John Pombe Magufuli who was named CCM’s candidate for the presidency will be four days shy of his 56 birthday when the country goes to the ballot in October this year to pick President Jakaya Kikwete’s successor.
If he emerges victorious, Dr Magufuli will become the fifth president of the United Republic of Tanzania, capping a political career spanning 20 years.
He first went into politics during the 1995 elections as MP for Chato, then aged only 36 years.
This was after a short stint teaching Chemistry and Mathematics at Sengerema Secondary School between 1982 and 1983.
Thereafter, he quit his teaching job and was hired by the then giant Nyanza Cooperative Union Ltd as an Industrial Chemist. He remained there from 1989 to 1995 when the political bug bit.
Public records filed with CCM, show that Dr Magufuli was not engaged for the six year period between quitting teaching and getting a job with the Cooperative Union.
The political star of the Works Minister began to shine early, landing an appointment as deputy minister for Works in his first term as MP.
Former president Benjamin Mkapa is credited with putting Magufuli on a strong pedestal, promoting him to a full ministerial position the following election. Interestingly, it was at the same Works Ministry where the minister has cut his teeth as a no-nonsense politician and public servant.
When President Kikwete came to power in 2005, he moved Dr Magufuli to the Lands, Housing and Human Settlement Development Ministry. He was briefly moved for two years to the ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries between 2008 and 2010.
President Kikwete would also show faith in the minister when during his last term in office he appointed him to his old docket at the ministry of works. Magufuli said over 17,000 kilometres of tarmacked road was built over the last 10 years.
His appointment to take the baton from Kikwete was not entirely surprising for those who have tracked his career in politics and public service.
In between his political work, Dr Magufuli furthered his studies and obtained his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam in 2009. Prior to that, he had earned a Master of Science in Chemistry from the same University and a bachelors degree from the University of Salford in the UK in 1994.
He did his early schooling in Mkwawa College of Education where he graduated with a diploma in Education Science. He is an alumni of Mkwawa High School in Iringa, Katoke seminary in Biharamulo and Chato Primary School.
Dr Magufuli is a member of several professional associations and has also published six professional papers in the course of his academic and political career. He has also bagged several awards and earned merit for his work, mainly in infrastructural development in the country and in the EAC region and Africa.
He is married to Ms Janet Magufuli.
-The East African online