THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

As this issue of TA goes to the printer, the National Assembly is debating an important new ‘Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bill, 2007.’ This replaces the previous ‘Prevention of Corruption Act’ and provides for wider investigative powers for a new ‘Anti-Corruption Bureau,’ with powers to deal with offences other than those stipulated in the current law.

Many MP’s wanted civil society organisations and the private sector to be represented in the new Bureau to make it more independent. One opposition MP said the fact that the Bureau was under the President’s Office would make it difficult for it to fight corruption properly. The new law should also be enshrined in the country’s constitution to make it more independent they said.

Earlier, in March, the Swahili press reported that donor countries were taking a very close interest in the Bill as, according to Minister of State (Good Governance), Philip Marmo, they would like to ensure that their funds are well utilised. He said 75% of the Bill resulted from conditions included in international contracts.

The donors presented proposals that could lead to a 15th amendment to the Constitution. They wanted more powers to be given to the Anti-corruption Board (PCCB). The proposals were presented by representative of the development partners, Ambassador Bjarne Sorensen of Denmark, during a meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Public Administration. It was proposed that the PCCB should be an independent body, similar to the Commission for Human Rights and Secretariat for Ethics. Sorensen also suggested that the PCCB should submit its reports to the President as well as to the Parliament as is the case in Nigeria, and that it should co-opt members from civil society. Donors would also like to see a similar law being passed in Zanzibar.

Several prominent people have been arrested recently on corruption charges. Former Tanzanian Ambassador to Italy, Prof. Costa Mahalu, his Finance Attache and Counsellor have been taken to court accused of occasioning a loss of Euro 2.06 million to the Government. A former Assistant Accountant in the Prime Minister’s Office was sentenced to 10 years in prison after she was found guilty of more than 30 counts of forgery and theft of TShs 300 million, the property of the government. The Guardian reporter wrote that some of the audience were in total disbelief as the prosecution succeeded in getting a deterrent sentence. The accused wept ‘with torrential tears running across her cheeks’ he wrote. In mitigation, she pleaded with the court to have mercy on her because she had stayed in remand custody since 2001.

A former Director of the Arusha City Council was expected to stand trial over a loss of TSh 36.9 million. The Arusha Regional Police Commander said other officers had been interrogated in connection with the loss and three of them had already been charged – Habari Leo.

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