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Fashion & Planes: How Suluhu Differs From Magufuli

  • Tanzania President Samia Suluhu’s tour to Kenya gave an insight into her itinerary details – from her entourage and fashion – sparking similarities and differences with her predecessor John Pombe Magufuli. 

    Suluhu’s similarity with Magufuli is the preference for the state’s national airline, Air Tanzania as opposed to other presidents who purchase expensive jets. 

    Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta enjoys the luxurious Fokker 70 ER executive jet which was estimated to have cost over Ksh2 billion. 

    The late Magufuli, in 2016, assured Tanzanias that he would revive the country’s airline which was incurring losses. He purchased an Airbus a220 in addition to Boeing and Bombardier planes. 

    The fallen Tanzanian strongman often travelled in the economy class as part of cost-cutting measures. 

    President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) receives Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu (left) at State House, Nairobi on Tuesday, May 4, 2021

    Suluhu arrived in Kenya via the Airbus a220 thus promoting Tanzania’s airline as wished by Magufuli who was centered on raising the country’s tourism profile. 

    The current president’s fashion trend, however, stood out. From the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to State House, Nairobi, Suluhu wore three different outfits, maroon, brown and grey. 

    She was also accompanied by her media team and stylists and more than three aide bodyguards alongside an aide de camp. In his Kenyan tour in 2016, Magufuli was accorded presidential aides from State House to accompany his aide de camp. 

    The two also have a different perspective on the Covid-19 pandemic. Magufuli was adamant that the crisis was non-existent in Tanzania and opposed data collection and scientific approaches to curbing the pandemic. These are wearing masks, washing hands, sanitising and social distancing.  

    However, Suluhu has challenged Covid-19 denial by forming a committee of experts to advise her on the status of Covid-19 in Tanzania. She has even worn masks when visiting Kenya and Uganda. 

    “Let me promise that I will frequently provide new updates on the disease from the committee in order to save the country from losing significant manpower and protect those in danger of contracting the disease,” Suluhu pledged. 

    Her tour to Kenya was seen as a way of enhancing diplomatic ties between the two countries that were at loggerheads under Magufuli’s reign. From border rows to Covid-19 approaches to trade disputes. 

    Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan alights from Air Tanzania at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi on Tuesday, May 4, 2021

    “As you are aware in the current world, relations between nations are based on economics. All other issues will naturally fall in place because of our blood relations but economically we need to lay down sound policies to build strong economies,” she stated on May 5, 2021, adding that she would strive to cement a historical friendship between the two countries. 

    The two countries signed a Ksh100 billion deal at State House, Nairobi that will see Tanzania construct a gas pipeline from Dar es Salaam to Mombasa. 

    Suluhu has also been praised for working towards promoting media freedom in Tanzania after years of the press being subjected to penalties, suspensions, and shutdowns for criticising the government. 

    She has also embraced foreign travel as a part of her diplomatic policy. She made her first foreign visit to Uganda three weeks after being sworn in with Kenya being her second stop – less than two months since taking power. 

    Magufuli was notorious for avoiding foreign travel and did not make any foreign visits in the first five months of his presidency. 

    Nonetheless, Suluhu has reiterated that she would complete a majority of Magufuli’s agenda and warned Tanzanian politicians from comparing her with her predecessor.

    “It is rather bizarre that something that is trending on social media is what now guides the debate in parliament. We are supposed to be discussing and passing the government budgets…Let’s work the way parliament is supposed to,” she urged. 

    President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Tanzania President Pombe Magufuli (right) enjoy a light moment after the former visited the later in Tanzania in July 2019
    President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Tanzania President Pombe Magufuli (right) enjoy a light moment after the former visited the later in Tanzania in July 2019
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