Sixteen months after assuming the presidency, Samia Suluhu Hassan is still in a state of grace. The Tanzanian is supported by the majority of its citizens. The president represents the end of the eccentric era of her predecessor, and manages to lead the country with an iron fist while uniting.
Prior to the death of former Tanzanian President John Magufuli, the country was nothing like it is today. If the late head of state was very popular in Africa, because of his anti-Western diplomatic line, the one who succeeded him on his death, Samia Suluhu Hassan, is even more so. But for other reasons...
Indeed, the Zanzibarian is on her way to transforming the country. An observation not only shared by his supporters. The opponents know it: Samia Suluhu Hassan has won his bet.
Today, the presidential party Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) is unequivocally under the total control of “Mama Samia”. This has greatly contributed to stifling the rampant regionalism between the mainland and the Zanzibar archipelago, ethnic and religious disputes, sexist and racist considerations… In summary, Tanzanians adore their president and are doing their part to transform the country.
A concept almost non-existent in politics, in Africa or elsewhere.
The construction sites of Samia Suluhu Hassan
The reasons for this plebiscite are numerous. First, Samia Suluhu Hassan subtly cleaned the Tanzanian administration of officials deemed corrupt. Ministers of Health, Energy and Education of Magufuli, passing by the indéboulonnables governors of the south of the country, without sparing the historical executives of the CCM, were all dismissed. In their place, Samia Suluhu appointed young leaders, sometimes from the opposition. An administration of technocrats which, in the space of a few months, imposed historic reforms.
Among the latter, an “Anglo-Saxon curriculum” in high schools and universities, which has greatly reduced the workload of study hours and reduced the branches of specialization. Empowerment of the country's youth welcomed by the middle class. In her region of origin, Samia Suluhu Hassan has also invested more than 180 million dollars in school equipment, in order to cope with the deterioration of school success rates in Zanzibar.
On the health front, Magufuli was adamantly opposed to vaccination against Covid-19, opting for traditional medicine and tarnishing Tanzania's image, especially in the West. Samia Suluhu Hassan has already exceeded 11 million doses of Covid vaccine administered. Tanzania thus exceeds a majority of African countries, while its vaccination campaign was the penultimate to start on the continent.
Moreover, in cooperation with the Sultanate of Oman and China, the Tanzanian government has built, equipped and opened three modern hospitals in record time.
Last April, Samia Suluhu Hassan also visited the United States for the second time. She would have obtained a promise of financing in the field of agriculture from the American vice-president Kamala Harris. The first tranche of one billion dollars has already been collected and more than 300 million have been invested.
Several projects that show that Samia Suluhu Hassan does not want to waste time. The Tanzanian president does not procrastinate. On the political level either, “Mama Samia” has clarified her position for the next few years: she intends to run for the presidential election of 2025. In the meantime, she is working.
On the diplomatic level, Samia Suluhu Hassan has demonstrated an incredible ability to forge partnerships without sacrificing Tanzanian sovereignty. It is not only a question of consolidating partnerships with China and the United States only. The President of Tanzania has above all, and as a priority, repaired the degraded relations with neighboring countries: Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Burundi, Angola, South Africa... everywhere, the Tanzanian Head of State has put in place trade agreements , diplomatic and security.
Even in Western countries, Samia Suluhu Hassan is often welcomed with great fanfare. In the United Kingdom, in France, in Belgium… the diplomatic past and the charisma of Samia Hassan are effective.
How else to explain the gas deal last June with Shell and Equinor. A megaproject that certainly disappointed Total and Eni, without angering the French and Italian governments.
And despite this overloaded national and international agenda, Samia Hassan still found the time to launch an advertising campaign for tourism in Tanzania. The documentary “Tanzania: The Royal Tour”, in which we see Samia Hassan visiting tourist attractions, has accumulated millions of views on Amazon and YouTube platforms. Tourism in the country increased by 34% at the end of June.
An opposition acquired to his cause
Successes on all fronts that even the opposition welcomes. Chadema party leader Freeman Mbowe yet imprisoned for 7 months during the mandate of Samia Suluhu Hassan, said he would not be against “future cooperation for the development of Tanzania”. Another Chadema figure and main opposition candidate in 2020, Tundu Lissu, has also reconciled with the CCM, and seems very satisfied with the leadership of Samia Hassan.
Exiled to Belgium since 2017, when he suffered an assassination attempt - he survived 16 bullets -, Tundu Lissu declared last March: "I am not a cheerleader, but there are things that Mama Samia started to do well. And because she leads well, we will support her to do it even better”.
Civil society also seems to support Samia Suluhu Hassan. After the meeting with opposition leaders, prominent activist Sara Ezra Teri tweeted: “You should see the smile on my face. (Reconciliation) warms the heart, she (Samia Hassan) is a true leader, unequaled in her field”.
Samia Suluhu Hassan also enjoys huge support from women in the country. Feminist activist, belonging to the opposition, Fatma Karume declared: "If Lissu is proud of you, I am also proud of you SSH (Samia Suluhu Hassan, editor's note)".
The president of Tanzania lately leans on the new members of the general staff. She appointed Jacob John Mkunda as the new army chief. She has also promoted many young officers, who will take the lead in securing the dangerous borders with Somalia and Mozambique.