Welcome her, but Samiphilia isn’t carrying candies for you!

Wednesday April 14 2021
Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu Hassan. PHOTO | NMG


The national psychology seems to have changed, the language — both vocal and body — is already differently moderated and the government bureaucrats are marching to a brand new rhythm. One gets the same vibe one would have expected if a new political party had taken over, or even if there had been a coup d’etat.

Hardly a month after President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli passed away in office, he is being effectively replaced, and may soon belong firmly in the past. Samia Suluhu Hassan is in the driving seat, and this vehicle will move at her speed.

The first public statements she’s made have given hope to those who had been groaning under the heavy hand of Magufuli.

Almost overnight, after her takeover and after just a few of her statements at JPM’s funeral services, many people have taken to social media to express a new optimism with her arrival.

Pro-democracy voices, media advocacy campaigners, and other civil society individuals have all been almost unanimous in heralding her as some kind of saviour. It is too easy to be seduced by Samiphilia.

But this could be very wrong; it is still early days and patience and caution are counselled at this point in time, simply because we have been here already before.


Every time a new president arrives in the midst of our fatigued psyches, we have sung our hallelujahs and forgotten our jeremiads of only a few weeks ago.

It is in this way we have been able to discern a messiah in Ali Hassan Mwinyi (1985); Benjamin Mkapa (1995); Jakaya Kikwete (2005) and Magufuli (2015).

It is fair to accept that each one of them has had a more or less positive role to play in at least keeping this nation together, but also that there was nothing messianic about any one of them.

They have all been workaday managers handling the affairs of the nation, sometimes well, sometimes not so well. This is natural, if you ask me, because all too often the masses dream of an angelic figure who will ride into town covered in blinding light, slay all the local evil spirits, set the people free and usher in a period of unblemished peace, prosperity and happiness.

That does not exist, nay, has never existed. Whatever peace, prosperity and happiness the people dream of having they have to work for.

The task of realising their hopes is theirs, and they cannot outsource it to some president at the head of a bunch of bureaucrats and hope to have an easy ride to their Nirvana.

The ruling CCM party is evidently a broad church, bringing together people of such varied temperamental dispositions as Magufuli and Samia. They will differ in the way they say and do things, but that is a question of style, and little else.

Their basic mission is to maintain state power, and to use it, as Bashiru Ally lucidly said recently, to perpetuate themselves in power. If in the process of trying to remain in power they cause people to suffer, or even die, that will be considered collateral damage.

Even Samia understands this, because last October she was a fully paid participant in a game we all know something about.

She should not be credited with benevolence, because that is not what Bashiru was teaching us the other day. She is going to carry on with the CCM creed of keeping power at any cost. Any concessions she and her party make will have to be prized out of the system through arduous and unrelenting struggle.

To want to succeed any other way is not only delusional but also dishonest. It is the desire to cheat and reap where one did not sow.

The favourable state in which we, our children and their children can hope to live must be based on the hard, thoughtful, principled work we are prepared to engage in to make sure all our people have a place at the decision-making table around which the future of the nation will be debated.

Don’t seek to make us outsource our problems to our rulers. They will do a Bashiru on us unless we take our own future in our own hands.

We have seen this past week what has been happening under Magufuli for the last five years during which those who want to believe — rather than to know — held the faith that there was a war against graft going on, and that we were winning. Fiddlesticks!

Now, the controller and auditor general, a Magufuli appointee, tells us a totally different story, and, with time, more revelations are bound to come out in gushes and torrents.

That we have been lied to all along is not in doubt. What one wants to know at this point is what our capacity is to learn the lessons we need to learn.

Unless, of course, we refuse to learn and prefer to live forever in the Panglossian world that our rulers will continue telling us that our village is the best village in the best of all possible worlds.

Jenerali Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: [email protected]