Major General Jacob John Mkunda has been promoted to General and appointed Chief of Defense Forces of Tanzania. He takes over from General Venance Mabeyo, who has retired.
Mkunda, who was appointed by President Samia Suluhu on Wednesday and will be sworn in at the State House on Thursday, will become Tanzania’s ninth military chief.
< p>The former chief of operations and training also previously served as commander of the land forces.
His appointment, announced on June 29 by State House Speaker Zuhura Yunus, ended weeks of speculation about the President’s choice of key position, even as she eyes the 2025 elections in which she hopes to be confirmed as Tanzania’s first elected female head of state.
General Mabeyo resigns on July 1, on his 66th birthday, after serving as army chief for over five years. He was appointed by the late President John Magufuli on February 1, 2017.
President Suluhu also appointed Brigadier General Salum Haji Othman, the head of research and military development, as chief Chief of Staff and Deputy of the People’s Defense Forces of Tanzania with the new rank of Lieutenant General.
General Othman, who, like President Suluhu, is from the Zanzibar Archipelago, replaced Lieutenant General Mathew Mkingule , who has now become Ambassador to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Transfer of Presidential Powers
As CDF, Gen Mabeyo will be remembered primarily for defending constitutional provisions regarding the transfer of presidential powers in the event of the death of an incumbent amid reports over some unrest within the ruling CCM party following Magufuli’s sudden death in March 2021.
The late Tanzanian leader’s inner circle had a strik te maintained a news blackout about his state of health in the weeks leading up to the o official obituary on March 17, followed by a two-day leadership vacuum before his deputy, Samia, was sworn in on March 19.
At the time there was widespread rumor reports of unnamed Magufuli loyalists within CCM using deliberate delaying tactics to prevent Samia from being automatically relieved of the position of vice president under the constitution.
This, in turn, fueled fears of an unprecedented Military intervention in Tanzania. However, according to various military and CCM sources who later unofficially opened up to The EastAfrican, General Mabeyo was among the most recalcitrant voices insisting on respect for the constitution and became one of the President’s most trusted allies Samia from the start.
The President has since taken steps to consolidate her overall authority in Tanzania’s political landscape, including a series of appointments aimed at increasing the number of women and Zanzibar indigenous people in leadership positions she looks ahead to the 2025 election.
Read:Samia’s 2025 election plan: CCM brings back veterans
Besides General Mabeyo, other former Tanzanian CDFs were the Generals Davis Mwamunyange (2007-2017), George Waitara (2001-2007), Robert Mboma (1994-2001), Ernest Mwita Kiaro (1988-1994), David Musuguri (1980-1988), Abdallah Twalipo (1974-1980) and Mirisho Sarakikya (1964-1974).