Why Samia dropped right hand woman Mulamula

Saturday October 08 2022
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu's comment that officials seen “overstepping” their boundaries would be purged left analysts rushing to attempt an explanation of Liberata Mulamula’s dismissal from the Foreign Affairs ministry. PHOTO | FILE


Tanzania President Samia Suluhu this week sent political analysts on a tongue-wagging spree after she dropped Foreign Affairs Minister Liberata Mulamula from the Cabinet.

Ms Mulamula had just arrived back from New York, where she was part of the Vice President Philip Mpango-led delegation to the UN General Assembly.

While no official explanation was given over the decision to replace her with former Defence minister and previous Southern Africa Development Co-operation boss Stergomena Tax, President Samia’s comment that officials seen “overstepping” their boundaries would be purged left analysts rushing to attempt an explanation at Ms Mulamula’s dismissal from the ministerial post.

“Ministers must respect their boundaries, remember that there is an authority in this country and the powers assigned to them have limits. If they want to go above their own authority, they must obtain consent from the higher authority,” the president said in her trademark cryptic manner.

Speculators then settled on a widely-circulated photo of Ms Mulamula posing between US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at a dinner reception hosted by the Bidens on the sidelines of the UN Assembly as a reason.

The photo, first published on the social media pages of both Foreign Affairs ministry and the US Embassy in Tanzania, was misconstrued to depict Ms Mulamula as usurping Mr Mpango’s position as President Samia’s official representative at the assembly. US presidents traditionally invite heads of delegations to the UN General Assembly to dinner on the sidelines of the Assembly meetings.


Diplomatic sources contacted by The EastAfrican declined to disclose whether Mr Mpango was also present at the dinner but not given a similar photo opportunity.

President Samia did not attend the 77th annual UN gathering of world leaders and instead was in her first state visit to strategic neighbour Mozambique.

According to Faraja Kristomus, a lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Mulamula’s presence at the UNGA instead of in Mozambique accompanying the president could have been the root of her downfall.

“In terms of standard diplomatic protocols, the foreign affairs minister should have been at the president’s side and a deputy minister with the vice-president on their respective missions representing the country abroad. Why this protocol was not observed is the bigger question besides what the photo seems to tell us,” Mr Kristomus said.

Ms Mulamula previously served in various positions including Tanzanian ambassador to the US, the UN, and advisor to ex-president Jakaya Kikwete.

The Cabinet shuffle saw Innocent Bashungwa moved from the Local Governments to Defence portfolio, replacing Ms Tax while former State Minister Angellah Kairuki took up Mr Bashungwa’s last office.

Her appointment ensures that the number of female ministers in President Samia’s cabinet remains at nine out of 25 despite Ms Mulamula’s exit as President Samia continued to pursue her stated agenda of retaining a stronger gender balance in top government positions.