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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Will Dr Migiro`s return justify cabinet reshuffle, change game plan for 2015?

29th January 2012

Specialation is rife on extensive cabinet reshuffle in the coming months, in the aftermath of delayed return to Dar es Salaam of  UN Deputy Secretary General Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, while health concerns relating to at least two members of President Kikwete’s cabinet are anything but lessening.

A section of analysts were ready to bet that the homecoming of Dr Migiro, recently  announced in New York but now likely to take another six months, will not be the retirement type.

It is more likely to lead to another ladder in her political and lately diplomatic career that was virtually unimaginable as she became Special Seats MP late 2005. In that sense it would come close to the UN ‘retirement’ mid 2010 of her former fellow lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Prof. Anna Tibaijuka as executive director for UN Habitat in Nairobi.

Part of the speculation was directed as to whether she would take back her old portfolio at Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, now that she more or less encapsulates the image of the country abroad, second only to the more visible image of the president himself.

It would not be the first or second time that a minister returns to an old job, noting for instance that former Prime Minister and First Vice President Cleopa Msuya was in and out of the Industry portfolio for nearly 20 years, from 1975 to 1994, with several stints at the Treasury as well.

Closer to the current homecoming in profile and stature vis a vis the cabinet, but in contrasting circumstances was the case of former UN Permanent Representative Salim Ahmed Salim, whom President Nyerere  recalled early 1983 to take over the Foreign Affairs portfolio as newly reappointed Prime Minister Edward Sokoine reshaped the cabinet.

At Sokoine’s untimely death in April 1984 Salim was shuffled up as premier, and at the start of the second phase presidency, a newly designated post of deputy prime minister was created, as he took over the Defense portfolio. He later took up the glamorous post of OAU Secretary General, but when he returned home after three terms it was to retire, not to rejoin the cabinet.

What may hold back President Kikwete from an assertive reshuffle is that it would be read in the context of ongoing pushing and pulling in the pecking order for the 2015 run for nomination of the CCM candidate for the presidency, where replacing any noted names will be taken as a signal of the president’s preferences.

Yet it can only be presumed that that the task that faces the president and Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda at the moment is to brush up results in several fronts so that rising complaints can be contained, instead of overflowing into the streets.

Already President Kikwete has had to call meetings with leaders of opposition parties on various issues, starting with the constitutional rewriting process to rising electricity prices, etc.

Age-wise the outgoing UN Deputy Secretary General still has a few years left as a public servant, while reaching age 60 has never been fatal for most political positions, and even some important administrative functions like Regional Commissioner.

In that case it is virtually foregone that she rejoins the government at top level, to help reduce the personal load of the president especially in ironing out problems with top level foreign dignitaries.

It is uncertain if such a role privileges the Foreign Ministry as an abode, where of course a lot of sensitivity would be directed at whether the president would replace flambouyant minister Bernard Membe.  He has given the office a distinctive look, redefined or rather sharpened options and dispositions of Tanzania’s foreign policy in ways that have as many friends as it may have foes.

He more or less organized the Comorian rescue mission to remove a rebel provincial leader who was defying elected authorities in Moroni, wishing to carve out the Anjouan Island to other designs, a certain Col. Mohammed Bacar.

In tandem with East African Affairs Minister Samuel Sitta, he seems to be opposed to the Kenyan intervention in Somalia, leading to a contentious atmosphere in the EAC Secretariat’s call for a regional approach to security issues.

Many radicals in Dar es Salaam fear that the collective handling of defense and security would be tilted in favor of the US Africa Command, which already has a small expeditionary force in Uganda.

Not averse to controversy, one among his key allies in the Comorian expedition was embattled Sudanese President Omar el Bashir, despite that an international warrant of arrest was placed on him by the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Minister Membe is also known to have
retained the president’s early contacts in that position and up to his nomination, for instance close cultural cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran, in like manner as was the case with the late Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

What is surprising though is that this itinerary of friends or allies doesn’t make the minister a radical in the old view of things, as he is also noticeably conservative at heart, for instance underlining not so long ago that Tanzania’s commitment to the liberation process in southern Africa helped to stagnate its economy.

Liberals would tend to think that it is Tanzania’s adamant refusal for profound reform other than wholesale and retail trade, and profound financial sector reform completed by the privatization of the old National Bank of Commerce, imposed on an unwilling third phase leadership.

From that time onwards the government failed to gather the strength for any noticeable privatization, preferring ‘smart privatization’ of selling off a portion of share holding while separating fixed property from stock and flow. It all failed in acrimony.

Minister Membe also pursued Tanzania’s old claims against Uganda in terms of wartime credits, during the joint effort of the TPDF and Ugandan dissident forces against the Idi Amin military regime, while most people would be surprised to hear that there was commerce in executing the war in Uganda.

In her short stay at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the now programmed to return Dr Asha Rose Migiro did not visibly stamp any approach to issues as has done her successor, nor is it evident she was personally close to the Head of State as Minister Membe has more or less demonstrated he has top level confidence.

Nor again is it obvious the president would seek to disturb the calm and experienced hands in charge at the Foreign portfolio, unless there is a change of spirit that the rest of the world has been demanding.

That is entirely predictable in relation to Tanzania’s attitude towards various issues, be it the EA integration process, the Sudanese leader arrest warrant, EAC commitment to the fight against Al Shabaab in Somalia, reaching an economic cooperation agreement with the European Union, and various other pending matters.

Reports as to the departure of Dr Migiro from the UN post spoke of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wishing to revamp his administration with a new team. That could also imply that there are changes of attitude that he would wish to instill in the staff, which leaves an open question as to how Dr Migiro would not fit into that outlook, and whether that bears on a subsequent appointment, as to what orientations the world is expecting, or she prefers.

Still, insiders say that Dr Migiro’s family is mostly in Dar es Salaam, and unlike Prof. Tibaijuka who would take an hour to fly to Dar, it is a different matter when it is an intercontinental flight. This has a tendency to make the virtual exile somewhat unbearable.

With regard to the cabinet, few open contentions can be cited which would prompt a wide reshuffle, outside accommodating an influential aide and perhaps rectifying a few things in the wake of some key appointments, disputes and health alerts.

In that case, while the Foreign Ministry is under a pair of reliable hands at present, chances of some western powers wishing that a more sympathetic top executive is appointed there aren’t negligible – though it is in some ways evident that the president’s own intuitions are closer to the minister than to erstwhile advisers from chancelleries or during foreign visits, summit meetings, etc.

At the political level however it would be woefully unrealistic to expect that the president has singularly no preference as to who emerges the winner in the tussling in CCM, where two lines both swearing loyalty to the president's inner circle contend, the first around Publicity Secretary Nape Nnauye, and the second group around the UVCCM leadership.



They are openly hostile to the publicity secretary, with some newspapers at one time said the UVCCM top brass “detest Nape more than the opposition,” while the party chairman was on record, before the resignation of ex-Igunga MP Rostam Aziz, also a former CCM national treasurer, declaring that “some stupid guys” are saying that the publicity secretary’s campaign was damaging the party.

Yet the record in that direction isn’t by any mileage reassuring for the president, as no one before him has successfully arranged a successor in an orderly way as he would have pleased.



Mwalimu Nyerere dispensed with veteran premier Rashidi Kawawa, then lost Edward Sokoine in a road crash, and then his nominee Salim Ahmed Salim was rejected by the central committee.

Second phase president Ali Hassan Mwinyi stepped aside for Mwalimu to supervise the 1995 succession run, where he got one back by eliminating powerful ex-premier John Malecela, and then retired president Benjamin Mkapa failed to thwart Jakaya Kikwete’s unstoppable run.

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