The Minister of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government), Mr Selemani Jafo, on Tuesday October 09 defended President John Magufuli’s views on family planning.
Mr Jafo was speaking in Dar es Salaam at an event during which his office received two vehicles worth Sh219.3 million donated by the United States Agency for International Development (USaid).
The vehicles are meant to facilitate family planning, HIV, TB and malaria projects among others in Mtwara and Lindi regions. People working on the projects, through the USaid Boresha Afya in Southern Zone programme were facing transport challenges.
According to Mr Jafo, the President was not against family planning but what the minister termed as “family control.”
He explained that the Head of State was against forcing people to limit the number of children they wished to have.
“I’m not an expert in this field but I understand that family planning is about child spacing and ensuring a child is breastfed for a maximum of two years as well as protecting a mother’s health,” he said. But during a tour of the Lake Zone last month, President Magufuli chided those who embraced family planning, calling them “lazy”. The remarks triggered a national and international debate on family planning.
Dr Magufuli was quoted as saying that those who used contraception did not want to work hard and were trying to avoid the responsibility of feeding their children. He urged women in Tanzania to continue reproducing because the country needed more people.
“I have travelled to Europe and elsewhere and have seen the harmful effects of birth control. Some countries are now facing declining population growth. They are short on manpower,” said Dr Magufuli.
After the remarks, some government executives came out to clarify the President’s stance on birth control, saying the government was sticking to its policy on family planning. However, since then, health ministry has been taking a number of measures including recalling adverts that promote family planning.
On September 19, Health ministry’s permanent secretary Mpoki Ulisubisya wrote a letter to the Chief of Party of FHI 360, a US-based organisation operating in Tanzania, directing it to immediately stop the adverts it was running under the USaid’s Tulonge Afya project, saying the government intended to revise the message contained in the adverts.
Mr Jafo defended the President as he thanked the US government for the donation.