In 2017, Acacia Mining, a subsidiary of Canadian parent company Barrick Gold, was slapped with an incredible $190bn (£145bn) tax bill over royalties the government said it owed, though it denied any wrongdoing. As part of the settlement, Barrick eventually agreed to pay $300m after buying out Acacia, and a new operating company, Twiga Minerals, was formed with the government owning 16% of the joint venture. Barrick and the Tanzanian government also agreed to the sharing of unspecified future economic benefits from the mines on a 50-50 basis.
Then there was his highly contentious decree that Tanzanian schoolgirls who get pregnant cannot return to school even after they have given birth. And in 2018, Tanzania passed a law to punish anyone questioning official statistics, making the state the sole custodian of data. The World Bank said the changes were “deeply worrying”.
Getting Tanzania’s transport moving
But critics agree that Magufuli has contributed to Tanzania’s development in recent years, investing in several large infrastructure projects such as the creation of a standard gauge railway to connect the country with its regional neighbours, the expansion of major highways, and the construction of a bus rapid transit system in the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam. He has also increased electricity production to the grid which has reduced the need for power rationing.
And he has revived the state-run national airline, Air Tanzania, which, plagued by debt and mismanagement for years, was effectively grounded with only one plane in its fleet when he took office.
The president appointed a new board and chief executive of the company, which has gone on to purchase six new planes and integrate others which were under maintenance.
The leader of the East African nation has also introduced free education for all Tanzanians in public schools up to the fourth year of secondary school.
‘Data darkness’ over coronavirus
But it is Magufuli’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic which has brought particular international attention to his governance in recent months.