- Published on Sunday, 05 August 2012 03:50
- Written by DAILY NEWS Reporter
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MEMORIES are still rife in many tanzanite artisanal miners at Mirelani when Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, Steven Masele visited them and gave them hope that there is a future in their trade.
Artisanal miners voices are now shaping government policy in the industry which is dominated by multinational corporations. Mr Masele said daily appearances in the field of mining areas have made him a familiar face among small scale miners in the country.
President Jakaya Kikwete’s appointtee spent six years in the private sector in different capacities plying his trade at Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic Bank and mobile phone firm, Tigo but still many people are wondering who is this young man rubbing shoulders with old folks in Mr Kikwete’s cabinet?
With his smooth, confident demeanor, crisp dress sense and impeccable English, he is one of the faces that the ruling leadership wants to show the world, there are much more crops of talents to come from his ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
Like Julius Malema – the dethroned President of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANCYL) youth league, Masele who has been nicknamed a Biblical Moses (Musa) by artisanal miners at Merelani
in recent days when he visited to solve their long time outstanding disputes with investor Tanzanite one, for his lurid and improbable positions, Masele has become a new hero and familiar to millions for his firm decisions in favour of small scale miners.
But Masele is no figure of fun, His laconic, quietly forceful delivery gives him a gravitas normally associated with President Kikwete and his government, while his drive is reflected in his rapid elevation from unknown to government deputy minister.
The youthful Deputy Minister who has a wife, a young daughter and son, studied politics at the University of Dar es Salaam in the early 2000s and worked as member of Pan African Parliament in Midrand, South Africa and also served as member of Inter-Parliamentary Union based in Geneva, Switzerland. He has been deployed by the African Union (AU) in joint mission with Pan African Parliament to perform various activities in the continent on several occasions.
Those who knew him in his student days described him as serious, friendly and humble but very charismatic who always attract the attentions of the people wherever he visited.
Born in 1980 at Kolandoto hospital of Shinyanga region as a Sukuma by tribe, Masele benefited from belonging to the youth league of CCM where he is serving as outgoing Regional Chairman for Shinyanga and member of National Executive Committee of the ruling party.
He is one of the most influential figures within UVCCM through which he easily made his way to gain a place during last general elections. One former visitor to his home in Shinyanga recalls his family had a street reserved for themselves and enjoyed a visible level of wealth.
Prof Mwesiga Baregu, who lectured him at University of Dar es Salaam, remembers him as an engaging, friendly but serious student - “A nice guy but very strict,” he said while describing the young man.
According to Prof Baregu, Masele asked him not to disclose his connections to the government, although the student made no secret of his loyalty to his government or his support for the regime.
“He was being cultivated to protect the dynasty and serve it,” Prof Baregu, said. He said Masele attended his courses despite knowing that the lecturer was a critic of government and an advocate of political reform in the country.
Masele rose swiftly through the ranks of the Tanzanian elite, as young politician with an immense international exposure having served AU-election observer mission to Gabon, Algeria, special task force to Libya, Egypt and Sudan.
He attended various international conferences in Panama, France, Switzerland, Brazil and South Africa just to mention a few countries. He was also named a candidate to run for vice presidency at Pan African Parliament in South Africa before withdrawing following his promotion to become Deputy Minister recently.
Deogratias Mtui attended the same course with Masele at the University of Dar es Salaam and remembers him as a sociable character who nonetheless appeared older than his actual age. “He wouldn’t have come near us because of his closeness to the regime,” Mr Mtui said.
“When I saw him on television, he actually seemed younger than what he looked like back then,” Mtui pointed out. Describing him as an amiable guy, Mtui remembers him as obviously coming from quite a wealthy family because he used to turn up with all expensive gadgets such as a video camera and Dictaphones.
“I remember he used to go out a lot,” Mtui noted. Mtui also remembers that Masele who was a leader in the political class that he attended, simply meant what he said and not vice versa. Mtui also describes Masele as honest, focused and ambitious but managed to keep a low profile as lawmaker during President Kikwete’s past five year term.
“Very quickly he rose up. One minute he’s a Member of Parliament, the next minute he’s the member of Pan Africa Parliament, next day he’s a member of inter-parliamentary union and latest Deputy Minister of Energy and Minerals. What about the next minute?”
Mtui wonders while pointing out that the Deputy Minister is a well connected person. In such a scenario of fastmoving events, it is impossible to predict what will happen to Masele next although his dedication to President Kikwete’s regime has always defined him.
He has the leadership quality and experience and conflict resolution skills as he recently proved in Mirelani where artisanal miners have been at loggerheads with TanzaniteOne for years.
At the highest level Masele become a hero in all the places he visited by managing to restore hope among the people and build a huge trust of the government, by showing people how things have changed at one of the most sensitive ministries in Mr Kikwete’s government.