The Mujica effect

The former Uruguayan President Mujica has long since left office, but his legacy will live forever, I hope.

In Tanzania a new president has gained so much popularity after his first 100 days in office, that he now enjoys more than 90% support.

What do the two have in common? They slash expenses on pomp and ostentation. For all I know, President Magufuli may never even have heard of Pepe Mujica. Maybe we are approaching a watershed. Maybe the world has grown tired of junk food and tinsel.

Alas, I doubt it. I fear only the Tanzanians have understood, for some inexplicable reason, that national resources are better spent on health and education than on public or private exorbitance.

Among President Magufuli’s first decisions after taking office was to ban the purchase of first and business class tickets for foreign travel by ministers and officials… he slashed the budget allocated for an inauguration dinner by 90 per cent, diverting the money thus saved to healthcare… banned holding official meetings and workshops in hotels (they must now be held in government buildings) …. ordered a review of all privatisation contracts … starting by repossessing five estates… increased the number of businesses that pay taxes …

If things get much worse here in Europe, I might consider applying for Tanzanian citizenship.

Mind you, I would love to own a chateau on the Loire, a trim Colin Archer boat and a private beach cum comfortable cottage in Sardinia. If I had them, I would live simply and modestly, sorting recyclable rubbish according to source material, bicycling to town rather than driving, etc. I would travel by train, if at all possible, rather than by plane. I might even forego having a car.

But I belong to the long-suffering middle class. No chateau, no Colin Archer, no private beach. I, we, have every reason to compensate as best we can, poor things.