Lately, the newly elected President of Tanzania, John Magufuli, who was sworn in early last month, has received a lot of praises. In most cases, I am sure the praises have been exaggeratedly heaped on him, especially on the social media, by Malawians. I am not surprised at why Malawians are over-praising Magufuli probably more than Tanzanians themselves: Malawian politicians and leadership, and the politics itself, have failed us so much that in our desperation for a messiah, we have begun to look across borders and admire anything that our neighbours have. And we are now generously giving credit even for actions that do not really mean anything in a critical sense.
I like very much what, Donald Trump, one of the aspirants for the office of President of the USA in the 2016 Elections said when he was asked to say something good about President Obama, like the fact that Obama killed Osama bin Laden. Trump refused to praise Obama, and argued critically that Obama did not deserve much praises for the killing of bin Laden.
Bin Laden was killed in May 2011 during a US military raid at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan under Obama’s administration. Many Americans praised Obama highly for the killing of bin Laden, and Obama himself used that as part of his campaign for re-election in 2012.
But according to Trump, Obama did not need to be over-praised for the killing of bin Laden because he did nothing challenging under the circumstances that led to the killing. Trump presented that when the American intelligence officials finally discovered the whereabouts of bin Laden in Pakistan, Obama had three easy options. Either to order the US Military to strike the compound with a missile, or send American troops to go and get him. And thirdly, Obama would have ordered the military just to leave bin Laden alone, which no sane president would have done.
So, the only thing Obama did in this case, which did not even require a genius or much thinking, was to sit in the Whitehouse and tell the military to go and get him. Telling the military to go and get bin Laden, which was already what needed to be done, and any president would have done the same, did not require too much praises according to trump, which I agree in a critical sense.
This is exactly how I look at the case of Magufuli and the too much praises he is receiving. Much of what Magufuli has done do not require some genius, or great thinking or anything. These are publicity stunts out of excitement for the victory he recently secured. Newly elected presidents perform a few strange stunts upon election and that is what they need to do. In Malawi, all our presidents have done similar things starting with Kamuzu Banda, Bakili Muluzi, and Bingu wa Mutharika too. Joyce Banda, pulled even heavier publicity stunts than Magufuli and made her own headlines in the international media. And Peter Mutharika too pulled some stunts of his size.
Why exactly would we over-praise Magufuli for riding a bicycle, or walking from Statehouse, or shoving street rubbish with his hands? Yes, that could be relatively business unusual but what exactly does it mean in a critical sense? Some of these stunts are not even sustainable: I mean, he will not always shove the street rubbish with his hands, neither will he always ride bicycles and walk from statehouse. He might even never visit the sick in some hospital again!
Let us not over- praise Magufuli, at least not yet.
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