By John Ikani
Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has named Stergomena Tax as Defence Minister, the first woman to hold that position.
A statement issued by Tanzania’s Directorate of Presidential Communications at the State House, revealed that Stergomena replaces Elias Kwandikwa, who died early August.
Stergomena’s appointment which was part of cabinet reshuffle announced overnight Monday, has been considered strategically significant, as the country saw a major gun battle near the French Embassy in Dar es Salaam in the last month.
The mother of two had also served as the first and only Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). While working with the inter-governmental organization established in 1992, she promoted political, socio-economic, security cooperation and integration among its 16 members.
The President who has broken from some of her predecessor’s policies, also appointed a politician – January Makamba, dismissed for criticizing her predecessor as Energy Minister.
Makamba, formerly Deputy Environment Minister, was sacked from the government in 2019 and forced to apologise to then- President John Magufuli who died suddenly in March this year.
Magufuli had accused Makamba of criticizing him during telephone conversations with other members of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and threatened to expel him unless he apologised.
The Ministry of Energy is currently overseeing the construction of a controversial hydropower dam project in the Selous Game Reserve and is strategically vital to Tanzania, which has significant natural gas reserves.