by Ben Taylor

Cabinet reshuffle in President Hassan’s image?
President Samia Suluhu Hassan began 2022 with a cabinet reshuffle, widely reported as a move to strengthen her hand looking towards the general election in 2025.

The most notable absentees in the new cabinet are William Lukuvi, Kitila Mkumbo, Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi and Geoffrey Mwambe, the former Ministers of Lands and Housing, Industry and Trade, Constitution and Legal Affairs, and Investment respectively. Dr Dorothy Gwajima has been demoted to a less politically sensitive position as Minister of Gender and Social Welfare, from her former position as Minister of Health.

Prominent new ministers include former CCM Publicity Secretary Nape Nnauye, who returns to the cabinet as the Minister of Information, Communications and Information Technology, and Ridhiwan Kikwete, the son of the former President, who is now Deputy Minister of Land, Housing and Human settlements. Other new appointees include:
• Eng Hamad Masauni as Minister of Home Affairs
• Hussein Bashe as Minister of Agriculture with Anthony Mavunde as his deputy
• Prof. Adolf Mkenda as Minister of Education, Science and Technology
• Innocent Bashungwa as Minister of State in the President’s Office for Regional Administration and Local Government
• A newly formed Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry will now be headed by Dr Ashatu Kijaji with Exaud Kigahe as her deputy
• Mohammed Mchengerwa as Minister of Culture, Arts and Sports
• George Simbachawene as Minister of Legal and Constitution Affairs, having moved from Home Affairs
Ministers with responsibility for finance, defence, energy, tourism and foreign affairs remained unchanged.

The President also changed the structure of some ministries. She merged the Investment Ministry which was under the Prime Minister’s Office with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to become the Ministry of Investment, Industry and Trade, and split the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare into a separate Ministry of Health and a Ministry of Community Development, Gender, Women and Special Needs.

One analyst described the change as a purge of Magufuli loyalists, pointing to the departures of Prof Kabudi, Prof Mkumbo and Mwambe, and the absence of the former powerful finance permanent secretary, Dotto James, a close associate of President Magufuli, from the new list of permanent secretaries. The same analyst noted also that the new cabinet includes the return of some prominent figures from the Kikwete era, including Pindi Chana and Nape Nnauye, as well as Ridhiwani Kikwete.

The key factor that forms the context for the reshuffle is the President’s need to consolidate her position within the ruling party, CCM. Having come somewhat unexpectedly to power, she inherited most of the senior figures appointed by her divisive predecessor. She made only minor changes to the cabinet after becoming President, and may be looking towards the 2025 general election with some concern.

The next election is still three and a half years away, but an underground argument rages as to whether or not she should run again for President in 2025. Many within the party, particularly those with their own ambitions for the Presidency and their associates, are pushing the view that her role is to serve out President Magufuli’s second term before handing over to someone else. There is also the fact that later in 2022 there will be internal elections for leadership positions within CCM – positions that will hold considerable influence over the party’s approach to the 2025 election.

The President herself hinted at her motivation for the reshuffle a few days earlier. “All those I feel have their eyes on the 2025 general elections, and work with that in mind, I will relieve of their duties so that they can have an ample time to prepare themselves, but outside the government.”

She also referred to recent public statements by some against her administration’s decision to borrow in order to fund its development programmes, linking this with opposition she is facing within CCM and what she called “election fever” ahead of 2025. The Speaker of Parliament, Job Ndugai, had been particularly outspoken in this regard. He resigned after being criticised by the President – she described his statements as “unimaginable” – leaving a vacancy that would have been more significant in previous years when the opposition had more than a handful of MPs.

“When circumstances handed me this responsibility, there was much talk on ‘interim government’ among MPs,” said the President. “I went to the Constitution to see what it says about ‘interim government’. I did not see anything. I said to myself, okay, let’s go.” She urged her Ministers and senior officials – some of whom she accused of having mixed themselves in factions organising against her – to take her hands and work with her to “bring development to Tanzanians.”

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