Tanzania’s newly installed President Samia Suluhu Hassan entered history books on March 19 when she was sworn in as the country’s first female president following the death of her predecessor, John Joseph Pombe Magufuli who initially denied the existence of the deadly Covid-19.
The 61 year old Suluhu, holding a Quran with her right hand, took the oath to become the country’s sixth president under witness of former presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Jakaya Kikwete, cabinet members among a few other dignitaries at the country’s State House in Dar es Salaam.
Meanwhile, as she fully assumes the presidency, effectively performing her political duties won’t be a walk over but a journey with some hardships.
Given the current health environment, Political Analyst, Dr Samuel Kazibwe says Suluhu’s major test of her new presidency will mostly come from how she handles the pandemic which her predecessor never believed was a threat to the East African country despite claiming lives of many Tanzanians including some cabinet members.
According to Kazibwe, if Suluhu toes Magufuli’s line of denying the pandemic, Tanzania will be plunged into an economic and even Political crisis, let alone risk international isolation.
Her predecessor denied the more than 60 million people access to information about the disease but also access to the Vaccine under the WHO COVAX facility.
“The immediate Job, the immediate decision she has to make, and she doesn’t have much time for, is what she has to do about COVID-19,” said Kazibwe.
Kazibwe adds that Although Suluhu announced that Magufuli died of heart failure, her predecessor’s initial inception regarding the pandemic maybe hard for to get out of Tanzanians’ minds.
“In the World Health Organization (WHO) congratulatory message to Suluhu, they urged her to change government’s behavior towards the pandemic yet under her CCM party, there’re people who tell her that going by Magufuli’s way of doing things is the only way she can honor him,” he said.
Kazibwe further says that among other challenges for the sixth president is to decide how she will address Magufuli’s legacy, including whether to continue with his policies that took Tanzania from a relatively tolerant democracy to a repressive state.
“Apart from limiting a few civil and political democratic activities, Magufuli has been an extra ordinary leader on the African continent, because in the history of Tanzania’s presidents including Nyerere, no leader has ever been tough on corruption like Magufuli and by the time of his death no rumors of any corrupt act arose yet for his predecessors including Kikwete rumors over corruption were rife,” he said.
Kazibwe further says that Suluhu Just like Mwinyi at a time he succeeded Julius Nyerere, there are going to be a lot of comparisons between her and Magufuli citing that she has a big challenge competing with Magufuli’s development policies which include infrastructural development, cutting expenditures through limiting presidential journeys among others.
He however said that the comparisons shouldn’t be a bench judge of Suluhu citing that she may turn out to be far a better leader as compared to her predecessor.
“However, history is complicated because even for Magufuli, in succeeding Kikwete he was undermined given the fact that his capability was low as compared to his competitors, therefore however big the shoe is, Samia can surprise many and maybe we find her working more than Magufuli,” he said.
The political expert further said Suluhu may find hard time gaining full support of both the Central Executive Committee and members of her Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party citing that a number of the members with in the CCM party undermine her and have belief that she is incapable to replace their fallen comrade. He adds that if it wasn’t for the constitution, she would find it hard replacing Magufuli.
“A number of politically sounding members undermine her behind closed doors and she has a big task ahead of proving her capability to them,” he said.
He adds that this may harden Suluhu’s political carrier most especially under circumstances where she has to choose between a party ideology and a national demand by citizens.
However, in ensuring her political capital does not Detroit but instead gain more momentum, Kazibwe attaches this to choosing a politically weaker Vice President so that she doesn’t find hard time winning party primaries if she dares to run for the elective presidency in the next term.
“It’s not an easy task but like any African president, she may influence CEC members to have a politically weaker vice president such that she doesn’t find it had winning party primaries once she picks interest in running for the elective presidency in the next term,” he said.
He says however, that the point of confusion for Suluhu lies in either choosing a politically weaker vice president for her forthcoming elective presidency and have the administration of the country in this term fully depend on her or choose a politically sounding vice president who will boast the countries administration throughout this term and have her elective presidency if need be fully challenged.
According to Article 37(5) of the 1977 Union Constitution, Samia Suluhu is supposed to propose the name of the person who shall be Vice President after consultations with the ruling CCM party.
The appointment then gets confirmed by the national assembly by votes of not less than 50 percent of all the members of parliament.
Kazibwe went ahead to point out names that may seem politically sounding and may give Suluhu hard time adding that a number of them are close to being vice presidents over the grounded support within SEC and parliamentary members.
“The party has more politically sounding members like the current Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, former minister January Mukamba, Lands minister William Lukivi, Party Spokesperson Humphrey Pole Pole, among others and if the vice president is chosen amongst the above, primaries can’t be a walk over for Suluhu,” he said.
Suluhu assures effective leadership
Irrespective of the spotted challenges ahead of her from across the world’s different political analysts, Speaking at the state funeral of the fifth president Magufuli, Suluhu assured Tanzanians and the world in general that she is ready to take full charge of the country.
“For those in doubt, this woman will be an effective president of the United Republic of Tanzania,” she said.
“Whoever is standing here is the president. I want to repeat that whoever is standing here, is the president of Tanzania whose gender is female,” she said.
She further assured Tanzanians cooperation in building the Tanzania that their beloved (Magufuli) aspired to and which all Tanzanians aspire to as well, with appeals for support from the country’s retired presidents.
“Let me take this opportunity to assure you that nothing will be lost. Our country is in safe hands, my colleague, Hussein Ali Mwinyi and I will continue where he left off and we will get to where he envisioned Tanzania to be,” she said.
She assured friendly and neighboring nations that her leadership would repay the kindness shown to Tanzania by strengthening the existing ties.
“Tanzania will continue to be a good neighbor and a good partner in regional and international co-operation. Our relationship will continue to be safer and stronger under my leadership,” she said.
East African Community pledges support
The chairperson of the East African Community (EAC) and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta while the speaking at State funeral in Jamhuri stadium in Dodoma wished Suluhu success in the new challenging journey and assured her of the regions’ backing and rallied Tanzanians to fully support their new leader.
“My sister Samia, and now my colleague president, you’ve been shown the way by our brother, the late Magufuli, you have the mandate, now go forth and serve the people,” he said.
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