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Corruption 'a right' in Tanzania, claims retired PS

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Retired Permanent Secretary Patrick Rutabanzibwa argues that in Tanzania, civil servant have learnt to expect the greasing of palms, without which nothing gets done. PHOTO | FILE 

By The Citizen Reporters

Posted  Sunday, September 22   2013 at  01:01

In Summary

  • “To slay this dragon, we have to change our attitudes and start demanding that things are done in the right way right from the grassroots,” argues Mr Rutabanzibwa.
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Dar es Salaam. Corruption is so rampant in the country that it has become a “right” for which some people are ready to kill, according to retired Permanent Secretary Patrick Rutabanzibwa.

He wants the growing culture of impunity among public servants brought to a halt.

“To slay this dragon, we have to change our attitudes and start demanding that things are done in the right way right from the grassroots,” Mr Rutabanzibwa, who has served in top government positions for more than 30 years, told The Citizen on Sunday in an exclusive interview.

“It is not enough for a few people to fight from the top. Tanzanians must now resolve to take popular action to confront the vice themselves.”

Mr Rutabanzibwa spoke candidly on a wide range of issues just over a week after he voluntarily retired from the civil service, which he joined in 1980 as a junior field researcher. He built a reputation over the years as a no-nonsense and incorruptible administrator.

He worked as a PS for 16 years and ended his career at the corruption-ridden ministry of Lands, saying he feared corruption could get worse if rubust action was not taken to correct the situation.

He added: “I was still young when Mwalimu (former president, Julius Nyerere) was our leader. Then, that visible strictness against corruption was seen clearly. Those in the bureaucracy thought twice before dipping their fingers in the cookie jar, but the fear has since diminished.”

A sense of impunity has set in, he added, in the absence of high profile corruption cases that would remind the people of dire consequences.

Morever, the people have not taken advantage of the prevailing political and governance systems to push the war further.

“If the government is subjected to enough pressure on certain things, it can act sometimes,” he said. “The public needs to get to a critical point and say ‘enough is enough’ and demand action.”

He confessed to having been the target of corruption beneficiaries when he tried to seal the loopholes they used to channel their loot.

He further disclosed that he received death threats from a syndicate of land grabbers that he dismantled.

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