The six presidents of Tanzania

Tanzania's new President Samia Suluhu Hassan takes oath of office following the death of her predecessor John Pombe Magufuli at State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania March 19, 2021. [REUTERS/Stringer]

Samia Suluhu Hassan has just been sworn in as the sixth President of Tanzania.

She takes over from John Magufuli, who succumbed to heart failure on March 17 becoming the East African nation’s first female president.

Here’s a quick look at Tanzania’s six heads of state:

1. Julius Nyerere (1964-1985)

Tanzania’s first President Julius Kambarage Nyerere was born on April 13, 1922 and studied at Makerere College in Uganda before Edinburgh University in Scotland.

President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania when he pardoned 4436 prisoners at the 16th anniversary of Tanzania, 1979 [Courtesy]

He is a founding member of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) party, which was renamed Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in 1977.

In 1960, he led TANU to victory in the general election and served as Prime Minister. Following negotiations with British authorities, Tanganyika got independence in 1961. In 1962, Tanganyika became a republic - Nyerere elected its first president.

Nyerere encouraged the formation of a One-Party-State.

He died on October 14, 1999.

2. Ali Hassan Mwinyi (1985-1995)

Mwinyi was born on May 8, 1925 in Kivure, Tanzania and served as the country’s second president.

East African Community observation led by Former Tanzanian President Ali Hassan Mwinyi leave after addressing a press conference at Sheraton Hotel in Uganda on Saturday 20/02/16 On the their findings of the Uganda 2016 General Election. [PHOTO: BONIFACE OKENDO]

He has served as the country’s Interior Minister and also as Vice President. He was also chair or Chama Cha Mapinduzi from 1990 to 1996. 

During Mwinyi's terms Tanzania took made huge moves in reversing socialist policies of imposed by former President Julius Nyerere. He encouraged private enterprises and relaxed restrictions on importations.

3. Benjamin Mkapa (1995-2005)

Benjamin William Mkapa was born on November 12, 1938 and served as Tanzania’s third president.

Mkapa graduated from Makerere University in Uganda in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts in English.

Tanzania's former President Benjamin Mkapa (R) speaks with Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Karti during a meeting in Khartoum October 11, 2010. [REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo]

He then studied at the Columbia University in 1963, earning a master's degree in International Affairs.

He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs twice: Between 1977 and 1980 and again between 1984 and 1990.

He was elected President in 1995 while chairman of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party after his strong anti-corruption campaigns. Mkapa’s presidency represents the first phase of Tanzanian multi-party democracy.

He died July 23, 2020 at the age of 81 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where he had been receiving medical treatment.

4. Jakaya Kikwete (2005-2015)

Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete was born at Msoga in the Bagamoyo district of Tanganyika in 1950.

Former President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete makes his speech during a state funeral service for Former President Daniel Arap Moi at Nyayo national stadium on February 11, 2020. [Photo/Stafford Ondego/Standard]

Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete was born on October 7th 1950 and was the fourth President of Tanzania. He served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs between 1995 and 2005.

He was chairperson of the African Union (AU) from 2008–2009 and the chairman of the Southern African Development Community Troika on Peace, Defence and Security between 2012 and 2013.

Under President Benjamin Mkapa, Kikwete became one of the youngest finance ministers in the history of Tanzania. He served for the longest period as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (10 years).

He was elected President of Tanzania in 2005.

5. John Pombe Magufuli (2015-2021)

He was born October 29, 1959 in Chato District, Kagera (Geita) Province March 17, 2020.

Tanzania's President John Magufuli speaks during the inauguration of John Kijazi interchange bridge at Ubungo in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania February 24, 2021. Picture taken February 24, 2021. [REUTERS/Emmanuel Herman]

Until his death on March 17, 2021 due to a heart failure, Magufuli served as Tanzania’s fifth president for seven years.

He was first elected MP in 1995, serving as deputy minister in Works ministry.

He then became Minister of Works from 2000 to 2005, Minister of Lands and Human Settlement from 2006 to 2008, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries from 2008 to 2010, and as Minister of Works again 2010 to 2015.

He won the presidential election in October 2015 running under the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) ticket.

Before his death, Magufuli was controversial for his approach towards dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic in his country. 

He got his nickname “Bulldozer” for his methods in implementing policies in his country.

Magufuli is a former school teacher and industrial chemist. He holds a diploma in Education Science (Chemistry, Mathematics and Mathematics) from Mkwawa College of Education, a degree in Chemistry and Mathematics from the Dar es Salaam University, a master’s degree from the University of Salford in the UK and a PHD in Chemistry from Dar es Salaam University.

6. Samia Suluhu Hassan (2021…)

Suluhu first joined active politics in 2000 when she was elected as a member of the Zanzibar House of Representatives for a special seat.

She was again elected to the National Assembly in a landslide win in 2010 as the MP representing Makunduchi Constituency, marking her entry into national electoral politics.

In 2014, former President Jakaya Kikwete appointed her Minister of State in the Vice-President's Office for Union Affairs.

She was also elected the Vice-chairperson for the Constitutional Assembly in the same year– the body tasked with drafting the country’s new constitution.

In July 2015, the presidential candidate of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, Magufuli, chose her as his running mate ahead of the country’s 2015 General Elections

The Magufuli-Suluhu ticket won the election, making her the first female vice-president in the region since Uganda’s Specioza Naigaga Wandira, who was in office from 1994 to 2003.

Tanzania is observing 14 days of mourning following Magufuli’s death on Wednesday. Flags will fly at half-mast to honor the fallen leader.