Tanzanian President John Magufuli canceled independence day celebrations and said public money that would have been used for the festivities will be reallocated to fight cholera, buy medicine and improve health care.

Citizens of Tanzania, which marks its 54th year since independence from Britain on Dec. 9, should use that day to do "practical tasks" whether it be in offices, at markets or cleaning up their communities, Magufuli said in a statement on the presidency’s website. The holiday is important to keep alive the "memory of the freedom of our country" and it will be observed again starting in 2016, the president said.

Magufuli, who was elected in October, has called on government leaders to be more mindful of cutting costs. Earlier this month, he ordered officials to limit trips abroad and spend more time in their local constituencies and said funds that were meant to pay for a ceremony at parliament should be diverted to add hospital beds to ease a shortage.

Tanzania, which has an annual gross domestic product per capita of less than $1,000, is battling a cholera outbreak that has killed at least 68 people.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE