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Kikwete's Cabinet Reshuffle Greeted With Mixed Reactions

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete has sworn in nine ministers and eight deputies following a major cabinet reshuffle he announced on Sunday. Kikwete gave no reasons for the reshuffle, but sources say many Tanzanians agree with what they call the President’s reservations about the performance of his cabinet.

Mohammed Safehatib is Tanzania’s Minister of Information. He spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the cabinet reshuffle.

“The reshuffle is a minor reshuffle, and it’s within the same ministers taking different ministries. And it has, I think, ten ministers and eight junior ministers who were affected by this reshuffle,” he said.

Safehatib says President Kikwete did not gave any reasons for the reshuffle.

“We don’t know what is the aim of the reshuffle, but I think it’s a normal thing to the President. He has the right to change anybody anytime, anywhere, so in effect he did not make clear why he made the reshuffle. And its his first reshuffle since the new government has been formed,” he noted.

He says there have been mixed reactions from a cross section of the public since the President announced the reshuffle.

“People have different views about the reshuffle and they are free to give their own views…. Some say there was not enough time for the ministers to acquaint and experience; some say it’s the right time to make the reshuffle. So everybody has got their own view. And they are all right to give their own view,” he said

Safehatib reiterated the President’s right to change any member of his cabinet when it deems fit.

“If the president sees that somebody is not performing very well, he could drop them, and he has the right to drop them. They are all in the government. He has just changed the portfolios so that perhaps he could strengthen his government and work smoothly for the development of the country,” he noted.

Mohammed Safehatib says Tanzanians place great confidence in the leadership of President Kikwete.

“I think most of the people are supporting him. They are relying on him and we are very happy with the way the government is being run by Kikwete,” Safehatib said.

Meanwhile, Tanzanians are facing huge shortages after a drought that began late last year slashed electricity production at hydropower dams. The appointment of Nazir Karamagi to replace Ibrahim Msabaha as Energy Minister is the highest profile change of Kikwete's first reshuffle since taking power in December. The power problems have slowed economic activity, and many businesses have had to resort to costly diesel generators.

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