Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s decision to drop veteran politician William Lukuvi from her cabinet has ignited speculations that the Ismani Member of Parliament (MP) could be one of those who were being considered for the position of House Speaker.
Mr Lukuvi’s name now ranks highly on the list of CCM loyalists who prefer him to succeed Job Ndugai as the next Speaker.
Mr Ndugai resigned last week amid piling pressure from CCM loyalists following his remarks on government borrowing.
President Hassan also castigated the remarks, saying CCM members criticising her government over borrowing were only doing so with an eye on the 2025 general election.
And, in an expected move, the President announced a Cabinet reshuffle on Saturday in which Mr Lukuvi was dropped from the Lands, Housing and Human Settlements ministry.
Also dropped in the lineup are former Industry and Trade minister Prof Kitila Mkumbo, Constitution and Legal Affairs Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, and Geoffrey Mwambe who was the Investments Minister.
However, while the President hinted last week that she would let go of people who were eyeing the 2025 elections, many believe that Mr Lukuvi was dropped so as to pave the way for his ascendancy to the position of Speaker of Parliament.
“Trust me, there was no way that the President could drop Mr Lukuvi if it were not for paving the way for him to occupy the vacant position of Speaker of Parliament,” said a source who did not want to be named.
He said the 67-year old politician has shown leadership maturity during the years that he has worked in various positions in government.
Until his removal on Saturday, Mr Lukuvi was the most senior minister in President Hassan’s cabinet. He was first appointed in cabinet in 1995 when he worked as deputy minister for Labour in the administration of former President Benjamin Mkapa.
He was later elevated to the post of minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and held the position for five years from 2000 to 2005.
Between 2006 and 2008, he occupied two positions of MP and Regional Commissioner for Dodoma. He was also MP and Regional Commissioner of Dar es Salaam between 2008 and 2010. Between 2010 and 2015, he worked as minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office before the late Dr John Magufuli picked him for the Lands, Housing and Human Settlements docket in 2015, a position he held until Saturday.
During his days as a senior cabinet member, Mr Lukuvi had on several occasions assumed the role of government’s Chief Whip. Through the position, he ensured that CCM MPs did attend and vote in Parliament in line with the desires of the ruling party’s leadership.
He could also routinely elaborate the government’s policies in Parliament.
Mr Lukuvi holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from the Open University of Tanzania (OUT), a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and Diplomacy from Washington International University, and a Diploma in Political Science from Moscow.
Analysts find nothing wrong if Mr Lukuvi is picked to succeed Mr Ndugai, noting however that the reason for his removal from cabinet was a prerogative of the appointing authority.
“I have no doubts about Mr Lukuvi’s ability to perform, but the president has the reasons why she has removed him from cabinet, which I do not know,” said a Political Scientist from the University of Iringa, Dr Stephen Kimondo.
Like all other analysts, Dr Kimondo said Mr Lukuvi’s removal from cabinet points to two factors:
“It’s either the President thinks she could work well with Mr Lukuvi as Speaker, or that there could be other reasons which the President has not revealed. Generally speaking, he is well-experienced to handle such a demanding office as that of the Speaker of Parliament,” he said.
Prof Ali Makame of the State University of Zanzibar (Suza) shared similar sentiments.
“A number of CCM cadres are being mentioned for the post of Speaker of Parliament, but that of Mr Lukuvi ranks highly because he has been removed from the cabinet and he is well experienced,” he said.
Apart from Mr Lukuvi, other names being mentioned as possible contenders for the position of Parliament Speaker include former Bariadi West MP Andrew Chenge; current deputy Speaker of Parliament, Dr Tulia Ackson; former CCM Secretary General-cum-Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala), Mr Abdulrahman Kinana, and former Songea Urban MP, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, among others.
Mr Chenge, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Laws Degree from the University of Dar es Salaam, also commands massive experience of working as a public servant.
Apart from working as Tanzania’s Attorney General between 1993 and 2005, Mr Chenge has also occupied a ministerial position for Infrastructure and East African Cooperation dockets during the time of former President Jakaya Kikwete.
During his days as a Member of Parliament, he once occupied the position of presiding Chairman of Parliament until January 2015. At one point, he was chairman for the Parliamentary Budget Committee.
Apart from being the current Deputy Speaker of Parliament and MP for Mbeya Urban, Dr Tulia Ackson formerly worked as Deputy Attorney General.
An Advocate of the High Court of Tanzania, Dr Ackson also holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the University Cape Town. Prior to her appointment as Deputy Attorney General, Dr Ackson worked as Senior Lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam’s School of Law.
As for Mr Kinana, apart from being former CCM Secretary General and former Eala Speaker, he also served in the army for 20 years before retiring as a colonel in 1992. He has also served as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence.
Many would credit him for playing a key role in bringing new life to CCM during his days as Secretary General at a time when the opposition was gaining more popularity, courtesy of the training in strategies that he received during his days as a student at the Harvard University.
That was how the party managed to retain the grip on power despite picking less popular candidate, Dr John Magufuli for presidency during the 2015 general election.
Dr Nchimbi, who was picked by former President Magufuli as Tanzania’s ambassador to Brazil, was once the national chairman for the CCM young wing.
The 52-year old politician knows the ruling party in and out, having elected to become the party’s national youth wing chairman at the age of 27.
Before becoming an ambassador, he worked as Minister of Home Affairs before which he worked as Deputy Minister for Information, Culture and Sports.
Meanwhile, CCM’s Ideology and Publicity Secretary Mr Shaka Hamdu Shaka, said yesterday that the party’s members who aspire to replace Mr Ndugai as Parliament Speaker, will be free to start collecting nomination forms starting today.
He said in Zanzibar yesterday that members have up to Saturday this week (January 15, 2022) to return the forms, duly filled-in.
A secretariat of CCM’s Executive Committee will sit on January 17 to scrutinize the names of contestants.
“Forms are available at CCM’s headquarters in Dodoma, Lumumba sub-offices and Kisiwandui in Zanzibar,” he said.
The Executive Committee will recommend the names of the candidates to the Central Committee. This will pave the way for the ruling party’s MPs to vote for one candidate anytime from January 21 and the name of winner will be presented to parliament for actual voting to pick a person who will become teh next Speaker of Parliament.
A nomination form costs Sh1 million.