Transparency International’s 1998 ‘Corruption Perception Index’ (CPI), quoted in the East African, placed Tanzania 81st out of 85 countries – on a par with Nigeria. While Denmark scored 10 out of 10 Tanzania scored only 1.9. The writer of the article found this hard to believe and pointed out that the index was a measure of perception, not actual levels, of corruption. There was said to be a joke in Dar es Salaam to the effect that you paid bribes in Tanzania ‘at your own risk’ since the system was so complex that nobody could guarantee that a bribe would be effective.
President Mkapa, who has been widely criticised for his failure to deal more vigorously with rampant corruption, has been stepping up his attack. On November 4 he halted an address to the National Assembly, after he had said that he had directed all Cabinet ministers to present to him lists of corrupt officials, when opposition MP’s began to murmur. He waited two minutes and then pointed out that MP’s had parliamentary immunity and could give him the names of corrupt people right away. When John Cheyo MP (UDP) stood up there were cheers from the floor but he failed to give any names. The President said that 13 corruption cases were in court and added that, in future, he would sack Civil servants and not grant them their normal benefits – only to be told by his Attorney General that there were certain laws involved in this matter. The President then said that if he was presented with circumstantial evidence – even if it could not withstand the scrutiny of the law – he would sack the persons concerned.
The CCM party has instructed senior officials to declare their assets and they have begun to do so. Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye declared that he had two houses, five plots, three vehicles, two tractors and a 40-acre farm with 115 domestic animals. He was criticised in the press when he revealed that he had also secured a $74,000 loan from the Parastatal Pension Fund. Minister for Works Anna Abdullah has three houses, 60 h. of farmland and Shs 1 million ($1,480) in bank accounts. Tourism Minister Zakia Meghji has two houses, an undeveloped plot, three vehicles and Shs 500,000 and $400 in cash.
After the President had again demanded that officials should report to him the names of corrupt persons in their ministries, the Dar es Salaam Daily Mail reacted sceptically – in a leading article on October 8. ‘Who among the administrators ordered to report on corruption is clean enough to cast the first stone?’ it asked. ‘It is more important to analyse and curb the causes of corruption’.
However, another government minister resigned on August 10. Minister of State in the President’s Office Dr Hassy Kitine resigned following allegations concerning misappropriation of public funds and, in particular, allegations concerning medical expenses for his wife in the United States. On October 27 it was reported in the Guardian that the President had retired five senior officials in the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and two education officials. And The African then reported that the Police had been instructed to apprehend all government and parastastal vehicles found on the road after 6pm without special authorisation.
MREMA IN MORE TROUBLE
Two cases are under way involving Opposition NCCR Chairman Augustine Mrema. He had made a name for himself some years ago as an anti-corruption fighter when he was Deputy Prime Minister in President Mwinyi’s government.
But on August 10 he was grilled for seven hours by the Parliamentary Privileges Standing Committee over allegations of breaching privileges at public rallies following his suspension for 40 days by Parliament. He had accused the government of threatening to kill him (details in TA No.6l) and faced 8 charges. On November 13 the committee presented a 33-page report recommending that further action should be taken against him if he did not apologise. Forty MP’s stated that they wanted to take part in the debate, but, according, to the New African, after Mrema had refused to apologise (in a long speech which eventually ran out of time) the Deputy Speaker adjourned the debate until January 1999. Mrema was alleged to have accused his fellow MP’s of being vibaka (rapists).
Mrema is rarely out of the news and was featured in a full page article in ‘New African’ in October. All kinds of different views about him were quoted. Some CCM MP’s said he had taken leave of his senses when he said that there was a plot to kill him (TA No. 61). Others were said to have alleged that he was ‘mad’ and should be examined by psychiatrists. Mrema said he was fine, though he was radical “like some of the honourable members of parliament who are gay though nobody bothers to send them to psychiatrists”. Another MP was quoted as saying that “in Zambia, MP’s committing Mrema’s offence (presumably false accusation -Ed.) are jailed”. The New African article went on: ‘But in all this controversy, Mrema maintains an unlikely friendship with father figure Julius Nyerere. He recently thanked Nyerere for protecting him. “I sleep at home because of him. Otherwise they would have jailed me” Mrema was quoted as saying.
THE MBILINYI CASE
In a very long-running court case, also involving Mrema, which is attracting great public interest, he and Dr Masumbuko Lamwai, a fellow NCCR MP with whom he has since fallen out, were jointly accused for claiming, in October 1996, that government and CCM officials (including former Finance Minister Prof. Mbilinyi) had received Shs 900 million in bribes to give a tax rebate to crude oil importers.
Amongst the many witnesses has been former Tourism Minister Juma Ngasongwa who denied in court having received a bribe from the Mwanza Fish Industries to help them with tax remissions. Ngasongwa, who had been alleged in the Warioba report on corruption (see earlier issues of TA) to have been bribed by some United Arab Emirates leaders to issue them with presidential licenses to hunt, said that he had a right to do so as it was a reward after they had already been issued with a hunting permit. This was covered by the law on wildlife. Ngasongwa stated that he had already been cleared of bribery allegations by the parliamentary select committee and by the Presidential Commission against Corruption. The Mbilinyi case continues.
In an article in the Sunday Observer, Peter Msungu wondered whether corruption was always a bad thing. He wrote: ‘some people argue that it can have beneficial effects such as non-violent access to government administration when political channels are blocked, or, as a means of lessening the potentially crippling tension between civil servants and politicians by linking them in an easily discerned network of self-interest.