Government size critics told off

Dr Makongoro Mahanga, former Deputy Minister for Labour and Employment in the previous administration, said at the weekend that by appointing many permanent secretaries, President John Magufuli acted contrary to his promise of reducing the size of the government in his bid to reduce unnecessary cost.
But yesterday, Ambassador Sefue came out strongly in an interview with the ‘Daily News’ that the number of permanent secretaries and their deputies in Dr Magufuli’s government is smaller than that of the previous government.
“The number of PSs and their deputies in the Fourth Phase Government was 54 compared to 49 that were appointed by Dr Magufuli last week,’’ he insisted. However, according to him, permanent secretaries are not part of the cabinet, insisting that their number was not an indicator for identifying the size of the government.
According to Dr Mahanga, by appointing 27 permanent secretaries in a government that has only 19 ministries, it was obvious that the ministries were no longer 19. “It should be properly understood that the size of the government does not depend on the size of ministers but it depends on the number of permanent secretaries,’’ argued the former deputy minister.
However, Ambassador Sefue was quick to point out that he did not see any need to give him a reply “but for a person who has been a deputy minister for a long time, it gives me an impression that he does not understand that permanent secretaries are not part of the cabinet.’’
According to the CS, considering the number of permanent secretaries who were appointed in the Fourth Phase government, it was obvious that their number and those of their deputies is smaller than that of the previous government.
In his argument, the former deputy minister further expressed his ‘dismay’ over the decision to have two PSs in one ministry, saying it was likely to affect the chain of command.
“For us who went to school, the chain of command in management is clear that any employee needs only one immediate boss,’’ he added. His sentiment was echoed by University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) lecturer of Political Science and Public Administration, Dr Benson Bana, who noted that under the profession of administration, it was improper to use number of PSs as yardstick of measuring the size of the cabinet.
He said that despite the fact that the chain of command was likely to be affected because there should be only one Chief Executive Officer (CEO-PS) in the ministry, it was yet not proper to argue on the size of the government by using the number of permanent secretaries and their deputies.
Dr Bana also argued that it was difficult for Dr Mahanga to give an objective comment regarding the government because he had lost during primaries in the ruling party before decamping to the opposition.
According to him, when enforcing accountability, the composition of the government may be flexible, meaning it keeps on changing, insisting that only the best leaders were needed to help in solving problems affecting Tanzanians.
UDSM Lecturer of Political Science and Public Administration, Mr Bashiru Ally, supported the new appointments but cautioned that the outcome would depend on productivity and delivery of the appointees.
He noted that for the first time, Dr Magufuli has appointed more than one permanent secretary to the same ministry; a move that he said was somehow confusing because one may fail to understand who will be giving directives to the other.
“It is a good move, however; provided that they will deliver accordingly because some ministries that were independent in the previous administration have been merged,’’ he added. Dr Hamad Salim of the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) said the president had increased the number of PSs and their deputies but decreased the number of politicians.
“If they can be able to reduce spending, it is not bad to have such a number because from what we are seeing now, the Head of State has only reduced the number of politicians and at the same time increasing the number of PSs,’’ he observed.
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