When Judge Joseph Warioba (at present acting as the assistant to former President Nelson Mandela as the Mediator in the Burundi peace talks) produced his monumental 521-page report on corruption in Tanzania in November 1996 it was widely recognized as one of the fmest and frankest of its kind. Expectations were high that something would be done about it.
However, in early 1999, Transparency International was still describing Tanzania as 81st out of 85 countries (on a par with Nigeria) in its ‘Corruption Perception Index’. This was strongly contested by the government and there was later some retraction by Transparency International.
Then Tanzanian Chief Justice Francis Nyalali said on his retirement on February 3 that: “Although it is illegal for civil servants to accumulate riches through dubious ways, those who breached this ethic in various institutions are still there and no meaningful action has been taken against them till this time”. The Chief Justice, who was the longest serving Chief Justice in the Commonwealth was referring to what he described the failure to bring to book the ‘big shots’ referred to in the Warioba report. He is succeeded by Justice Barnabas Samatta.
However, President Mkapa’s government has been far from idle in dealing with corruption. In January he unveiled a ‘National Anticorruption Strategy and Action Plan’. Earlier he had directed the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) to provide to the public special free telephone numbers on which they could deliver the names of suspected tax evaders. He said that such people should not be forced to give their identity. “It is strange that a pick pocket who steals ShslOO is often chased and beaten up but a wealthy trader who steals by evading Shs 100 million in tax is glorified and safeguarded” he said. The President has also strengthened the Anti-Corruption Bureau and ensured that the TRA is a power in the land. Since he became President in 1995 two cabinet ministers named in the Warioba have been forcedto resign and hundreds of senior and junior civil servants have been sacked, transferred, demoted or otherwise punished follow allegations of corruption.
Then, on December 28, and for the first time (the President has stated repeatedly that people can be arrested only if there is proof of their corruption) one of the so called ‘big shots’ was taken to court. Fonner Works Minister Nalaila Kiula together with his fonner Pennanent Secretary, his Director of Roads and Aerodromes, his Chief Engineer (Rural Roads) and the Director of a construction company appeared in a Dar es Salaam Magistrates Court to answer corruption charges involving the loss of Shs3.3 billion (TA No 65). When this case came up on March 21 defence council protested that investigations into the case had been going on for four years but were still not complete. The magistrate agreed to a further adjournment until April 18.
In further measures against corruption the Daily News reported that the government had revoked the licenses of 11 and given notice of cancellation of 14 other oil marketing companies for failing to adhere to regulations governing the petroleum sector including massive tax evasion amounting to some Shs 60 billion per year. The relevant bank accounts were subsequently seized.
An eye specialist at Muhimbili hospital was charged in court on charges of soliciting and receiving a bribe. The National Sports Council announced that any leader of a sports association involved in corruption would in future face a life ban.
At the end of March the Deputy Commissioner of Customs said that there were over 300 containers in the port at Dar es Salaam of which 50 were waiting payment of taxes, 75 were the subject of tax disputes and 92 had not been claimed by importers.
On March 20 the Guardian reported that the President had retired in the public interest the fonner Director of Mwanza Municipal Council even though, when he had been taken to court, the magistrate had ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove the five charges against him. The charges were for being in possession of wealth (including three houses) reasonably suspected of having been corruptly acquired.