Tanzania Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, will become the first female President of Tanzania following the death of John Pombe Magufuli on Wednesday, March 17.
Magufuli had delegated major international obligations to Tanzania’s first Vice President Suluhu with Magufuli only making eight regional trips since 2015.
He only traveled to the neighboring countries namely; Kenya, Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Uganda – the only country he has visited twice.
What this has meant over the years is that his vice-president, Suluhu, was the face of Tanzania in most of the international meetings. She represented Tanzania at all UN, AU, SADC, and some EAC meetings that were held outside Tanzania.
In July 2015, Magufuli, who was the ruling party CCM’s presidential nominated Suluhu as his running mate ahead of the country’s 2015 General Elections which he won and was re-elected to serve a second 5-year term on October 28, 2020.
Suluhu will now complete the remainder of Magufuli’s second term for the unexpired period of 5 years to become the sixth President of Tanzania.
The Tanzanian constitution upholds that the vice president should step in as president if the incumbent is incapacitated to carry out his duties due to either physical or mental health.
Part 1, Section 37 (5) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania states:
“Where the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation, loss of electoral qualifications or inability to perform his functions due to physical infirmity, or failure to discharge the duties and functions of the office of President, then 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.”
After Suluhu is sworn in, she is mandated to propose the name of the person who shall be Vice President after consultation with CCM officials.
“…such appointment shall be confirmed by the National Assembly by votes of not less than fifty per centum of all the Members of Parliament,” states the constitution.
The last time a woman ran a country in East Africa was in 1994, when Agathe Uwilingiyimanain served as Prime Minister of Rwanda from July 18 1993 until her death on April 7, 1994.
Suluhu was born in the Sultanate of Zanzibar on January 27, 1960. She is married to Hafidh Ameir, a retired agricultural officer. Together they have 4 kids; 3 sons and a daughter – the daughter is also in Politics.
She has been in Politics since 2000 where she was elected as a member of the Zanzibar House of Representative for a special seat in 2000 – the only high-ranking woman minister in that cabinet.
Samia Suluhu is also the first female Vice President in Tanzania but the second female Vice President in East Africa since Uganda’s Specioza Naigaga Wandira who was in office from 1994 to 2003.
She was an MP for Makunduchi constituency from 2010 to 2015 and has been Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office for Union Affairs since 2010.
In 2014, she served as the vice-chairperson for the Constitutional Assembly which was tasked with drafting Tanzania’s new constitution.
In a televised address on Wednesday night, Suluhu said that Magufuli had died of heart complications after weeks of uncertainty about the whereabouts of the deceased since his last public appearance on Saturday, February 27.
“It is with deep regret that I inform you that today on the 17th of March, 2021 at 6 pm we lost our brave leader, the President of the Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli while receiving treatment for heart disease at Emilio Mzena Memorial Hospital in Dar es Salaam, said, vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan.
Minutes after the death announcement of Magufuli, more than 20 Bongo Flava artistes led by Diamond, Juma Jux, and Khadija Kopa released a special tribute song for their departed President.
Suluhu announced that Tanzania observed a 14-day mourning period where flags will fly half-mast following the president’s death.
President Uhuru has also ordered a 7 Day Mourning in Kenya. In addition, the East African Community’s flag and the Kenyan flag will fly half-mast.