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President Samia: “I feel like I’ve Delivered”

Despite being Africa’s only female political head of state, she doesn’t want to be referred to in an official capacity but simply by her first name, Samia or she says, “Mama Samia”.

This weekend marks one year since Tanzania’s former Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office as the country’s first female president.

Despite being Africa’s only female political head of state, she doesn’t want to be referred to in an official capacity but simply by her first name, Samia or she says, “Mama Samia”.

She was sworn in, mid-pandemic, last March after her predecessor, John Magufuli died suddenly in office.

Since then, she has aimed to boost Tanzania as a whole. This includes “The Royal Tour” film which will broadcast in April this year.

Mama Samia has travelled across the country, along with US documentary makers, to show what the country has to offer.

This includes, she jokes, ensuring the world knows that Mount Kilimanjaro and The Serengeti are within her borders.

So, how have Tanzanians adjusted to having Mama Samia as president: “Go and ask them today. I feel I’m doing my job. I feel like I’ve delivered,” she says.

Having inherited the nation from Covid-sceptic Magufuli, she says: “Instead of investing the money on masks and hand sanitizer and vaccines, we invested in bringing better healthcare to villages – building healthcare centres and making class sizes in schools smaller. Water supply improved.”

And the resounding achievement of her presidency so far? “The one most important thing I [achieved is], peace, security and stability of my country. That’s the most important item which I can say I managed to maintain.”

Saying that, her short presidency had been somewhat tainted by the arrest of opposition leader Freeman Mbowe in July last year.

But his release earlier this month is a major U-turn and has been seen as a sign that the government could be about to allow the opposition to operate more freely.

BBC