The Central Committee of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) held its emergency meeting on Friday in Dar es Salaam to receive a report of the party’s parliamentary caucus as well as an official briefing on what transpired in the just-ended parliamentary meeting in Dodoma.
An official statement released by CCM Secretary for Ideology and Publicity Nape Nnauye after the meeting, among other things, stated that the CC meeting had endorsed President Jakaya Kikwete’s intent to reshuffle the cabinet.
But only two days after the meeting, the statement has caused confusion among the public, with a section of Tanzanians thinking that the president would be dissolving the entire cabinet and coming up with a new one.
However, others think the president is planning to make a reshuffle of the existing cabinet. To reshuffle simply means to arrange or organize anew. Another contention that has now emerged revolves around the president’s decision to consult the Central Committee, a very important organ in the party’s structure.
Though everything is possible in politics, the dissolution of an entire cabinet is hard to implement at this juncture, as it would compel the president to call an emergency parliamentary meeting to endorse the name of a new prime minister before collaborating with the appointee in forming a new cabinet.
Given the current political environment and the economic situation of the country, convening an emergency parliamentary meeting may worsen the financial position of the country considering that a single Member of Parliament fetches a total of Sh 150,000 day in per diem and sitting allowances. The country’s Parliament has a total of 350 members.
An independent observer also warns that given the nature of the political undercurrents in the National Assembly, a reappointed Mizengo Pinda might face outright rejection in the House should the president decide to come up with a brand new cabinet.
It should be remembered that Kigoma North MP Kabwe Zuberi Zitto has already set the pace for moving a vote of no confidence in Premier Pinda. Therefore, renominating him for endorsement in case the cabinet is dissolved would create a lot of political uncertainties and possible embarrassment for the president himself.
Prof Chris Peter Maina, a constitutional lawyer, giving his personal views, says he is made to believe that the president would most probably just make a reshuffle of the existing cabinet and not to dissolve it.
He says though the wording of the statement released on Friday evening might be confusing to a section of the public, what the president was likely to do was to re-organize the current cabinet by dropping some ministers and appointing a few new ones.
“I think the president will just improve on the existing cabinet. I don’t see the possibility for him dissolving the whole cabinet, though anything is possible in politics,” the professor says.
Reacting to the contentious argument currently circulating in the public domain that by consulting the party’s Central Committee the president violated the constitution, Prof Maina says the president’s decision was entirely constitutional.
He says under the current country’s system whereby the winning political party after a general election forms the government, consulting the respective party’s internal organs before making any decision is not a crime.
“People should not forget that this is the government formed by a particular political party. Therefore, by consulting the party that nominated him to the post and eventually voted in by wananchi during the general election, the president did not violate the constitution,” Prof Main explains.
The constitutional expert explains that under the country’s political system it was indeed politically healthy for the president to seek the blessing of his party (political mandate) before making any political decision since that was within the constitution.
Harold Sungusia, a legal officer with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), for his part said the statement issued on Friday was too political, saying its validity would be rightly judged after the implementation of the resolution it contains.
Speaking about the president’s decision to consult the ruling party’s Central Committee, Sungusia said that was a political strategy that aimed at showing the public that the decision to reshuffle the cabinet was not a result of any external pressure.
“The president held the CC meeting to convince the public that it is CCM that has advised him to reshuffle the cabinet and not any external pressure, especially from members of Parliament,” he said.
He said since the president is allowed to receive advice from any person provided he upholds the national interest, receiving such help from within the party may also be allowed.
However, Sungusia observed that what the president did was just a political game that aimed at showing the public that his announced decision to reshuffle the cabinet was in response to demands from within his political party, not from outsiders.
There is a contention currently circulating in the public domain that President Kikwete should not have consulted the Central Committee to carry out his intention to re-organise his cabinet. Instead, they say he should have gone ahead with his plan by involving state apparatus such as the intelligence department.
Nnauye, after the CC meeting, told reporters that opposition parties should not think that they were the force behind the move to reshuffle the cabinet.
The announced decision to reshuffle the cabinet has come less than five days since the National Assembly concluded its business in Dodoma at which MPs called for the resignation of some ministers after CAG reports implicated them in the embezzlement and outright theft of public funds.