Monday, 19 April, 2021

Tanzania: All Eyes On State House As President Magufuli Meets Ward Executives

Dar es Salaam — When it was announced previously that President John Magufuli would meet the business community, religious leaders, regional commissioners or mining stakeholders at State House, the aim of the meeting – given the nature of the invitees -was clear.

However, tomorrow as the Head of State meets over 4,500 Ward Executives Officers (WEOs) at the same address, the agenda of the huge gathering remains guesswork as all involved have remained tightlipped.

Speculation is rife though, and eyebrows have been raised in certain quarters given the unprecedented nature of the mega meeting, and the work of the invitees, who are the lowest ranked public servants.

Local government Permanent Secretary (PO-RALG) Joseph Nyamhanga who announced the meeting with the President a week ago did not give the details of the agenda. It is also not clear if, like all the other publicised invitations, the meeting would be televised live.

The grapevine has since gone wild with speculations about the meeting, but Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda yesterday dismissed those questioning it.

“Asking why the President is meeting the ward executive officers does not matter at this point in time.

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Why didn’t the people question when the President when he met the business community or mining stakeholders? Why are people questioning it now? The President can meet whoever he wants to meet at any time,” said Makonda at a press conference.

A section of politicians is among those who have raised questions over the meeting, with ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe expressing concern about the real intention of the gathering.

Mr Kabwe appeared to suggest that the timing could be linked to or would have an effect on the forthcoming local government elections to be held on November 24.

Kabwe’s ground was built on the fact that the Weos and Village Executive Officers (VEOs) are observers of the local government elections. “The decision by the CCM Chairman and the minister responsible to invite more than 4,700 Weos for unspecified meeting is not well intended,” said the Kigoma Urban lawmaker.

Yesterday, a senior lecturer in the department of Political Science at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Richard Mbunda, also raised concern about the timing of the meeting but was emphatic that the president has the mandate to meet anyone at any time.

He, however, explained how important the Weos and Veos are in their areas of jurisdictions. He said no one can deny the truth that the workers are very important people especially in implementation of development and other issues because they are dealing with people directly at grassroots.

“For him (the president) to meet them is not a big deal but the timing (with the elections around the corner) is what invites questions,” he said in a telephone interview.

Dr Mbunda said it would create a negative impression from the people thinking it is meant to influence the outcome of the local government elections in favour of the ruling CCM. “The agenda should have been made clear upfront,” said Dr Mbunda.

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