Tanzania’s New President: The Herdsman Who Became President



Tanzania’s New First Family: Janeth and John Pombe Magufuli



By TZ Business News Staff.


In early 2015, the East African nation we call Tanzania contained stories rife with predictions of the successor  to President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete who has finished his ten year constitutional tenure in the  presidency. The name John Pombe Magufuli was not on the list.

Talk shops listed the famous names: Bernad Membe, Edward Lowassa and others from the ruling party. Dr. Wilbroad Slaa was virtually the only name from the ‘opposition’ political parties suggested to succeed Kikwete.

This website has heard some people claim John Pombe Magufuli has become Tanzania president by sheer circumstantial luck. If it was planned, then it was a well-kept secret; A secret known to only a select few  in Tanzania– including former President Benjamin William Mkapa who is reported to have encouraged the mathematician son of a peasant to pick his party’s presidential nomination forms.

Some 42 members of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) took nomination forms to contest for the presidency. Some dropped out of the race. Others remained in the race until June 2015 when CCM’s internal contest  became mainly a fight between Edward Lowassa who was very desperate to become president, and the then Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe.

A source in the CCM party tells this website the outgoing president Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete wanted Membe to succeed him while Edward Lowassa–backed by a clique inside the party, as well as a list of high profile businessmen operating in the shadows—wanted the presidency by any means necessary. That is how inside CCM, the fight for the presidency was really a fight between those two contestants.

Lowassa had prepapred quite a few supporters inside the decision-making machinery of  CCM (his party at the time) to smooth-en the approval of his name in the party’s central committee.  But the advisory wing of the central committee which comprises of retired presidents  asked the filtering body to strike Lowassa’s name out of  the presidential aspirants to rid the party of corruption scandals during campaigns, and so it was done.

The CCM source tells this website people prepared to vote for Lowassa in the central committee contacted Lowassa for guidance now that his name would not even be on the list of  those being considered by the central committee. At this point Lowassa reportedly advised  his people  to vote for Magufuli.  Lowassa did not approve of Bernard Membe because he was the choice of the outgoing President who had long ceased to be his friend.

It is generally understood that Magufuli was approved as presidential candidate in the CCM party with help from the Lowassa team inside the central committee. And that was done by the team ‘to fix’ President Kikwete.



Young John Pombe Magufuli. Photo Credit: Johnpombemagufuli.com

John Pombe Magufuli was born on October 29, 1959. Ironically, on Thursday, October 29, 2015, Magufuli was declared winner of a tightly contested presidential election in Tanzania’s history, after the country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) dismissed Edward Lowassa’s complaints about this year’s election process.  Lowassa, who jumped from CCM to the opposition political parties in order to contest for the presidency three months ago, demanded a recount of the votes.

The British News agency Reuters  has reported that this year’s Tanzania election has been the most hotly contested race in the the country’s hostory. The main opposition parties united for the first time in a coalition to back  the former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, 62, who defected from CCM in July when the party snubbed his bid to be their flagbearer.

The National Electoral Commission Chairman Damian Lubuva told a news conference in Dar es Salaam that Magufuli secured 58 percent of the votes against nearly 40 percent for Lowassa. The Commission dismissed Lowassa’s complaints.

“Since John Pombe Magufuli of the CCM party got the highest number of votes … I hereby officially declare that he has been elected as president,” Lubuva said, adding that turnout was 67 percent of the 22.75 million registered voters.

Lowassa and Magufuli drew big crowds at rallies. Both promised to create jobs, help the poor, crack down on corruption and make sure everyone feels the benefits from huge gas and other resources in the nation of 47 million people.

Two independent opinion polls before voting began had given Magufuli a lead. CCM also retained its parliamentary majority. Chadema, the leading party in the Ukawa coalition that backed Lowassa, rejected the election results alongside the smaller CHAUMA party, an electoral official said.



Magufuli is married to Janeth Magufuli. His personal website (www.Johnpombemagufuli.com, October 29, 2015) says he and his wife have  seven children—four girls and three boys. He joined CCM party in 1977.

He was born in 1959 and raised at Chato village in Kagera region in north western Tanzania, the son of  Joseph Magufuli, a peasant farmer who also raised cattle. He  actually lived at the village  with his parents, participating in agricultural work and tending his father’s cows. But he also attended primary school and secondary school and later joined Mkwawa High School for his Advanced Level schooling.

After his ‘A-level’ studies,  Magufuli then took a teaching course at Mkwawa teachers college and became a secondary school teacher instructing students on Chemistry and Mathematics at Sengerema Secondary school. He later joined the University of Dar es Salaam where he was awarded a  first degree in Chemistry and Mathematics, according to his website.

Magufuli received military training  through the National Service system at  three camps: Makutupora in Dodoma, Makuyuni in Arusha and Mpwapwa in Dodoma.

Magufuli later dropped out of the teaching career to become a factories chemist working for the Nyanza Co-operative Union in Mwanza. He later returned to the University of Dar es Salaam to pursue a Master’s Degree in Chemistry.  He later pursued a PhD Degree in Chemistry which he was awarded not long ago.

Magufuli entered politics in 1995  when he contested for the Chato parliamentary seat and got elected. The Constituency was originally known as Biharamulo Constituency. From that time on Magufuli has remained in politics, winning the election after every other five-year term.

Former President Benjamin Mkapa gave him the post of Deputy Minister for Labor the first time he was elected member of parliament. Following Mkapa’s second term in office after the year 2000 election, when Magufuli got re-elected  to represent Chato constituency without a rival, Mkapa made him full minister.

From this point on, both Mkapa and the outgoing President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete moved Magufuli  from one government ministry to another as full minister. Magufuli has as a result served as Minsiter  for Lands and Housing where he excelled as the no nonsense minister who demolished  houses built in the wrong places, Minister  for Fisheries and Livestock Development where he got the label “Samaki wa Magufuli” after arresting foreigners fishing in Tanzania’s  territorial waters without a permit. His last position was Works Minister during the Kikwete presidency.

Magufuli has the reputation as less corrupt in a party known to be corrupt. The biggest worry among analysts is that his good moral scruples will probably get compromised  by the corrupt around him.