In re-crafting the Cabinet, the engine of running government affairs, President Jakaya Kikwete faces a two-in-one challenge: filling vacant posts, and determining whether the current governance systems are, or aren’t good enough to enable even the best brains and dedicated individuals to operate efficiently.
That, some analysts, say, is apparent, in the wake of four ministers being sacked, and a looming reshuffle that could see more heads rolling, amid heightened concerns at levels ranging from the grassroots to Parliament, that the government is a let-down, in its public service mission.
On Friday, the president, as top appointing authority, fired four ministers implicated by a parliamentary select committee with gross human rights abuse during an operation to tackle poaching, dubbed ‘Operation Tokomeza’.
Chairman of the committee James Lembeli revealed shocking incidences of crimes, including murder, rape and torture committed by soldiers deployed to execute the operation that triggered much alarm and criticism. He then proposed that the four minister-- Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi (Home Affairs), Mr Khamis Kagasheki (Tourism and Natural Resources), Mr Shamsi Vuai Nahodha (Defence and the National Service) and Dr David Mathayo (Livestock and Fisheries Development)--take responsibility by resigning.
Shedding political party affiliations often typical on issues of a relatively mild nature, MPs supported the proposal, culminating in President Kikwete endorsing the plea by blessing the sacking of the ministers.
Commentators who spoke to The Citizen on Sunday pointed out that, whereas departure from the Cabinet via resignation of, or expulsion by ministers deemed inefficient or irresponsible was a positive trend, it wasn’t a wholesome solutions to operational problems.
The Head must probe the extent to which the governance systems were a stumbling block to the performance of even ministers who would be exemplary performers in an ideal environment.
What’s more, they noted, restricting punitive measures to ministers was unfair and wouldn’t have long-term positive bearings if subordinate, but nonetheless key executives such as permanent secretaries and top political officers implicated in the atrocities are not sent packing.
Political scientist Bashiru Ali, says the whole governance system in the government was in such a shambles that even potentially capable ministers wouldn’t be helpful and whose tenure could consequently be short-lived.
“The same would happen even if we bring in angels…have you asked yourself how many ministers have served in the energy and tourism ministries since Kikwete came to power?” the University of Dar es Salaam lecturer asked. The ministry of energy has seen three ministers on the wheel since President Kikwete came to power in 2005 while that of tourism will be having its fourth head after the next reshuffle. He said President Kikwete’s administration lacked clear administrative discipline, making even new ministers vulnerable to failure.
“The system is exhausted…it is ungovernable; this parliament will be investigating one scandal after another because the system is failing…it needs a major overhaul,” said Mr Bashiru.
To show failings in the country’s governance system, the academic said the parliament itself was suffering from similar accountability problems, making even the Lembeli’s report questionable.
He queried: “We heard of raping and killings in Mtwara during gas-related chaos; have you seen any report on those atrocities?”
Leader of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) Prof Ibrahim Lipumba asked President Kikwete to constantly review performance of his ministers before things get out of hand.
Chadema’s Chairman Freeman Mbowe said we would be committing serious political mistakes to pour too much blame on alleged underperforming ministers without critically reviewing how the current governance systems work.
“Contributions in parliament by mostly CCM MPs indicate that the ruling party was losing grip,” said the Hai MP. Mr Mbowe said he expected the President to weed out more unsuitable ministers, citing the Education sector as an example.