Tanzania’s new female president is fast gaining a no-nonsense reputation as a tough customer against graft, picking up from where her late predecessor John Pembe Magufuli has left off.
One of Samia Suluhu Hassan’s first major decisions since being sworn into office in March to complete the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term has been to wield the axe against those in her government suspected of corruption and the mismanagement of funds in state institutions.
Those who know her personally say her soft-spoken nature belies a tough interior.
In a speech late last month, the 61-year old Suluhu known affectionately as Mama, put this soft-spoken and gentle mien to one side and riled against corruption which in the opinion of many Tanzanians nibbled at the system despite Magufuli’s muscular stance against the practice.
She was receiving a damning report from the Controller and Auditor General’s office fingering draft in the Tanzania Ports Authority.
Soon after heads began to roll as Suluhu true to her words of reining in corruption wielded the axe.
One of the first to fall was TPA senior engineer Deusdedit Kakoko who was incriminated over the gross mismanagement of of the port’s finances.
Suluhu is reportedly very angry that expressed over KSh 160 million of the taxpayers’ money had gone missing from the port’s coffers, apparently unaccounted for.
A day after appointing Thobias Mwesiga as director-general of the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) on April 5th, she revoked his appointment.
Tanzania’s sixth and first female president also took swift action when an audit report on the Tourism ministry covering the 2019/2020 financial year suggested that TSh 34.98 billion allocated to the Tourism Development Levy Fund had been misused.
The director-general of the Tanzania Tourism Board (TTB), Devotha Mdachi has since been suspended, pending further investigations into her alleged role in the missing monies at the agency.
With these moves, perhaps President Samia Suluhu Hassan is already answering questions by observers on whether she was wearing Magufuli’s shoes and looking for new ones.
For all his traits, Magufuli was reputed as a fierce fighter of corruption. One analyst said like her predecessor, East Africa’s first female president “can’t be in the same room with the corrupt.”
If this is anything to go by, those in key positions in Tanzania under her watch may be bracing up for “long, sleepless nights”.
Already she is receiving approbation from the public. Backing her declared war on corruption, Lusho Ayi wrote: “Thumbs up Mama, show them that even a woman can run a corrupt-free nation.” Suzan O /APA