New Tanzanian president in policy shift

07 Apr, 2021 - 00:04 0 Views
New Tanzanian president in policy shift President Samia Suluhu Hassan

The Herald

DAR ES SALAAM. – Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan has said it is “not proper to ignore” the coronavirus pandemic, in comments suggesting a shift from her predecessor.

Hassan said she would create an expert coronavirus task force to advise her government, saying they would canvass global opinion on the pandemic and make recommendations about “remedies” and policies.

“It is not proper to ignore it. We cannot reject or accept it without any evidence from research,” Hassan told newly appointed permanent secretaries at a swearing-in ceremony in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

“They [experts] will tell us more about the pandemic, and advise us about what the world is proposing. We cannot accept everything as it comes, but we also cannot isolate ourselves as an island while the world is moving in a different direction.”

Hassan became Tanzania’s first female president last month following the death of John Magufuli.

Hassan has said her administration’s response to the pandemic will be science-based, and indicated that it may resume publishing infection data..

Tanzania has not reported coronavirus data since May last year. The World Health Organization repeatedly urged the government to be more transparent.

Hassan has vowed to “start where Magufuli ended” and all eyes have been on potential changes to the country’s policies and openness regarding Covid-19.

“We cannot be reading about Covid-19 in the world and when you reach sections about Tanzania, one find[s] gaps. I think we need to be clearer whether we accept or not,” she said.

In another policy announcement, Hassan ordered that officials “free” media outlets banned by her predecessor.

“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 guidelines,” she said.

“We should not give any room to say that we are suppressing media freedom. Our regulations should also be clear for every offence and their punishment. We should not use force to ban media platforms.”

Last year Tanzania’s Daima newspaper was indefinitely banned, while broadcaster Wasafi TV and online network Kwanza TV were handed suspensions.

She said by lifting the bans on some media outlets, the world will no longer regard Tanzania as a country that launches unnecessary attacks on press freedom.

“But make sure that whoever is given a go ahead to operate a media company does follow the law of the country.” 

Tanzania was long seen as a haven of stability and democracy in an otherwise volatile region.

Hassan also tasked newly appointed Foreign Affairs Minister Liberata Mulamula to improve Tanzania’s relations with the international community. 

“We don’t want to go alone,” Hassan told Mulamula.

The president further instructed her officials to settle a tax dispute with Barrick Gold Corp, and cut red tape to speed up the development of nickel and helium projects by foreign investors.

“I want challenges on taxes and other issues with Barrick and other mining joint venture partners to be quickly resolved.

“Let’s not reach a point where we start to flex our muscles against investors.”

Opposition leaders welcomed Hassan’s speech, with the leader of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party Zitto Kabwe saying that she had kindled renewed hope for justice, the “creation of an enabling environment for investors and a new focus on reviving economic activities’.

“Respect to Samia Suluhu Hassan,” Kabwe said in a Twitter posting. – Al Jazeera/Bloomberg.

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