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Brief Biography of John Pombe Magufuli, and the First Female President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan

President John Magufuli with Dr. Salem Al Ismaily

President John Magufuli with Dr. Salem Al Ismaily

On March 17, 2021, shortly before midnight, the 10th Vice President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan, announced the demise of the 5th President of the country, John Pombe Joseph Magufuli.

In a televised address via the state's television station, Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC), Saumu annunciated the passing away of the President, and what led to his death. Part of her speech read:

"We regret to inform you that on March 17, this year, at six in the evening, we've lost our courageous leader, the president of the United Republic of Tanzania, Doctor John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, who has died from a heart complication at the Mzena Hospital in Dar-es-Salaam where he's undergoing treatment. The honourable president, Magufuli, was admitted on March 6, this year, at the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute, with a heart problem - chronic atrial fibrillation - which he's been suffering from for more than 10 years. He continued with his duties after he's released on March 7, this year. On March 14, this year, he felt unwell, and was rushed to Mzena Hospital where he continued with treatment under the care of doctors and nurses at the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute until his death."

She announced 14-days national mourning with flags flown at half-mast.

Saumu, according to Tanzania's constitution, will succeed Magufuli as the 6th President of Tanzania. She'll be the first woman to lead in that position in Tanzania, and the first female president to rise to that position in East & Central Africa.

Below are brief historical backgrounds of Magufuli and Saumu.

1. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli

a) Education & Early Non-political Career

Magufuli was born on October 29, 1959 in Geita, Tanzania

He attended Chato Primary School (1967-1974), and progressed to Katoke Seminary Secondary School (1975-1977). He sat for his Ordinary Level education at Lake Secondary School in 1978. In 1981, he sat for his Advanced level education at Mkwawa High School.

He enrolled for a Diploma in Education Science at Mkwawa College of Education (1981-1982); specializing in science subjects (Mathematics and Chemistry), and Education. After completing his studies at the college, he taught Mathematics and Chemistry at Sengerema Secondary School for one year.

He underwent military national service (1983-1984) before embarking on studying for Bachelor of Science in Education (Bsc.Ed.) at the University of Dar-es-Salaam (1985-1988).

From 1989-1995, he worked as an industrial chemist at Nyanza Cooperative Union in Mwanza.

He completed his masters degree in a joint-programme between the University of Dar-es-Salaam and Sanford (UK) in 1994, and PhD at the University of Dar-es-Salaam (UDSM) in 2009. According to UDSM, Magufuli read, researched and completed the requirements for postgraduate degrees between 1994-2009.

b) Political Career

His political career began in 1995 when he vied and succeeded in being elected as a Member of Parliament for Chato constituency. Five years later, he was re-elected as the MP for Chato Constituency.

Other than representing his constituency at the parliament, Magufuli also served in several ministerial positions:

  • Deputy Minister of Works (1995-2000)
  • Minister of Works (2000-2005)
  • Minister of Lands, Housing and Human Settlement Development (2005-2008)
  • Minister of Livestock Development and Fisheries (2008-2010)
  • Minister of Works (2010-2015)
  • Chairman of the Southern African Development Community from 2019 to 2020

On July 12, 2015, Magufuli was nominated as CCM's (Chama cha Mapinduzi) presidential candidate for 2015 General Election. He was declared the 5th president of Tanzania by National Electoral Commission (NEC) on October 29, 2015. He garnered 58% of the votes in the hotly-contested election held on October 25, 2015. His running mate, Samia Suluhu, was also declared the Vice-president of the Republic state. On November 5, 2015, Magufuli was sworn in as the fifth president of Tanzania.

Magufuli was nominated again as CCM's presidential candidate on June 2020. The General Election was held on October 28, 20. He re-emerged as the winner, and was sworn in for his second (and final) term as the fifth President of Tanzania.

Samia Suluhu Hassan

Samia Suluhu Hassan

2. Samia Suluhu Hassan

a) Education and Non-political Career

She was born in January 27, 1960 in Zanzibar.

She learned at different schools in the primary education level: Chwaka Primary School, Unguja (1966-1968), Ziwani Primary School, Pemba, (1970-1971), and Mahonda Primary School, Unguja (1972).

She progressed to secondary education at Nyumbo and Lumumba from 1973-1975. In 1977, she attended The Zanzibar Institute of Financial Administration (ZIFA) for Statistics Studies.

After the completion of her studies at the institute, she's employed as a clerk at the Ministry of Planning and Development.

In 1986, she enrolled for advanced diploma in Public Administration at the Institute of Development Management (IDM); currently called Mzumbe University.

She complemented, and furthered her studies abroad. She enrolled at the National Institute of Public Administration in Lahore, Pakistan, to complement her studies in public administration. In 1991, she enrolled for a certificate management course at the Institute of Management for Leaders in Hyderabad, India.

In 1992, she's employed in a Project funded by the World Food Programme (WFP). She continued to increase her knowledge in her areas of interest by enrolling for a postgraduate degree in economics from 1992-1994 at the University of Manchester, and in 2015 she's awarded a Masters in Community Economic Development through a joint-programme between the Open University of Tanzania and the Southern New Hampshire University, UK.

b) Political Career

She immersed herself in politics in the year 2000. She's elected as a special seat member to the Zanzibar House Representative, and was appointed as Minister of Youth Employment, Women and Children Development in Zanzibar by the late President Amani Karume. She served in that capacity from 2000-2005.

In 2005, she's re-elected, and re-appointed as Minister for Tourism, Trade & Investment in Zanzibar from 2005-2010.

In 2010, she contested for a parliamentary seat through CCM's ticket, and won the seat as a Member of Parliament for Makunduchi constituency. Thereafter, she's appointed as the Minister of State in the Vice-president's Office for Union Affairs. She served in that position, and as a member of parliament, from 2010-2015. In addition, she's elected as Vice-chairperson of the Constituent Assembly.

She's chosen by Magufuli as his running-mate during the CCM's presidential nomination in July 2015. Consequently, she became the 10th Vice-president of Tanzania, and the first female to hold an executive position in the government, after Magufuli won his first-term presidential seat. In 2020, she's re-elected as the vice-president when Magufuli won the presidential seat for his second-term sitting.

© 2021 Alianess Benny Njuguna

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