YEAR ENDER: 2023 leaves mark in Tanzania democracy

  • Samia becomes first ever sitting president to grace main opposition party’s meeting

PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan engraved her name in the history books this year by becoming the first leader to attend an opposition party’s event since the introduction of the multiparty system.

This momentous occasion was President Samia’s decision to attend the Chadema’s Women Wing (BAWACHA) International Women’s Day gathering in March.

The president’s gesture can be seen as an olive branch extended to the opposition, which has long been overshadowed by the ruling party.

It was also her clear intention to realise her self-crafted 4Rs philosophy (Reconciliation, Resilience, Reform and Rebuild), which she has repeatedly touted as impressive pillars for multiparty democracy and economic prosperity.

As she had once stated, reconciliation was key to building a society that enjoys equal rights before the law without discrimination and provides equal economic opportunities for all.

When addressing the gathering, President Samia urged all politicians to avoid divisive, dirty politics and instead embrace political pluralism.

She reminded the main opposition group that politics was a thought-engaging platform, where those involved criticise each other with the ultimate goal of gaining power.

She urged politicians to safeguard peace, noting that the society was witnessing an unprecedented moral decay, which was tarnishing the country’s image.

This historic moment of the President from the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi gracing the opposition party’s event moved the country’s political pundits, who reacted with different emotions.

According to them, the incident has publicised Tanzania’s strength of its internal mechanisms in dealing with its own issues without facing any interference.

A Lecturer at the University of Dodoma, Dr Paul Loisulie viewed that the gesture which was shown by Tanzania was very unique, noting that many African countries have failed on this aspect.

Dr Loisulie said what was needed from the top leadership was exerting political will as demonstrated by President Samia.

“The incident is going to develop a crucial model on how Tanzania can offset challenges and perform politics,” said Dr Loisulie.

For his part, a seasoned  Political Scientist from the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Richard Mbunda revealed that President Samia as a strong contender of multilateralism has always been walking her talk through the 4Rs.

“With her 4Rs philosophy, Tanzania is creating a new norm in the political arena by embarking on productive politics and changes has attributed in her principle,” he noted.

An Adjunct Professor Verdiana Masanja from Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) said that President Samia’s decision to attend the BAWACHA event was an illustration of her determination to promote reconciliation and strengthen democracy in the country.

“This is a huge milestone in the country’s politics and the regional bloc at large,” said Prof Masanja.

She said President Samia had made it clear that she is up for reconciliation, thus what she did was the fulfillment of her 4Rs philosophy.

“We cannot say our country is peaceful if we can’t reconcile, thus the president should be commended for such a huge milestone,” Prof Masanja said.

Former Executive Director for Legal and Human Rights Centre Ms Hellen Kijo- Bisimba, said President Samia showed a big difference on how women and men can do things.

“Our country has been led by five male presidents but such a thing never happened… multiparty democracy was introduced during the third phase government but the opposition parties were considered as enemies,” she said

She said such consideration was wrong because even the country’s constitution recognises the multiparty democracy.

“I commend the president because she has left a mark in the country’s politics …although there are some people who are questioning the future of opposition parties in the country, but that is not the case because the Head of State has said that she wants to build the nation by uniting people.”

Chairperson for Women Muslim Forum of the Muslim Council of Tanzania Ms Shamim Khan said what President Samia did was a democratic act because she is the leader of all Tanzanians regardless of their different ideologies.

“She is a super woman because she has unique leadership talent, thinks of the future of our nation and is well conversant with what democracy is,” Ms Khan said.

The discontent only intensified when President Samia assumed office. However, her calculated decision to attend the BAWACHA event spoke volumes. It was a deliberate move, signalling, “I share your concerns, and as the head of state, I am intervening to preserve our unity.”

This prudence in recognising the importance of national healing became evident.

Commenting, a Lecturer with Tumaini University Dar es Salaam College (TURDACO), Ms Rachael Yusuph also maintained that the gesture by the President reflected strong political maturity in building the nation.

She noted that people envisioned a true democracy which focuses on many Tanzanians, therefore parties should work harder in bringing about policies which are beneficial to the country.

Former Legal and Human Rights Centre Director, Dr Hellen Kijo, provided a historical perspective, noting that opposition was once considered enmity and devilish in previous regimes.

She commended President Samia’s willingness to engage with the opposition, considering it a significant positive shift.

Development partners such as the U.S and the international communities also noticed Samia’s efforts and noded in seconding her promising determination and philosophy with good intentions.

U.S Ambassador Michael Battle praised President Samia’s gesture as exemplary of matured democracy, emphasising the importance of such events in settling political scores amicably.

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