Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Thursday explained why she had decided to seek reconciliation with the political opposition in Tanzania, noting that gone are the days when the ruling party thought it could do everything on its own.
The Head of State spoke during a press conference organised by her host President Cyril Ramaphosa as Samia marked the start of her state visit to South Africa, Tanzania’s historical ally.
President Samia arrived in Pretoria, South Africa, on Wednesday for the two-day state visit to the country on Mr Ramaphosa’s invitation as the two nations seek to strengthen cooperation in trade and investment, infrastructure, transport, energy, and others.
“No one owns the title deed of Tanzania,” President Samia said during the press conference. “Tanzania is a country of all Tanzanians. And we all have to contribute towards the development of the country.”
On March 19, 2023, President Samia will mark two years in office since she took the helm of the country’s leadership following the death of her predecessor John Magufuli, which took place on March 17, 2021.
Her administration has been hailed for engineering a political dialogue among Tanzania’s vital political actors, forming a task force to coordinate stakeholders’ views on how best Tanzania can organise competitive politics.
She has lifted a six-year ban on political rallies. She has promised to amend controversial electoral laws and revive the much-vaunted constitution-writing process, which has won her many accolades even from her opponents.
Speaking in Pretoria on Thursday, President Samia said her administration is committed to building a pluralistic nation where everyone has a role towards its development.
“We want to do away with the tradition when the ruling party thought it could do everything on its own,” said Samia, who doubles as the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party national chairperson.
“But now, what we want to do, is to ensure that all of the political parties, CSOs, NGOs, and the government, work together to bring about the development of our country,” she added. “I’m glad to say that we have achieved that.”
Deep, historical relations
Tanzania and South Africa enjoy deep historical relations from the former’s solidarity with South Africa’s liberation struggle.
This was the first time that President Samia made a state visit to South Africa, which coincided with the Second Session of the Bi-National Commission, co-chaired by her and Mr Ramaphosa.
A joint communiqué released on Thursday stated that the Heads of State expressed satisfaction at the strong bilateral relations between the two countries, hinging upon the long-standing historical, political, economic, and cultural ties.
The Heads of State also exchanged views on various regional, continental, and international issues of mutual interest and concern – from commending efforts to combat terrorism in Mozambique and support for the quest for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara to reaffirming their solidarity with the people of Palestine and the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
The two leaders also witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on political and diplomatic consultations and the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between the two countries diplomatic academies.
Samia and her host also participated in a Business Forum held under the theme Forging a New Deal between South Africa and Tanzania Towards High Levels of Trade and Investments.
The forum brought together businesspersons and representatives from the private sector to discuss trade and investment opportunities in the two countries.
Both Samia and Ramaphosa emphasised the importance of expanding trade and investment activities to drive bilateral strategic engagement forward and the need to address any trade barriers.
Towards improved cooperation
Speaking to journalists shortly after meeting President Samia, President Ramaphosa said fraternal bonds between Tanzania and South Africa are well-known and have been forged in the trenches of struggle.
“We remain indebted to your nation for your role in ushering in the rights all South Africans have been able to access during nearly three decades of freedom,” Ramaphosa told President Samia.
Against that background, President Ramaphosa conferred the Order of South Africa to President Samia “for her ground-breaking role as the 1st woman President of the United Republic of Tanzania and for the significant role of Tanzania in [South Africa’s] struggle for liberation.”
On her part, President Samia described her visit to South Africa as “colourful and fruitful,” which “attests to solid historical relations that so happily exist” between Tanzania and South Africa.
“We have reviewed the status of our cooperations in various sectors to accelerate the implementation of all bilateral agreements we have entered in various areas of cooperation,” Samia said.
She described South Africa as among the primary sources of foreign direct investments in Tanzania.
Between 2013 to 2022, for instance, the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) registered seventy projects worth US$137.4 million from South Africa.
“I’m very confident that [my] visit will solidify our long-standing ties and unlock new opportunities to trade and investment,” President Samia said.
“I can assure you [President Ramaphosa] that Tanzania will continue to be a reliable friend and partner of the government and people of South Africa as it has always been,” she added.