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The Chanzo’s Morning Briefing – June 28, 2021

In our briefing, today: Samia 100 days in office; Lissu: I’m waiting Samia to call me back; and two more Sabaya accomplices arrested.

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Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania over the weekend.

Samia 100 days in office

On Sunday, June 27, 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan marked 100 days since she took the helm of Tanzania’s leadership on March 19, 2021, following the sudden death of her predecessor the late John Magufuli that took place on March 17, 2021. Affectionately referred to as Mama Samia by her supporters, the sixth-phase leader of the East African nation served as a Vice-President before assuming the presidency. While rhetorically Samia has been insisting that she and her predecessor are one and the same, President Samia has taken some progressive steps that a few days ago were unimaginable. No wonder that many observers sound optimistic in their assessment of the Tanzania’s first female president.

Perhaps the most notable change of course concerns the handling of the global coronavirus pandemic that seems to be among President Samia’s top priorities. Unlike her predecessor’s approach which was characterized by denials, President Samia seems to understand the magnitude of the problem and has since been taking measures aimed to curb the spread of the deadly disease as advised by the committee she set up to assess the COVID-19 debacle. When it comes to the government relationship with Tanzania’s private sector, President Samia has demonstrated her understanding of the role that the sector can play in facilitating the country’s development by perceiving it as a partner instead of a competitor. For instance, President Samia has publicly condemned the use of  forces in tax collection as well as allowing investors to bring in expatriates instead of forcing them to hire locals.

Informed by her understanding of the schisms that have been building between the government and citizens over the past five years, President Samia has been meeting various groups in an attempt of learning their respective grievances and see how her administration can try to address them. Already, the Head of State has met with elders, women, youth as well as religious community like the Catholic Bishops. President Samia has also been using these meetings as platforms to share what her administration is planning to accomplish within the coming four years.

In the area of politics and governance, President Samia has demonstrated a sober appreciation of the role democracy and freedom can play in facilitating Tanzania’s development process. She has promised to meet with opposition parties and see how she can reconcile with them and move together towards nation building. President Samia lifted the ban imposed on several online media outlets, saying she doesn’t want her administration to be accused of muzzling press freedom. She has excoriated the police and the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) for prosecuting people on trumped up charges and ordered the release of countless number of people who have been serving lengthy jail terms without even proven guilty, including the famous 36 Muslim clerics.

President Samia’s decision to replace Prof Palamagamba Kabudi with seasoned diplomat Ambassador Liberata Mulamula as foreign affairs minister also signaled the redefining of Tanzania’s foreign policy. The Magufuli administration, built on the foundations of nationalism and ‘anti-imperialism’ rhetorics, was characterized by intermittent skirmishes between Tanzania and some of its historical allies. Magufuli’s foreign policy suffered from two ailments. The first was the administration’s disregard of internationally recognized freedoms to Tanzanians, like freedom of expression and assembly. The second ailment stemmed from having a wrong, inexperienced minister to defend the administration’s actions in international forums. By publicly acknowledging the importance of these freedoms to people and bring in Ambassador Mulamula, who has a good track record of representing Tanzania internationally at various capacity, to be the face of Tanzania internationally, President Samia looks determined not to proceed with business as usual when it comes to Tanzania’s position in the international arena. So when the French ambassador to Tanzania Mr Frédéric Clavier congratulated Tanzanians recently for having their country “back in the international arenas” he was not blowing things out of proportion, he was just stating the obvious.

Several activities took place over the weekend to commemorate the 100 days of the Samia’s presidency. On Saturday, a special prayer was organized for the Head of State and Tanzania where leaders from various religious denominations gathered in Dar es Salaam to pray for the Tanzanian leader as well as thanking God for sending Samia to them. On Sunday, members of Tanzania’s private and public sectors met under the auspices of the Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) to mark Samia’s 100 days in office where Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa explained in details some of the accomplishments Samia achieved within the past three months aimed at reforming Tanzania both economically and politically. The event was a follow up of the 12th meeting of TNBC that took place in Dar es Salaam and officiated by the president herself. It was during this occasion that President Samia  she hinted at the prospect of reviving the $10 billion stalled port project in Bagamoyo which. The port project and the $30 billion Liqufied Natural Gas (LNG) project demonstrate Samia’s understanding on how to walk the talk in attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs). The LNG project, for instance, has been under negotiation since 2014 and the prospects for construction were slim until April 2021, when President Samia committed to reviving negotiations and start the project’s implementation.

But tough tasks still await President Samia. While many appreciate her positive gestures on issues of democracy and good governance, for example, observers of Tanzania’s political development have asked the Head of State to move beyond the rhetoric and start building institutions that will reflect her appreciation of the values of democracy, freedom and justice. One among these people is the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) President Bishop Gervas Nyaisonga who urged President Samia during a recent meeting with Catholic bishops to improve rule of law and other democratic institutions in Tanzania, calling them “the foundation of good governance.” Many people think that the starting point of this process of building institutions will be the sending back to the parliament all pieces of legislations that have been criticized for squeezing Tanzania’s civic and political space.

At the same time there is a growing movement to demand the New Constitution led by activists and opposition parties. Unlike her predecessor, President Samia has not ruled out on the issue of the New Constitution whose Constituent Assembly that passes it she was its deputy chairperson. President Samia seems to be aware of the movement and unlike her predecessor who disappointed many by saying that the New Constitution wasn’t his priority the only statement that she has made so far in relation to the issue concerns her request to people who demand the New Constitution “to wait a bit.”

Lissu: I’m waiting Samia to call me back

CHADEMA deputy chairperson (Tanzania Mainland) and the party’s candidate in the October 2020 general election Tundu Lissu said Saturday that he had placed a call to President Samia Suluhu Hassan, saying he’s ready to sit down with the Head of State to discuss the wayforward for the Tanzanian nation. Mr Lissu, who survived an assassination attack on September 7, 2017, made the revelations during the launching of her book that took place in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

“I did place a call to President Suluhu two days after she was sworn and the call was picked by her personal assistant, whom I asked to inform the President that I would be happy to sit down with her and discuss the way forward for Tanzania, and how we can reform our country. But I am still waiting for a response,” said Mr Lissu who’s living in exile in Belgium as quoted by The Citizen newspaper. “Even our party leadership of CHADEMA, led by the chairperson placed a request to the President, which was replied after a week, but we are still waiting for a response for a meeting.”

Two more Sabaya accomplices arrested

Police in Kilimanjaro are holding two people who are accused of being accomplices to former Hai district commissioner Lengai ole Sabaya. Mr Sabaya and his five other accomplices appeared before the Arusha Resident Magistrate’s Court on June 4, 2021, facing six charges which included armed robbery, money laundering, economic sabotage and seeking and receiving bribes.

Kilimanjaro acting Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) commander Arterio Kawonga briefed journalists Saturday that the two whose names were not revealed were arrested in the ongoing investigations in the case of the controversial former DC.

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