Suluhu faces task to mend strained Nairobi-Dar ties

Monday, March 22nd, 2021 00:00 |

Nyaboga Kiage

Newly sworn in Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, 61, faces a herculean task of mending relationships between her country and Kenya, which went sour during the reign of the late President John Pombe Magufuli.

Experts say that President Suluhu, 61, has the chance of reworking on a diplomatic tiff that has been witnessed between Tanzania and other East African countries. 

Focus now turns on her as many want to see if she will steer the country on the same path as her former boss or take a different approach.

The late president differed with his colleagues in the East African Community over his approach to the Covid-19 pandemic by failure to enforce World Health Organization (WHO) protocols and his relationship with President Uhuru has been cold.

Magufuli also had trade tiffs with Kenya after he banned one day old chicks from Kenya and blocked long distance truck drivers from Nairobi from entering Tanzanian territories on accusations that they were spreading Covid-19.

Raila relationship

Although the fallen leaders enjoyed warm relationship with opposition chief Raila Odinga he skipped President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration in 2017.

Another memorable episodes of the rivalry is when air travel to and from the two countries was affected due to some disagreements over Covid-19 protocols.

Prof Macharia Munene a don at the United States International University (USIU) yesterday told People Daily that President Suluhu has the chance of making things between Kenya and Tanzania better.

He said that despite the diplomatic differences, Kenya under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta has been good to its neighbor.

 “The new president now has the task of ensuring that the diplomatic differences that have been in existence between the two countries are solved,” Munene said.

He also said that it would take President Suluhu a lot of time before she fully settles in the office and Kenya should also work round the clock to ensure that it creates good relationships during this transition period.

 Yesterday was the second and final day for Dar es Salaam residents to pay their last respect to Tanzania’s fifth president who died of heart complications at Mzena Hospital on March 17 and is expected to be buried on Friday March 26 in his hometown of Chato in Geita region

Picking deputy 

 Focus of the political party now turns to picking a powerful Deputy President who will come from the mainland since President Suluhu hails from Zanzibar.

After consulting with her Chama Cha Mapinduzi ruling political party, Suluhu will propose her possible successor as Vice-President - with the official appointment being confirmed by the National Assembly via votes of no less than 50% of all the Members of Parliament.

According to the CCM Ideology and Publicity Secretary, Humphrey Polepole the party had decided to do away with all activities and internal elections that were ongoing.

The new president was born in January 1960 in Zanzibar from a humble background. Her father was a teacher while her mother was a stay at home mother.

In a recent address to members of the public in Tanzania, she said that she did not study much.

“I did not study a lot and I got my first job when I was 16 years old but the boss sent me away because I was young,” she said.

She studied public administration in Tanzania and then pursued a  post-graduate at UK’s Manchester University.

In 1978, she married Hafidh Ameir who is known to be an agricultural academic who prefers to keep a low profile.

It is worth noting that since Ms Samia became vice-president, she has never taken a photo with her husband.

Together they have four children and one of them identified as Mwanu Hafidh Ameir, is currently a member of Zanzibar House of Representatives.

Re-elected to parliament

In 2015- she was surprisingly picked as the late Magufuli’s deputy and they were elected. They were again re-elected in 2020.

Tanzania nationals refer to her as Mama Samia, which is a sign of respect for leaders in Tanzanian culture.

She was first elected to a public office in 2000, she came to national prominence in 2014 as the vice-chairperson of the Constituent Assembly, created to draft a new constitution.

 Her personality is completely different to that of Magufuli as she appeared impulsive and was never afraid to speak out.

Suluhu is among a very small circle of women to lead East African nations. Burundi briefly had an acting female president in 1993, while both Mauritius and Ethiopia have had women appointed to the ceremonial role of president.

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