I LOOKED at Prof John Lawson Thornton seated at his classy office and thought his hair was gray. I was wrong. The Professor touched his head, ran his hand through his hair and then looked at the hand.
It was dusty! He reached for one of the phone on the ornate table, talked into it for a while, demanding to know where the dust came from. He listened quietly for a while.
Someone was telling him the dust came from his mines in Tanzania - Acacia Gold Mine. “Get the plane ready,” he crocked into the phone before replacing the receiver.
The 63-year old Director of the Global Leadership Programme at Tsinghua University in Beijing and the Executive Chairman of Barrick Gold Corporation, flew to Tanzania immediately.
That might have been a hypothetical me viewing a hypothetical Prof Thornton. But when really and actually the CEO of giant gold miner Acacia arrived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital, he learned that his company of Acacia stood accused of having defrauded the Tanzanian community of trillions of the country’s shillings.
An angry Dr John Pombe Magufuli, President of the community, had just addressed a meeting of some top officials and administrative officials. “What have we done to deserve such robbery of our natural resources?” the President asked his audience and vowed to punish all the culprits in the mineral sector.
After the two teams – that of Prof Thornton and that of Dr Magufuli held talks on the matter, the American billionaire, who obviously has a vast experience in settling such differences, said his company would, after a meticulous discussion of the matter, pay Tanzania what the country deserved to get in the business.
What President Magufuli has done in reviewing contracts between the nation and foreign miners, revealing so many improper activities in the sector, has impressed the people.
However, despite the findings of probe squads appointed by the President to look into the presumed dirt of the mining industry in the country, there are people who think that life would have been better had President Magufuli come with a different policy, which did not emphasize on every one being diligent and honest in her or his work.
They have opinion that those who break into banks and vanish into thin air would be heroes. If they are caught, brought to court but walk to freedom, they are smarter.
That spells explicitly why such people don’t like the President or more politely, reason for their failure to say they like him. For them irresponsible life is an admired way of living.
Dubious acquisition of propertiy preferable and indolence with dishonest livelihood means is honorable. However, observers see that with Dr Magufuli as President the nation will be more at peace because there won’t be duplication of ownership of land plots.
Moreover, land conflicts will decrease; hence tranquility and enough peace for believers’ sojourn in paradise. Believers argue that easily earned money caused disagreements and conflicts of all sorts and now that all or most loophole for getting such money have been closed, heavy drinking will decline and there will be more peace.
Believers don’t deny the number of good people will increase because dishonest financial sources gave birth to other dishonest ways of living and dirty activities. People who used such dishonest means of livelihood became content with the artificial affluence they enjoyed.
Furthermore, there won’t be quarrels on account of the absence of such evils as double or multiple allocations of land plots. Clearance of a cargo consignment at the Dar’s harbor, the busiest in the country, will not take more than three days during Magufuli’s government.
A speaker at ITV debate programme of Malumbano ya Hoja puts it tersely: “We need to increase efficient performance at the Dar es Salaam Harbour.” Previously, it took weeks and could only be made faster if and when money exchanged hands.
The evil of greasing the hands of workers of the cargo organisation at the port was ingrained in the blood of workers there that it was not easy for the government’s authorities to abolish it.
Obviously all those who benefitted from this evil at the port could not see the President with his anti-corruption stance as their man.
Given the nature of President Magufuli’s government, we hope the money paid as taxes evaded will be put to good use for the people The nation’s biggest referral infirmary, Muhimbili National Hospital, which needs much infusion of funds to improve its services, could be one of the recipients of that money, to eliminate completely the poor practice of having two mothers to sleeping in one bed with their babies, others sleeping on the floor.
Many people have expressed their hope that things will now change a lot. They say a doctor won’t be paid to do a surgical operation or be made to refer a patient to Apollo Hospital in India only after they are ensure to benefit from the patient’s foreign trip.
President Magufuli has always wondered who the heck bewitched the nation of Tanzania, condemning it to such big problems as incorrigible theft of its funds by its own servants.
But with the presence of ghost workers there in no more wonder that we behaved like people possessed with ghosts and stole everything in our path and around us.
A former Home Affairs’ minister, Augustine Mrema, while at prayers in a church recently in Moshi, expressed his appreciation of the President’s performance so far and wondered how the heck we could have failed to detect the presence of phantom workers, who numbered thousands.
“Yet some people hate the President for the good work he has so far done,” Mrema told the congregation. “He has achieved much in a short time.
What more must he do to impress you?” What Magufuli is doing to protect the state’s funds from theft by selfish civil workers is so impressive to his election opponents that some of them have crossed over to the ruling party.
But for the President to do a better job, support by all, even by John Lawson Thorton, is necessary.