Tanzania President Cancels Independence Day Celebration, Orders Funds to Help Needy Children Instead

by Xara Aziz
Voiced by Amazon Polly

In an unexpected turn of events, Tanzania’s president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has canceled Friday’s much-anticipated Independence Day celebrations and has ordered that the funds be used to build housing for children with special needs.

The East African country’s 61st Independence Day event was set to cost almost $500,000. On Monday, Tanzania’s minister of state, George Simbachawene, said the funds had been expended and told the country’s citizens that instead of the high-profile event filled with pomp and circumstance, the country would celebrate the anniversary of its independence by engaging in public dialogues on development.

This is not the first time the country has canceled Independence Day celebrations. In 2015, then-President John Magufuli ordered that the celebrations be halted and instead, disburse the funds to build a road in the country’s capital, Dar es Salaam.

He made the sweeping move again five years later when he directed that the money be used to purchase medical facilities.

President Hassan is Tanzania’s first female president and is one of only two female heads of state in Africa. She has sparked controversy in the past when she ordered “big-bellied policemen to lose weight to be more effective at work,” according to the Associated Press.

She is also a staunch advocate of family planning and is against the use of contraceptives.

Born in 1960, President Hassan was a member of the ruling social-democrat Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) before becoming president in March 2021.  The politician is the third female head of government of an East African Community (EAC) country and was sworn in as president after her predecessor, President Magufuli, died from Covid-19.

“I must say that I’m excited about the prospects of promoting further trade and investment ties of mutual — for mutual benefits.  And in — cognizant of that, we need to create an — an ease of doing business,” said President Hassan during a trip to Washington in April. “And my government, in close collaboration with the private sector, has put in place better conditions and favorable environment for the private sector to thrive.”

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