Tanzanian president John Magufuli cleans streets on Independence Day | News | DW | 09.12.2015
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Tanzanian president John Magufuli cleans streets on Independence Day

John Magufuli, already a social-media sensation for his austerity measures, surprised many by cleaning the streets of Dar es Salaam. He had cancelled Independence Day celebrations for a national cleanup drive.

Magufuli has introduced a number of austerity measures since assuming power last month after winning October 25 elections. The clean-up drive is being seen as symbolic of his anti-corruption crusade.

Dozens of fishermen joined their president in the cleaning up drive. Magufuli shovelled leaves and plastic rubbish close to a fish market near the presidential palace. Hundreds of people gathered to witness their president make a statement.

"Let us work together to keep our country, cities, homes and workplaces clean, safe and healthy," Magufuli said, as he picked up litter with his hands.

Residents of the economic capital participated in the clean-up drive.

"Tanzania has changed - this is a new Tanzania," said Anyitike Mwakitalima, a resident of Dar es Salaam, as he helped clean the beach.

Magufuli cancelled Independence Day celebrations last month as the country struggles to stem a major cholera outbreak, which health officials said last month had infected nearly 10,000 people and killed 150.

Social media star

Magufuli's no-nonsense approach, his anti-corruption crusade and his austerity drive have turned him into a star on social media. The hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo has been trending on social media in Tanzania and other neighboring countries.

In the first month of his leadership, Magufuli, who goes by the nickname "Bulldozer," has announced a number of cost-cutting steps. He reduced the number of delegates attending the Commonwealth summit in Malta from 50 to just four, asked government officials to fly economy class, cut the budget for a state dinner.

Since Magufuli took charge, some officials have been jailed for being late to work, the head of the tax authority has been suspended.

Annual independence celebrations usually witness military parades, choirs and traditional dances at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

ap/jil (AFP)

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