Meet Samia Suluhu Hassan, Tanzania’s VP who takes over from the late John Magufuli


Meet Samia Suluhu Hassan, Tanzania's VP who takes over from the late John Magufuli
Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan during a past address. PHOTO / COURTESY

After weeks of speculation over his whereabouts and health, it is now official, John Pombe Magufuli, the 5th President of the Republic of Tanzania is no more.

According to an announcement made by Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Magufuli had first been briefly admitted at the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute on March 6, but was subsequently discharged.

But he was rushed to hospital again on March 14 after feeling unwell.

His death settles the rumors about his whereabouts, however, it also opens a new chapter for a country that has never changed governments outside of elections.

According to the Tanzanian Constitution, the Vice President now takes over the remainder of the term.

With just five months into their second term, it means Vice President Samia Suluhu will become the first female President of Tanzania, and the first female Head of State in the East African Community.

Suluhu was born on January 27, 1960 in the Sultanate of Zanzibar and completed her secondary education in 1977.

While pursuing a number of short courses part-time, Suluhu was appointed as a clerk in the office of the Ministry of Planning and Development.

During her stint there, she graduated with an advanced diploma in Public Administration from Mzumbe University and was almost immediately afterward employed by the World Food Programme.

While there she attended the University of Manchester and graduated with a postgraduate diploma in Economics in 1994.

Suluhu first joined active politics in 2000 when she was elected to the Zanzibar House of Representatives holding a special seat; upon which then Zanzibar President Abeid Amani Karume appointed her to the Cabinet.

She was re-appointed to the same seat 5 years later before she, in 2010, set foot in the National Assembly by clinching the Makunduchi Parliamentary seat after garnering over 80% of the votes.

Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, then serving his second and final term, appointed her the Minister for State Union Affairs before – in 2014 – she was tasked with drafting the country’s new constitution as Vice-Chairperson of the Constituent Assembly.

In Tanzania’s next general elections in 2015, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) presidential nominee – the late John Pombe Magufuli – picked her as his running mate, making her the first female running mate in the dominant party’s history.

She, hence, made history by becoming Tanzania’s first female Vice President when Magufuli clinched the seat.

She now becomes the country’s sixth President and first female President in Tanzania and East Africa.

Suluhu married Hafidh Ameir, a retired agricultural officer, in 1978 and together they have four children; three sons and a daughter.

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Story By Waihiga Mwaura
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