John Pombe Magufuli

Legacy of John Pombe Magufuli: The 5th President of the Republic of Tanzania 29th October 1959 – 17th March 2021

Late President of Tanzania


Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. – Warren Buffett

Make a difference, change the game for the better, leave a legacy, be a guide that someone else can follow and make better, and then someone else will follow that and make that better.” ― Carlos Wallace, The Other 99 T.Y.M.E.S: Train Your Mind to Enjoy

“What you build outlives what you tear down.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

“Strive to leave a legacy beyond your limitations and far beyond the expectations of others.” ― Stewart Stafford

“Every action is something temporary that gets carved into something permanent.”― Craig D. Lounsbrough

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I live in Uganda, East Africa and naturally track the politics in the region. The Tanzanian President – John Pombe Magufuli passed away on the 17th March 2021. He was a controversial leader but an effective leader. The grieving that tore the East African region was because they realized a true champion of the people’s welfare and rights had passed on.

His short presidential term was transformational. He hammered away at corruption and malfeasance both in the public and private sector. He led by example and was feared by opponents both domestic and external.

In summary he was a man of his word. He was committed to the Tanzanian people and their welfare and he did his outmost to realize the ambitions of his people. The final cause of his death was shrouded in mystery. Whether it was COVID related or a heart attack his actions/deeds leave a profound legacy for the Tanzanian people.

John Pombe Magufuli Lessons

1. Integrity

John Pombe had the outmost integrity. He lived by his word and could not stand the corrupt. What kills any nation, society and people is corruption. Your typical politician says one thing and does another thing.

He cleaned up the public sector in Tanzania and enforced high standards of integrity and ethics. The corrupt feared him and had to lie low during his tenure. Once corruption was rooted out of the body public results were instant and immediate.

Management of public resources with integrity resulted in the implementation and execution of many public projects which surpassed the legacy of all his previous predecessors in the presidential docket.  

2. Leadership by example

JPM led by example. His family members were treated in public hospitals. His own wife was hospitalized in a general ward at the National Health Hospital in Tanzania. That is a deed unheard of in Sub Sharan countries and most countries in the world.

The politicians and elite in Africa usually do not get treated in the run-down public hospitals. They are usually found in the best private hospitals that money can afford. He actually generated a twitter following with the hashtag #whatwouldmagufulido

That was the essence of JPM, he was not your typical politician whose typical mantra is ‘One rule for thee and another rule for myself’. He cut his own presidential salary from USD 15,000 per month to USD 4000 per month.

3. High Standards/Work Ethic

He lived by the mantra of getting things done. JPM lived wholly by this philosophy. He got major infrastructure projects started and completed in record time for the Tanzanian people.

His nick name was the ‘bull dozer’ when he held the Transport and Infrastructure docket. He got projects completed and work done. This endeared him to the Tanzanian public who had given up on graft and corruption.

Key Critique of his Legacy

Dictatorial Personality

 He was autocratic in nature and made many unnecessary enemies. I still give him a pass on this. When society is mired in corruption and moral decay it’s only autocratic and ruthless means that can root out decadence in society.

No society, no matter how economically and technologically advanced it is , will thrive with corruption and decadence allowed to run riot. Corruption brought down great empires. This vice is the root cause of societal ills and woes in many societies.


Putting it in context he accomplished his first and foremost duty to the Tanzanian public, advancing their welfare as he was elected to do. His leadership was to talk the walk. In the Kiswahili language it is defined as ‘Kusema na Kutenda’ literally translated to ‘say and do’.

He was a man of action, a doer and had no time for unnecessary politicking and bureaucratic triviality. The common people showed their love and respect in his final send off. You can only know the true mark of any man or woman when they pass on. His mark was felt in the East African region.

RIP John Pombe Magufuli.



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