Tanzania’s new president sacks hospital chief after surprise inspection

Tanzania's President elect John Pombe Magufuli addresses members of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party (CCM) at the party's sub-head office on Lumumba road in Dar es Salaam, October 30, 2015.  REUTERS/Sadi Said

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Tanzania’s new president sacked the head of the main state hospital after finding patients sleeping on the floor during a surprise visit to the facility, his office said.

President John Magufuli also broke up the governing board at Muhimbili National Hospital after discovering the main scanning and diagnostic machines were not working and seeing other poor conditions on Monday, the presidency added.

“The president is trying to send a message that times have changed … It’s not business as usual … It’s all about delivery – the government has to deliver for the people,” the chief secretary at the president’s office, Ombeni Sefue, said.

Magufuli took over last week from former president Jakaya Kikwete, who stepped down after two terms in office. Magufuli’s ruling CCM party, in power since the end of colonial rule in 1961, has been under increasing pressure to tackle rampant corruption and ensure economic growth trickles down to the poor.

He made an unannounced visit to the finance ministry on Friday, a day after he was sworn in as Tanzania’s fifth president. Other visits to other state institutions were planned, said Sefue, who also heads the civil service.

The new president has already ordered restrictions on foreign travel by government officials and cuts in tax exemptions, signaling the start of fiscal belt-tightening measures.

Magufuli, whose supporters call him “the bulldozer” for building desperately needed roads across the large nation in his previous post as a cabinet minister, has pledged to introduce a raft of measures to end government excesses and boost revenue collection.

He has also promised to create a special court to oversee all cases relating to corruption – which investors have said is one of the main obstacles to business in the East African country.

Magufuli sacked the Dar es Salaam hospital’s acting managing director, Hussein L. Kidanto, who was transferred to the health ministry, the presidency said.

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