REGIONAL REPORT

Suluhu stamps authority with VP appointment, Cabinet reshuffle

While Suluhu could be shaping her administration, her political interests cannot be wished away.

In Summary

• Suluhu on Tuesday nominated Finance minister Philip Mpango to fill the position she left when she was sworn in as President

• She reshuffled the Cabinet and transferred powerful Foreign minister Kabudi to the less lucrative Constitutional and Legal Affairs

Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
Image: COURTESY

Tanzania’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan this week stamped her authority in government, appointing a CCM outsider as Vice President and reshuffling her Cabinet.

Suluhu on Tuesday nominated Finance minister Philip Mpango to fill the position she left when she was sworn in as President following the demise of John Magufuli.

All the 363 MPs approved Mpango's appointment, paving the way for his appointment and swearing-in on Wednesday.

By appointing Mpango, President Suluhu bypassed top Chama Cha Mapinduzi stalwarts among them Palamagamba Kabudi, who was until Wednesday Foreign Affairs minister, CCM vice chairman Philip Mangula, Energy minister Medard Kalemani, his Lands counterpart William Lukuvi, Leonard Chamuriho and Mizengo Pinda as well as youthful politicians January Makamba and Emmanuel Nchimbi.

Mpango, however, has an impressive CV, and is an asset to the economic blueprint Magufuli focussed on and one Suluhu promised to stick to.

Mpango, 63, has been the Minister for Finance and Planning since November 2015. He previously served as the acting Commissioner General of the Tanzania Revenue Authority, the executive secretary in the President’s Office (Planning Commission), deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, and the PA to the President (Economic Affairs).

Makamba, in his congratulatory remarks, said Mpango is humble and noted that the appointment was “appropriate and shrewd”.

Maria Sarungi Tsehai, an activist known for her online campaign "Change Tanzania,' however criticised the appointment. She tweeted, “So the Finance minister of Magufuli who participated in cover ups of the economy and Covid-19 has become the Vice President of Suluhu Samia and now some want us to believe he was a victim? I refuse to drink the Kool-aid”.

Before Mpango settled in his new office, Suluhu on Wednesday unleashed more.

She reshuffled the Cabinet and transferred powerful Foreign minister Kabudi to the less lucrative Constitutional and Legal Affairs ministry.

Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, who was Kabudi's permanent secretary since 2015, was promoted to Foreign Affairs minister.

Mulamula has previously served as Tanzania’s ambassador to Washington and Canada, as well as the first Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in 2006-11. TBC journalist Fredrick Nwaka said she is an experienced diplomat in Tanzania’s diplomatic corridors. 

Bashiru Ally, who was appointed by Magufuli late February as chief secretary, was relegated to Parliament as a nominated member and his place taken by Hussein Katanga, the country’s ambassador to Tokyo.

While Suluhu could be shaping her administration, her political interests cannot be wished away.

Anyone who is interested in 2025 should stop immediately. Let us work. My big eyes will be on you
President Samia Suluhu Hassan 

There was talk about insiders who were against Suluhu ascending to power, despite the provision in the constitution. It is this clique she is thought to have addressed during Magufuli’s state funeral: “To those who doubt that a woman can be President of Tanzania, I say to you that the one standing before you today is the President and she is a woman!”

Her rise to power has disrupted CCM’s succession game plan as Zanzibar President Hussein Ali Mwinyi is said to have been the preferred presidential candidate in 2025.

While Magufuli was from the mainland, it was expected the next President in 2025 would be from Zanzibar, preferably Mwinyi, son of Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who served in 1985-95. This is their founding fathers’ succession policy.

But with Suluhu expected to vie in 2025 — and now CCM chairperson — she is expected to tailor the administration to keep her dreams for a second term alive.

She fired a shot on Thursday, when she addressed senior officials and new appointees, "Anyone who is interested in 2025 should stop immediately. Let us work. My big eyes will be on you".