Inside Samia’s appointment of regional commissioners

What you need to know:

  • Since ascending to the highest office in the land on March 19, last year, analysts see President Hassan as treading carefully as she builds her own team

Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan continues to push her reform agenda as evidenced by the appointments she makes, including her efforts to bridge the gender gap.

Since ascending to the highest office in the land on March 19, last year following the death in office of her predecessor John Magufuli, analysts see President Hassan as treading carefully as she builds her own team, consisting of people she believes would head ministries, departments, agencies, regions and districts as per expectations, and at the same time trying to bring on board more women in powerful positions and simultaneously doing away with some of those that she ‘inherited’.

In her latest appointments, according to a statement signed by the director of presidential communications, Ms Zuhura Yunus, the President dropped nine RCs whose names and respective regions in brackets are: Stephen Kagaigai (Kilimanjaro); David Kafulila (Simiyu); Robert Gabriel (Mwanza) and Ally Hapi (Mara).

Others are: Brigadier General Marco Gaguti (Mtwara); Colonel Wilbert Ibuge (Ruvuma); Major General Charles Mbuge (Kagera); Dr Binilith Mahenge (Singida) and Joseph Mkirikiti (Rukwa).

She replaced the nine with Nurdin Hassan Babu (Kilimanjaro); Fatma Mwasa (Morogoro); Halima Dendego (Iringa) and Dr Raphael Chegeni (Mara), Peter Serukamba (Singida), Colonel Ahmed Ahmed (Mtwara), Colonel Laban Thomas (Ruvuma), Albert Chalamila (Kagera) and Dr Yahaya Nawanda (Simiyu).

Seven RCs were transferred to new workstations while ten were retained in their existing workstations. When she spoke during the swearing in ceremony of Dr Philip Mpango to become the Vice President in March last year, President Hassan had hinted that she would implement reshuffles in piecemeal but that every appointee would be given time to prove to her that they were out to perform.

On that particular day, she said she decided to make changes without dropping any minister because the team had worked together for only a short time since they last took their oaths of office under former President Magufuli.

“We have had a very short period and thus unable to know who has failed and who has done well. The sixth phase starts with these but going forward, we will know who to drop and who to maintain,” said President Hassan in March last year.

During her early days at the State House, President Hassan only dropped Dr Bashiru Ally from the position of Chief Secretary and nominated him a Member of Parliament (MP).

She then nominated Ambassadors Liberata Mulamula and Mbarouk Nassoro Mbarouk as MPs and elevated the two to a minister and a deputy minister respectively in the docket of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation.

She also appointed Dr Mwigulu Nchemba as Finance and Planning minister to replace Dr Mpango.

At that particular time, Ms Hassan only swapped her predecessor’s appointees into various ministries without dropping any.

What followed later was for President Hassan to officially announce the key priority areas for her administration.

With the adoption of a pro-business approach, which was a complete shift from her predecessor’s confrontational tone, President Hassan was to announce new reforms in April, 2021 whereby this time around, she said she was categorical that she would come up with a new line-up for regional commissioners, district commissioners and DEDs to complete the governance system.

That came to pass in May 2021 when, apart from dropping several on the RC lineup, she also brought in a few new faces, including former opposition presidential candidate Queen Sendiga and Amos Makalla who made a comeback after years in the cold.

In line with her desire to uphold the rule of law and good governance, she also changed leaders for Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) and the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

On June 19, 2021, she came up with a new list of district commissioners whereby she shifted many and in August, the President appointed 184 district executive directors (DEDs) for city councils, municipalities and district councils.

It was in the same vein of building her team that President Hassan announced a cabinet reshuffle in January this year, a few days after she hinted at making changes and letting go of people who were eyeing the 2025 elections.

Most notable absentees in that reshuffle were Lands, Housing and Human Settlements minister William Lukuvi; Industry and Trade minister Kitila Mkumbo; Constitution and Legal Affairs minister Palamagamba Kabudi, as well as Geoffrey Mwambe who was the minister of Investment.

With recent appointment of Camillus Wambura as the new Inspector General of Police (IGP) to replace Simon Sirro, who has been named Tanzania’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, analysts say the President has been on a mission to form a government of people that she believes will deliver in line with her aspirations.

Speaking to The Citizen, ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe said: “I’m happy for more women in government, now more than 30 percent. I’m moved by choices of Chegeni (Raphael) and Serukamba (Peter). They will help the President enormously but I’m gobsmacked by the return of Chalamila (Albert),” he said.

“The President is building her own team and this is how it should be. Reaching 31 percent women RCs tells clearly that she is in charge of reforms she wants to spearhead,” he added.

Chadema’s Protocol, Communications and Foreign Affairs director John Mrema echoed Mr Kabwe saying the Head of State was doing away with inherited leaders especially those who couldn’t read the writings on the wall.

“For instance, Mr Ally Hapi, former Mara RC, the President once said during her tour of Mara Region that she would have sacked him had he failed to provide clear answers [on what regional authorities were doing regarding embezzlement of public funds in the region]. This was a smart warning on his performance,” he said.

Mr Mrema said similar changes have been recently done on the Police Force, noting that however, Chadema has expressed their dissatisfaction with appointment of new Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Mr Ramadhan Kingai.

“Chadema will continue making close monitoring especially after the CCM intra-party elections that will demand for people with similar characteristics in government,” he said.

Independent political commentator Buberwa Kaiza said President Hassan was now used to her position, her assistants, demands and future plans including the 2025 presidential ambitions.

“She is supposed to have trusted assistants who are aligned to her visions and do away with those inherited from his predecessor,” he said.

But, a political science lecturer from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Dr Richard Mbunda, said people appointed in different positions need enough time to deliver their development plans.

“Appointing authorities could sign contracts with appointees that will be used in measuring their performance. This will discourage political rumours once underperforming appointees are taken accountable,” he said.

“No reasons have been given for the changes, however, let’s wait for the day they take oath, although the 2025 ambitions cannot be ignored,” he added.

But, Prof Ali Makame Ussi of the State University of Zanzibar (Suza) said changes shouldn’t necessarily be associated with incompetence and underperformance.

“Appointees are picked to serve different positions based on opportunities and challenges that need to be addressed. Sometimes, those sent to address the challenges are shifted to other places after they have completed assigned duties,” he said.

For his part, Dr Paul Loisulie of the University of Dodoma (Udom) said the President has been given constitutional and legal powers to pick assistants who would help her to implement the election manifesto and take accountability measures for incompetence and underperformance.

“That could be the reason for transferring former Dodoma RC Antony Mtaka to Njombe. However, politics requires a permanent campaign that should be supported by competent assistants,” he said.

“That could be the reason behind reinstatement of Mr Chalamila (new Kagera RC) who was dropped in the past to consolidate the campaign,” he added.