Stergomena Tax appointed Tanzania's first woman defence minister

 President Samia Suluhu Hassan

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Photo credit: AFP

Dar es Salaam,

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan has appointed Stergomena Lawrence Tax as the east African nation's new minister for defence and national service.

She replaces Elias Kwandikwa, who died early August while undergoing treatment in Dar es Salaam, the Directorate of Presidential Communications at State House said in a statement issued late Sunday.

Dr Tax, who becomes the country's first woman defence minister since independence, also served as the first and only executive secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), an inter-governmental organization established in 1992 to promote political, socio-economic and security cooperation and integration among its 16 members.

Her tenure of office as SADC executive secretary ended on August 31.

She was appointed defence minister two days after she was sworn-in as a member of Parliament.

Stergomena Lawrence Tax

Stergomena Lawrence Tax, the then ADC executive secretary, during a press conference in Gaborone, Botswana, on November 16, 2017.

Photo credit: Monirul Bhuiyan | AFP

Breaking taboo

President Suluhu said she appointed Dr Tax to break the taboo that reserves the position for men.

“The minister’s job at that office is not to carry guns or artillery. Her main duty is to mainly coordination and manage administration and policies at the ministry,” she said during the swearing-in ceremony at Chamwino State House, Dodoma.

“[But] that was not the only reason [for her appointment]. [She has] vast experience from her previous position at SADC, so she is aware of the security issues in the region,” the President said.

She added that Dr Tax is well-informed of Tanzania’s security forces engagements in Mozambique and Congo, their systems and all details about their operations.

Mini reshuffle

Dr Tax’s appointment was part of a mini-cabinet reshuffle that President Suluhu made on Sunday, dropping three cabinet ministers and appointing a new Attorney General.

The reshuffle was announced through a statement issued by Director of Presidential Communication, Jaffar Haniu.

The changes also see a rebound of Bumbuli MP, January Makamba to the cabinet as Minister for Energy replacing Dr Medard Kalemani.

On the other hand Prof Makame Mbarawa becomes the new minister of Works and Transportation replacing Dr. Leonard Chamuriho.

Prior to the latest appointment, January Makamba had served as Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environmental Affairs), before his appointment was revoked by late President John Magufuli.

President Samia also appointed Dr Ashatu Kijaji as Minister of Communication and Information Technology replacing Dr Faustine Ndugulile whose appointment has been revoked.

Dr Eliezer Feleshi

Dr Eliezer Feleshi, Tanzania's new Attorney-General.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

New Attorney-General

In another development, President Samia Suluhu Hassan has also appointed Dr Eliezer Feleshi as the new Attorney General (AG).

Dr Feleshi replaces Prof Adelardus Kilangi who has been appointed ambassador.

Prior to his appointment, Dr Feleshi was the Principal Judge of the High Court.

The new AG and other new appointees were sworn-in on Monday morning at State House Chamwino, Dodoma.

‘Calmness not weakness’

In her address to the new appointees, President Suluhu issued a warning to her appointees, noting that during her first six months as Head of State, some mistook her calmness as a sign of weakness.

She said she spent the period educating herself on government processes.

In that period, she said, those who misunderstood her did as they pleased while a few leveraged her reserved deportment and showcased their capabilities.

“I have used the first six months in office to learn. I was the vice president before, but during that time I did not get the chance to acquaint myself on the inner operations. Now I have,” she said, adding that she now knows the tactics to use in her leadership.

The President said her observation revealed there is a lot to change in ministerial offices.

She noted the two leadership styles commonly known as carrot and stick.

“I have chosen mine. As we go forward, the government will be led solely on strong action, not noise,” she said.