THE dust is now settling on who is who in President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s government, particularly after the swearing in of Vice President Philip Isdor Mpango, and a number of new ministers and deputy ministers.
No member of the existing cabinet was dropped, although some changed portfolio. As if reading the mind of the public, the Custodian (1 April) observes: “The reshuffle left a number of ministerial portfolios untouched, ‘while nonetheless’ the President noted that more changes will be done in the future”.
I would have changed the phrase “while nonetheless” into “though”, for the sentence to read: “The reshuffle left a number of ministerial portfolios untouched, ‘though’ the President pointed out that more changes will be done in the future”. But, first things first. How should the President be addressed?
The papers have adopted different approaches: President Hassan, President Samia, Mama Samia, Ms Samia and President Samia Suluhu Hassan. Just like we already have an official portrait of the President, we need an official way of addressing her. Given what is common in Zanzibar (eg three names), I trust the official nomenclature will be President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
No short cuts. Apparently, the President has a subtle sense of humour. While calling on all her appointees to: “embrace nothing but hard work to meet public expectations”, she sent everybody roaring with laughter when she said she had large eyes which can see far and wide, much as they appeared to be “lazy” (kulegea).
Former Chief Secretary (CS) Bashiru Ally’s short stint in that office was highlighted by the Press: “Bashiru sets new record in CS position”, noted the Good Citizen (1 April, p. 3). “Having been in office for only 33 days, Dr Ally becomes the first CS to serve the shortest period in Tanzanian history”.
The use of the adjective “first” suggests that there could be a second, third, or fifth CS to hold that shortest period. Nope. The shortest period (tenure) in history can only be held by one person in history. “First” therefore needs to be dropped. The sentence can then be rewritten into: “Having been in office for only 33 days, Dr Ally goes on record as having served the shortest period as CS, in Tanzanian history”.
This reminds one of Pope John Paul I, the smiling Pope, who held office for only 33 days. In the case of Dr Ally, the press is divided, as to whether he was in office for 32 or 33 days; but then what’s in a number? It is still the shortest period for a CS in the Country’s history. Who took over from Dr Ally?
The Custodian, in a front page headline, gives the answer: “Bashiru Exits State House, Ambassador Katanga is CS”. Aspects of Ambassador Katanga’s CV are given. He was once PS in the Prime Minister’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government”.
But the following looks strange: “He was on July 2012-October 2019 ‘served’ as Registrar of the High Court before he was appointed ambassador to Japan”. “Was served as Registrar …” is, in these circumstances, not right. How about saying: “He served as Registrar of the High Court between July 2012 and October 2019, before he was appointed ambassador to Japan”.
According to the Custodian, Dr Ally was born on 1 January 1968. Before becoming CS he was Secretary General of the ruling party, CCM, a post which he left: “upon being appointed to the State House position by ‘former’ president Dr John Magufuli”. We need to note that at the time of appointing Dr Ally as Chief Secretary, on February 27 2021, Dr Magufuli was President.
He was not “former” President. All the best Ambassador Katanga. And all the best newly appointed MP, Dr Bashiru Ally. I would like to believe that since, as CS, Dr Ally was Ambassador, he retains that status, for ever. Is it not written that “once an Ambassador always an ambassador?”