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Ali Hassan Mwinyi
Ali Hassan Mwinyi.jpg
Mwinyi in 2007
2nd President of Tanzania
In office
5 November 1985 – 23 November 1995
Prime Minister Joseph Warioba (1985–91)
John Malecela (1991–93)
Cleopa Msuya (1993–95)
Vice President Joseph Warioba
John Malecela
Cleopa Msuya
Preceded by Julius Kambarage Nyerere
Succeeded by Benjamin William Mkapa
3rd President of Zanzibar
In office
30 January 1984 – 24 October 1985
Preceded by Aboud Jumbe
Succeeded by Idris Abdul Wakil
Personal details
Born (1925-05-08) 8 May 1925 (age 98)
Kivure, Pwani Region, British Tanganyika (now Tanzania)
Nationality Tanzanian
Political party CCM
Siti Mwinyi
(m. 1960)
Children 12 (including Hussein)
Alma mater Open University of Tanzania

Ali Hassan Mwinyi (born 8 May 1925) is a Tanzanian politician, who served as the second President of the United Republic of Tanzania from 1985 to 1995. Previous posts include Interior Minister and Vice President. He also was chairman of the ruling party, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) from 1990 to 1996.

During Mwinyi's terms, Tanzania took the first steps to reverse the socialist policies of Julius Nyerere. He relaxed import restrictions and encouraged private enterprise. It was during his second term that multi-party politics were introduced under pressure for reform from foreign and domestic sources. Often referred to as Mzee Rukhsa ("Everything goes"), he pushed for liberalization of morals, beliefs, values (without breaking the law) and the economy.

Early life

Mwinyi was born and raised in the village of Kivure, Pwani Region. He then moved to Zanzibar and got his primary education at Mangapwani Primary School in Mangapwani, Zanzibar West Region. Mwinyi then attended Mikindani Dole Secondary School in Dole, Zanzibar West Region. From 1945 to 1964 he worked successively as a tutor, teacher, and head teacher at various schools before deciding to enter national politics.

Concurrently, Mwinyi earned his General Certificate of Education through correspondence (1950–1954) and then studied for a teaching diploma at the Institute of Education at Durham University in the United Kingdom. He did not leave England until 1962, being appointed principal of Zanzibar Teaching Training College in Zanzibar West Region, upon his return.


President Julius Nyerere retired in October 1985 and picked Ali Hassan Mwinyi to be his successor. Nyerere remained chairman of the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), until 1990, which would later cause tensions between the government and the party regarding economic reform ideology. When the transition of power took place, Tanzania's economy was in the midst of a slump. From 1974 to 1984, the GDP was growing at an average of 2.6 percent per year while the population was increasing at a faster rate of 3.4% each year. Rural incomes and urban wages had both fallen by the early 1980s, despite Tanzania's minimum wage laws. Furthermore, the currency was overpriced, basic goods were scarce, and the country had over three billion dollars of foreign debt. Agricultural production was low, and the general opinion was that Nyerere's Ujamaa socialist policies had failed economically.

Such policies included the nationalization of major production, the forced re-villagization of the rural population into communal farms, and the banning of any opposition parties. Nyerere's supporters were opposed to involving the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in domestic economic reforms, believing it would cause instability and conflict with their socialist values. Also, Tanzania's relationship with the IMF had been strained since Nyerere's government failed to meet the loan conditions from a 1980 financial package agreement.

Early in this political transition, many believed that Mwinyi was unlikely to deviate from Nyerere's policies since he was viewed as a loyal supporter of his predecessor. However, Ali Hassan Mwinyi and his followers called for economic and political reform to liberalize the market and review traditional socialist ideologies. He surrounded himself with reformists, even replacing three cabinet members and other ministers who were opposed to change. The Prime Minister at the time, Joseph Warioba, along with the finance minister Clement Msuya were also quite supportive of new policies. During his first address to Tanzania's Parliament in 1986, he promised to resume negotiations with the IMF and World Bank, assuming that any resulting agreement would be beneficial to the citizens of Tanzania.

Agreements with International Financial Institutions

In 1986, Mwinyi made an agreement with the IMF to receive a $78 million standby loan, which was Tanzania's first foreign loan in over six years. Bilateral donors approved this austerity plan and agreed to reschedule Tanzania's debt payments. They agreed to do so for a period of five years, requiring that Tanzania pay only 2.5% of their debts in the meantime. In an interview, Mwinyi urged donor countries to use Canada as an example and write off Tanzania's debts all together. If this request wasn't possible, he asked instead for a minimum of ten years to pay off loans, but said that twenty to twenty-five years was a more ideal range. He predicted that by this time, the country's economy would be recovered and they would be in a position to repay their debts without it hurting them. In the same interview, he also asked aid donors for lower interest rates.

Mwinyi claimed that his negotiations with the IMF were on behalf of the people: for example, he agreed to the Fund's request that he decrease the number of public institutions, but only when doing so was necessary and could be done gradually. Furthermore, he declined their recommendation to freeze pay raises within the government and to cut free public services.

The following year, Mwinyi negotiated Tanzania's first structural adjustment facility (SAF) with the IMF, followed by subsequent agreements in 1988 and again in 1990. In addition to these developments, the World Bank provided structural adjustment credits for reforms in the agricultural, industrial, and financial sectors. in 1989, President Mwinyi began the second phases of his reform program with the intention of reforming social sectors, specifically by increasing government spending on education.


During the years of Julius Nyerere's presidency, corruption was viewed as a sort of oppression that undermined Tanzania's egalitarian values. But, reports of corruption increased along with the state's economic influence. Under Mwinyi's presidency, corrupt practices worsened under his economically liberal policies. It became so endemic that some donors froze aid in 1994 in response. During the first multi-party election in 1995, the opposition parties used the people's resentments towards the ongoing corruption as political fuel. However, the CCM candidate Benjamin Mkapa was also able to use corruption in his favor, as he was viewed as untainted by any of the corruption scandals that marred the Mwinyi administration.

Mohamed Enterprises

In early 1995, the well-known company Mohamed Enterprises was accused of allegedly distributing food that was unfit for consumption. Mrema claimed he would punish the company, but was demoted to Minister of Youth and Culture before he could take action. He criticized Mwinyi's administration for tolerating high levels of corruption and being complicit about anti-corruption enforcement. He was then removed from the cabinet, and later became a candidate for one of the opposition parties, NCCR-Mageuzi.

Views on Apartheid

In a 1989 interview when asked about his views regarding Apartheid, Mwinyi advocated for tough, comprehensive sanctions to be carried out against South Africa. He also called for Western nations to assist "frontline states" in dealing with any destabilization attempts made by the South African government against those who oppose them. Mwinyi said that practicing these measures concurrently would help to dismantle Apartheid. He called the Reagan administration's hesitance to enact tougher sanctions a "stumbling block," and expressed his hope that future American leaders would take more action against South Africa's regime.

Personal life

Ali Hassan Mwinyi married Siti Mwinyi in 1960, with whom he has six sons and six daughters. In retirement, Ali Hassan Mwinyi has stayed out of the limelight and continues to live in Dar es Salaam.

Honours and awards


Order Country Year
Order of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere (Tanzania) - ribbon bar.png Order of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere  Tanzania 2011
King feisal prizes Saudi Arabia 2022

Honorary degrees

University Country Degree Year
The Open University of Tanzania  Tanzania Doctor of Letters 2012
The East African University  Kenya Doctor of Philosophy in Business Management 2013



  • Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road, one of the major roads in Dar es Salaam
  • Ali Hassan Mwinyi Stadium, Tabora
  • Schools:
    • The Ali Hassan Mwinyi Islamic Secondary School in Tabora Region
    • The Mwinyi Secondary School in Pwani Region
    • The Ali Hassan Mwinyi Elite School Dar es salaam Region
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