Following the announcement of the death of Tanzania’s President, John Magufuli, all eyes are now on vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan and the decision of Tanzania’s ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi.
There are rumors within government circles which suggests much reluctance among elements of the party stalling the constitutional take over as president by the Vice President.
Prime minister Kassim Majaliwa had earlier told Tanzanians to ignore rumours about Magufuli’s health. His comments came at a time when many were urging the government to issue an official comment on Magufuli, who has not recently been seen in public.
Short of that, many were urging the government to follow the constitutional provisions to replace him should Magufuli prove unable to resume his presidential duties.
Article 37 (2) states that when the cabinet finds that the president is unable to discharge the functions of his office by reason of physical or mental infirmity, it may submit to the chief justice a resolution requesting him to certify the president’s incapacity.
Upon receiving such a resolution, the chief justice must then appoint a medical board of no less than three people who are experts recognised as such by the law governing medical practitioners in Tanzania. This board is then tasked with making a determination and advising the chief justice accordingly.
The chief justice must then present the medical findings to the house speaker through a certificate that verifies the president is unable to perform his/her duties. At that point, it would be deemed that the president’s post is vacant and the vice-president would become president.
According to the Tanzania Constitution; “Where the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death, then the Vice-President shall be sworn in and become the President for the unexpired period of the term of five years.”
After consultation with the political party to which she belongs, Suluhu shall then propose the name of the person who shall be Vice-President.Thereafter, the National Assembly will confirm the appointment by votes of not less than fifty per cent of all the Members of Parliament.
Suluhu will lead for the remainder of late Magufuli’s five-year team which he began November last year until 2025.
One ruling party official who asked not to be named, a member of parliament serving his first term and representing the southern part of Tanzania, says it is up to the ruling party to decide the future of the country: “Even if the vice-president is not popular within party factions, the constitution is clear. Regardless if some factions agree or not, the constitution matters. The transition process must take place.”
The ruling CCM has a long history of infighting, but this situation has a new twist, says a political analyst based in Dodoma.: “For a long time religious affiliation played a part within CCM politics. All factions needed to come together in order to maintain party stability. I hope CCM members will remember this because even Magufuli himself was not popular until he was elected as flag bearer.”
61-year-old vice-president Hassan is from the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, which is about 99% Muslim.
She has been vice-president since 2015. Prior to that, she was a minister of state under the vice-president’s office. Hassan also served in the government of Zanzibar in different capacities.
She is not popular across the CCM’s different factions. According to a Tanzanian political analyst, hardline Magufuli supporters and Christian nationalists oppose her replacing him. Tanzania has never had a president who is from Zanzibar, which has experienced several contested elections in recent years.
Parts of this article was syndicated from the African Report