Women presidents in Africa

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Sahle-Work Zewde leaves the Parliament after being elected as Ethiopia's first female President in Addis Ababa on October 25, 2018. (Getty Images)
Sahle-Work Zewde leaves the Parliament after being elected as Ethiopia's first female President in Addis Ababa on October 25, 2018. (Getty Images)

As Tanzania's vice president Samia Suluhu Hassan is set to take over as head of state after the sudden death of John Magufuli, here's a rundown of African women presidents.

Liberia: Pioneer Sirleaf 

Ellen-Johnson-Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. (File, AFP)

Dubbed "Africa's Iron Lady", Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made history when she became the continent's first elected woman president in 2005.

The economist, a former international civil servant and finance minister, won a second term in 2011 and the Nobel Peace Prize the same year.

She stood down in 2018 at the end of her second mandate.

Sirleaf managed to maintain peace in the troubled West African country ravaged by civil wars, but her economic record was less strong and extreme poverty persists.

Malawi: Joyce Banda

Joyce banda
Joyce Banda (File: AFP)

Joyce Banda became Malawi's first female president in 2012, stepping up from vice president to the position after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika.

She left the country in 2014 under a cloud, having lost the presidential election and facing questioning over a corruption scandal known as "Cashgate".

She later returned to Malawi after four years in exile.

Central African Republic: Samba-Panza

The lawyer Catherine Samba-Panza was elected in 2014 as transition president when the country was in the grip of a civil war. She held the post until 2016.

She ran in the 2020 presidential election but lost to the incumbent.

Ceremonial presidents 

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim
Ameenah Gurib-Fakim. (James Smart, Twitter)

In Mauritius the world-renowned biologist Ameenah Gurib-Fakim was elected by the National Assembly in 2015, becoming the first woman to hold the largely ceremonial role in the archipelago. Implicated in a financial scandal, she resigned in 2018.

In Ethiopia the diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde was elected president in 2018 by parliamentarians, also making her the first woman to hold the honorary role.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Are you going to keep wearing a mask following the announcement that it is no longer required under law?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
No ways, I'm done
41% - 2713 votes
Yes, I still want to be cautious
21% - 1399 votes
Only certain circumstances
37% - 2466 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.80
+1.1%
Rand - Pound
19.39
+0.0%
Rand - Euro
16.68
-0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.97
+0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.0%
Gold
1,827.37
0.0%
Silver
21.15
0.0%
Palladium
1,880.50
0.0%
Platinum
911.50
0.0%
Brent Crude
113.12
+2.7%
Top 40
59,993
+1.6%
All Share
66,349
+1.6%
Resource 10
64,422
-0.2%
Industrial 25
76,590
+2.6%
Financial 15
15,623
+1.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE