Expectations raised by the revamped line-up buttress an overly optimistic atmosphere following the nomination and approval by Parliament of new Vice President Dr Philip Isdor Mpango. It has been a hectic week in the national capital (Dodoma) and around the country – and for good measure.
In the changes, the president lifted spirits by an innovation not quite dissimilar to that of her predecessor, Dr John Magufuli, who took a number of notable members of the University of Dar es Salaam faculty to be close advisers with key responsibilities.
President Samia picked individuals from the diplomatic service, with retired Ambassador Liberata Mulamula being appointed to the legislature and taking over as Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation minister.
Mulamula thus became the second lady to be appointed to the position since Ambassador Dr Asha-Rose Migiro in early 2006 – to be later picked United Nations Deputy Secretary General.
Plenty of satisfaction was similarly evident as the president named Dr Mwigulu Nchemba to the Treasury, replacing newly installed Vice President Dr Mpango, and shifted international agreements negotiator Prof Palamagamba Kabudi back to the Constitutional and Legal Affairs ministry.
Equally significant was the swapping of roles by a number of ministers, with Ummy Mwalimu coming in as Minister of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments). She swapped places with Selemani Jafo, who was lately having the torch trained on him with regard to laxity in local government financial control.
Prof Kitila Mkumbo was transferred from Investments to take over as Trade and Industry minister, changing places with Godfrey Mwambe. The president meanwhile declared that the Investments ministry was now falling under the Prime Minister’s Office instead of the President’s Office.
What many people may not have grasped was the forceful instruction that the portfolio’s occupant would have to take measures to properly set up the ministry – or the president would scrap it.
Indeed, this was not a familiar item with most observers and even the public at large. It is an item many will be keen to make a follow-up on, as investments do not constitute a minor preoccupation for planners.
Quite a few commentators on the changes have generally focused on the manner in which professionalism and training orientation have been considered in deciding how the ministers and the Chief Secretary were appointed.
This outlook is consistent with the minimalist stance of media exploration of political events in the past few years, a situation that may be on the way to change. It is thus fitting to take note of a new tone in approach to certain issues, for instance in relation to foreign affairs and the sort of image the new national leadership intends to build the country.
For instance, Ambassador Mulamula isn’t just a lady but she has an evidently different approach to the position in comparison, say, with Prof Kabudi.
We see much the same shift with regard to the new Chief Secretary, Ambassador Hussein Kattanga, where one would dare say technique and expertise take precedence over militancy.
Phrased differently, there is a clear change of orientation but the principal goal of economic diplomacy and upright attitudes in the public service will be observed. That is, by all accounts, a positive and therefore laudable development.