Since he was sworn into office in 2015, President John Magufuli had only travelled out of Tanzania eight times and never leaving Africa. He visited Kenya, Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Uganda – the only country he went to twice.
What this has meant over the years is that his Vice-President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has been the face of Tanzania in most international meetings. She represented Tanzania at all UN, AU, SADC and EAC meetings held outside Tanzania.
Interesting to note, President Magufuli’s last public appearance was during a virtual East African Heads of State meeting where he appeared but only for the introduction and then left VP Suluhu to continue with the rest of the discussion.
So, who is this Tanzania’s most noticeable figure? We look at some of the things you might not know about Tanzania’s VP Samia Suluhu Hassan set to become president falling President Magufuli’s demise.
VP Suluhu was born on January 27, 1960 in the Sultanate of Zanzibar. She went to school in Zanzibar and 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 went to Mzumbe University for advanced studies in Public Administration before joining the Institute of Management for Leaders, Hyderabad in India or a course in management.
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 programme between the Open University of Tanzania and Southern New Hampshire University (USA).
VP Suluhu was first elected as a member of the Zanzibar House of Representative for special seat in 2000, and was appointed Minister by then President Amani Abeid Karume of Zanzibar. She was the only high-ranking woman minister in that cabinet.
She was elected to the National Assembly in a landslide win in 2010 as the MP representing Makunduchi constituency, marking her entry into national electoral politics.
In 2014, President Jakaya Kikwete appointed her Minister of State for Union Matters in the office of the Vice-President.
In the same year, she was also elected the Vive Chairperson for the Constitutional Assembly – the body tasked with drafting the country’s new constitution.
In July 2015, the ruling party CCM’s presidential nominee John Magufuli chose Suluhu as his running mate ahead of the country’s 2015 General Elections.
The Magufuli-Suluhu ticket won the 2015 general election, making her the first female vice-president in the region since Uganda’s Specioza Naigaga Wandira who was in office from 1994 to 2003.
VP 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 in her political footsteps. Mwanu is a member of the Zanzibar House of Representatives.
First Female President
Following President Magufuli’s demise on March 17, all eyes fixed on VP Suluhu, who stands to take over as the President until 2025.
The Tanzanian constitution upholds that the VP should step in as President if the incumbent is incapacitated either by physical or mental health or the Office of President is left vacant following death of the office-bearer.
VP Suluhu will now be the first female President of Tanzania and the first President of the country hailing from Zanzibar.
When she gets sworn in as the President of Tanzania, she will only be the second woman to head an East African country.
Agathe Uwilingiyimanain was the first woman to head an East Africa country when she served as Prime Minister of Rwanda from July 18 1993 until her death in April 7 1994. – Standard Media
African Female Presidents
1993-1994: Sylvie Kinigi – Caretaker President of Burundi following the killing of Melchior Ndadaye
2006-2018: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – Elected President of Liberia
2009: Rose Francine Rogombé – Interim President of Gabon following the death of Omar Bongo
2012: Monique Ohsan-Bellepeau – Acting President of Mauritius after resignation of Sir Anerood Jugnauth
2012-2014: Joyce Banda – President of Malawi after death of Bingu wa Mutharika
2014-2016: Catherine Samba-Panza – Transitional President of Central African Republic, elected by parliament
2015-2018: Ameenah Gurib-Fakim – President of Mauritius, elected by parliament
2018-Present: Sahle-Work Zewde – President of Ethiopia, elected by parliament. – BBC