President John Pombe Magufuli has appointed leader of the opposition party the Alliance for Change and Transparency -Wazalendo Kitila Mkumbo, as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.
Since the re-introduction of multiparty democracy in Tanzania, no senior opposition politician has been appointed to a key government position.
Prof Mkumbo parted ways with the main opposition Chadema in 2013 after the party expelled him alongside Zitto Kabwe. They had been implicated in a plot to oust chairman Freeman Mbowe. The two then formed a new party. Prof Mkumbo had been a member of the party's central committee.
Mr Kabwe, ACT-Wazalendo's founder and party supremo and an arch critic of President Magufuli, was not immediately available for comment.
The party chairperson Anna Mghwira however, said that they were not opposed to the appointment.
“It depends on the agreement between the President and Prof Mkumbo. If the appointee has agreed that the job will not affect his ACT activities then all is well,” said Ms Mghwira.
The move has revived debate on social media over Prof Mkumbo's criticism of the president's appointment of academicians to senior government positions. The chief adviser and leader of ACT-Wazalendo has argued that such appointments would suffocate the academia in the absence of an articulate succession plan.