SOON after President John Magufuli administered the oath of office yesterday, the newly appointed team of ministers and their deputies literally hit the ground running, attending their first cabinet meeting, some thinking aloud their plans for better public service.
Altogether, eight ministers, sixteen deputies and a Clerk to the National Assembly took two oaths -- of office and of integrity for public leaders -- before joining their sitting colleagues for a cabinet meeting. The commissioner of Ethics, Judge (Rtd) Harold Nsekela administered the oath of integrity to the sworn-in ministers.
President Magufuli administered the oaths following a reshuffle of his former line-up on Saturday by splitting two ministries, bringing to 21 the total number of ministerial dockets -- from the previous 19; ministers and their deputies who survived last Saturday’s reshuffle were not among those who took the oaths yesterday.
Director of Presidential Communications Gerson Msigwa made it public right from the onset of the swearing-in ceremony that the ministers would waste no time after the ceremonies, saying everyone would be heading straight for business.
Ms Angella Kairuki, who made headlines during the weekend after landing a rather challenging ministerial docket of mining said it was, indeed, a challenge she receives “with complete sincerity and commitment.”
“I know it is a challenge … still, I receive it wholeheartedly. I am confident that the new legislations on mining … will provide me with clear guidelines on how to handle issues in the sector,” she said.
On mining contracts, a contentious subject over the past ten years, Ms Kairuki said she was not ‘worried at all’ and that she would consult fully with the ministry’s technocrats at all times.
“… one of the challenges facing the ministry right now is the question of mining contracts … but I’m confident we’ve competent technocrats at the ministry … capable of advising me on what to do,” she said.
Before the reshuffle, Ms Kairuki was minister of State in the President’s Office (Public Service Management). The Minister for Natural Resource and Tourism, Dr Hamis Kigwangalla, on his part, said he was also aware of the challenges facing his brief, such as poaching, conflicts between residents living near national parks and game reserves and wildlife authorities and livestock grazing around protected wild areas.
“… with me behind the driver’s wheel … poachers should find other legitimate activities to engage themselves in … I’m going all out on a sustained anti-poaching campaign that will ensure every poacher is brought to justice,” he said.
He said to win the war against poaching, he would ensure intelligence and surveillance units were strengthened that would, and that he would help identify officers who had been colluding with poachers.
Dr Kigwangalla has been promoted from deputy minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children. The Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Luhaga Mpina meantime says he would throw his weight behind persistent conflicts between cattle herders and farmers and illegal fishing – pledging it was time pastoralists were sensitised on how to carry out productive pastoralism.
“…there’s nothing I don’t know about livestock and fisheries … the challenges are familiar to almost everyone … only that we lack competence in finding solutions … that’s what I’m going to deal with,” he said.
Mr Mpina who has been promoted from Deputy Minister of State in Vice President’s Office (Environment and Union Affairs) now plans to hold a meeting with ministry officials to chart the way forward.
The Minister for Health, Community Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu used the occasion to inform the public about the serious health risks that cervical and breast cancer were posing to women.
She reckons that 30 per cent of women reporting at the Ocean Road Cancer Hospital were diagnosed with cervical cancer while 12 per cent were diagnosed with breast cancer. Still worse, she said, 80 per cent of such patients were already in critical conditions.