CORRUPTION – A VERDICT

The difficulty involved in successfully prosecuting the many corruption cases now being tried in Tanzania has been illustrated by the completion of the first stage of a significant case. However, the magistrates taking the case were not in agreement on the verdict; two were for and one against the sentence of two years in prison for the accused person. The lawyer for the accused immediately appealed and the suspect was then released on bail.

In a detailed account of the final days of the trial, published in Mtanzania and other papers, the Bank of Tanzania’s former Director of Personnel and Administration Amatus Liyumba was found guilty of abuse of office. While two members of the panel were satisfied that Liyumba unilaterally changed the scope of the Bank’s ‘Twin Towers’ project outside the law, regulations and BoT procedures, the chairman of the panel, Principal Resident Magistrate Edson Mkasimongwa said he was of the view that the prosecution had failed to prove the charge beyond any reasonable doubt. The newspaper reported that there was a stony silence in the packed courtroom as it was stated that there was no way the accused could escape liability after he arbitrarily changed the scope of work without consulting the central bank’s governing board. Liyumba remained calm and composed in the dock as the sentence was being read out. However, tears flowed freely among some of his relatives after he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.

Liyumba, who served the central bank for 35 years before he retired in 2008, was initially charged with two counts of abuse of office and causing the government a Shs221 billion loss, but the court acquitted him of the second count for lack of evidence earlier. Liyumba first appeared in court in January 2009, when the prosecution alleged that he and former BoT Governor Daudi Ballali, who has since died, changed the scope of work of the extension project, raising the construction cost substantially. The prosecution’s case banked heavily on eight letters signed by Liyumba, which instructed the lead consultant to change the scope of the work. But Liyumba denied the charge, saying he only provided administrative support to the project, and did nothing other than convey decisions made by the management to the lead consultant. He maintained that the letters were approved by the Governor, and that he could not have signed them without consulting him.

Liyumba told the court that he was verbally authorised by the Governor to sign the letters on behalf of BoT as the project manager could not do so because he was not an employee of the central bank.

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