During recent weeks, if one is to judge by the prominence given to the subject in the Tanzanian parliament and media, corruption has come a close second to Iraq, in terms of public interest. Two people in particular have made the allegations which have stimulated the debate and have gained a great deal of publicity in the process. They are the former Head of Intelligence and present CCM MP for Makete, who is also a member of the ruling party’s National Executive Committee, Dr Hassy Kitine who has made wide-ranging allegations to the effect that many CCM and government leaders are corrupt; and, on February 18, long-term activist/politician and Chairman of the very small Democratic Party, the Rev. Christopher Ntikila who directed his attention to alleged corruption by Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye. But many others soon joined in the fray.
A HEALTHY DEBATE
The former Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission, which had produced a much praised report to President Mkapa on corruption, Judge Joseph Warioba, told journalists that he agreed with Dr Kitine that some leaders in the country were corrupt. Dr Kitine had been right in expressing his view about what was amiss in the country.
Transparency International the corruption watchdog calculated in its 2002 ‘Corruption Perception Index’ that Tanzania was the 12th most corrupt country in the world and the 7th most corrupt in Africa. The March issue of ‘Africa Today,’ in an article headed ‘In the Grip of Corruption’ noted that in Tanzania there had recently been a notable shift from the culture of silence inside Tanzania’s ruling circles and that Kitine’s allegations had triggered a ‘somewhat sizzling debate amongst the public’. The media were said to be ‘beaming a searchlight on corruption’.
In its editorial on 23rd January the Guardian stated that the remarks made by Dr Kitine had ‘shaken the entire country and the Government quite a lot.’ Otherwise, it wrote, how could the latter’s reaction be explained? The Government, through Minister of State in the President’s Office, Wilson Massilingi, had reacted quickly by saying that Kitine’s allegations should have been channeled through the Prevention of Corruption Bureau (PCB) and not made to the media. Why did the government reveal its position so quickly, the editorial asked. Why were the public not allowed to express their views first? Dr Kitine, supported later by Musoma MP Nimrod Mkono, had injected a breath of fresh air into democratic discourse in Tanzania. It was a healthy debate and a sign of maturity, the Guardian wrote.
Under the front page headline ‘MP Tired of endless corruption literature’ the Guardian (February 22) quoted the MP for Bukoba Urban as complaining, at a Workshop for 200 MP’s: “Every year we hear the same things …. I can safely predict that even next year, we will be bombarded with similar lectures on the corruption issue,” he said. Well known CCM MP Gertrude Mongela, although critical of Kitine, said that the situation would not have reached its current stage if the Government had properly implemented recommendations contained in the Warioba report on corruption. Mwananchi quoted retired High Court Judge Raymond Mwaikasu as saying that corrupt leaders were known to the PCB but it was unable to take action because it was responsible to the President’s Office, which often ‘hindered it from naming or making decisions on corrupt leaders’. He called upon the PCB to be given freedom to work independently.
The Kitine case created a sensation but soon became quagmired in allegation and counter-allegation, which led to a situation of considerable confusion. Dr Kitine had originally been in trouble over allegations that his wife had been wrongly paid fees by the Government for hospital treatment she had received in Canada in 1997/98. Dr Kitine had subsequently resigned form his position as Head of Security.
More recently Parliament’s Accounts Committee had initially declared Mrs Kitine innocent but a month later, according to the Sunday Observer (February 23) discretely changed its mind.
Mbulu MP Philip Marmo said that the government’s demand for proof about corruption was to question the obvious. Marmo suggested that there was no need to demand evidence and proof from Dr. Kitine, because what he had said was known by Tanzanian society.
MP’s were divided on the matter although many were critical of Kitine and said that he should have addressed his comments to the party leadership or to the Prevention of Corruption Bureau.
CCM Youth Wing Mobilization Secretary and Nkenge MP, Deodorun Kamala, said that if the Government was serious about the war against corruption, there was a need to change the judicial system in the country. He said that it was high time that the burden of proving innocence or guilt of those accused of corruption should placed on the accused as it was difficult to prove corruption allegations in the courts. Between the Government and normal citizens, who was in better position to quickly get evidence on corruption allegations?” Kamala asked.
This prompted a reaction from Attorney General Andrew Chenge, who said that the legal system that governed civil disobedience in the country was based on the Commonwealth system that put the burden of proof on the prosecution side, as opposed to the continental system followed by many European countries, that put the burden of proof on the accused.
Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Harith Bakari Mwapachu, said corruption cases would continue to be resolved through the current system as the government had no plans to establish a specific organ to deal with such cases.
MTIKILA’S ALLEGATIONS FORCEFULLY REBUTTED
Meanwhile, the Rev. Mtikila went further and listed properties he alleged were owned by Prime Minister Sumaye or his wife or his allies. The list included houses in Morogoro, Arusha and Dar es Salaam, farms in the Coast, Dodoma Morogoro and Arusha regions, factories and an aeroplane.
Within days several leaders and others made statements contradicting the allegations. Home Affairs Minister Mapuri made it clear that the CCM party would not discuss corruption allegations against the Prime Minister because they lacked credible evidence.
However, on 10th April the Dar es Salaam ‘Family Mirror’ reported that the PCB had taken up the allegations against the Prime Minister to determine whether he had misused public office to amass wealth. PCB Director-General Anatory Kamazima was quoted as saying that the PCB was collecting evidence on Sumaye’s registered properties.
The Home Affairs Minister was quoted in several newspapers as saying that CCM would debate and investigate allegations facing the Prime Minister if it received the allegations from official and credible sources. He said that so far only ‘blah blah’ had been heard and no evidence of corruption had been provided. He said that the Prime Minister, like any other leader, had a right to own property including farms.
As this issue of TA went to press the Sunday Observer quoted the Prime Minister as saying that he was not corrupt and was considering the possibility of suing those making the allegations.
PRESIDENT MKAPA ENTERS THE DEBATE
President Mkapa entered the debate several times. He was quoted in Mtanzania in January as saying that corrupt practices were rampant in the construction industry and that efforts to fight it had proved futile. He urged engineers to rescue their profession by side lining those who condoned corrupt practices.
As this issue of TA went to press Majira reported that President Mkapa had acknowledged receipt of an anonymous letter listing corrupt ministers, deputy ministers, directors and companies that had solicited favours from public officials in exchange for bribes. The President said that Tanzanians were not bold enough to name the corrupt in their midst and that many were jealous when they saw colleagues with new cars and houses.
A DOWNWARD TREND
However, on February 9 the Sunday Observer had written as follows: ‘The marauding scourge of corruption devastating the economies of poor countries had shown a downward trend in Tanzania since last year when government started implementing its ‘Anti-corruption Strategy and Action Plan.’ Closing a one-day conference on ‘Good Governance’ in Dar es Salaam Chief Secretary, Marten Lumbanga, said it was not true that the scourge was increasing. The corruption index in Tanzania had fallen from 81 points to 71, compared with the rising trend (above 70) in some neighbouring countries. “These are not my figures” he said “They are published by ‘Transparency International’ He said the fall in the corruption index showed that the anti-corruption programme was becoming effective. “We are certainly not complacent about this initial success. In fact we are energised to continue fighting the scourge tooth and nail” he said.
(The Financial Times (March 25) reported that a draft corruption Bill is now being prepared for presentation to the British Parliament under which business people who use backhanders to help contracts progress in foreign countries could face up to seven years in jail. Ever since the time of President Nyerere, Tanzania has been pressing Britain to make this end of the corruption cycle a crime -Editor}.
STOP PRESS. The verdict was given on April 18 in the long standing corruption case against former leaders of the Ministry of Public Works. Minister Nalaila Kiula, the Roads Director and a Chief Engineer have been found not guilty. The Principal Secretary at the time has been sent to jail for three years. According to Dar Leo the Government may appeal against the three not guilty verdicts and the Principal Secretary will definitely appeal against his sentence.