Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan has cancelled Friday’s Independence Day celebrations and directed that the budget be used to build dormitories for children with special needs instead.
The 61st Independence Day celebration was expected to cost $445,000, which will be used to construct eight dormitories in primary schools across the country.
Tanzania’s Minister of State, George Simbachawene, announced on Monday that the funds had been distributed.
Instead of parades and other national celebrations, he said, the East African country will mark Independence Day with public dialogue on development.
“The debates and conferences will be preceded by various schedules for regional and district leaders to carry out social activities in various areas, such as cleaning hospitals, schools, elderly homes, and special needs groups,” he said.
Typically, Independence Day celebrations include pomp and state banquets.
However, this is not the first time Tanzania has canceled the celebrations.
In 2015, then-President John Magufuli cancelled the celebrations and diverted funds to the construction of a road in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital.
He did the same in 2020, directing that the budget be used to purchase medical facilities.
Tanzania’s current president, Hassan, is the country’s first female head of state.
She previously attracted attention by ordering big-bellied cops to lose weight in order to be more effective at work.
She worked as a development officer in the Zanzibar government for decades before rising to higher office. She was also a project manager for the United Nations World Food Programme and later the executive director of a non-governmental organization umbrella body in Zanzibar.
She has also previously served as a minister for youth employment, women, and children, and has publicly encouraged Tanzanian women and girls to follow their dreams.