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Who is Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan?

RUNNING MATES: Magufuli and Samia | FILE PHOTO 2015

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania | THE INDEPENDENT | Reports that Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli has been flown abroad for treatment are surprising, because left on his own, he rarely travels outside the country’s borders. What that means is that his Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been the most noticeable figure, representing Tanzania, at all international meetings in the past five years.

Magufuli ‘The bulldozer’ has made only eight visits abroad since he was elected Tanzania president in 2015. He rarely travels far, reportedly for health reasons, and has only visited Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Uganda (twice) since he became president.

That means, Samia Suluhu Hassan is the face that everyone is familiar with,  representing Tanzania at all the UN, African Union, SADC and East African Community meetings held outside their country.

In fact, two weeks back at the virtual East African Heads of State Summit, Magufuli appeared at the introduction only and left Samia to participate in the rest of the discussion. It turns out that was the last time he was seen in public.

Who is Samia Suluhu Hassan? 

According to the African community newspaper Mshale, “hers has been a slow and methodical rise to the top”. The result is that she is Tanzania’s first, and also the first female vice-president in the region since Uganda’s Specioza Naigaga Wandira Kazibwe 1994 to 2003.

Samia Suluhu Hassan, 61, is from Zanzibar is the 10th Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania who first assumed Office on 5th November 2015, under President Dr. John Pombe Magufuli. Previously, she was a Minister of State, Vice Presidents Office in charge of Union Affairs.

In 2005-2010 she served as a Minister for Tourism, trade and Investment in Zanzibar and in 2000-2005 a Minister of Youth Employment, Women and Children Development in Zanzibar.



Samia Suluhu Hassan received Primary Education in different schools including Chwaka Primary School in Unguja in 1966 to 1968, Ziwani Primary school in Pemba from 1970 to 1971 and Mahonda Primary School in Unguja in 1972, according to details on her biography on the Vice President’s website.

In 1973 to 1975  Samia joined Ngambo and Lumumba Secondary School in Unguja. After secondary education in 1977 she joined The Zanzibar Institute of Financial Administration (ZIFA) for Statistics studies.

After studies she was employed by the Ministry of Planning and Development. In 1986 she joined the Institute of Development Management- IDM (present Mzumbe University) in Morogoro for advanced studies in Public Administration.

After various studies in Tanzania  Samia joined the National Institute of Public Administration in Lahore, Pakistan. In 1991 she joined the Institute of Management for Leaders, Hyderabad in India for a Certificate Management Course.

After studies in 1992 she was employed in a Project funded by the World Food Programme (WFP) between. Samia attended the University of Manchester in London for graduate studies to persue Postgraduate Diploma in Economics. In 2004 -2005, she progressed to Masters Degree in Community Economic Development through a joint-programme between the Open University of Tanzania and the Southern New Hampshire University ,USA.

Her Political journey

In 2000 Samia was elected as a member of the Zanzibar House of Representative for special seat and appointed as Minister by President Amani Karume. She was the only high-ranking woman Minister in the Cabinet. In 2005 she was re-elected and appointed as a Minister in another portfolio.

In 2010, she sought election to the National Assembly, she won by more than 80% standing in the parliament representing Makunduchi constituency. In 2014 President of United Republic of Tanzania Dr. Jakaya Kikwete appointed her as a Minister of State for Union Matters. In the same year she was elected as the Vice Chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly tasked with drafting the country’s new constitution.

In 2014 Samia was elected the Vice Chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly tasked with drafting the country’s new constitution.

In July 2015, the Ruling Party (CCM) Presidential nomenee John Magufuli chose her as his running mate for the 2015 General election, making her the first female running mate in the party’s history.


Politically astute

According to the newspaper Mshale, “she has demonstrated a proclivity for continual learning. With all the political temperature building up as the election neared in 2015, she received an Masters in Science in Community Economic Development through a joint-program between the Open University of Tanzania and the Southern New Hampshire University.”

In her native Zanzibar, she was the only high ranking female in president Amani Abeid Karume’s cabinet.

Her entry into national electoral politics, explains Mshale, came relatively late by African standards.

“I have risen to this position as a result of my competence and not through favors,” she has repeatedly said.

She is married to Hafidh Ameir, tying the knot in 1978, a union that has been blessed by one daughter and three sons.Ameir is a retired agriculture officer and is currently a consultant. Their offspring are in careers ranging from business to information technology. The daughter is the only one to have followed in the mother’s footsteps. The daughter, Mwanu Hafidh Ameir, is a member of the Zanzibar House of Representatives.

“Will a woman rise to the presidency in any of the Eastern Africa countries? Only time will tell,” asks Mshale in their 2015 profile.

The constititution states that next in line, if anything happens to the President, is the Vice President.

The last time a woman ran a country in East Africa was in 1994, when Agathe Uwilingiyimanain served as Prime Minister of Rwanda (specifically from July 18 1993 until her death on April 7 1994).



  1. Why is the leader unnamed? And why dance around Magufuli with no proof that he’s in a hospital or something? Why are Tanzanian papers not talking about what Kenyan or Ugandan papers are writing about? Magufuli has been vilified for defying the West and setting their own local standards in fighting Covid 19. Sweden has done a similar thing. But no one even talks about that country. They have been left alone to do things their own way. But when it is an African country, then the leader’s sanity is even questioned with suggestions from the defeated opposition leader that he might even be seriously sick in order to gain some political ground as the spokesperson for that country. Now a Ugandan paper is taking it even higher, profiling a possible successor!

    • Well Im in Tanzania, I can answer a the question as to why no Tanzania media is reporting on this issue.

      Well the answer is simple we have strict laws that prohibit reporting on such matters without the permission of the government. Even asking the question where is the president could have grave consequences such as revocarion of broadcasting license, heavy fines, jail time, in some cases even death. No media house wants to cross the government by reporting some negative news. Officisly the president is missing and its non of our business to question his whereabouts…we just hope he’ll reappear in public and things will continue as they were.

  2. “The last time a woman ran a country in East Africa was in 1994, when Agathe Uwilingiyimanain served as Prime Minister of Rwanda (specifically from July 18 1993 until her death on April 7 1994).”

    This shows East Africans are sexists. The idea of having a woman at the helm scares them. Misogynists wake up to the fact that women might be stronger and more effective than men. Women may even live longer than men in a lot of circumstances. They are the pillars of society.

    In Uganda, just look at the people fighting a woman for the Speaker’s position.

    • Women emancipation should be viewed with positivity minds because this is what is called affirmative action. HE The President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Tibuhaburwa has always worked in fulfillment of this premise. The case in Tanzania is a fulfillment of this dream by a female taking the mantle of leading a country and to be in higher leadership positions across the globe. I would join all good loving Ugandans to disassociate ourselves from a team build to fight against the only able woman eying the speaker ship position of the 11th Ugandan Parliament. I am very confident HE Museveni will come positively as usual to mediate and positively advise NRM caucus in this situation. We should look at strengthening the party by fronting serious mobilizers. Women and Youth should be seen as cornerstones in building the future of NRM and Uganda. Any attempts to isolate and demean them is self-hanging. Politics should no be taken for granted but with serious considerations regardless. Their should be dialogue in all undertakings and this is true with political growth. The writer is a current NRM Vice Chairperson Kitagwenda District.

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