The humbling experience of Presidential appointments

Sunday August 07 2022
Samia uteuzi
By Erick Mwakibete

President Samia Suluhu Hassan recently appointed new regional commissioners and regional administrative secretaries, and left out some of those he had appointed or retained slightly more than a year ago. The latest appointments came with the dark, when the country woke up it was met with the news of the changes the President had made.

The list of those who were left out had more notable names than the list of those who were newly appointed or transferred and in some cases being returned in the fold from the cold. As it is the case with these presidential appointments, from the headlines to comments on various online forums, the reasons for the appointments or the changes made were a guess work.

President Samia-unlike her predecessors of the digital age-is the most active online. In a previous occasion she said as much, that she reversed the appointment of an individual because of the reception that appointee had received online.

For this reason, those who leave comments on social media know that is the easiest route for them to reach her. From time to one, when swearing in the leaders she has appointed, at times there are hints of the reasons why one individual was appointed and another individual was dropped. At other times, the president has been direct as to why she made such changes in the line-up of the individuals she picks to help her in various capacities.

Some of these presidential responses reflect what is being said on social media. It was the same in the latest round of appointments, as the president said the buck stops with her and that she does not consider any other factors in appointments except her belief that the individuals she appoints will be helpful one way or the other.

This hinted at what has come to be common observation in her appointments as some on social media claim this or that individual belongs to this or that camp of a previous predecessor.

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She spoke of the reasons why some were appointed and why others were left out, even though no details were given to the majority of those who were dropped except for a general explanation that they were left for various reasons.

She even confirmed why one prominent regional commissioner was dropped in a previous round of presidential appointments only to be reappointed after more than a year out.

The way our system works, makes it impossible for any presidential explanation to be enough or adequate in explaining some changes in these presidential appointments. There have been times when an individual was left out and the explanation given was that they had reached ‘retirement age’, however, in the same list of appointment, another individual who has reached ‘retirement age’ is newly appointed or retained.

This is what makes those commenting on social media hazard guesses as to why particular individuals are appointed or dropped. Oftentimes, the comments do not consider the ability of the appointed or dropped individuals to do the jobs they are appointed to or dropped from. It is always a question of other considerations.

CCM are in the midst of an election year within the party. Could some of those who were left reflect or moved reflect this ongoing process throughout the country? Like in previous occasions, at times, these appointments are used to ‘cool down’ political temperatures in particular constituencies, a product of toxic or destructive parliamentary party primaries in a previous general election. Or bring some in the shade after a bruising electoral experience in constituencies.

It is impossible to look at these appointments without considering political dynamics within CCM, after all the president, who is the appointing authority is also party chairperson of the ruling party. These appointments, apart from other considerations made, are used as a way to maintain the hierarchical nature of the ruling party.

That way, the party chairperson is able to maintain a hold on the party and reduce tensions from within, as well as keeping troublemakers calm, as they wait for their turn in the appointments or a green light in the murky world of intra-party elections or primaries.

As the president said in the latest round of appointments, no one is permanently appointed or permanently left out (even though some individuals seem to have completely fallen through the cracks). It is for this reason, those who are left out go out of their way to thank the president for ‘trusting’ them even though they have been left out.

To, this end, these presidential appointments work like the famed wheel of fortune. One time, you end up in the mud, another time the wheel throws you a lifeline from your temporary political misfortunes.

This is reflective of the political system in general and how it works, whether it’s presidential appointments or elections. Whatever reasons are attributed to these appointments, to the ruling political class, they can be a humbling experience.