Name? Samia Suluhu Hassan
Westphalian identity? Tanzanian
Why is she in the news? She announced that Tanzanian President John Magufuli has died from a heart disease. According to Tanzania’s constitution, Samia Hassan Suluhu is set to become the second female head of state in the East African region.
Why do we care? Hassan Suluhu is not only the first female head of State of Tanzania but also the first from the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar. All of this makes her deeply unpopular within the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party (her party). Due to Magufuli’s health conditions, he has never been much of a traveller, but Hassan Suluhu is already a familiar face as she has represented Tanzania at all the UN, African Union and East African Community meetings held outside their country.
Why should you care? Hassan Suluhu studied statistics at the Zanzibar Institute of Financial Administration; potentially marking a fresh start for Tanzania after Magufuli (a known Covid critic to say the least) has refused to test for Covid since May 2020 and thereafter declared Tanzania as Covid free. Given that we have already seen female leaders handling Covid better, this allows for a hopeful 6/10 on our how much you should care scale.
Who else cares? Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta. “Magufuli was a champion of Pan-Africanism. I have lost a friend and an ally” Uhuru stated. He then declared a seven-day period of national mourning in Kenya. The ties between the two leaders were strong and supportive, let’s see if Suluhu Hassan will be continuing this alliance or orient herself somewhere else.
Any further comments? Whether Magufuli died of Covid or for how long he has been dead we will never know with certainty. The government did an exceptional job hiding his whereabouts with rumours ranking from death in Kenya to recovering in India.. Long periods of uncertainty about a leader’s condition usually point towards internal power struggles…