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Mwinyi’s lean team as he leaves door open for ACT

Friday November 20 2020
Mwinyi pic
By Alawi Masare

Dar es Salaam. Zanzibar president Hussein Mwinyi yesterday lined up his lean cabinet as he introduced changes to focus on growing the economy.

Dr Mwinyi named 13 ministers out of the 15 slots while he waited for the opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo) which will fill the two vacancies if it agrees to form the Government of National Unity (GNU) as per the law.

The position of First Vice Presidedent was also left vacant for the same oppositiion party which came second in the elections.

The President reduced the cost of running the cabinet by not appointing deputies, saying his aim was to have a thin and efficient team. He said he would only name them should need arise.

The cabinet which is dominated by largely young and new faces allows Dr Mwinyi to focus on growing the economy after putting key portfolios under his office. Four of the ministers were women.

The president’s office will have four ministers instead of three previously, including the new Economy and Investment docket formed as a separate portfolio. Finance and Planning was moved to his office.

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“As I promised when inaugurating the House of Representatives, I want the private sector to be a priority in economic development, and that is why I have named the minister responsible for economy and investment,” said Dr Mwinyi as he announced the line up in a function broadcast live.

In an attempt to give more attention to the natural resources available in the Indian Ocean, he also formed a new separate portfolio for Blue Economy. The blue economy was one of his main campaign platforms in the endeavor of exploiting the potentials from the sea.

Dr Mwinyi retained two ministers from the previous cabinet and elevated Simai Mohamed Said who was previously a deputy to the education and vocational training portfolio. He also appointed former minister Dr Khalid Mohammed Salum who was one of finalist in the ruling CCM presidential primaries and lost to Dr Mwinyi.

The ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender and Children and that of Trade and Industry Development were left vacant, waiting for the ACT Wazalendo to nominate the party members of the House of Representatives to fill them.

Dr Mwinyi officially won the Zanzibar presidential polls after garnering 76.27 percent of the total votes cast while veteran opposition candidate and main challenger Seif Sharif Hamad scored 19.87 percent.

The constitution of Zanzibar requires the winner to form the GNU with the party that gets at least 10 percent of the votes. However, ACT Wazalendo said were still consulting on whether to be part of the government or not after disputing the results of the election which the opposition claimed was rigged.

Dr Mwinyi said they had written to the opposition about forming the GNU but ACT Wazalendo “has not responded to the letter.”

“We are leaving the post of the first vice president vacant as we wait for the ACT Wazalendo to respond,” said Dr Mwinyi as he responded to questions, “We also have slots for ACT Wazalendo in the cabinet and that is why I left the two ministries vacant. The elected ACT Wazalendo Members of the House of Representative have not reported so far and we are giving them time. When they are ready, they will report, take oath of allegiance and we will move on,” he added.

The President apparently has other portfolios which may cover some aspects in the vacant health and trade and industry ministries.

For instance, part of the health aspects are covered by the President’s Office – Regional Administration and Special Departments of Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar.

Some aspects of trade and industry are also partly covered in the docket of the economy and investment portfolio.

Dr Mwinyi did not appoint any deputy minister saying he was eyeing a small cabinet.

However, he said would consider appointing them in the future if there was a need for that.

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