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New Tanzanian President Insists on Hard Work From Public Employees

FILE - Tanzanian President John Magufuli.

The spokesman for Tanzania’s ruling party said impromptu visits to government institutions by new President John Magufuli are aimed at ensuring accountability and improving the work ethic among public employees.

Three days after assuming office, Magufuli went unannounced to the Ministry of Finance and Muhimbili National Hospital. At the hospital, he transferred the executive director and dissolved the health board after expressing concern about the poor hygienic conditions, lack of drugs and lack of functioning essential equipment.

Nape Nnauye, a spokesman for the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, said Magufuli’s actions were in line with his promise to Tanzanians to restore confidence in public institutions by focusing on civil servants' work ethic and accountability. He said Magufuli, a former works minister regarded as a no-nonsense, hardworking cabinet official, would put an end to business as usual in the public sector.

“We promised Tanzanians that we are going to insist on hard working. … So [Magufuli] started visiting government institutions to show that first of all he meant [it] when he said people should work. ... We want people to work hard, and we think this is going to change many places," Nnauye said.

But some opposition groups said the impromptu visits were unlikely to permanently change the attitude of public sector workers. They contended that the CCM party was to blame for not ensuring accountability among public sector workers to improve service delivery. They said measures had to be implemented and enforced to effectively change the attitude of public sector workers.

Nnauye said the implementation of the CCM polices had been poor, but that Magufuli had started on a good note to change the way things have been done over the years.

“You can have policies in place, but if you don’t have crops of people to implement [those] polices, the policies can remain in the cupboard, and nothing will be implemented. … I believe we have relatively good policies, but poorly implemented. And if we want them to be implemented, then we have to change the culture of the people. This culture of not working [hard], this is what is killing us, and want this to change,” Nnauye said.

"If you look at what honorable Magufuli is doing, he is trying to change this culture to make sure that if you are given a public office, you use your time to work," he added. "This is what Magufuli is doing.”

Magufuli has also issued a directive banning public officials from traveling abroad on expensive trips paid by taxpayers. Officials of the CCM said the frequent overseas trips were a drain on public finance, which they said prevents the government from undertaking developmental projects to improve the lives of Tanzanians.

Nnauye welcomed the ban, saying that the status quo must change if Tanzania is to move forward. He said cabinet officials, instead of traveling overseas, should visit the villages where over 70 percent of people reside, to resolve the challenges they face.

"We want our leaders, our ministers, our government officials to go to the village and work there," he said. "This is simply all coming together [to instill] hard working.”