President Samia kicks off with stern warning for the team to concentrate on their dockets and avoid focusing on the far away 2025 General Election
All eyes in Tanzania are on the newly sworn-in members of Cabinet, whom President Samia Suluhu Hassan has publicly praised for their professional competencies.
But besides the removal of Magufuli loyalist Bashiru Ally Kakurwa from the post of Chief Secretary after only 33 days in office, President Samia did not make radical changes.
“I saw no need to rock the boat at this stage because individual performance records will determine how we proceed from here,” the president told the new ministers at the swearing-in ceremony at State House in Dodoma on Thursday.
While calling for diligence, she appealed for co-ordination among ministries for quick results.
“There has been little of that in the past. Each ministry appeared to work autonomously, within and by itself. I want to see more real co-ordination going forward,” she said.
The Minister for Finance and Planning, Mwigulu Nchemba, who has previously worked at the Bank of Tanzania as a senior economist before joining politics is not strange to national budgetary and planning issues.
Liberata Mulamula, Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation, is a seasoned diplomat who has served as Tanzania's ambassador to the US and Canada, and well-known in East African and Great Lakes circles from her stint as first executive secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Union.
This means she is well versed with regional matters especially when it comes to Burundi, Rwanda and DR Congo. Tanzania was a major player in Burundi’s peace process and also continues to host Burundian refugees.
Mulamula’s appointment will therefore play well to expectations of Great Lakes countries.
A political observer who opted to remain anonymous said, Ms Mulamula will help rebuild international relations which took a turn for the worse under President Magufuli.
“Prof Kabudi did not have the required finesse... he was too much into the kind of aggressive, overly patriotic rhetoric that Magufuli himself seemed fond of.”
Since the ascension to power of President Samia, constitutional activists had been murmuring that she will bring back the Constitutional Assembly she once deputized.
It was therefore surprising and curious that Palamagamba Kabudi, a professor of law, was taken back to the Justice and Constitutional Affairs docket that he previously held.
Nothing yet points to whether the president will initiate the Constitutional Assembly.
With the change of political fortunes brought on by the death of Magufuli and changes in government, there is bound to be political realignments and shoving in preparation for the next election cycle and, President Samia issued a warning to members of her Cabinet to concentrate on their jobs and avoid focusing on the 2025 general election.
“Whenever the second terms of sitting presidents get closer, people have a tendency to get restless. I am telling you right now, don't. Anyone here with ambitions for 2025 should forget about them for now,” she said, adding “…my eyes may look sleepy but they can see, and I will be watching closely.”
According to Article 40 of the Tanzania constitution, since by October 2025 President Suluhu will have completed more than two-thirds of the late Magufuli's second term, she is eligible to run for only one term of elective office. But if had it happened that she served less than two-thirds of the second term, then she would have been constitutionally allowed to run for two terms.
No radical changes
The busy week for the president started earlier on Tuesday with swearing in of Philip Isidori Mpango, 63, as vice president of the Union government. He takes over the position vacated by President Suluhu.
Mpango’s appointment was not surprising to some given the prominent role he has played in overseeing the country's finances during a period of self-imposed austerity.
A former senior economist at the World Bank, Mr Mpango was handpicked by the late Magufuli as Finance minister soon after being elected president in November 2015. Mpango was nominated to parliament as a non-constituent MP in order to make him legally eligible for Cabinet.
It was under his direction that Tanzania moved into the low middle income status according to the World Bank’s evaluation of July last year. It was this initial five-year performance that Mpango was among Magufuli’s first reappointments to Cabinet after last October’s election, signalling the late president’s confidence in him.