Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Donors rap Tanzania over slow grand corruption fight

By BEATRICE MOSES for The Citizen | Tuesday, November 19  2013 at  07:49
Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete (centre) smiles as he sits among other Commonwealth heads of state before a working session at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo on November 16, 2013. Tanzania has been urged to speed up its fight against mega corruption. PHOTO | AFP 
Donors to Tanzania on Monday reacted strongly over what they see as the slow pace in the prosecution of corruption cases, raising concern that the country was losing the achievements made in the last few years.
The criticism was raised at a meeting bringing together representatives of the donor community who finance part of the government budget through the General Budget Support at an estimated $560 million (about TSh900 billion) and officials from the ministry of Finance to discuss the progress and management of aid flow to Tanzania.
Speaking on behalf of donors, Swedish ambassador Lennarth Hjelmaker noted that there has been stagnation in the fight against corruption.
The envoy, who is also the chair of donors who fund the government's budget, said: “Lack of movement on specific anti-corruption cases in key sectors like health, the port and energy is worrying. We strongly encourage the government to intensify the war on corruption.”
The ambassador was referring to high-profile corruption allegation levelled against directors from the Tanzania Ports Authority, the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) and the permanent secretaries of the ministries of Energy and Minerals and Health.
While investigations on some of these individuals have been completed by the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), they are yet to be taken to court.
A report seen recently by The Citizen shows that the PCCB has completed investigations against the former managing director of Tanesco, Mr William Mhando. However, he is yet to be taken to court.
Mr Mhando was, allegedly, sacked because of abuse of office and inflated tenders that cost the cash-strapped state-owned power utility billions of shillings.
Hit wall
PCCB investigations had come after a special audit conducted by the Controller and Auditor General’s office had shown that the Tanesco boss had abused the public tendering processes, among other things.
The CAG recommended that corruption charges be brought against former Tanesco MD and other top senior managers of the power utility corporation, it emerged.
Investigations on allegedly abuse of office for TPA directors and other senior government officials have also hit a wall. No information has been issued publicly on the investigations.
Only the former Tanzania Bureau of Standards former director general, Mr Charles Ekelege, has been taken to court for abuse of office.
Mr Hjelmaker also chided the government on human rights issues and questioned government’s commitment on the protection and promotion of the freedom of information and expression.
“Development partners are also concerned about certain human rights issues and government’s commitment related to the right to information and the protection and promotion of freedom of the press,” Mr Hjelmaker noted.
Media clampdown
The government has come under scrutiny for temporarily closing two newspapers in September. The daily Mwananchi which has already resumed publication was suspended for two weeks while another Swahili daily Mtanzania is still serving a 90-day suspension.
Death and attacks of journalists in the past two years have also been an issue of concern.
But the donors commended the government for increasing domestic revenue collection. Donors committed to remit to the government coffers $560 million this financial year. About $290.2 million has already been remitted.
In the 2012/13 they had committed to remit $495 million but ended up giving $584 million.
Countries giving aid through the BGS in Tanzania include Norway, UK, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Finland, Netherlands and Switzerland, together with the European Commission, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.