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Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan inspects a guard of honour at a welcoming ceremony in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, March 16, 2023. InternationalIndiaAfricaMuhammad OsmanWriter/EditorOn March 19, 2021, 61-year-old Samia Suluhu Hassan, then Tanzania’s vice president, was sworn in as president, making her the sixth and first female head of state in the history of the East African country, following the death of the nation’s former leader John Magufuli of a heart attack on March 17 of that year.On 19 March, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan marks her first two years as the country’s leader, a historic milestone that has been marked by both challenges and achievements.Sworn in as the nation’s first female head of state after the sudden death of former President John Magufuli due to a heart attack on March 17, 2021, President Hassan has been at the forefront of leading the East African country through a period of significant change.As Hassan, who is constitutionally serving the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term until October 2025, marks her second year in office, it is worth taking a closer look at her experience as Tanzania’s leader and the achievements she has made during her tenure so far.
After she took office in 2021, Hassan kicked off her presidency by revoking some of the most controversial policies of her deceased predecessor and fellow Chama Cha Mapinduzi party member, Magufuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer.” She announced a national strategy dubbed the “4Rs,” which stands for “Reconciliation, Resilience, Reforms and Rebuilding the nation.”For instance, under the 4Rs strategy, the 62-year-old leader ended a ban on pregnant girls and teenage mothers attending school. In addition, she lifted a ban imposed by the former president on four opposition newspapers and introduced a COVID-19 vaccination campaign that Magufuli had rejected.AfricaTanzania’s President Revokes 6-Year Ban on Political Rallies4 January, 08:50 GMTTo improve and promote the multiparty atmosphere in Tanzania, she lifted a ban on political rallies in the country. The move came more than six years after her predecessor, President John Magufuli, first introduced the widely criticized measure in 2016. Hassan assured political leaders invited to the State House in Dar es Salaam that security organizations “will definitely allow you to conduct your rallies” unless “there is any threat.”
"In building a better Tanzania, I aspire to build a society of reconciliation and harmony. I wish to build unity regardless of our political, religious, ethnic and all other differences," the president wrote in a letter to Tanzanians on the 30-year anniversary of multi-party democracy in the country in July 2022. "This is because we have no other country other than Tanzania and this is our home."
In the same vein, the head of state and other officials have often spoken on how vital the preservation of the Eastern African country’s cultures and traditions is. In this regard, Hassan’s government introduced a ban on children’s books that promote cruelty, abuse, violence, or immorality. The government argued that such books fly in the face of Tanzania’s “cultural norms and morals” and violate “the good practices of bringing up children.”Speaking of infrastructure and economic development in the country, Hassan has prioritized the timely completion of the flagship projects initiated by her predecessor. Additionally, she has greenlit new development projects to advance Tanzania’s progress. Last year, President Hassan attended Expo 2020 in Dubai, where she successfully promoted Tanzanian products and investment opportunities, culminating in a business partnership deal with the United Arab Emirates.
Regional and International Cooperation
In late 2022, Tanzanian President Hassan announced changes to the country’s foreign policy due to the political, social, and economic changes taking place in the world and the attempts of superpowers to drag Africa into their conflicts.She emphasized the need to address the impact of such conflicts on the nation’s currency, energy, and food security. The president also highlighted the shift of the global economy’s main economic activities to Asia and urged Tanzania’s ambassadors to think about how Tanzania could benefit from this.The president also emphasized the country’s commitment to the implementation of a blue economy – the sustainable use of ocean resources – and the need to bring it on board with Tanzania’s foreign policy.AfricaTanzanian President Declares Foreign Policy Changes Amid ‘Wrenching Politics’ of Superpower States21 November 2022, 10:24 GMTAs for the implementation of the new Asia-oriented Tanzanian policy, the East African leader has managed to build strong relations with China, the world’s second-largest economy. In November 2022, Samia Hassan paid a three-day state visit to China. According to a joint statement based on the results of the visit, the two countries agreed to promote industrial complementarity and production capacity cooperation, with a focus on energy and mineral development, processing and manufacturing, green development, and the digital economy. Furthermore, China marked its plans to assist Tanzania in developing infrastructure and maritime trade.In line with Hassan’s strategy to build ties with Asia’s biggest economies, Tanzania agreed with India, one of Tanzania’s biggest trading partners, on an arrangement to use national currencies in trade between the two countries. According to data from the Indian High Commission in Dar es Salaam, the trade exchange between Tanzania and India is estimated at $4.5 billion.Tanzania is also advancing regional cooperation with African states, including in the defense and economic spheres. In this regard, in September 2022, Tanzania and Mozambique penned two memoranda of understanding (MoUs) for cooperation on peace and security, along with mutual defense cooperation.In addition, last month, President Hassan and her Zambian counterpart Hakainde Hichilema agreed to accelerate the updating of a 1,710-kilometer (1,060-mile) pipeline, known as the Tanzania Zambia Mafuta (Tazama), that has been running since 1968 and transports more than a million tons of crude annually from Tanzania’s port of Dar-es-Salaam to the city of Ndola in Zambia.AfricaZambia and Tanzania to Speed Up Crucial Oil Pipeline Modernization20 February, 12:15 GMTAs part of the efforts to strengthen ties between East African nations, Tanzania and Kenya in November launched the construction of the Mtwapa-Kwa Kadzengo-Kilifi (A7) road between the two countries. The 40-km road is part of a $61.4 million project involving the construction of the multinational Malindi-Lunga Lunga/Horohoro-Tanga-Bagamoyo road corridor in East Africa.Earlier this week, the Tanzanian president made a state visit to South Africa to promote more security and trade cooperation between her country and the second-largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa.
"We have agreed to enhance our cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, considering that South Africa is among the main sources of direct foreign investment in Tanzania," Hassan said.
Ambitions for Tanzania’s 2025 General Election
Samia Hassan became Tanzania’s first female vice president in 2015, after being elected on the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party’s ticket with President Magufuli. In late October 2020, Hassan was re-elected with Magufuli for a second five-year term, during which she took office as president on March 19, 2021, in the aftermath of the sudden death of the country’s head of state at the age of 61.Hassan is supposed to lead the nation under constitutional requirements until Tanzania’s next presidential election in October 2025. Given the fact that she would serve more than two-thirds of what would have been the late Magufuli’s second term as president, she is eligible to run for only one presidential term in the future.While saying that she became president “because of God’s wish,” the female president noted during an event to mark the International Day of Democracy in Dar es Salaam on September 15, 2022 that women have something to prove in the 2025 general election, confirming that she is intending to run for re-election.If elected in 2025, Hassan will make history once again, becoming the first elected female head of state of Tanzania, and the second elected female president in Africa after President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia, who took office in 2018.