Tanzania’s campaigning anti-corruption Home Affairs Minister, Augustine Mrema, received US$ 1,000 and £4,000 during a visit to Europe in October. The money was to help him to open a private foreign exchange account and was allegedly meant to secure favours from his office. The Minister declined to name the people who had given him the money but stated that they were private businessmen with vested interests in the country. “I was very disappointed by the attitude of those people” he said, adding that he had, upon returning to Tanzania, converted the foreign currency into Tanzanian shillings and opened an account at the National Bank of Commerce. He said that he was going to use the money to reward whoever gave him tips on individuals receiving bribes. “I have set aside this account specially to deal with corruption” he underlined.
Commenting on generalised foreign exchange racketeering, Mr Mrema said that the solution was to authorise Tanzanians; to hold private accounts in foreign currency within the country – Daily News.
The Minister has been active in other directions too. After receiving complaints from citizens in Marangu, Moshi, about certain administrators, he has told them to stop harassing women who have bought commodities from markets in a neighbouring country. He said that the habit of searching women should stop. He was more interested in the big-time border smugglers whose names were known. On November 3rd he received a commitment from Dar es Salaam transporter Amiral Somji to the effect that Somji would repay, in six monthly instalments, Shs 30 million in duty on imports of textiles that he admitted having evaded during the last three years.
Later in November he participated in the newly established Sungusungu (traditional defence groups) ‘night patrols’ being organised in Dar es Salaam against burglars and bandits.
At a full meeting with the Tanzania Journalists Association he accepted the award of ‘Newsmaker for June 1991′ and expressed his appreciation of the help he was receiving from the press in rooting out corruption.
He also gave the Dar es Salaam based firm Cargo Master International Ltd seven months in which to pay Shs 4,52,732,613 customs and sales tax it had been evading. In the event of failure to pay the firm would be taken to court.
One man who walked 75 kilometres from Bagamoyo to Dar es Salaam just to thank the Minister for doing a good job said that he was really a ‘Black Jesus’.
AND IN LONDON
The Minister for Home Affairs (‘Mambo ya Ndani’) explained in some detail the background to his anti-corruption drive when he addressed a packed meeting at the Tanzania High Commission in London on October 22nd 1991. The address was characterised by the vigour of its presentation, the liberal use of emotive words ‘dhuluma’ (swindling), ‘haki'(justice), ‘usawa’ (equality), ‘kushirikiana’, (to cooperate) in the ‘vita’ (war) against corruption of all kinds. “I will never let you down” he said; the speech was also notable for its great good humour and the emphasis placed on the rights of women – “We are very serious about this – we will use State machinery to help women”. He said that he was determined to stop the beating of women by men and to defend women’s inheritance rights. Needless to say the speech was welcomed with acclamation by the women in the audience -“Why are you not applauding?” he asked the men who were present (laughter).
He was asked about his encouragement of traditional guards (Sungusungu) to assist in security duties. Would this not usurp the role of the police? He said that the police could not be everywhere and that there were some similarities between the ‘Sungusungu’ in Tanzania and the ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ schemes in Britain.
Another participant said that Tanzania needed many more Mrema’s. Mr Mrema couldn’t deal with all the corruption by himself. The Minister replied that he had many supporters able and willing to keep up the good work. It was up to everybody to take part in the anti-corruption campaign.
Mr Richard Mpopo, Chairman of the Tanzania Association, which had organised the meeting, gave a powerful vote of thanks in which he reinforced the Minister’s crusading zeal, pointed to Mr Mrema’s unquestionable sincerity and analytic approach and explained how all that he had done had been a liberating experience for Tanzanians. “Everyone must now subject himself to self-criticism” he said in supporting the view that the campaign would only succeed if everyone took part – DRB (David Brewin)