Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli has sacked National Identification Authority (Nida) Director General Dickson Maimu.
Chief Secretary Ombeni Sefue said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that Dr Magufuli’s decision follows the questionable expenditure of Sh179.6 billion by Nida in the national identity cards scheme.
The President has also suspended four other senior Nida officials pending an investigation into the expenditure. They are ICT director Joseph Makani, senior procurement officer Rahel Mapande, director of legal affairs Sabrina Nyoni and transport officer George Ntalima.
The Head of State has directed the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) and Controller and Auditor General (CAG) to investigate how the money was spent.
Mr Sefue told a news conference at State House that the President had received complaints that the pace of issuance of national IDs was too slow and could not justify the expenditure of such a “huge” sum of money.
“The President has therefore directed relevant agencies to conduct an investigation into all procurement processes carried out by Nida to establish whether there was value for money and the number of IDs that have been issued so far and determine whether there were elements of corruption,” the chief secretary said.
He added that the sacked and suspended officials will be replaced as soon as possible.
Mr Maimu is the latest bigwig to have been swept aside in President Magufuli’s crusade against embezzlement, theft and corruption within the government and its agencies.
Other big names caught up in the purge include former Tanzania Revenue Authority Commissioner (TRA) General Rished Bade, Tanzania Ports Authority Director General Awadh Massawe and PCCB Director General Edward Hoseah.
The issuing of national IDs was originally scheduled to start in 2012, but was marred by various hitches, including lack of public awareness.
It was initially decided that the cards should first be issued to members of the disciplined forces and civil servants living in Dar es Salaam. However, the exercise has been dragging on with no sign when it will end. So far, only two million people have been registered, and 1.7 million issued with IDs.
The project was to be jointly carried out by Nida and the National Electoral Commission (NEC), and was to be completed before last year’s General Election so that the IDs could be used in the elections. However, this did not happen.
Nida had requested for Sh160 billion ($85 million) of the Sh476 billion ($252 million) needed for the exercise.
A Malaysian company, Iris Corporation Bhd, won the five-year contract to issue 25 million national IDs to eligible Tanzanian citizens.
The government has said national IDs will soon be used as the only official identification documents for citizens and residents domestically.
The benefits include linking up with government systems and databases such as those of the Registration Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (Rita), TRA and Immigration Department.
In February, last year, the government said it was facing financial difficulties, and was depending solely on collections by TRA. As a result, many development projects came to a halt.
The decision by donors to withhold budget support of $500 million over the Tegeta escrow account scandal has also affected fiscal plans.