Reshuffle shows Kikwete is now in charge

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Posted  Monday, October 23   2006 at  00:00

The EastAfrican

The Cabinet reshuffle by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete a few months after being elected was aimed at stamping his authority on the government.

This is the verdict of a new analysis of Tanzania by the London-based Economic Intelligence Unit.

It says that ministries and departments seem more dynamic, in line with the new president, and the government is far more media-savvy.

In addition, in late June, Kikwete cemented his influence over the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) when he assumed the party’s presidency and appointed his supporters to key positions.

The report argues however, that even though Kikwete continues to consolidate his political power base, there is still considerable resentment within sections of CCM over the battle that saw him emerge as the party's presidential candidate in mid-2005.

Although this is insufficient to challenge his hold on power, the president will face residual sniping from senior party members, and his ability to implement policy changes as quickly as he would like will be curtailed for some time.

Going forward, the report predicts that Tanzania will maintain good relations with its regional neighbours and with donor countries. Relations with donors will focus on technical matters such as ensuring better accounting and co-ordination of aid flows into the country.

At the regional level, the report says that the implementation of the Customs Union protocol of the East African Community (EAC) – which comprises Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – will remain a source of political contention as trade barriers between the three countries are slowly reduced.

The situation is complicated by the long-running debate over Tanzania’s membership of regional organisations.

At present, Tanzania is also a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), having withdrawn from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) in 2001.

However, some influential voices in the private sector argue that the country would be better off in Comesa. The government seems unlikely to be rushed into a decision on the issue.

Tanzania has seen a substantial pick-up in real GDP growth since 2000 – to an annual average of around 7 per cent in 2002-04 – against a background of low and stable inflation.

The main problem for the government has been how to translate macroeconomic stability and higher donor-supported spending on healthcare and education into an increase in employment and improvements to the welfare of ordinary Tanzanians.

The recent budget and comments from key ministers indicate that no radical alteration in the direction of economic policy can be expected in 2006-07, but policy may become, at least in rhetoric, more nationalistic, with the concept of economic empowerment a clear theme.

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