Tanzania's president accuses rivals of smearing her leadership

AFP , Saturday 4 Dec 2021

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Saturday accused rivals inside the government of trying to damage her leadership in a rare public showing of division within the ruling party's ranks.

Tanzanian president Samia Suluhu
File Photo: Samia Suluhu Hassan made history Friday when she was sworn in as Tanzania s first female president after the death of her predecessor on March, 19, 2021. AP

In unusually fiery remarks, Hassan said she had been unjustly smeared by internal detractors since she became Tanzania's first female president in March following the sudden death of strongman leader John Magufuli.

"They like to claim that corruption has returned under this government, that things are worse under my administration. But they are bad actors," Hassan said at the opening of a government ports project in the economic capital Dar es Salaam.

"This rot happened under past leaders, but these factions are trying to lay the blame on my government. No, I will not accept that."

Hassan also announced she was dissolving the boards of the state ports and shipping agencies over the alleged misuse of government funds.

Divisions within the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party -- which has ruled Tanzania since independence in 1961 -- have been reported since Hassan took office after Magufuli's sudden death.

In August, a newspaper owned by the ruling party was suspended for publishing a story saying Hassan would not run for office in 2025.

"They are starting to tease us, publishing in the press that Samia will not run. Who told them that?" Hassan said.

"We will put a woman in the presidency in 2025, if we do our job well, if we are united."

The president has broken with some of the policies of Magufuli, who was nicknamed "Bulldozer" for his uncompromising leadership style.

Last month, the government announced it would allow pregnant students and teenaged mothers to continue with their studies, reversing a heavily criticised policy introduced by Magufuli.

She also reinstated an outspoken Magufuli critic to cabinet and launched a Covid-19 vaccination campaign, a clear departure from her predecessor who questioned the existence and seriousness of the disease for most of the pandemic.

In the weeks after her swearing-in, Hassan also reached out to Tanzania's political opposition, vowing to defend democracy and basic freedoms, and reopening banned media outlets.

But hopes that Hassan would usher in a new era were dented by the arrest of a high-profile opposition leader on "terrorism" charges and a crackdown on independent newspapers.

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