Tanzania’s President John Magufuli is everything you wish a leader would be, and more. He made it pretty clear when he was elected that he is embarking on a crusade to root out the problems bedevilling the country, from profligate government spending to seemingly indifferent ministers.
Home Minister Charles Kitwanga discovered the seriousness of Magufuli’s words for himself quite recently, when he was fired from his position for showing up to work drunk.
The Minister was supposed to answer some questions before Parliament on Thursday, and reportedly showed up inebriated to the proceedings.
Under questioning from an opposition MP, he sounded and acted drunk, and apparently embarrassed himself and his office.
Kenya’s Daily Nation posted a transcript of his exchange with the MP, Suzan Kiwanga.
Suzan: It has been 55 years in Kilombero District but police officers still lack housing while their counterparts in Mlimba State live in Tazara houses. How long should we give you to construct houses for police officers and build police stations?
Kitwanga: How old are you yourself? Do not ask the number of years it will take to construct police houses and police stations. Just believe we will construct them. You are my friend, so I can answer you as such.
Suzan: Minister, you are showing off while answering my question (laughter in the chambers).
Reports show he exhibited some other antics, leading to a terse statement from the Presidency on Friday relieving him of his post.
Kitwanga was a close ally of the President, meaning his dismissal came as a shock to many, although it’s entirely in character with he has shown in office so far.
John Magufuli won power in elections last year, entering office on a promise of curbing corruption in government. He cracked down hard on waste of public funds, organising a clean-up exercise to replace the usually lavish Independence Day celebrations, and cut down on travelling perks for his ministers. His tough, no-nonsense approach has won him renown internationally, and the unfortunate Kitwanga discovered that to his chagrin on Friday.
A strongman leader such as this is something Ghana has been lacking for a while, with both our immediate two Presidents extremely lenient with offending ministers, whose indiscretions range from wasting public funds to outright looting them. And although President Mahama and the late President Mills often escape scrutiny when the wrongdoing is discovered, that they do nothing to punish offenders mean they often aren’t quite as innocent as advertised.