Rare stroke of fate propels Tanzania’s Suluhu to historic presidency
In a bizarre turn of events, Tanzania’s Vice President Hassan Suluhu may be mourning the sudden demise of her president. At the same time, however she and her followers and indeed, many Tanzaniana who detested Magufuli’s iron hand, could be quietly celebrating for having the country’s first female president, but only through fate.
According to Tanzania’s Constitution, Suluhu is set to be sworn in 24 hours following the announcement of the death of Magufuli.
The untimely death of John Pombe Magufuli allegedly due to a heart attack, has sent shock waves across the world, with many citing his anti-scientific attitudes especially regarding the existence and impact of COVID-19 in the country as his Archilles heel.
At only 61 years old and just 4 months into his second term as President, Magufuli had cut out an infallible character, that permeated into policy including his rebuke of those who imposed restrictions on their economies to guard against the spread of COVID-19.
But now as Tanzania undergoes a rare change of power, it’s prudent to pay attention to Tanzania’s constitution, regarding succession in times like these.
The constitution states that the Vice President is the first person in the queue in an event where the sitting president dies.
Therefore, in accordance with the Tanzania constitution, the Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan will be sworn in after 24 hours as the President of the Republic of Tanzania to serve the remaining term until 2025.
It further states that , the Vice-President shall be sworn in and become the President for the unexpired period of the term of five years and in accordance with the conditions set out in Article 40, and, after consultation with the political party to which he or she belongs, the President shall propose the name of the person who shall be Vice-President and such appointment shall be confirmed by the National Assembly by votes of not less than fifty percent of all the Members of Parliament
About Samia Suluhu
Samia Hassan Suluhu was born on 27 January 1960. She is a Tanzanian Chama Cha Mapinduzi politician who became Tanzania’s first-ever female Vice-President after she was announced Vice-President of Tanzania in the 2015 General Elections, alongside John Magufuli then the President.
Suluhu is not new to power as she has been the face of Tanzania in most international meetings over president Magufuli’s low interest in travelling abroad.
She has been representing Tanzania at all United Nations, African Union, Southern Africa Development Community and the East African Community meetings that were held outside Tanzania.
She studied in Zanzibar where she studied statistics at the Zanzibar Institute of Financial Administration before getting employed by the Ministry of Planning and Development as a clerk.
In 1986, she joined Umzumbe University for advanced studies in Public Administration before joining the institute of Management for leaders, Hyde rated in India.
She also attended the University of Manchester for her postgraduate diploma in economics and in 2005 she did her master’s degree in community economic development through a joint program between Open University of Tanzania and Southern New Hemisphere University, USA.
Her political journey
She was first cited into politics in 2000 as a member of the Zanzibar house of representative for a special seat and was appointed Minister by the then- president Amani Abed Karume of Zanzibar where she was the only high ranking woman minister on that cabinet.
She was elected to join the national assembly in 2010 in a landslide victory as the MP for Makunduchi constituency which marked her entry into national elective politics.
In 2014,the then President Jakaya Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania appointed her minister of state for Union Matters for the Office of the Vice President.
She was in the same year elected vice chairperson of the Constitutional assembly- the body tasked with drafting the country’s new constitution.
In July 2015, the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi Presidential nominee John Magufuli chose her as his running mate ahead of the country’s 2015 general elections.
The Magufulu-Suluhu ticket won the 2015 general elections making her the second female Vice President with in East Africa after Uganda’s Specioza Naigaga Wandira Kazibwe who was in office from 1994 to 2003.
Suluhu is married to Hafidh Ameir and together they have three sons and a daughter.
While her husband is a retired Agriculture Officer, her daughter Mwanu Hafidh Ameir is the only one in the family who has followed her mother’s political footsteps with her being a member of the Zanzibar House of Representatives.