Since adjournment of the August House two weeks ago, it was question of when and not if, as far as the cabinet reshuffle was concerned.
The reshuffle was inevitable in the wake of a stormy National Assembly session in Dodoma where Members of Parliament bayed for the blood of underperforming ministers and those whose ministries were implicated with graft and embezzlement of public funds.
By reshuffling his cabinet, the President has lived up to his word pronounced during May Day celebrations in Tanga when he promised to act accordingly following scandalous revelations against some ministries, agencies and local government. The reshuffle saw ministers-for Finance, Energy and Minerals, Natural Resources and Tourism, Health Transport and Trade and Industries locked out of the new cabinet.
The ministers for the said ministries were mostly under fire as the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) and Parliamentary Committee Reports tabled in the House linked them with numerous irregularities, that certainly contributed to their downfall.
Most analysts have since agreed that the President has handled the matter in a manner expected of him as he certainly has listened to MPs and public outcry to review his cabinet lineup in the wake of the damning CAG and Parliamentary Committee reports.
Looking back to events that culminated in the cabinet reshuffle, the ruling CCM has done itself no harm at all and can take credit for having been in the forefront to condemn the culprits and calling for the reshuffle. The seventh meeting of the National Assembly last month, saw CCM Mps being the most vocal in calling for ministers implicated to take political responsibility and resign immediately for the sake of their government’s strength and unity.
Some CCM MPs even predicted their party’s downfall come the next General election if no action was taken against those implicated by the Reports. Amid the hot debate, the CCM caucus met in Dodoma and resolved that the party would be better off if ministers linked with graft and other irregularities were shown the door.
“Unless the President dumps the ministers, and there are at least eight of them, people’s trust in the government would wane and CCM may not return to power come next general election,” said then a veteran CCM legislator. He added that CCM legislators had read the “writing on the wall” and are aware how hard it would be for them to retain their posts in 2015 if the government does not act tough on graft.
To prove that this time CCM MPs were out to walk the talk, one event stood out, and that is their support of no confidence vote against the Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Indeed a picture carried last month by a section of the media of Deo Filikunjombe signing the vote of no confidence petition against the Prime Minister spoke volumes.
Filikunjombe, the youthful legislator represents Ludewa constituency on CCM ticket, and his stepping forward openly to support the motion initiated by the opposition against the leader of CCM-led government business in the House was quite telling. At least five other CCM legislators including Musoma Rural MP Nimrod Mkono are known to have put pen to paper to exert pressure on the implicated ministers to step down to save the Premier’s position.
In a nutshell CCM legislator’s support of the motion summed up the mood and determination of Members of Parliament regardless of their political affiliation to see ministers implicated with graft and embezzlement of public funds take political responsibility and resign.
Mr Filikunjombe said times had changed and Mps, irrespective of their political affiliations must speak with one voice on matters of national interest. He said he is not afraid to criticize his government whenever things go wrong, saying only by doing so would he be playing his oversight role effectively.
The legislator confounded the House, when he boldly named the axed Finance Minister Mr Mustafa Mkullo as not being an honest person, saying the CAG Report had attested to that. The MP also dared to provide damning evidence to prove his notion that some ministers were “the biggest thieves of public resources.”
These are exciting times indeed as the MPs seem all out to walk the talk. That means the new cabinet can not afford to relax now that the likes of Filikunjombe have set the bar high for them.