Tanzania President Dr. John Pombe Magufuli has ordered the cancellation of this year’s Independence Day celebrations in yet another move aimed at reining in unnecessary public expenditure.
In a press statement on Monday, Chief Secretary Ambassador Ombeni Sefue said that President Magufuli has ordered Tanzania’s independence anniversary be marked differently this year with an aim of combating cholera, a disease that has thus far claimed many lives.
“Tanzanians will mark the day cleaning their localities in an effort to fight the deadly cholera pandemic,” the State House announced.
“This is not acceptable. We cannot go on to celebrate 54 years of independence while people are dying of cholera,” Sefue added.
Tanzania celebrates her independence from British rule annually on December 9th since 1961.
During his election campaign, Magufuli was critical of the number of holidays and things like special weeks or months to create awareness on various issues.
Magufuli made good his promise by cancelling Independence Day celebrations and re-allocating funds earmarked for the event to other important national issues like fighting cholera.
The statement said Magufuli is concerned with the poor hygiene and untidy environment that has contributed to the spread of cholera, hence regional and district commissioners were tasked to make preparations for residents to engage in communal cleaning exercises.
The statement goes on to warn that after 9th December any region or district that registers a new cholera case will have to report directly to the president.
It was not established how much money had been set aside for this year’s independence anniversary celebrations or how much the president’s new cleaning initiative will cost.
The cholera crisis has been sparked by the influx of Burundian refugees fleeing the conflict in their country.
Tanzania is home to more than 20, 000 Burundian refugees.
Early this month, President Magufuli banned foreign travel for top government officials including ministers, instead dispatching them to local communities to consult with the people about their pressing problems.