Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Corruption: Tanzania's President to swear in new cabinet

Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete will swear in his new cabinet today (Wednesday) ahead of the visit by United States President George Bush. This follows the resignation last week of Prime Minister Edward Lowassa over graft allegations stemming from a contract probe by a parliamentary select committee. Lowassa’s resignation effectively resulted in the dissolution of the old cabinet.

The president reduced his new cabinet because he said he wanted to have an efficient government and cut down cost. Professor Xavery Lwaitama is a political science lecturer at the University of Dar-Es Salaam. He discussed with Peter Clottey Wednesday’s swearing in.

“He (President Kikwete) is expected to swear in his cabinet today, and yesterday he announced that cabinet. Preceding that announcement of the names with some explanation to what changes have been made to the cabinet list compared to what it was previously because previously the cabinet list was long. It was about 60 plus members of cabinet, now, it is around 47 with 26 cabinet ministers and I think about 21 deputy cabinet ministers. So he explained what has happened and the rationalization that had to be made in order to make the cabinet slimmer and leaner,” Lwaitama noted.

He refuted speculations that the imminent visit of U.S. President Bush might have triggered the resignation of the former prime minister, which forced President Kikwete to dissolve his cabinet.
“I wouldn’t give much weight to that kind of speculation because I would have thought that the president, if he had his way, he would not have wished that there was this political upheaval that has happened because it does also mean that things are still settling down before even the President of the United States makes his visit at the end of this very week,” he said.

Lwaitama described the dissolution of the former cabinet as being forced on President Kikwete.

“I think this was a matter that may have been forced on the president. But on the other hand of course he might want to put a spin on it or those around him by saying this is a way shows how Tanzania is more democratic, more open where its leaders are more accountable, where prime ministers can even resign and the country remains stable. In anyway its gives him (President Kikwete) credit as he runs the country,” Lwaitama pointed out.

He said the changes President Kikwete made in his new cabinet could be categorized in two main areas.

“There are two scenes about the changes in the cabinet. First the changes, which were technical, like combining all activities that are related to education into one ministry. That would give the population the impression that the president is listening to local experts. But there is also changes that relate to this idea that the president wishes to encourage that he is putting a distance between himself and those within his government and his party who are rich business people who had not abandoned doing their private business at the very time as they continue to work within the government. So he has made sure that those people… they have not been reappointed into his new cabinet,” he said.

By Peter Clottey Washington, D.C. 13 February 2008
Published with the permission of Voice of America

See also: Corruption: Tanzania dissolves cabinet after corruption scandal