Scores of press reports have indicated how much things have changed in Tanzania during recent months. Examples:
The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) is reported to have discovered breaches of regulations in the purchase of cars for various ministries – KuliKoni.
At a public meeting in Singida called by the PCCB, people complained that there was an extortion racket at their regional hospital. The hospital was alleged to be taking bribes in all sections, from reception to the maternity ward and laboratory. The Regional head of PCCB in Singida, said the meeting was the beginning of a series to be held in public institutions to allow people to air their grievances on corruption – KuliKoni.
In late September thousands of people in Geita shouted down their CCM MP in the presence of Prime Minister Edward Lowassa. People said the MP never visited his constituency even though several of them had been evicted without compensation to make way for a foreign mining firm. Lowassa pledged compensation before the end of the year. In the previous week Geita residents had also heckled the Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals when he started criticising the suspended MP, Zitto Kabwe who has become something of a national hero according to Nipashe.
In Mpanda in October, according to Mwananchi, people gave a hard time to the Deputy Minister for Public Security, as they described alleged collaboration between police officers and criminals.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government), Mizengo Pinda, has suspended officials from three villages in Mpanda district on charges of misusing TSh 463,000 collected from people. This was after villagers complained to the minister during his visit. They told him they had been contributing money but there was no sign of a school being constructed. Pinda called upon the officers to come forward and defend themselves, which they failed to do. He then ordered their suspension and asked the District Director to appoint a committee to probe into the complaints – Mwananchi.
According to several Swahili newspapers, for the first time in recent history, 14 of Tanzania’s development partners who give budget support to the Government had indicated that their faith in the government was waning. They asked for immediate steps to respond to their concern at the way their funding was being utilised.
In his capacity as Chairman of the 14 partners, British High Commissioner Philip Parham apologised to Finance Minister Mrs Zakia Meghji for being frank and open. Higher commitment from donors had to be reciprocated with higher commitment from the government he said. It was not proper for democracies like Tanzania to remain silent on controversial and other crucial issues of public interest. Former US envoy Michael Retzer said that the US government expected the PCCB to nab the big and not only the small fish. But Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said that during a recent trip to America, President George Bush had patted President Kikwete on the back and told him that he was doing a good job in fighting corruption – Guardian.
During a meeting with news media editors, Foreign Minister Bernard Membe decried the mounting pressure which the government was getting from foreign envoys over its handling of corruption allegations, which had been further fuelled by CHADEMA MP Wilbroad Slaa when he issued his ‘list of shame’ at a public rally in Dar es Salaam. Membe said that members of diplomatic missions should not go against the Vienna Convention by voicing their concerns in public. He said the Convention required diplomats to raise their concerns through Government channels as representatives of their countries in Tanzania, and not through press conferences. He said the international community had already commended Tanzania which was among four countries that had been ranked as models of good performance – Guardian.
PARTY AND GOVERNMENT REACTIONS
The government’s reaction to the increasing evidence of corruption was at first critical of the whistle blowers. Then later it appointed a number of investigation commissions and finally introduced a whole raft of positive measures to try and ease the problem.
Government and CCM party reactions seemed to take three forms:
1) Attacking the critics
Firstly, there was denunciation of the opposition parties and the media for stirring things up on cases which it claimed had not yet been fully investigated. The government then began to criticize donor countries for interfering in Tanzania’s internal affairs.
According to Mtanzania, the Minister of State in the President’s Office told a press conference that opposition leaders were liars and rabble rousers. He warned them that the freedom they were enjoying was rare in other countries and that the law might take its course. He advised the opposition to take any evidence they have on corruption to court instead of instigating the masses.
2) Admitting that there are problems
Then the government took a more conciliatory tone. President Kikwete, in a frank interview with the London Financial Times, admitted that the opposition was posing a formidable challenge and could one day take over the country, though CCM was ‘still going strong’. He also accepted donor concerns about their funds. – the Swahili press.
3) Positive action
In response to all this the Government started to take a whole raft of measures to deal with the corruption problem.
Following an address by President Kikwete to the CCM congress in Dodoma on November 4, Mwananchi revealed that the Party’s Ethics Commission had found that 38 leaders owned assets that were disproportionate to their incomes. The Commission had sent the cases to the PCCB for further action,
PCCB spokesperson Dr Vincent Kihiyo said that the exercise was being carried out so as to show that the PCCB was not only after small fish as ‘misconceived’ by some people. He added that the PCCB was getting close cooperation from many people who volunteered information. “Some of them just call us anonymously, but others pass by our offices and hand over documents,” Dr Kihiyo said.