Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan has interpreted the recent protests against her administration’s decision to borrow in order to fund its development programmes with opposition she is facing within her ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and what she called “election fever” ahead of 2025.
Tanzania will hold its seventh general election in 2025 where Tanzanians will be voting for the president, members of parliament as well as councillors.
Tuesday’s remarks by Samia, which she gave during a State House function, followed hard on the heels of Speaker of Parliament Job Ndugai’s apology to the Head of State and Tanzanians in general following his remarks that Tanzania risks being auctioned off if the government continues with its pace of borrowing from international lenders.
Ndugai’s remarks sent shock waves through Tanzanian politics and perhaps no one was more shocked than President Samia herself who interpreted Mr Ndugai’s remarks as irresponsible. The Head of State said it was “unimaginable” that Speaker Ndugai could say something like that.
“It has something to do with the 2025 [general election]stress,” remarked Samia who assumed the presidency on March 19, 2021, following the death of her predecessor John Magufuli.
She added: “There is also another thing. When [Tanzanians] handed this burden [of the presidency] to me, there was much talk on interim government in the Parliament. I went to the Constitution to see what does it say about interim government. I did not see anything. I said to myself, okay, let’s go.”
Samia’s revelations on Tuesday confirmed what analysts had already observed that some factions within CCM and the government might have been opposed to her ascendence to the presidency and that some strategies are being devised to prevent her from running for presidency through the CCM ticket in 2025.
While it is difficult to point out who exactly are these people, rumours have it that many of them are former Magufuli loyalists who still remain within CCM and the government and hold senior positions.
According to the President’s own assessment, the protest she is facing now is just the tip of the iceberg of the “sabotages” prepared against her and her administration.
Samia thinks that the biggest chunk of the resistance she is facing comes from the people who underestimated her, people who thought she would never be able to run the country as a president.
“They do not believe what they are seeing,” she said. “And, therefore, their wishes to [challenge me] in the 2025 [general election] have somehow evaporated.”
Samia’s opponents within CCM might have made the mistake of judging the book by its cover, the Head of State observed, adding: “They looked at me and promised themselves to try me. They are wrong. I cannot be tried.”
One observation that many people made during the heated debate on the ‘soaring’ national debt initiated by Speaker Ndugai was the conspicuous absence of President Samia’s assistants in the debate that many people thought would help fact-check some of the claims raised on the issue and clarify things to people.
Many of these assistants – which include ministers and permanent secretaries – were present during Tuesday’s function at the State House and President Samia did not waste the chance of letting them know what she actually think of them.
She told them point-blank: “You kept telling me here [in your greetings] that I should not be heartbroken. But it is not with this heart. This [heart] is not made of glass. My heart is not made of glass. It is a heart made of flesh created by God.”
Samia urged her assistants – whom she accused some of them of having mixed themselves in factions that organise against her – to take her hands and work with her to “bring development to Tanzanians.”
Hinting at a cabinet reshuffle that she said will be announced very soon, Samia was categorical in her promise that she will remain only with those she believes stand with her in her administration’s efforts to serve Tanzanians’ best interests.
“But all those whom I feel that they have their eyes there [on the 2025 general elections], and work in accordance with that aspiration,” she pointed out, “I’ll relieve them of their duties so that they can have an ample time to prepare themselves [for the election but] outside the government.”