Magufuli Wins Tanzania Presidency With Gas to Tax Reform Vow

  • Ruling party candidate wins 58.4% of vote in Oct. 25 vote
  • Opposition candidate rejects results and alleges rigging

Tanzania’s ruling party candidate, John Magufuli, won a presidential election in Africa’s third-biggest gold producer with pledges to hasten development of the country’s nascent natural-gas industry and reforms to boost tax revenue.

Magufuli, 55, defeated his closest rival, former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, by a margin of 58.4 percent to 39.9 percent in the Oct. 25 election, National Electoral Commission Chairman Damian Lubuva told reporters Thursday in the commercial hub, Dar es Salaam.

John Magufuli

Photographer: Daniel Hayduk/AFP/Getty Images

The newly elected president, who is to be sworn in on Nov. 5, will soon announce measures to accelerate development in the nation’s gas industry, campaign director January Makamba said in an interview.

Tanzania is looking to diversify its $49 billion, mostly agrarian economy, into production of the fuel, with an estimated 55 trillion cubic feet of reserves that are the biggest in East Africa after Mozambique. Statoil ASA, based in Stavanger, Norway, and the U.K.’s BG Group Plc may build the nation’s first liquefied natural gas plant at an estimated cost of $15 billion.

MAP: Tanzania

“What is going to happen immediately is to remove all the impediments that have been stopping the gas development like land and location issues, so that the companies are given an opportunity to make the final investment decision,” Makamba, who is also Tanzania’s deputy communication minister, said in an interview in Dar es Salaam. “This nation has an opportunity to prosper from gas, and Magufuli intends to use it for revenue but also to boost electricity generation by at least 3,000 megawatts in five years.”

Magufuli served as works minister in outgoing President Jakaya Kikwete’s cabinet. He’s been nicknamed tingatinga, Swahili for bulldozer, because of the zeal he showed in the post. Lowassa defected to the opposition in July after failing to secure the nomination of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party as its presidential candidate. The opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo rejected the outcome, saying the electoral authority inflated the number of votes for Magufuli.

“All means necessary are being used to rig the election,” Lowassa, who was Chadema’s candidate in the election, said in a post on his Twitter account.

Magufuli, a former chemistry teacher, served as a lawmaker for two decades, within which he held several ministerial portfolios.

"He is going to be a very results-oriented president and will have no problem firing non-performers,” Makamba said. “He is going to transform the civil service and we will see a new sense of urgency.”

New industries are planned, including beef-processing, while the fight against corruption will be intensified, Makamba said. The Tanzania Revenue Authority is going to be restructured to improve efficiency and the government plans to reduce tax exemptions to 1 percent of gross domestic product from as high as 4 percent currently, he said.

Irregularities

The European Union election observers found that the poll went “positively,” according to the chief observer Judith Sargentini. Voting was generally well organized, but the electoral administration displayed “insufficient transparency,” she said.

In the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, electoral authorities canceled the outcome of a separate presidential vote, citing irregularities in some polling stations. Observers have said the exercise had been well organized. The U.K. said it was deeply concerned about the situation and urged authorities to resume the tally.

The opposition Civic United Front believes its candidate, Seif Sharif Hamad, had won the race to lead the two Indian Ocean islands that are in a union government with mainland Tanzania.

“Scrapping the vote seems less provocative than calling it for the CCM’s candidate, Ali Mohamed Shein, but (opposition) supporters in Zanzibar are angry and will be further incensed when the National Electoral Commission calls the union presidency for Mr. Magufuli,” NKC Research analyst Francois Conradie said in an e-mailed research note.

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