Tanzania’s president decision of encouraging women to bear more children has received criticism among the country’s opposition parties and social media.

Magufuli urged his country’s women to “set your ovaries free” and have more children in a bid to boost the economy.

John Magufuli said a higher population could turn the East African nation into a region andpowerhouse, but critics warned it would instead worsen inequality and poverty.

Since taking office in 2015, the president has presided over a campaign of industrialization that has helped boost economic growth. But Mr Magufuli claimed a higher birth rate would stimulate faster progress.

“When you have a big population you build the economy. That’s why China’s economy is so huge,” he said, citing India and Nigeria as other examples of countries that gained from a demographic dividend.

Opposition leaders in Tanzania have criticized Mr Magufuli stance, saying the country’s already rapid population growth is a time bomb.

Speaking in his home town of Chato on Tuesday, he added: “I know that those who like to block ovaries will complain about my remarks. Set your ovaries free, let them block theirs.”

Last year, the president claimed curbing the birth rate was “for those too lazy to take care of their children”, while the health ministry barred broadcasting of family planning adverts by a US-funded project.

His latest remarks also raised eyebrows on social media.

“As a modern woman I can’t believe this bulls especially coming from him,” said one Tanzanian Twitter user. Others branded the president an “eccentric clown” and “crazy”.

Critics also said it was simply bad economics for Mr Magufuli to urge Tanzanians to have more children.

Another rights activist based in Dar es Salaam who asked not to be named to avoid possible repercussions in the government said that the government should not use women as a tool for economy.

“High population growth in Tanzania means increased levels of poverty and income inequality,” “Women’s ovaries should never be used as a tool for seeking economic prosperity,” said the activist.

Last year the president claimed curbing the birthrate was for those too lazy to take care of their children while the health ministry barred broadcasting of family planning adverts by a US-funded project.

Tanzania’s poverty rate, right now people living on less than 80p a day has declined to about 26 percent as of 2016 while  the number of poor citizens has not because of the high population growth rate, according to the world bank.

 

 

 

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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