Dodoma. An overwhelming sense of hope greeted yesterday’s appointment of Mr Kassim Majaliwa as Tanzania’s 11th Prime Minister.
President John Magufuli picked Mr Majaliwa, a relative political green horn, for the post in a move that was generally well received by MPs and other citizens.
Parliament proceeded to endorse him by 73 per cent of the vote and make the Ruangwa MP as the President’s hand-right man and leader of government business in Parliament. His appointment ended two weeks of speculations over who would land the job.
Mr Majaliwa, 54, who was only elected for a second term as MP in last month’s General Election, said he was humbled to land the post, adding that the appointment came as a surprise.
“I did not expect this to happen nor was I prepared for such a role, but now that I’m the chosen one, all I can say is that I humbly accept and I’m ready to serve the nation,” he told a cheering House in his short acceptance speech.
Mr Majaliwa horned his political skills as a teachers’ union leader before he was appointed district commissioner by former President Jakaya Kikwete in 2006.
He formally entered politics in 2010 when he was first elected to Parliament, setting the stage for his rise as a primary school teacher in the 1980s. He was appointed Deputy Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister in 2010.
Yesterday, he expressed his gratitude to President Magufuli for showing trust in him and pledged not to let him down.
“I would like to thank the President for choosing me from among many. I will repay his belief in me by performing my duties diligently and to his expectations and those of fellow Tanzanians,” he said.
The new PM, who will be sworn in today at Chamwino State Lodge, promised to cooperate with all MPs regardless of their political affiliations.
“I will treat everybody equally because we are all here to serve the public,” said Mr Majaliwa, whose second name means blessings in Kiswahili. Until the 2010 elections, Mr Majaliwa was virtually unknown on the national stage, having been largely confined to education circles as a teacher and trade unionist.
This changed when he was appointed Deputy Minister for Regional Administration and Local Government responsible for education.
As Mr Majaliwa was expressing his surprise at being thrust into the national and international limelight, colleagues and independent political commentators said his profile, both as a politician and a public servant, would complement Dr Magufuli’s style of leadership.
They saw in him a person who could reach out and win over the various shades of opinion across the country. His demeanour, hard work, willingness to listen and the fact that his political career is untainted so far were other personal attributes that won him praise.
His record at the PM’s office, where he dealt extensively with the mess in the education sector, meant he would be an asset to continue the intended education reforms promised by Dr Magufuli during his campaign.
Besides, the new PM brings in the regional political power balance after it was predicted that the choice by the President would come from the southern regions.
Mr Majaliwa immediately went on charm offensive, assuring MPs that he will always seek and receive their advice to bring positive changes in the country.
He said he will visit all parts of the country to listen to the people’s problems and asked MPs to help the public present their concerns as well as solutions for their challenges.
“I will listen to all and my office will be open for everybody who wishes to highlight problems and challenges the people are facing,” said Mr Majaliwa.
Earlier, President Magufuli’s aide-de-camp arrived in Parliament in style to hand in the sealed brown envelope that contained a hand written letter naming Mr Majaliwa as PM.
His name was then read out by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai. It was the first time the ADC was doing that.
Presenting Mr Majaliwa’s profile before MPs endorsed him, Attorney General George Masaju said the newly appointed Premier is among hardworking and God fearing leaders.
“Mr Majaliwa has successfully served in various positions in this nation, he is also well educated and competent in leadership, he is the right person for this post,” said the AG. In their comments, some MPs said Dr Magufuli made the right choice and that the fifth government was showing positive signs to fulfill wananchi’s expectations.
Former Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Mr William Lukuvi, said he has worked with Mr Majaliwa for a long time and that he believes he can deliver as required. Mr Lukuvi was among those tipped for the same job.
“I have worked with him for many years, I understand his seriousness and competency in attaining his goals, I believe he will help this nation to move forward,” said Mr Lukuvi.
Mr Andrew Chenge (Bariadi West-CCM) said: “Mr Majaliwa is a strong and skillful young man. I have followed his performance in this House and can assure you that he is going to deliver.”
He said Majaliwa was a good analyst with quick solutions to problems.
Ms Jenista Mhagama ( Peramiho-CCM) said Mr Majaliwa was a clean leader who has maintained a good record in public service. She said his age, education and seriousness match with the current government’s motto, which needs people who can think and act quickly. Dr Hamis Kigwangala (Nzega Rural-CCM) concurred that the new PM listens, asks and seeks solutions to problems whenever required to do so.