The Richmond Saga

The Richmond saga continues. On June 23, 2006 Richmond Development Company signed a contract with TANESCO to generate 100 megawatts of electricity when the country was experiencing acute power shortages. Several months later, some legislators said that Richmond lacked experience, expertise and was financially incapacitated (For details see several previous issues of TA) but there had been little progress in bringing to justice the many people involved. The House of Assembly’s Select Committee had produced an impressive report containing 23 recommendations which had resulted in the resignation of the then Prime Minister and Energy Minister. MP’s waited to see what other actions the government would take.

Finally in early August, Prime Minister Pinda announced each of the recommendations in parliament. He said that the Director General of the Prevention of corruption bureau (PCCB), the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Finance and Energy and Minerals and several technical advisers in government and TANESCO plus the members of the government negotiating team had been served with letters to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them for their role in the controversial contract.

Pinda said that Attorney General Johnson Mwanyika had had the responsibility of advising the Minister for Energy and the government in general on the implications of the contract. His case would be determined by the State House in line with the country’s constitution, as the Attorney General was the government’s advisor on all legal matters. The House of Assembly had recommended disciplinary action be taken against the AG and a State Attorney for causing the country to enter into a ‘shameful contract.’

Pinda said principles of natural justice demanded that the officers be given an opportunity to give their defence before further action should be taken against them. The PM also said that as recommended by the House, all important government contracts would henceforth be kept in the special library in Parliament so that members of the parliamentary standing committees could go through them and advise accordingly.

Pinda said the government had already terminated its contract with Dowans, the firm which took over from Richmond, as of August 1, as recommended by the House and had also terminated the contract with Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) and was now reviewing contracts between TANESCO and Songas. He added that the government would table a bill in the next House session to amend the law on public procurement as recommended by the House, so as to give the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority more autonomy.

The leader of parliamentary Opposition Hamad Mohammed said the opposition was happy with the way the government had worked on the House recommendations.

Another MP said Tanzanians should remember that those in the government were human beings who would never enjoy seeing someone’s “blood being spilled. We should exercise patience to hear what the next steps will be” – Guardian.

The BAE Radar saga

The person who is regarded as the organiser of the $40 million deal between the UK arms supplier British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) and the Tanzanian government, Sailesh Vithlani, who allegedly received kickbacks amounting to $12 million, apparently shared the money with at least seven high-ranking officials in the previous Tanzanian administration.

Though he has been granted immunity in the UK, the Guardian reported that he was still a wanted man in Tanzania and an arrest warrant has been given to Interpol. The paper said that Vithlani reached a deal with the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, which has been investigating the BAE deal, in which he helped them to identify the others who got part of the money in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Plea bargains reached abroad are not recognised in Tanzania.

According to Tanzania Daima and several other Swahili newspapers, a certain Tanil Somaiya, who is said to be a partner of Vithlani, donated over TShs 400 million towards the cost of recent elections in the CCM youth league (UVCCM). The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) was said to be investigating a bonded warehouse belonging to Somaiya who also owns another company whose 22 warehouses have been shut down by the TRA.

Majira reported that investigations on the part alleged to have been taken by former Infrastructure Development Minister, Andrew Chenge (who later resigned) – see TA No 90 – were continuing in Jersey where $ 1 million was said to have been placed by the Minister. Ms Cathy Cair, the spokesperson of the Prime Minister of Jersey promised to follow up on the matter but then, two weeks later, announced that no information could be given about Chenge. Ms Cair said: “I have communicated with the office of the Jersey Attorney General regarding how far the investigation has reached and it has become evident that for now they cannot give any statement.” The AG, William Bailhache, said that he was bound to remain silent under the Investigation of Fraud (Jersey) Act 1991.

Ambassador to Italy case

A senior public official testifying in the grand-corruption case facing former Tanzanian ambassador to Italy, Prof Ricky Mahalu, told the Dar es Salaam court that it was improper for the envoy to have purchased the embassy structure in Rome through the use of two contracts. He said before joining the Home Affairs ministry, he used to work with the ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation when he heard there were plans to purchase a building in Rome to house the embassy. He said his role was to ensure the buildings were in good condition and also keep custody of house purchase agreements. He told the court that normally the ambassador would inform the chief secretary of an intention to purchase an embassy building, and a team would be sent to survey the house, and finding it satisfactory, would report back to the chief secretary.

In the main case Mahalu and Grace Martin, an ex-counselor, are alleged to have conspired and stolen more than Euros 2m/- after forging various documents.

The court heard that the former envoy had said that the building had been bought at a cost of Euros 3 million, but during the course of the investigations, it was learnt that the building had been acquired for only Euros 1.3 million – Guardian.

Journalists win investigative reporting award

Five local journalists have won the 2008 investigative journalism awards on corruption and good governance awarded by the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Tanzania Chapter. The overall winner got TShs 2 million.

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