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Tanzania: Cautious optimism as President Suluhu Hassan signals new policies

By Abdul Halim, in Dar es Salaam
Posted on Thursday, 8 April 2021 20:44, updated on Monday, 12 April 2021 19:30

Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu Hassan attends the funeral service of former President John Magufuli in his home town of Chato, Tanzania Friday, March 26, 2021. (AP Photo)

Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been announcing some changes to policies imposed by her predecessor John Pombe Magufuli. Some Tanzanians are cautiously optimistic about a less combative style of politics. 

President Hassan took over in March when Magufuli died after weeks of speculation about his whereabouts. Magufuli revelled in his image a strongman leader who fought corruption, took on multinationals in the gold sector, crushed the opposition and silenced media outlets critical of the government.

Hassan had not held powerful policy-making positions before becoming president, so there is uncertainty about what direction she will take the country in. Initial signs indicate her administration will be more liberal and open than Magufuli’s; but she has yet to unveil a national roadmap or plans for her first 100 days in office.

But already, she has announced changes that have perked people’s interests.

Media freedoms

In a move hailed as a positive future for press freedom in the Swahili-speaking country, President Hassan ordered the information ministry to lift the ban on media outlets that were muzzled for criticising the former government.

The government had shut down several media houses such as Mawio, Mwanahalisi, Tanzania Daima and Mseto for publishing allegedly false information with the goal of harming national security.

Speaking at State House in Dar es Salaam, Hassan said that as long as the media respect the law and guidelines, they would be allowed to operate.

“I am told you revoked licenses of some media outlets, including some online television stations. You should lift the ban but tell them to follow the law and government’s guidelines,” the President told the information ministry.