The new President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has pledged to continue advancing the work and ideals of her predecessor — John Pombe Joseph Magufuli.
President Magufuli, whom many had come to refer to as “The Bulldozer” for his record in driving government programmes, leaves behind a legacy of his unwavering desire to rid Tanzania of corruption as well as his no-nonsense approach to the way the government operated.
President Magufuli died March 17 of a heart ailment, and as per the Tanzanian constitution, the Vice President should take over as President for the remainder of his five-year term, which ends in 2025.
Speaking soon after being sworn-in as the new President of Tanzania on March 19, President Hassan called for unity of purpose among all Tanzanians, saying that while her appointment had come in different circumstances, President Magufuli had prepared her for the task ahead and encouraged national unity.
“This is the time to stand together and get connected,” she said.
“It is time to bury our differences and show love to one another and look forward with confidence to build the new Tanzania that President Magufuli aspired to.”
President Hassan, who took her oath of office witnessed by several cabinet ministers, former presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Jakaya Kikwete, and former President of Zanzibar Amani Abeid Karume, said nothing shall go wrong, as she is ready for the task to lead.
President Hassan repeated the same message on March 22 in her address to thousands of mourners, including several African Heads of State and Government who attended a State Funeral ceremony held in Dodoma to pay their last respects to President Magufuli.
She assured the leaders that she will continue with the work of her predecessor in pushing forward the developmental agenda of Tanzania, the region and the rest of the African continent.
“The country is in safe hands,” she said, adding that “we will start where Magufuli ended.”
Prior to her appointment, President Hassan was the vice president since 2015.
During her tenure as vice president, she played a crucial role in strengthening deeper regional integration in Southern Africa and attended most of the SADC Heads of State and Government Summits on behalf of President Magufuli.
In this regard, her appreciation and knowledge on regional integration is sound.
In fact, Tanzania has always been a strong advocate of deeper regional integration in Africa.
Tanzania’s founding President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere had to bear the greatest burden of freeing Africa by accommodating liberation fighters in his country and providing them with logistical and military support.
President Nyerere was also instrumental in April 1980 in establishing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) — formerly the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC).
President Hassan, who becomes the first women to be appointed President of the United Republic of Tanzania, said women are as capable as their male counterparts to perform any duties.
“To those who have doubts if a lady will manage to govern Tanzania I want to assure you that the one standing here is a president,” she said.
President Hassan becomes the sixth President of Tanzania since the country gained its independence in 1961.
Prior to this, President Hassan held various senior positions including being elected as a special seat member of the Zanzibar House of Representatives in 2000.
She was also appointed a Minister of State for Union Affairs in 2014, and elected vice chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly tasked with drafting Tanzania’s new constitution.
In 2015, President Magufuli selected President Hassan as his running mate ahead of several other prominent and senior members of the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
President Hassan was born on 27 January 1960 in Zanzibar and holds qualifications in public administration and development economics.
The sovereign states of Tanganyika and Zanzibar were united in 1964 by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere into a union called the United Republic of Tanzania.
As per tradition, the ruling CCM is expected to convene a special meeting of its central committee on the appointment of a new vice president.
The established norm under the Union government is that when the President comes from the mainland then the Vice President comes from Zanzibar.
Since President Hassan is from Zanzibar, the next vice president is expected to be from the mainland.
Zanzibar also has its own government under the Union with a President, two Vice Presidents and a House of Assembly, with responsibility for governing the islands while also participating in the Union Government. — sardc.net.