President Samia Suluhu Hassan had hinted at the reshuffle earlier this week, saying she wanted to expel people in the government she suspects of siding with rivals ahead of the 2025 elections.
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan has reshuffled her cabinet as she battled to put a lid on infighting in the country’s ruling party.
The move came on Saturday just days after the speaker of parliament quit following a public falling out with Hassan over controversial comments criticising the level of government borrowing.
Hassan, who became Tanzania’s first female president in March last year, had hinted at the reshuffle earlier this week, saying she wanted to expel people in the government she suspects of siding with rivals ahead of elections due in 2025.
In the changes announced by the president’s chief secretary Hussein Katanga, several senior cabinet members were sacked including the ministers for justice, housing, industry and investment.
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Hassan last month accused rivals inside the government of trying to smear her leadership in a rare public showing of division within the ranks of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party.
Adding to the tensions, parliament speaker Job Ndugai resigned on Thursday after criticising Hassan over what he called Tanzania’s “excessive” foreign borrowing and accusing the government of going about with a “begging bowl”.
“I did not expect someone who leads a pillar of the state to utter such words,” Hassan retorted, insisting that the government would continue borrowing for development projects.
According to figures published by Tanzania’s central bank, total external and domestic debt amounted to $36 billion in November, compared with gross domestic product of $64.7 billion at the end of 2020.
Hassan became president of the East African country after the death of her predecessor John Magufuli, who was nicknamed the “Bulldozer” for his authoritarian leadership style and who oversaw a crackdown on dissent during his rule.
She has sought to break with some of Magufuli’s policies, but has been branded a “dictator” by the opposition and fears remain about the state of political and media freedoms.
Tanzania has sworn its first female Muslim president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, days after she announced the death of her predecessor John Magufuli who suddenly died of a heart attack.
The 61-year-old politician was vice president under Magufuli’s presidency, and her sudden rise to the top of Tanzanian politics has made history in the country and the continent.
Magufuli was the continent’s most outspoken Covid-19 denier. His administration stopped counting coronavirus cases in April last year and the numbers have remained at 509 infections and 21 deaths ever since.
Hassan announced the death of Magufuli, also age 61, earlier in the week in a televised address where she said he died of a heart ailment that he had been battling for the last 10 years.
Magufuli was last seen in public on February 27, and there were rumours that he had been struck by Covid-19, given his denial of the pandemic.
In a televised swearing-in ceremony, Hassan, who is also affectionately known as Mama Samia, in a sign of high respect that she is held in the country, described her sorrow at the events leading to her inauguration.
“It’s not a good day for me to talk to you because I have a wound in my heart,” she said, adding that “today I have taken an oath different from the rest that I have taken in my career. Those were taken in happiness. Today I took the highest oath of office in mourning.”
Hassan, an economist by training, has been described as a consensus builder and a soft-spoken politician. Her premiership is likely to introduce a different tone in Tanzanian politics, and she may even seek a break from the late president’s style of governance, which was marked by long televised speeches and brazen populism.
Under the constitution, she will serve the remainder of the term until 2025 after winning elections last year. Hassan is the third Muslim president in the country’s history and joins Ethiopia’s Sahle-Work Zewde as the second female president in Africa.
Unlike her Ethiopian counterpart, whose role is largely ceremonial, Hassan will have the opportunity to reshape the country in several ways.