Why presidency should be a global concern

Friday, April 9th, 2021 00:00 |
The late Tanzanian President John Magufuli. Photo/File

The ascendency to the office of President of the United Republic of Tanzania by Madam Samia Suluhu Hassan is breathing fresh air of leadership to our neighbours in the South.

In less than one month that she has been in the office, much has been changing in Dodoma, from style to substance. 

The coterie of mean looking female aides in black is certainly a departure from the usual mean looking male aides.

But then there is more. The calmness, the tone of delivery and now some policy U-turns. 

Under the new leadership the country is re-evaluating its approach to the global Covid 19 pandemic. 

The stranglehold that her predecessor directed towards the media are being relaxed, the approaches to taxation are to be re-examined possibly affecting immigration policies among others.

She robs critics of some of their recent pet talking points. Who knows, Hassan could reset the clock on relations within the East African Community.

President Hassan deputised John Pombe Magufuli, so essentially, they were elected on the same ticket.

Whether she will substantially depart from some of the Magufuli policies will come clear only with time. In the short term however, her presence is already being felt.

That is not too different from what is going on in the United States of America. It is hardly three months since President Joe Biden came to the office and it seems like a new dawn in America.

The immediate former President Donald J. Trump was bombastic, loved to hog media attention, and his eccentricities dominated news circles across the globe.

Given his capriciousness, friend and foe lived on tenterhooks not knowing what surprise the White House was going to spring up on any given day. Not anymore.

American White House is even boring. So much has changed on substance. While Trump was skeptical on many issues Covid 19, Biden promised to have at least one hundred million people vaccinated within 100 days, his administration has surpassed that, almost doubling that number even before the 100 days are over.

But there is more. Biden administration has pushed through one of the largest aid packages to Americans and now has his eyes trained on rebuilding American infrastructure.

Across the globe the confidence in America is coming back. America has rejoined some of the organizations, such as World Health Organisation and the Paris Accord, that his predecessor shunned.

Yes, leadership matters. Consider the sorry state that Brazil is in. President Jair Bolsonaro, it would seem, is leading his country through a pigsty.

Under his watch Brazil has suffered massively the ravages of Covid 19. Even the president has not been spared but that has not changed his style.

Power now rests nervously in Brazil with rumours of coups and an army cadre that is probably not sitting pretty. 

It is not at the global level that leadership matters. Consider the matter of the counties.

Arguably, all the countries have been treated equally in the manner in which resources have been devolved.

Yet the difference in the manner in which the counties have deployed the resources is glaringly clear.

There are governors who, two terms later, can hardly account for their term in office. They have not made marks either at the local or the national level and they will slide into oblivion without being missed. 

But the blame can’t go to the leaders alone. The days when men in uniform stormed their Statehouses shooting anything on their way and took power by force are behind us.

Africa has evolved, embracing democracy. It is the lens through which the electors look at potential leaders that is an issue.

There are elections taking place in East Africa almost every year. It was the turn of Uganda three months ago when President Yoweri Museveni was re-elected in probably the bloodiest peacetime elections in Uganda’s history. Next year it will be the turn of Kenya.

Who is elected to lead a country is a big deal and not a decision to be taken casually. — The writer is dean, School of Communication, Daystar University

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