THE MREMA PHENOMENON

Newspaper headlines about Mrema

MASSIVE ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE
There is little doubt about who has been the best known person in Tanzania during the last few months. It is Mr Augustine Mrema, Minister for Home Affairs, variously described as ‘TANZANIA’S ROBIN HOOD’ and the ‘MINISTER WHO IS WILLING TO BARK AND BITE’. His name has been in the press almost every day as he has travelled from end to end of the country in a massive government anti-corruption drive.

A few examples of the press reports follow (with the dates of publication):

Home Affairs Minister Augustine Mrema has ordered the immediate arrest of four directors of a local company selling non-Tanzanian textiles labelled’ From Tanzania’. The clothes, which originated in Taiwan, were relabelled in Dubai and then exported to the USA as Tanzanian-made. (December 14,1990). Ndugu Mrema has ordered t he number of shops at the Namanga border post with Kenya to be reduced from 300 to 10. The number was far too great for a Namanga population of 3,000 he said. A businessman was quoted as saying that a number of the shopkeepers had been able to buy themselves BMW’s and Mercedes Benz cars hardly four years after opening shops on the border (January 15).

Police action has been ordered by the Minister against people involved in the Shs 51 million theft at the Building and Hardare Supply Company (BHESCO) in Dar es Salaam (January 27). Immediate arrest and prosecution of people for allegedly defrauding the National Milling Corporation (NMC) of Shs 237 million has been ordered by the Home Affairs Minister. Fourteen of these are senior NMC officials while the rest are directors of private companies alleged to have colluded with them (February 11).

“Police stations are not torture houses” stated Minister for Home Affairs, Augustine Mrema. “Police must not victimise innocent people. They must thoroughly investigate cases and advise higher authorities objectively. Even orders from me must not be executed blindly, because I am a human being and may have been told lies” (March 22).

Plain clothed policemen, led by the Minister for Home Affairs, on Thursday night arrested a Detective Sergeant of the Police Force at a bar. Safari Beer was being sold to her at Shs 260 instead of at the official price of Shs 199. Hundreds of Kurasini resident s gathered at the bar to witness the law enforcement official facing the music and some started chanting ‘Safi Mrema’ … ‘Endelea kuwanyoa’ (Well done Mrema; keep it up). The Police officer was subsequently fined Shs 6,000 and the barman Shs 1,000. 19 other people were fined later for similar offences (March 23).

The entire management of Rajani Industries left Dar es Salaam for Lindi yesterday to clear its accounts with the Lindi Regional Cooperative Union after the Minister for Home Affairs had ordered the arrest of businessmen who he was told were owing the cooperative money.

Minister Mrema apologised on behalf of his Ministry for the wrongful arrest of Dodoma resident Salome Mazengo and for the loss of her fish worth Shs 70,000. He presented her with a cheque for Shs 20,000 as part compensation and said that any officer causing such a loss to a person would have to bear the costs. The victim said that she had persuaded fellow passengers in a lorry to refuse to bribe the traffic police en route. She was later arrested by the Police for obstruction to Police on duty.

Addressing thousands of Singida residents. Minister Mrema revealed a major scandal, exposed with the help of Interpol Canada, and involving some US$ 3.9 million through unpaid telephone calls to Canada. The loss was expected to grow when pending bills for international calls to Britain and the Middle East were added, he said (March 28).

Ndugu Augustine Mrema has given the Tanzania Cotton Marketing Board and one foreign company seven days to give a detailed explanation on the importation of restricted pesticides worth Shs 96 million. He named a Swiss company and explained that the order was for DDT which was against the code of conduct of the Agro-Chemicals Association of Tanzania (March 31).

Minister Mrema has ordered the arrest of a prominent Mtwara businessman for alleged involvement in the theft of lubricants worth Shs 3.0 million from a Finnish-funded water project (April 1).

Speaking in Mtwara on banditry, Home Affairs Minister
Augustine Mrema said he was surprised to learn that the town was threatened by a group of gangsters popularly known as ‘Tule wapi’ (‘Where shall we eat’). “Tell them that from July they will be eating at Keko Prison” he said amid ululatlons (April 2).

Sixty four businessmen and telephone operators have been arrested for collusion in making international telephone calls without paying Shs 2.7 million, the cost of the calls; they were caught following the introduction of a computerised device recording all data on international calls.

The Minister for Home Affairs has demanded an urgent explanation of the alleged Shs 286 million tax evasion racket by the Tanzania Bottlers Ltd and Customs and Sales Tax Department officials. The officials were instructed to meet the Minister two days hence in Dodoma at 8.00 am (April 11).

ENHANCED SECURITY
The Government will enhance security around Home Affairs Minister Augustine Mrema to ensure that criminals do not have access to him – President Mwinyi speaking in Zanzibar (January 4).

Asked by Business Times what special precautions he was taking Minister Mrema replied “I rely heavily on the help of God. The Almighty God …. has immense powers to protect me from both internal and external enemies . .. I want my friends and foes to understand that what I am undertaking is a social revolution I am ready to die for Tanzanians”

He went on: “Some of my colleagues will not like me for what I am doing … Some have said I am driving too fast, that I will fall early. When President Mwinyi gave me this job he did not tell me what speed to drive” (December 28, 1990).

“No! I’m not resigning”. Home Affairs Minister Augustine Mrema yesterday dispelled rumours that he intends to resign because President Mwinyi is frustrating him. “These are but outright malicious and nonsensical artful whims by a few individuals … the President is giving me full support” he said (March 8) – Daily News, Sunday News, Business Times.

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