PRESIDENT John Magufuli on Sunday made a pocket-sized reshuffle of his cabinet but experts say the new appointees have tough time ahead to steer the country’s economy from a worsening agricultural mayhem.
The Head of State has reappointed George Simbachawene as Minister of State in the Vice- President Office, Union and Environment, nearly two years after he resigned as minister of state in the president office, regional administration and local governments.
Simbachawene replaces January Makamba who had occupied the office since 2015. President Magufuli also named Hussein Bashe as new Deputy Minister for Agriculture, filling the post left vacant by the current Minister for Trade and Industries, Mr Innocent Bashungwa.
The new appointees take over the offices with immediate effect. According to political, community development and environmental commentators, Simbachawene and Bashe are both pragmatic and tough to turn-around their new dockets Dr Ombeni Msuya, an environmentalist and community development expert welcomed the new appointment, describing the duo as “reform-minded” people.
He said agriculture has been a mainstay for over 70 per cent of Tanzanians, challenging Mr Bashe to help the sector to realise the industrial ambition.
“It is agriculture that will produce the raw materials—cotton, coffee, cashewnut—which are needed for the industrial development. We need a visionary person who can lead and help particularly the smallholder farmers in remote areas,” he said.
Dr Msuya pointed out that the new plans must help to revolutionise the agricultural sector, boost urban farming and ensure food security. The tough path ahead for the new appointees includes ensuring affordable and timely availability of agro inputs and markets.
Until now, cashewnut farmers in the southern regions, coffee and cotton growers in the Lake Zone are still negotiating their aftermath following years of prolonged disorders.
Bashe, the outspoken Member of Parliament for Nzega (CCM) acknowledged the hefty challenges ahead but immediately expressed optimism to “overturn” them.
In his acceptance message posted on his official twitter page, the newly appointed deputy minister expressed gratitude to the president, the voters and the nations noting, “It’s a sector that employs a large section of Tanzanians and with a lot of challenges.”
Few hours after President Magufuli announced the minireshuffle, the ditched Makamba said he was comfortable with the latest cabinet rearrangement.
On his twitter account he posted, “I have received the changes with an absolutely open, clear heart. I will speak much in the coming days.” Environmentalist and Executive Director of the Journalist Environment Association of Tanzania (JET) John Chikomo argued that tough decisions are also ahead for the new minister for the union and environment following series of actions made by his predecessor.
“Tanzania has been doing well on climate resilience however it is not enough. We have submitted a land degradation neutrality report but we want all documents related to improving the environment to be actively reflecting,” he said.
The experts say while the former minister had managed to combat plastic bags in the country, it’s unfortunate that there are no sufficient recycling facilities.
“This should be an immediate work for the new minister,” Mr Chikomo noted.
Attempts to obtain comment from Simbachawene remained futile yesterday but record shows he managed to make complex decisions to revamp the regional administration and local government’s ministry.
Mr Simbachawene was forced into relinquishing his ministerial job after being implicated in a parliamentary sub-committee report on Tanzanite submitted to the National Assembly Speaker Job Ndugai in September 2017.
President Magufuli also, according to a statement issued yesterday, reappointed Ambassador Marten Lumbanga to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.