President John Magufuli, who took office in November, has promised to tackle corruption and inefficiency in government. He has sacked several senior officials for graft and cut spending he deemed wasteful, such as scrapping official Christmas cards.
Charles Kitwanga is the first minister to be fired since the cabinet’s appointment. Analysts said his sacking came as a surprise as he was widely viewed as being close to Magufuli.
The presidential State House said in a statement Kitwanga was sacked after he “turned up drunk to parliament and responded to a question directed to the Ministry of Home Affairs while being in a drunken state.”
It did not say when the episode took place.
Kitwanga had previously faced calls to quit before the incident by lawmakers who criticised his handling of the ministry. Kitwanga could not immediately be reached for comment.
Government red tape and official corruption have often been blamed by businesses for slowing down or deterring investment in the poor African nation, which has discovered offshore gas reserves that it is seeking to develop.
Magufuli has said would impose discipline on the civil service and public institutions.