Fixing Tanzania’s economy requires restructure of cabinet performance

12Jan 2022
The Guardian
Fixing Tanzania’s economy requires restructure of cabinet performance

​​​​​​​PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan has greatly helped to clear out a foggy debate on the performance of cabinet ministers who do not feature in the new line up, with proposed top level duties for former Lands minister William Lukuvi and Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi, a law reformer.

Those who were projecting some antipathy for the work of the fifth phase among the current leadership would have noticed the vibrant eulogy that the president gave with regard to the role Prof Kabudi played in rectifying the law relating to minerals sector licensing and operations. Now he is being tasked to oversee all negotiations.

Veteran cabinet minister Lukuvi was also astutely recognized for his unparalleled parliamentary and cabinet work over a few decades, and is being assigned to something that Vice President Dr Phillip Mpango would be familiar with in the Big Results Now initiative of the fourth phase government. What is involved is supervising performance on what is now being implemented, as it was clear things were getting somewhat relaxed at the start of the sixth phase. Without the hands-on and no-nonsense approach of the late President John Magufuli, bureaucrats were starting to take it easy, to relax and arrange bribes.

The new tasks for the former minister will be located at the State House, which can be interpreted as an effort to stem competition or creating such an impression, had Lukuvi for instance be appointed Deputy Prime Minister. Again such a position makes one a component of leadership with public roles in a routine manner, while a top level administrator at the State House can lift the phone and query details of any act or omission with any ministerial agency without notice. It is an issue of working on intelligence that is gathered on mishaps in this or that area, where that special assistant isn’t hampered by routine gatherings.

This restructuring initiative illustrates that the president is working on ways and means to get the work done, and that even where the variations of perspective on some strategic issues, there is plenty of agreement with competent and tested administrators on what needs to be done. Both these cabinet ministers are familiar with public service generally and politics as a whole, that any task one is assigned can make a difference, and at times a country wins its battles because of people directly assisting the president on whatever it is, not just those administering specific sectors. It is not a letdown to be assigned such tasks, and when one takes into account the wider issue of serving the country, it is even clearer.

So we expect that these improvements will enhance performance of the various ministries on the one hand, and restore the focus on law reforms in strategic issues during negotiations. It would be absurd to say this is bad as they should have remained ministers; these supervisory and oversight roles need people with uncontestable authority in those spheres. They will help the president to deliver.

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