Sunday, 22 May 2011 00:03 President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete The Citizen Reporters Dar es Salaam. The Cabinet is generally seen as performing poorly and unlikely to deliver to the President's and people's expectations, meaning drastic measures must be taken immediately to address the weaknesses and even sacking of incompetent ministers.Politicians and analysts interviewed during the week said the scorecard for most ministers reads below average, hence the need to replace them before it is too late. According to them, piecemeal measures such as the recent weeklong consultative seminar in Dodoma won't be of much help in dealing with the glaring shortcomings. They said President Kikwete should be bold enough to weed out the non-performers, not only for letting him down, but also for failing the nation and abusing the privileges accorded to them at the expense of taxpayers. A development consultant, who preferred anonymity, said the convening of the seminar early this month and Mr Kikwete's stern tone, made it clear he was not happy with the performance of his team. He said the current the weak state of the economy and austere living conditions should be enough reason for the Head of State to make Cabinet changes in order to revitalise his administration and win back the confidence of the public. "Reading the President's lips in his televised address to the whole senior government machinery in Dodoma, one clearly could decipher a feeling in him: that he wanted his lieutenants to wake up and start working," the Dar es Salaam-based consultant, who works closely with the government, said. Among other things, Mr Kikwete called on his top officers, including ministers, deputy ministers, permanent secretaries and their deputies, to be more transparent by communicating and interacting among themselves and the media. He said it would be embarrassing if a minister wouldn't be aware of what his or her assistant would be doing at any given time. A few days after he came to power in 2006, President Kikwete convened a similar gathering at Ngurdoto, Arusha, to give his team directives and spell out the mission and vision of his government. Eatly this week in Dodoma, he was reminding his lieutenants of what they should be doing and what the nation expected of them. "You've to go and visit wananchi and learn from them and understand their problems… Go there and see how development funds are used. Do not stay put in your offices, writing minutes while funds are embezzled," he said. Several factors are being mentioned as being the cause of the current Cabinet's underperformance. They include, the inexperience of some ministers, external pressures from the public and donors, as well as the prevailing austere economic conditions. There is also the lack of a clear national ideology to give guidance for implementation of government plans and projects. President Kikwete's regime is also being haunted by power rationing, unreliable water supply as well as poor roads and railways. His second term has also been bedevilled by escalating fuel and food prices, which the Opposition is exploiting for political capital. According to University of Dodoma lecturer Paul Loisulie, most ministers have so far failed to effectively administer core activities under their dockets. They include supervising development projects and ensuring timely response to the public concerns. He told The Citizen on Sunday that with the current trend, there was no way the Cabinet would deliver by the end of President Kikwete's term, since it has so far failed to meet the expectations of the people. The disgruntled public was a clear sign that all was not well in the government machinery, he argued. "There is no doubt the ministers' performance is poor, and this was confirmed by the Head of State himself during the Dodoma seminar," Tanzania Labour Party national chairman Augustine Mrema said. The Vunjo MP noted that there were exceptions such as Works minister John Magufuli, whom he described as brave and hard working. According Mr Mrema, the rest of the Cabinet should emulate his style and respect the laws, since that is what Tanzania needs to thrive and prosper. Another minister seen to be doing a good job is Prof Anna Tibaijuka, who heads the ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements. This is according to a Dar es Salaam city lawyer, Mr Sylivanus Sylivatus, who said the Cabinet's style of working in response to external pressures, especially what the Opposition is dictating, and its tendency to wait to be pushed by the President, would take the country nowhere. Also citing Mr Magufuli as a good example, he said most other ministers' styles of management are wanting. "I think our ministers' working style will not take us anywhere…it is obvious the ministers, permanent secretaries and other top government officials only act in reaction to queries from wananchi. Which means, their performance is bases on external forces, and that's not good at all," said he. University of Dar es Salaam political science and public administration lecturer Bashiru Ally said it was difficult for the Cabinet to deliver due to lack of a clear operational ideology. Ministers are operating depending on personal skills and experience, without clear ideological and ethical guidelines. Prof Marjorie Mbilinyi of Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) blamed it all on the pressure to meet and satisfy donor demands. She said the consultative seminar in Dodoma was convened only to show donors that the government was 'serious'. "If the ministers, deputy ministers and permanent secretaries were held accountable for financial mismanagement and failed projects... and had to repay to the Treasury their own pockets the wasted money, you can be sure they'd be more careful," says Prof Mbilinyi. Law don and advocate Ringo Tenga said it was difficult to make an objective evaluation of the ministers when it is taken into account that they operate on very lean budgets. The Cabinet would only deserve blame if they were accorded adequate budgetary resources and then failed to deliver, he said. According to a University of Dar es Salaam, sociology student, Mr Fabian Ladislaus, many ministers fail because they work only to satisfy the appointing authority instead of serving the people.