DAR ES SALAAM, 18 March 2021 – The Tanzanian opposition has called on Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan to be immediately sworn in to avoid uncertainty and a constitutional vacuum.
The calls follow the death Wednesday of President John Magufuli who had not been seen in public for 18 days.
Incoming President Samia Suluhu Hassan first left her mark on Tanzanian politics in 2014.
At the time she was serving as the deputy chairperson of a constituent assembly mandated to draft Tanzania’s constitution.
Just one year later, she became the running mate of Magufuli.
The calls from the opposition are consistent with the constitution which provides for the vice-president to be sworn in as the new president once the president is incapacitated or dies in office.
Under the provisions of the constitution, Suluhu Hassan should serve the remainder of Magufuli’s five-year team which began late last year.
She has been described as a brave politician who enjoys smooth relations with the opposition.
She was one of the rare ruling party top officials to visit opposition leader Tundu Lissu in hospital after Lissu survived an assassination attempt in September 2017 in the capital, Dodoma.
The incoming president of Tanzania will join a club of very few African women who have held or recently held the top job in their countries.
Suluhu Hassan will be Tanzania’s sixth president, first female president, and only the second Tanzanian president to hail from the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar.
The first vice-president of Zanzibar Self Sharif Hamid, 77, became one of the first high-profile personalities in Tanzania to publicly admit that he had contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized, battling the virus.
Sharif Hamad lost his battle to the virus at a hospital in Dar es Salaam in mid-February 2021.
Vice President Suluhu Hassan said Magufuli died from heart disease but there is widespread speculation that he suffered from the new coronavirus.
Magufuli was one of Africa’s most vehement coronavirus skeptics.
Once Suluhu Hassan takes the oath of office, she will be required to consult with the ruling CCM party to nominate a vice-president.
Given the Zanzibari origin of Suluhu Hassan, the nominee must come from the mainland and would take the oath of office only if approved by more than 50 percent of parliamentarians.
The constitution further provides that if a succeeding vice-president serves as president for three years or more, they can only run for the presidency thereafter for one five-year term.
Suluhu Hassan is married to Hafidh Ameir and they have four children.