IN the end, the wait happened on 9th December at Chamwino State House, when Tanzania finally has a full government cabinet after President Dr John Magufuli administered oaths to 21 ministers and 22 deputy ministers.
The nominated ministers had been announced after what Dr Magufuli stated was a tough task to review each proposed individual closely. On the day Tanzanians were celebrating 59th Independence Anniversary, president vowed and repetitively demanded hard work at the same time urging every ministry to increase their performance for the interest of the nation.
While not every nomination is a new face, the new cabinet of 43 in total in my view will need to embrace hard work, make wise decision and when necessary hard decision that would be welcomed by investors and local businesses.
Telling again his cabinet to discern ethics and integrity, as well as refrain from revealing confidential information through social media (see Daily news 10th December 2020 front page), Dr Magufuli reminded me one important thing, how to be an effective minister and importantly what minister need to do and how to do it well? In my view, newly-appointed ministers will be facing tough time in delivery if they don’t plan their roles strategically.
While each appointed minister in his docket was being cautioned in a diplomatic style in his speech after swearing in exercise, one thing reaped in my mind at the end of his excellence speech was that the job of a government minister is a peculiar one.
There is no job description, no application, no interview and importantly no tuition. You are picked from pool of members of parliament to be a chief decision maker and a joint leader of a large and sometime complex ministry that you may know absolutely nothing about.
As minister new role starts the moment you leave swearing grounds, perhaps with some instruction from the President about what he would like you to do, perhaps not as with the typical case to Minister of State President’s Office, regional Administration and local government to deal with all public officials who were swindling public funds, since the president wasn’t satisfied with the ministers performance in that specific area.
To many, when fortunate to be appointed a minister, it is a great privilege and most likely the highlight of member of the parliament political career.
As newly appointed minister, in my opinion, team work, respect and coordination are among the weapons in new offices since as ministers you will be part of a ministerial team that you haven’t been able to choose and that may include political rivals.
Reading Dr JPM mind, as he demands hard work from the ministers implies that ministers job is 24/7 as they juggle a constant stream of government business along with their role as parliamentarians, all under the gaze of the media and the public but more importantly mounting social media.
Ministers need to bear in their mind that their jobs is an unconceivable opportunity but it is also transitory, however well you perform. One day the President decides that it is time for a reshuffle and you leave the ministry or docket just as suddenly as you entered it hopefully having averted disaster and achieved your policy goals.
Ministers are incredibly weighty to the government, yet it is surprising how small is established about what they actually do; even within the civil service the majority of bureaucrats have little contact with ministers.
In the interim, the public feel isolated from a political class that is seen as out of touch and elite; government ministers, when they can’t deliver or work hard, could be trusted less than investment banker and people believe that ministers spend more time scoring political points and seeking re-election than they do delivering their policy pledges.
My appeal to newly appointed Ministers is that ministerial career can end suddenly especially when expected outcome isn’t seen being executed. Ministers can be forced to resign because of a scandal or row or can get sacked by the President at a reshuffle. Promotions or demotions at reshuffle often come out of the blue.
A planned and graceful resignation from the government is possible, when one fail to deliver, but in Tanzanian politics, resignation has been rare. To conclude, hard work under Dr JPM’s regime is being effective and not otherwise.
This is important because given that the role of a minister is so varied and demanding, there is no single understanding of what an effective minister is.
The public want honest ministers who can live up to their promises, the chief whip in the house want ministers who can handle parliament and get their bills through smoothly, the president want loyal ministers who won’t cause embracement on social media and headlines on wrong doing, the policy officials want decisive ministers who understand analysis and the campaigner want ministers who genuinely listen to a range of views and can secure resources for their issues. Different mixes of skills are needed for different ministerial roles.
A junior minister overseeing the ministry of sports improvement requires a slightly different set of competences from the minister of planning and finance or Minister of foreign affairs. Hence, Ministers, work hard and result of your work will market you.
Social media is a good platform to demonstrate what you do; nonetheless social media might not help to make you effective in delivery. Work hard bearing in mind that cooperation is important, particularly between the Minister, the Deputy and Permanent Secretary of responsible Ministry. Whatever position has been given to a minister, clear goals are essential.
Why are you there? To avoid getting masked with trivia a minister must think about what is important and what isn’t and prioritise down to a very limited number of priorities. Make good, timely decisions and encourage teamwork and challenge.