Can Tanzania’s new leader get a grip on Covid?

Samia Suluhu Hassan, 61, was sworn in as Tanzania’s new president on Friday, making her Africa’s only current head of government who’s a woman AND the first ever Muslim woman president on the continent. 

This comes after the death of controversial President John Magufuli. He was nicknamed “the bulldozer” – initially because he was passionate about creating a great road network for Tanzania and for his firm anti-corruption stance, but later for his bulldozing of media, civil society and opposition politicians 😕. 

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But who is Hassan, and will she do a better job than her predecessor?

Often described as soft spoken, Hassan is anything but a timid leader. She was Magufuli’s deputy; a veteran politician who cut her teeth in local politics in her hometown of Zanzibar – a semi-autonomous region in Tanzania. 🇹🇿

The key test of Hassan’s leadership will be her response to the Covid-19 pandemic, especially given Magufuli’s scepticism and inaction on this front. Ironically, he is widely thought to have died from Covid-related complications, though that’s not the official line. Hassan did not wear a mask at her swearing-in – just days after thousands of people also shirked masks at Magufuli’s funeral. It doesn’t bode well. We hope she gets the memo from other women leaders who have rocked their handling of Covid-19, as we previously reported. If she can clean up her country’s handling of the pandemic and civil liberties, she’s a president we can get behind. 

Read out full profile on Hassan here.