Tanzania’s VP, Samia Suluhu Hassan Set To Become First Female President In The Country And Eastern Africa
Following the announcement of the death of Tanzania’s President, John Pombe Magufuli on Wednesday March 17, all eyes are on his vice president, Samia Suluhu Hassan as she expected to take over until 2025 as the sixth and first female president of the country.
If sworn in, Hon. Hassan will not only be Tanzania’s first female president but also the first female president in Eastern Africa.
As condolences poured for Magufuli, an opposition leader called for the immediate swearing in of his deputy to avoid a constitutional vacuum after two weeks of uncertainty around the health of the country’s leadership.
Hon. Hassan addressed the nation on state television late on Wednesday, saying Magufuli died from the heart disease that plagued him for a decade.
Meanwhile, Magufuli had not been seen in public since February 27, sparking rumours he had contracted COVID-19. On March 12, officials denied he had fallen ill and on Monday the vice president urged Tanzanians not to listen to rumours from outside the country, saying it was normal for a person to be checked for the flu or fever.
She said burial arrangements were under way for the 61-year-old leader but did not indicate when she would be sworn in.
Following this, opposition leader Zitto Kabwe told Reuters by phone from Dar es Salaam on Thursday morning said;
The VP has to be sworn in immediately. The constitution doesn’t allow a vacuum, once it was official that the president has died, the next step was for the vice president to be sworn in.
Tanzania’s Constitution states that the vice president takes over as president if the office of the president becomes vacant:
Where the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death, then the Vice-President shall be sworn in and become the president for the unexpired period of the term of five years.
Therefore, 61-year-old Hassan should assume the presidency for the remainder of the five-year term that Magufuli began serving last year after winning a second term.
She would be the East African nation’s first female president and the only female currently holding executive power in the region.
Hon. Hassan assumed office on November 5, 2015 as the 10th vice president of United Republic of Tanzania.
Before being picked as the running mate of CCM’s presidential candidate in the 2015 General Elections, Hon. John Pombe Magufuli, she was the Minister of State in the office of Vice President in charge of Union Affairs.
Before that, Hon Hassan served as minister of Tourism, Trade and Investment from 2010 to 2015 and as Minister of Youth Employment, Women and Children Development in Zanzibar.
Hon. Hassan joined politics in 2000 as a special seat member to Zanzibar House of Representatives and was appointed minister by President Amani Karume of Zanzibar.
She is married to Hafidh Ameir, a retired agriculture office and they have three children. Her only daughter, Mwanu Hafidh Ameir is a member of Zanzibar House of Representatives.
Nicknamed “The Bulldozer” because of his reputation for pushing through policies despite opposition, Magufuli drew international criticism for his unorthodox and increasingly authoritarian tactics.
Although Hassan, the vice president, publicly championed Magufuli’s leadership style and frequently represented him abroad, she has been more soft spoken, less confrontational and more available for media interviews than the president.
Magufuli was a vocal COVID-19 sceptic who urged Tanzanians to shun mask-wearing and denounced vaccines as a Western conspiracy, frustrating the World Health Organisation.
The former President, who is first president to die while in office, also declared Tanzania ‘coronavirus free’ to the shock of the world.
Due to his attitude towards the pandemic, Tanzania stopped reporting coronavirus data in May last year when it had reported 509 cases and 21 deaths.