Tanzania’s first female president, the calm and thoughtful Samia Suluhu Hassan, brings about a significant change in leadership style inherited from his predecessor, John Magufuli, a fiery populist who has attracted worldwide attention for accepting the pandemic threat Covid has devalued. 19th
Hassan, who took office two days earlier on Friday after the announcement of Magufuli’s death, is considered a consensus-builder, a trait that can play in his favor, namely dealing with the various factions within the Chama Cha party. Mapinduzi (CCM) and with the security forces.
“I don’t speak in a violent tone like others,” he told the BBC last year. “In order to speak to someone in such a way that they understand me, you don’t have to shout. I can speak to you in a calm tone, but I can make myself understood. “
Samia Hassan is the first Tanzanian female president to be born in the occasionally troubled and semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, replacing mainland Africa that has dominated Tanzania since the two territories were unified in 1964.
After taking office, Hassan encouraged Tanzanians to look to the future with hope in a statement apparently seeking to distance themselves from the atmosphere of uncertainty caused by Magufuli’s disappearance 18 days before the death was announced.
As a well-articulated Muslim woman from the islands, her personal contrast with the touring country Christian, as well as the former president, was one of the reasons CCM leaders chose Hassan as Magufuli’s partner in the presidential election, a party member told Reuters.
“Quiet and competent”
Elsie Eyazuke, a columnist and blogger who lives in Dar es Salaam, says Hassan projected security and serenity during the inauguration.
“We sense your seriousness and value your intelligence. We look forward with enthusiasm to the calm and competent approach to politics. This moment is very important for women, ”he told Reuters.
“It took on a conciliatory tone that was neither too soft nor too hard. I think it brought some calm to what we all wanted, ”he explained.
During the six years he held the position of Vice President of Magufuli, Hassan sometimes appeared to publicly accept the leader’s unorthodox and increasingly authoritarian style, referred to as the “bulldozer”. He even copied his habit of making surprise visits to government offices to confirm officials were at work.
Despite representing the Magufuli line, a Tanzanian politician near Hassan said he was suspicious of the direction the country was going and felt excluded from the political arena surrounding the president.
“I am sure that many changes will be made under his leadership,” said the politician, who preferred to remain anonymous.
As head of state and government, Hassan must combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which his predecessor neglected, as well as its economic consequences.
It will also face the challenge of bringing a polarized population closer together during the Magufuli government. According to some analysts, this task requires building its own political base within the CCM.
“She is very diplomatic. We haven’t seen her yell at people in public or fire people in public. But it’s a very sensitive policy, ”said Aikande Kwayu, honorary researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States.
“She can’t be like him”
Samia Suluhu Hassan, 61, rose to join the CCM after being elected member of the regional parliament in Zanzibar. She held positions in the island’s autonomous government before being elected to the Tanzanian National Assembly in 2010.
Then President Jakaya Kikwete appointed her Minister for Union Affairs and she was responsible for relations between the central government of Tanzania and Zanzibar. She was then appointed vice-president of an assembly commissioned to draft a new constitution to ease tensions between Zanzibar and the mainland.
Fatma Karume, a Tanzanian lawyer and critic of the former president, believes Hassan will stand out from his predecessor, who was considered intolerant by the opposition.
“Hassan cannot be like Magafuli. She is a woman, she comes from Zanzibar, she is a Muslim. It projects a more forgiving, friendlier tone, ”says Karume, explaining that“ it comes from a very small island where those who mistreat people can find them at funerals. It’s a completely different social context. ”