Samia: Why I chose a participatory approach signified by 4R’s initiative

President Samia Suluhu Hassan during her fireside chat with Mwananchi Communications Limited managing director Bakari Machumu at The Citizen Rising Woman Gala held on International Women’s Day in Dar es Salaam last Friday. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • The Head of State said she had to look for an appropriate unification approach following mounting calls from various stakeholders, including opposition parties, civil society organisations and development partners, among others.

Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan has revealed her choice for a participatory philosophy through 4R’s (Reconciliation, resilience, reforms, and rebuilding), saying she aims at unifying the nation.

President Hassan, who will next week mark three years in office, shared the secret behind this decision during The Citizen Rising Woman dinner gala in Dar es Salaam last Friday.

She was speaking during the fireside chat with Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) managing director Bakari Machumu as the country joined the rest of the world in marking International Women’s Day (IWD).

President Samia at The Citizen Rising Woman 2024

President Hassan assumed office on March 19, 2021, following the sudden death in office of her predecessor, Dr John Magufuli.

Speaking during the event, the Head of State said she had to look for an appropriate unification approach following mounting calls from various stakeholders, including opposition parties, civil society organisations and development partners, among others. “I had to think of reconciliation, whose application has enabled the government to meet and talk with political stakeholders and opposition political parties. It has enabled us to form a committee to evaluate the country’s political situation,” she said.

She said resilience aimed at introducing a culture of tolerating each other whenever there are differences, engaging in dialogue, and coming up with a way forward.

Furthermore, she said reforms aimed to address the need for change to meet intended goals and agreements, attributing recent amendments of laws and administrative changes to the presence of reforms in her approach.

According to her, reforms are not limited to the government and politics; rather, they need to reach people in different corners of the country to engage in the efficient rebuilding of the country.

The head of state said the 4R’s has enabled her to engage the majority of Tanzanians in making decisions on various issues about the country.

“I have the mandate and powers to lock myself up and decide on my own. But, as I have been saying, nobody has a warrant for owning this country. We all belong to this country, and we are supposed to participate in the country’s decision-making,” she said.

“A participatory approach was needed in the country’s decision-making to share future outcomes, whether positive or negative. A participatory approach is what I have opted for in running the country,” she added.

She thanked Tanzanians for properly receiving the philosophy, including political parties that have engaged in talks and agreed on certain issues, and that where they didn’t agree, they have opted to tolerate each other.

President Hassan said the right to organize political activities, including peaceful demonstrations, has been reinstated following growing demands, and demonstrators are now escorted by law enforcers to their final destinations.

“Tanzanians from different walks of life, including political parties, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, and development stakeholders, have been peacefully gathering to mark different national festivities, something that wasn’t the case in the past,” she said.

The approach led to different changes, including the return of Chadema Vice Chairman Tundu Lissu to the country from Belgium, where he had been living in exile after surviving an assassination attempt during the Magufuli reign in September 2017.

Political players from the ruling CCM, opposition parties, and other experts convened a meeting under the coordination of the Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD) aimed at reshaping the country’s multiparty democracy.

Last year, President Hassan attended the IWD commemorations organized by Chadema’s women's wing, Bawacha, and she launched the commission to view the public bodies responsible for dispensing criminal justice in Tanzania and improve the justice system in the country.

Also, several bills related to elections were tabled for the first time in Parliament, including the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Bill, the President, Parliamentarians, and Councillors Bill, as well as the Political Parties Affairs Bill.

The three bills were deliberated in the January 2024 parliamentary sessions before being assented into law in the government’s move to reshape the country’s political and electoral landscape.

A political science and public administration lecturer at the University of Dodoma (Udom), Dr Paul Loisulie, said the 4R’s approach has significantly contributed to strengthening the country’s democracy.

“Reconciliation, resilience, reforms, and rebuilding will remain the legacy of President Hassan. The only thing the president is now supposed to do is build the capacity of CCM leaders so they can get used to criticism and counter-arguing politics,” he said.

“Once they are used to the two, issues of the new constitutional, legal reforms, and independent electoral commission will easily be adopted in Tanzania,” he added.

CUF deputy secretary general, Magdalena Sakaya, credited President Hassan for lifting the ban on political activities as well as promising to ensure future elections were free, fair, and credible.

“However, organized by-elections have shocked us because past malpractices have been witnessed. Nothing has also been done in the reinstatement of the country’s new constitution writing process,” he said.

Three years down the line, Ms Sakaya said President Hassan’s administration was still struggling to instill accountability, suggesting that corruption should be seriously addressed as well as the deficiency of key commodities such as sugar.

“Draconian laws hindering the independence of the press should be addressed as they prohibit the country’s democratization. Unfortunately, Parliament has endorsed a law introducing pension payments to the spouses of senior government leaders, which is nothing more than increasing the burden on the shoulders of taxpayers,” she said.

She challenged the decision to approve the payment of 80 percent of the spouse's retiring salary because the family was equally enjoying the benefits payable to the retired leader.

An independent political commentator, Mr Buberwa Kaiza, said most of the decisions made by President Hassan were inflicted by external pressure, referring to the lifting of the ban on political activities as an example.

“To show her seriousness in bringing about changes in the country, the president is not supposed to delay the reinstatement of the new constitution-writing process,” he said.

The Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) secretary general, Fr Dr Charles Kitima, said after three years of office, President Hassan is challenged with the need to ensure that parliament and councils have enough members of the opposition who will help her government in the area of checks and balance.

“Reinstating the shape of pluralism in the two areas will give her respect. Also, the 4R’s will be efficient and effective if there are implementation strategies known at all levels instead of being executed based on daily happenings,” he said.

“They could have been included in the country’s development plans or development visions where everything could be seen at all levels,” he added.

ACT-Wazalendo Secretary General Ado Shaibu commended President Hassan’s decision to restore a reconciliation tradition, ending the labeling of opposition political parties as traits, and respecting the right of opposition political parties to carry out their activities.

“President Hassan is supposed to further democratize the country by shifting the supervision of civic polls to the national electoral commission instead of the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PORALG), reform all draconian laws, and provide a clear roadmap to the revival of the new constitution writing process.

For his part, the CCM secretary of ideology and publicity (Zanzibar), Mr Khamis Mbeto Khamis said that to democratize the country, President Hassan has followed judicial procedures to do away with numerous cases facing opposition firebrands.

“She ensured debts opposition leaders owed in various state pillars, such as Parliament, were paid and involved stakeholders in the reformation of the law and electoral systems,” he said.

Mr Mbeto said that in the three years of her administration, President Hassan has broadened and widened the political system and its subsequent playfield through the lifting of the ban imposed by her predecessor.

He said the Head of State has ended incidents of human violations such as kidnappings and mysterious missing people, as reported in past incidents.

Regarding the new constitution writing process and amendment of draconian laws, Mr Mbeto said that after recommendations have been submitted to the government, the country should expect the document, even though it will not occur overnight.

“CCM will emerge victorious in the forthcoming elections because of the development that the government has given to citizens in the areas of health, education, water, agriculture, creating a conducive business environment, and investment attractions,” he said.