John Pombe Magufuli

The late Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli.

| File | Anadolu

10 things President Magufuli banned in Tanzania

President John Pombe Magufuli often made populist — and in some cases weird — public pronouncements that highlighted his sometimes unconventional style of leadership that had him nicknamed the Bulldozer. We sample some of the bans he imposed.

School attendance by pregnant girls

Following the 2017 ban on pregnant girls and young mothers attending school, police arrests have been reported.

The pregnant girls and their families are seized, to force them to reveal the identity of the men or boys who have made them pregnant. Schools force girls to have pregnancy tests.

Following international pressure, the government has committed to finding ways for pregnant girls to return to school.

Political rallies

In July 2016, President Magufuli announced a blanket ban on political activities until 2020. Politicians were restricted to holding activities in their respective constituencies only, and the Tanzania Police Force brutally enforced the decree. The president argued that people should not be distracted from "building the nation.”

Export of metallic minerals

In August 2016, the president announced a ban on the export of metallic mineral concentrates. Miners in Tanzania had been sending heaps of earth containing metallic ore to Asia and Europe for smelting.

Following accusations that the country's largest goldminer, London-listed Acacia Ltd, had flouted the ban in March 2017, President Magufuli ordered the seizure of more than 250 of its containers at the port of Dar es Salaam.

Live coverage of parliamentary proceedings

In early 2016, Magufuli's government limited live broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings by the state-run Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation. The restriction was later extended to private broadcasters.

Broadcasters can now only air the morning question and answer session. The debate sessions are no longer shown live. Apparently, the action was to protect the regime from the fate of predecessors that had been jolted by corruption exposes during parliamentary debates.

State events

In his first days in office in late 2015, President Magufuli cancelled the symbolic Independence Day fete. He directed that funds budgeted for the event be channelled towards the expansion of a highway notorious for gridlocks in Dar es Salaam. It was the same year he dramatically sacked corrupt officials in public, winning the support of the common man.

Foreign trips

The newly elected president in November 2015 halted all foreign trips for public servants. The only exemption was emergency cases, but even they required his personal approval as well as that of the head of the civil service.

Family planning

President Magufuli in September 2018 denounced family planning and asked women to shun contraceptives. Two weeks later, the government suspended radio, and television spots encouraging family planning.

But the Ministry of Health would later direct heads of 18 institutions responsible for family planning in Tanzania to resume radio and television advertisements.

Entertainment in hospitals

At the beginning of 2019, a new ban forbade all public hospitals from televising entertainment programmes. TVs in hospitals were to only broadcast health-related content.

Corporal punishment

Teachers in the lower grades of primary school are barred from entering classrooms with canes.

Covid tests and public updates on virus cases

President Magufuli reported he had ordered secret tests on animals, fruits and vehicle oil at the national health laboratory. He claimed a papaya, a quail and a goat had been found to be positive for Covid-19. The head of the laboratory in charge of coronavirus testing was suspended a day after the President questioned the accuracy of the tests.

Tanzania also ceased daily updates of Covid-19 cases.