The opposition party in Tanzania, ACT-Wazalendo, yesterday said it was concerned by the growing trend of President John Magufuli to give government jobs to its senior cadres, noting that this threatens the strength and image of the party.
President Magufuli on Saturday appointed ACT Chairperson Anna Mghwira the Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner. Ms Mghwira’s appointment comes barely two months after another ACT senior cadre and advisor, Prof Kitila Mkumbo, was named permanent secretary in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.
Speaking in interviews at separate occasions with The Citizen, party leader Zitto Kabwe and Communications Officer, Mr Abdallah Khamis, said they have doubts over the intentions of President Magufuli in these appointments.
President Magufuli did not discuss the appointments with ACT leaders before the announcements were made, according to Mr Kabwe. In the appointment of Prof Mkumbo in April, the party had reservations but the leadership decided “to focus on having good faith towards the President” while acknowledging the fact that Prof Mkumbo, who was teaching at the University of Dar es Salaam, was a public servant any way, Mr Kabwe added.
However, the appointment of Ms Mghwira is something else, he notes, adding:“This second appointment has increased our doubts on the intention of the President and his government. Our first instinct is that it does more harm than good to the party,” Mr Zitto told The Citizen yesterday in an e-mailed response to questions sent to him.
He says furher: “ACT is a young party, therefore, vulnerable. Both within and outside the party, that vulnerability can become a liability, especially when political pressure is high. Every member we lose is a hit against us at ACT and more so for every leader we lose.”
Mr Khamis told The Citizen yesterday that he was concerned about the image the appointments give to the party. “It can now be easy for the people to build the notion that ACT is politically affiliated to CCM, something which is not correct. And then, President Magufuli is targeting the party’s outspoken and visionary leaders who have demonstrated strong leadership since the founding of the party,” he said.
Mr Khamis also wondered why, if President Magufuli did not care about the political ideologies of his appointees, did not appoint politicians from other opposition parties to his government.
“He shouldn’t limit himself to ACT-Wazalendo. He should appoint members of other opposition parties because all Tanzanians have equal rights to contribute to country’s development, if that is his intention,” Mr Khamis said.
Will ACT allow Ms Mghwira to serve as RC?
Both Mr Kabwe and Mr Khamis said they have not yet had an opportunity to discuss the appointment with Ms Mghwira because she was out of the country. Mr Kabwe said the party has decided against impulsive reaction to the appointment and was waiting till they have had a chance to “discuss and agree as a party on the way forward.”
Mr Khamis, for his part, told The Citizen that the decision on whether to accept the appointment could, ultimately, be that of Ms Mghwira. She would have to relinquish her position at ACT, if she decides to accept the appointment.
Yesterday political commentators said they thought that President Magufuli’s appointment of ACT Wazalendo senior leaders was a strategic move aimed at weakening the Opposition.
The Open University of Tanzania (OUT) lecturer, Dr Hamad Salim, said President Magufuli’s appointment was aimed at implementing his pledge to weaken the Opposition by 2020 with pacifying outspoken politicians through involvement in his government in order to share challenges of leading the country.
He said the country lost the philosophy to guide the trends of country’s economy and politics after replacing the Arusha Declaration with the Zanzibar Declaration in the early 1990s, saying ACT Wazalendo was considered to provide the Opposition with the philosophy through the Tabora Declaration.