Following the sudden death on of Vice-president Dr Omar Ali Juma (see Obituaries) president Mkapa appointed on July 12 Dr Ali Mohamed Shein (53) to take his place. According to the Guardian, President Mkapa’s nomination came as a surprise to most Tanzanians including journalists who had predicted that former OAU Secretary General, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and former High Commissioner irl London Dr Abdulkadir Shareef would be the front runners. The Guardian article went on: ‘However, all those who had made predictions were correct on two things. First, that no woman politician stood a chance of taking the vice-presidency and second, whoever was to be appointed would come from Pemba.
Though Dr Shein is relatively unknown in Tanzanian politics, he has a long curriculum vitae with a strong academic background. He was born in Chokocho village, Pemba, in 1948 and attended Lumumba College in Zanzibar before proceeding to Voronezh State University in the Soviet Union where he obtained his A Level Certificate in 1970. He got his first degree at the Odessa State University in the Soviet Union in 1975 and later his Msc Degree in Medical Biochemistry and his Ph.D in Clinical Biochemistry and Metabolic Medicine from Newcastle University in Britain.
His political career goes back to 1968 when he was the Publicity Secretary of the Afro-Shirazi Youth wing at Lumumba College and General Secretary of the youth wing for all secondary schools in Zanzibar. Before his appointment as Minister in the Zanzibar President’s office, he was Minister for Health in the government lcd by Dr Salmin Amour. Reacting to the nomination of Dr Shein, many MP’s from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) hailed President Mkapa for injecting young blood into the government But opposition MPs expressed fears that because Or Shein is young he might find it difficult to ‘manage the old guards’ in the CCM government.
The National Chainnan of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) Prof Ibrahim Lipumba said that Dr Shein was an unknown personality in politics. “I have heard of him for the fIrst time today,” he said. Prof Lipumba claimed that Dr Shein was not accepted even by Pemba residents. He was the representative of Mkanyageni in Pemba, a constituency whose general election results last year were controversial. But the leadership ofthe opposition CHADEMA party praised President Mkapa for his wise choice.