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A full plate for Mwinyi ministers

Monday November 23 2020
MWINYI PIC

Newly appointed ministers follow the address from President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council Hussein Ali Mwinyi (not in picture) after their swearing in at the White House grounds in Zanzibar yesterday. PHOTO | Z’Bar STATE HOUSE

Dar es Salaam. Zanzibar’s new ministers drove out of the State House with all the trappings of power but likely knowing well of the tough task that lay ahead as they settle down to work.

For the 13 ministers who took the oath of office before President Hussein Mwinyi yesterday, their plate is full, at least judging from the expectations laid before them by the country’s chief executive.

With the exception of three who have served as full ministers in past administrations, the rest of the cabinet members are new and relatively young, and would be entering unchartered waters of public service and political accountability.

President Mwinyi laid it bare before the ministers and did not mince his words in explaining what his expectations were. While sounding flexible in approach, allowing the ministers a free hand to rein in their dockets, the President said he would be firm about performance indicators for all his ministers.

Top of the agenda would be revenue creating and collection, service delivery, fighting corruption, accountability and staying the course of the new administration’s campaign promises.

Value for money in projects and tenders, non-discrimination and effective communication were other areas that the ministers must raise the bar. President Mwinyi also added cleanliness, telling the ministers he had not been impressed by the levels of tidiness in places of work for the few areas he has inspected.

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“Today you have taken an oath, the work has started, get in your offices and work hard. I will be there to listen to obstacles you will be facing,” Dr Mwinyi said in his address.

He said he had received many congratulatory messages on the composition of his cabinet but cautioned he would not sleep on his laurels.

“It’s my hope that I will not be forced to reshuffle the cabinet within a short period but I will not hesitate to do so if you will not give me what I expect. My words could be tough, but let’s start getting used to them.”

“I’m speaking this to avoid future blames that I didn’t say this from the very beginning. There are many problems. However, they can be fixed,” Dr Mwinyi noted, telling those following the televised ceremony he understood the huge expectations on his government.

He said the mix of youthfulness and experience in the team should be useful. “Those with outstanding experience should benefit us with their understanding and new faces should provide us with the new working approach,” said the President.

“I will be visiting ministries where you will be given individual instructions after these general guidelines. Citizens have great expectations of the government, likewise you have been appointed after similar trust, therefore, don’t let me down.”


Knowing the dockets

Dr Mwinyi said ministers should be aware of their ministries and institutions under them. He said they should pay personal visits to know achievements and problems facing the ministries and related institutions. He said oversight will be key, including coming up with workable budget guidelines that aim to deliver the ruling party’s manifesto.

Dr Mwinyi who has prioritised economic growth, told the ministers to feel free to work closely with the private sector and seek views from all stakeholders.

The team was told to acquaint quickly with ongoing projects, with a view to satisfy themselves with quality, tender procedures, payments made to contractors and their timeframes.

“I was disappointed to see a health facility at the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital remain dormant for lack of a basin for doctor’s use while the contractor had been paid and handed over the project,” Dr Mwinyi observed.

He pointed out that a custom bonded warehouse at the Malindi Port was delayed by three months, leading to congestion of cargo at the port that affected free movement of goods yet the contractor had been paid fully.

The President said he had asked for a report on a fisheries project that promised one million fingerlings annually but was currently barely surviving. “I would like to get an in-depth report about the project including the amount of money used and why the project had reached that level.”


Why accountability

He said the ministers’ subordinates should be kept on their toes to deliver on respective jobs and duties. He said they should ensure justice is dispensed to all Zanzibaris without discrimination and that no complaint should be ignored.

The President said special attention should be given to the land sector that carries the outcry of most citizens. He said the lands ministry should immediately investigate reports that open spaces and other public land was grabbed shortly before the elections. He said the ministry was one of those requiring urgent reforms.

Dr Mwinyi warned that corruption or embezzlement of public funds would not be tolerated. “There are still endless seminars, unnecessary travels and misuse of fuel. “I will soon appoint permanent secretaries so that together you can ensure this wastage is eliminated.”

He noted that some ministries do not collect or remit revenue due despite having that function. He said that it will be unforgivable for ministers to preside over theft of budgetary funds and failure of project funds reaching and benefiting those targeted.

“A minister who will fails to work on corruption, embezzlement of public funds and theft will be deemed unfit to serve in my cabinet. Fortunately, the contract we have signed here today has no timeframe; your stay solely depends on your performance.”

“I had to be clear on this; there is no need to hide. I promised citizens that I will have zero tolerance on these issues; therefore, I will start with you my appointees,” he told them.

President said the finance ministry should look into the performance of Zanzibar Revenue Board (ZRB) and the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) as their work in the Isle was unsatisfactory. The natural resources function, too, he said was wanting. He pointed out that permitted sand miners were for example not remitting government dues.


Creativity key

“I would like everybody of you to come up with new means of working using experts in respective ministries. Nobody can bring creativity without making better use of experts,” said Dr Mwinyi.

Bureaucracy should be eliminated, he said, noting that when people look for services in public offices on troubles they have been getting they should be listened to and solutions provided. He said it was immoral for someone to mark time for over five years for a solution to his or her problems.

He said some laws had become a nuisance and should be changed to end the humiliation and complaints in many areas of the Isles public life. “Since we are the ones mandated to enact and amend the laws, therefore don’t hesitate to bring proposals for amendments in order to provide better services to our people.”

President Mwinyi rooted for improved relationship with the media, telling the ministers to use the media to highlight their work and get feedback from the public. “There is no need to hide what you are doing rather report achievements and challenges you are facing and efforts you are making to do away with them for citizens to know.”

He said hiding from journalists who may be looking for information from the government would signify failure on the part of those responsible. He encouraged the adoption of new technology to communicate efficiently and effectively solve problems. He pointed out online platforms as a sure way to engage the public.

On cleanliness, Dr Mwinyi said he will not tolerate dirty working environment. “Ensure your working places are clean as well as surroundings under the municipalities. Currently, there is no single place which could be considered to be clean; I will not accept this to continue.”

Some of the ministers yesterday got into working as soon as they left the State House, with education minister Simai Said Mohammed holding a meeting with directors at the ministry over form four national examinations kicking of tomorrow with over 23,600 students expected to sit for their exams in public and private secondary schools.

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By Louis Kolumbia @Collouis1999 [email protected]

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