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My Top Ten Politicians of 2023

On the list are President Mwinyi, President Samia, Freeman Mbowe, Zitto Kabwe, Prime Minister Majaliwa, Jokate Mwegelo, Tundu Lissu, Othman Masoud, January Makamba, and Queen Sendiga.

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I was compelled to compose this article upon encountering a similar compilation by some users on X (former Twitter). 

Nonetheless, my aspiration was to enhance it by incorporating my distinct rationales and justifications for the individuals featured on this list. 

This compilation lacks a scientific framework; rather, it reflects my subjective perspectives and personality:  

Dr. Hussein Mwinyi

At the forefront of my roster stands his Excellency Hussein Mwinyi, the President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. 

President Hussein Mwinyi has undeniably culminated 2023 on a commendable note, consistently propelling the status of his office to unprecedented heights. 

Whether attributed to his noteworthy accomplishments, his distinction as the inaugural social media-savvy president from the isles, or the resonance of his name, he has significantly amplified the prominence of the Zanzibar presidency, capturing the attention of even the casual observer residing on the mainland.

READ MORE: Why Ministers Should Not Be Members of Parliament

President Mwinyi’s notable accomplishment in 2023 stands as Silicon Zanzibar, a distinctive initiative. 

Those of us entrenched within Tanzania’s tech industry have perennially pondered why Nairobi and Kigali held precedence as the favored headquarters for tech companies in East Africa. 

We questioned why Dar Es Salaam, despite its abundant offerings, couldn’t contend with the aforementioned capitals. What eluded us in Dar Es Salaam has found fruition in Zanzibar, marking a significant triumph for Tanzania.

Silicon Zanzibar stands as a collaborative endeavor between the Zanzibar Ministry of Investment & Economic Development and prominent African tech entities—a public-private initiative designed to lure startups and proficient foreign talents, thereby reshaping Zanzibar’s international image. 

At its core, this initiative aspires to transform Zanzibar into a thriving e-commerce nucleus. Among the policy alterations accompanying this initiative is the reduction of the minimum capital requirement for investment, dwindling from $300,000 to a more approachable $100,000, fostering a more inclusive environment for aspiring investors.

Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan

Throughout 2023, President Samia Suluhu Hassan has notched several significant diplomatic victories, marked notably by prestigious visits from dignitaries such as the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, and the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. 

READ MORE: Mr Steinmeier, Thanks for Your Apology. Now, Let’s Talk About Reparations

President Hassan herself embarked on noteworthy state visits to countries including India, South Africa, Uganda, Malawi, and Zambia, resulting in the signing of various multinational agreements.

Tanzania played host to esteemed international gatherings, including the African Food Systems Forum in September and the African Heads of State Human Capital Summit in July, further solidifying its presence on the global stage.

At home, President Samia Suluhu Hassan has secured initial victories, notably lifting the ban on political rallies in early January and making a prominent appearance as the special guest during women’s day celebrations organised by opposition party CHADEMA women wing, showcasing a sense of inclusivity and collaboration. 

Economically, the nation has shown promising progress, with a steady economic growth rate of 5.3% and a remarkable surge in Tanzania’s Foreign Direct Investments. Notably, the country witnessed a twofold increase in growth, registering a noteworthy year-on-year FDI surge between July and September 2023, totaling US$1.05 billion compared to US$524.4 million in the preceding year.

READ MORE: Chongolo’s Resignation and Samia’s Resolve to Consolidate Power Within CCM

The aforementioned achievements would have easily positioned her as the foremost candidate on my list for this year. Nevertheless, the unexpected emergence of the DP World saga in June prompted me to revise my ranking, relegating her to second place. 

This saga revolved around contractual agreements between the Tanzanian government and DP World of the UAE, specifically pertaining to port operations. While refraining from delving into the contract details, considering the widespread discussions already conducted, it’s crucial to acknowledge that this occurrence notably impacted the President’s public perception and reputation. 

I extensively expounded upon my viewpoint regarding this saga in an article titled Barua ya Wazi kwa Rais Samia Kuhusu Mkataba wa DP World: ‘Kuna Makosa ya Kimkakati’. 

In my perspective, the DP World situation could have been managed more effectively, particularly in terms of communication. However, the clarity of the message was obscured as numerous CCM supporters rushed to its defense, resulting in a proliferation of conflicting narratives. Rather than addressing the issue directly, the official channels remained silent, allowing proxies to represent the government’s stance. 

This approach contributed to a perception among the public that the government was unresponsive and indifferent to their apprehensions. While she retains considerable personal popularity, the course of 2023 has witnessed a notable depletion of a substantial portion of her political capital.

READ MORE: Tanzania’s Envoys Must Deliver. Here Are Some Tips to Ensure Efficiency

Freeman Aikaeli Mbowe

Freeman Aikaeli Mbowe, the Chairman of Chadema, the main opposition party, has consistently exhibited the patience and resilience characteristic of his extensive political tenure. Chairman Mbowe’s approach has consistently been diplomatic, favoring the pursuit of political consensus rather than engaging in direct confrontations. 

In March of this year, he prominently demonstrated these qualities by extending an invitation to President Samia Suluhu Hassan as the special guest for Chadema’s women’s wing Women’s Day celebrations—an unprecedented move in Tanzanian politics. This gesture instilled hope among many Tanzanians that reconciliation efforts would continue.

However, my significant disagreement with Chairman Mbowe arose during the DP World Saga when he implied that the President’s actions were an attempt by a Zanzibari president to sell off Tanganyika’s resources. I perceived that his statements diverted the discourse away from policy matters and instead cast doubt on the president’s allegiance to the nation. 

This rhetoric also led many supporters of his party to perceive the president not as the leader of the United Republic of Tanzania with whom they simply held differing policy views, but rather as a Zanzibari figure selling off their interests. 

Chairman Mbowe possesses a deeper understanding, and I found it disappointing that he invoked regional identities, which acted as a catalyst, inadvertently sparking tension between mainland Tanzanians and those from the islands.

READ MORE: Social Media: Tanzania’s Next Frontier for Political Engagement?

That being said, Chairman Mbowe maintains a high level of popularity among the loyal members of his party, establishing himself as a pivotal political figure in Tanzania. I cannot underestimate the potential upheaval that might have ensued had it been any other leader at the helm of Chadema during these tumultuous times of reconciliation.

Zitto Kabwe

Zitto Kabwe holds the position of Party Leader within ACT Wazalendo, Tanzania’s rapidly burgeoning political party. Since assuming leadership on March 29, 2015, the party has experienced remarkable expansion under his guidance. 

Presently, when discussions arise concerning political factions in Tanzania, only three are notably mentioned: the ruling CCM, the main opposition Chadema, and the swiftly emerging ACT Wazalendo. 

It’s an exceptional feat for a few political figures to depart from a major party like Chadema and swiftly elevate a relatively young and inconspicuous party into significant relevance within a mere span of a few years.

READ MORE: Tanzania’s Political Opposition and the Long Road Ahead

Zitto Kabwe stands out as one of the rare politicians who commands a robust political following independent of any specific party affiliation. His undeniable influence and firm grip on Kigoma signify a stronghold that, if independent candidacy were permitted, would undoubtedly secure him victory in the parliamentary seat of Kigoma Urban.

Zitto Kabwe persistently guides and nurtures the emerging young leaders within his party, extending the same support and guidance he once received during the nascent stages of his career. 

Envisioning the trajectory of ACT’s expansion is challenging without the significant influence of Zitto Kabwe. I eagerly anticipate witnessing the kind of impact he will continue to exert after his constitutional tenure as party leader concludes in March.

Kassim Majaliwa

The past year has been relatively tranquil for the Prime Minister. Remarkably, the Prime Minister maintained an uncharacteristic silence. during the DP World Saga, presumably following a directive from higher authorities. 

Nevertheless, he steadfastly remained a loyal supporter of the regime, dedicating his efforts predominantly to administrative affairs. Kassim Majaliwa sustained an extensive nationwide presence, making notable headlines by publicly addressing issues of corruption during several stops throughout his travels across the country.

READ MORE: Tanzania: Time To Have Two Separate Intelligence Services?

Rumors regarding his political trajectory within the administration surged when Dotto Biteko was appointed Deputy Prime Minister in August, becoming just the third individual to assume such a role. Biteko is viewed by many as a potential successor to Majaliwa after 2025, as by then, Majaliwa would have matched Fredrick Sumaye’s record as the longest-serving prime minister.

Yet, for the foreseeable next couple of years, the administration will remain reliant on Kassim Majaliwa, who serves as the administration’s tireless worker, extensively traversing the nation and complementing President Samia’s leadership style with his own, forming a balanced duo.

Jokate Mwegelo

I firmly believe that it is not an exaggeration to assert that Jokate is arguably the most widely esteemed leader under the age of 40. She stands out as one of the rare politicians who garners admiration across the entire political spectrum, skillfully evading the usual acrimony and hostility that typically characterizes relationships between opposing parties.

At the outset of 2023, Jokate assumed the role of District Commissioner for Korogwe in January, holding the position until October when she transitioned to party administration as the Secretary General of CCM’s women wing (UWT). 

READ MORE: Times Have Changed, And So Must CCM

Renowned for her significant presence on social media platforms, I am eager to witness her adept navigation of the intricate political terrain within her new role.

Tundu Lissu

Tundu Lissu has continued to be CHADEMA’s firebrand, usually seeming to be on opposite ends with his party chairman. I remember in 2020 Tundu Lissu was number two in my unofficial list of politicians from that year. 

However I feel his impact this year has been lessed. Some of it has to do with the fact that due to medical reasons he has to leave the country from time to time but some of it is because political events have given rise to other firebrands even though he remains the most significant one.

As CHADEMA approaches its internal elections and the nation gears up for local elections in 2024, I foresee Tundu Lissu playing a more prominent role in the coming year. 

It remains intriguing to observe whether Lissu will endeavor to maintain his position as the deputy chairman of Chadema or potentially vie for the chairmanship itself. Regardless of his decision, I anticipate that Lissu will make a notable impact and generate significant attention in the year 2024.

Othman Masoud Othman

Othman Masoud Othman currently serves as the First Vice President of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in Zanzibar and holds the position of deputy chairman within ACT Wazalendo. 

READ MORE: Muungano: A Much-Needed Renewal of Vows

Vice President Masoud assumed significant roles following the passing of the esteemed Maalim Seif Sharrif Hamad in Zanzibar. 

Although it is undeniable that he differs from the late Seif Sharrif Hamad, Vice President Masoud has unmistakably found his own voice and charted a distinct path, carving his unique trajectory.

Vice President Othman has frequently voiced criticism against the Zanzibari government and CCM, often issuing warnings that ACT Wazalendo might consider exiting the Government of National Unity (GNU) if their stipulated demands are not met. 

He has emerged as a notable advocate in Zanzibar, diligently highlighting the distinctions between CCM and ACT Wazalendo, despite their collaborative role within the government. 

It is my anticipation that Othman intends to contest the Zanzibar presidency in 2025 under the ACT Wazalendo banner, thereby indicating that his influence and vocal presence will likely continue to amplify in the forthcoming year.

January Makamba

I must acknowledge my inherent bias. As a graduate in international relations, my profound appreciation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs diverges from the perception held by the general public, for whom the ministry’s importance may appear minimal or inconsequential. 

That’s why I felt enthusiastic when Makamba transitioned from the Ministry of Energy to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His exceptional academic background, professional experience, and personal demeanor render him exceptionally suited for this role.

READ MORE: Tanzania’s Envoys Must Deliver. Here Are Some Tips to Ensure Efficiency

Upon assuming his position at the ministry, Makamba implemented notable reforms, such as establishing the Directorate of International Trade and Economic Diplomacy. 

His numerous international visits have been focused on enhancing trade relations, and notably, he has succeeded in amplifying the visibility of diplomacy for those who observe it casually, which holds particular significance for me.

Queen Sendiga

Queen Sendiga is a recent addition to my list. Serving as the regional commissioner for Manyara, her inclusion stems from my admiration for her handling of the mudslide disaster in Kateshi, Hanang district within the Manyara region. 

READ MORE: Hanang Disaster: Survival Stories, “I thought the floods had affected the entire world”

Her composed and understated management of the crisis, without excessive publicity, was a commendable display of efficient execution, a rarity in our current era of amplified social media presence.

I anticipate that her impact in 2024 may not resonate prominently at the national level, as the duties of regional commissioners typically do not extend to broader national recognition. However, she remains an emerging politician worth observing closely as we progress toward the 2025 timeline.

Honorable Mentions

Some names that did not make my top ten list but are politicians I followed extensively during 2023 include; Hussein Bashe, John Mnyika and Ismail Jussa.

Thomas Joel Kibwana is an international relations and business development expert. He can be reached at or on X (Twitter) as @thomasjkibwana. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chanzo. If you are interested in publishing in this space, please contact our editors at

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