Tanzania’s President John Magufuli urged Tanzania’s women to “set your ovaries free” and bear more children as a way to help boost the economy into a regional powerhouse, a step critics said would instead worsen inequality and poverty. “When you have a big population you build the economy. That’s why China’s economy is so huge,” John Magufuli said late on Tuesday, citing India and Nigeria as other examples of countries that gained from a demographic dividend. “I know that those who like to block ovaries will complain about my remarks. Set your ovaries free, let them block theirs,” John Magufuli told a gathering in his home town of Chato. Since taking office in 2015, Magufuli has launched an industrialisation campaign that has helped buoy economic growth, which has averaged 6-7% annually in recent years. But he has said a higher birth rate would achieve faster progress. Tanzania has sustained relatively high growth, averaging 6–7 percent a year, over the past decade. At the same time, the East African nation of 55 million people already has one of the world’s highest birth rates – around 5 children per woman. Data from the U.N. population fund UNFPA shows Tanzania’s population is growing by about 2.7 percent a year while most public hospitals and schools are overcrowded and many young people lack jobs. UNFPA says about a third of married women in Tanzania use contraceptives, but Magufuli has criticised Western-backed family planning programmes implemented by the health ministry. Last year Magufuli said curbing
John Joseph Magufuli was born on October 29, 1959 in the Chato Region of Kagera, which is currently located in the Geita Region. The son of a peasant farmer, John Pombe Magufuli won the election to become Tanzania’s next president on his 56th birthday, so it is the perfect gift for him. He was never part of the inner-circle of the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, so it came as a surprise to his critics that he secured its candidature for the presidency.
His nomination angered CCM stalwart and ex-Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who crossed to the opposition to challenge Mr Magufuli for the presidency. With the backing of the formidable CCM machinery, Mr Magufuli won the 29 October poll with 58% of the votes to Mr Lowassa’s 40% in a fiercely contested election.