Walking in Magufuli’s footsteps; Samia Suluhu fires top official in Tanzania Gov’t

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Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan; Courtesy Photo

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan has suspended Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) Director General Deusdedit Kakoko over allegations of massive embezzlement at the institution.

This came after Tanzania Ports Authority was severally mentioned in the Controller and Auditor-General (CAG) report for financial year 2019/20, which president Samia received at State House in Dodoma on Sunday. Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) is a parastatal public corporation acting under the aegis of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, that has the responsibility “to manage and operate” the ocean ports and lake ports of the country of Tanzania.

President Suluhu ordered the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) to urgently look into the claims noting that she had seen massive embezzlement at TPA. Samia said some actions were earlier taken against TPA by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa but “that only was not enough.”

“But from the report that you submitted to me yesterday, at least Sh3.6 billion has been embezzled at TPA. When the Prime Minister conducted a probe, we only managed to fire junior staff. I now order the suspension of the TPA director-general to pave way for investigations into the embezzlement,” she said.

It was reported that on December last year, Prime Minister Majaliwa suspended two TPA officials; Finance Director Nuru Mhando and Financial Expenditures Manager Witness Mahela, to allow investigations into claims of embezzlement of public funds but the Director General stayed in office.

The new president’s actions seem to rhyme with what she said immediately after taking oath as the country’s first female president on March 19th at State House in Dar es Salaam.

Addressing the nation in her first public speech soon after being sworn in, President Suluhu cut a figure of a politician ready to step into the role.

Samia Suruhu (61) vowed to follow the path of her predecessor John Pombe Magufuli. She also seems to continue to stamp her authority amid growing criticism within the ruling CCM.

“I can say without a doubt that we have lost a bold leader who had a vision. He was a patriot who loved his country and the African continent,” President Suluhu said.

“I can assure you that we are strong as a nation and we, your leaders, have an elaborate plan to continue with where our colleague stopped.” she added.

President Suluhu had deputised Magufuli since 2015 when they won the presidency on the Chama cha Mapinduzi ticket. Under Tanzanian law she will govern for the rest of the current term which ends in 2025 and is eligible to run once more for the presidency.

Tanzania’s new leader faces a difficult path ahead as she seeks to assert her authority and leadership style on the country amid calls for more civil liberties and accountable government.

“This is a time to bury our differences and unite as one. This is the time not to look into the future with doubts, but with hope and confidence,” she told the country after the swearing-in. “It is not a time to point fingers but a time to hold each other’s hands and move forward.”

criticisim

In a sign of how much bridge-building work needs to be done, President Suluhu’s innauguration speech drew critical reactions from political opponents and civil society activists.

“What finger-pointing,” Maria Sarungi Tsehai, a filmmaker and civil society personality tweeted, before asking for answers about journalists and other people who have disappeared in the country.

CCM won last October’s election with 84 per cent of the vote and a super majority in parliament where the opposition won only a handful of seats.

However, the late president was accused of clamping down on political opponents and autocratic tendencies. Tundu Lissu, the main opposition candidate in the last election, who survived an assassination attempt in 2015, has since returned to exile and been joined by more Tanzanian politicians.

It isn’t clear whether the soft-spoken President Suluhu will emulate Magufuli’s governance style which included populist road-side edicts and bruising attacks on political opponents or bureaucrats seen as corrupt or ineffective.

Born on January 27, 1960, President Suluhu is the first person born on the Zanzibar archipelago to lead the unitary state. Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who was president between 1985 and 1995, was born on the Mainland.

She first entered parliament in 2000 after CCM nominated her in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. She served as Minister for Youth and later Tourism in Zanzibar. In 2010, she joined the National Assembly of Tanzania and served in Jakaya Kikwete’s government as Minister in charge of Union Affairs.

Like her predecessor, she stunned the field to win the CCM nomination in 2015. She assumes the presidency as a dark horse but with the benefit of five years under Magufuli’s wings.

“I learnt a lot from him,” she said after taking the oath of office.

President Suluhu faces a busy schedule; First, to appoint a new vice president, in consultation with the ruling CCM party. Since last week, the jostling for the position has been intense. And all eyes are on who will Samia Suruhu pick.

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