was a person who was fond of fine details of all matters under his jurisdiction.
He was never afraid of telling the truth or rather calling a spade a spade. The good thing of him is his strong willpower and firmness to achieve what he believed to be achievable. He is a result oriented leader who is always geared to get the best out everything he believes and cherishes. He likes challenges and that is what he distinguishes himself from others.
He clearly knew that the promise to employ cost cutting measures at EAC secretariat was not an easy task but he was convinced that he has firm support of his fellow Heads of State and government of the member states.
As a leader he made his homework and see how viable was his appeal to introduce cost cutting at the Secretariat and he realized that, it can be done if and only if everyone plays his part.
He warned to use his leadership moto ‘Hapa Kazi tu’ in exercising his duties as Chairperson of EAC and also warned to use his style of ‘kutumbua majipu’ to those who would not heed to his plea but fortunately things went well probably because Secretariat knew that Magufuli is a man of few words but means what he says.
Whilst, we congratulate President Magufuli for showing the way, appreciation should also go to members of the secretariat under chairmanship of the Secretary General Amb. Libérat Mfumukeko for not letting down President Magufuli and his fellow Heads of State.
And as the saying goes ‘When there is will there is a way’. He promised and he has delivered it. This is why they say ‘Magufuli always means business.’ Congratulations for your efforts to make new and prosperous Tanzania, Your Excellency, Dr. John Pombe Magufuli.