Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Slow pace of bribery cases irks donors

Director of Public Prosecutions Eliezer Feleshi

Director of Public Prosecutions Eliezer Feleshi PHOTO | FILE 

By Beatrice Moses ,The Citizen

Dar es Salaam.Donors yesterday reacted strongly on what they see as slow pace in the prosecution of corruption cases, raising concern that the country was losing the achievements it made in the last few years.

The criticism was raised at a meeting that brought together representatives of the donor community who finance part of the government Budget through the General Budget Support to the tune of $560 million (about Sh900 billion) and officials from the ministry of Finance to discuss the progress and management of aid flow to Tanzania.

Speaking on behalf of donors, the Swedish ambassador, Mr Lennarth Hjelmaker, noted that there has been stagnation in the fight against corruption. The envoy, who is also the chair of donors who fund the government Budget, said: “Lack of movement on specific anti-corruption cases in key sectors like health, the port and energy is worrying. We strongly encourage the government to intensify the war on corruption.”

The ambassador was referring to high profile corruption allegation levelled against directors from the Tanzania Ports Authority, the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) and the permanent secretaries of the ministries of Energy and Minerals and Health.

While investigations on some of these individuals have been completed by the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), they are yet to be taken to court.

A report seen recently by The Citizen shows that the PCCB has completed investigations against the former managing director of Tanesco, Mr William Mhando. However, he is yet to be taken to court.

Mr Mhando was, allegedly, sacked because of abuse of office, inflated tenders that cost the cash-strapped state-owned power utility billions of shillings.

PCCB investigations had come after a special audit conducted by the Controller and Auditor General’s office had shown that the Tanesco boss had abused the public tendering processes, among other things.

The CAG recommended that corruption charges be brought against former Tanesco MD and other top senior managers of the power utility corporation, it emerged. But the matter is yet tobe taken to court.

Investigations on allegedly abuse of office for TPA directors and other senior government officials have also hit the dead wall. No information has been issued publicly on the investigations.

Only the former Tanzania Bureau of Standards former director general, Mr Charles Ekelege, has been taken to court for abuse of office.

Yesterday, Mr Hjelmaker also chided the government on human rights issues and questioned government’s commitment on the protection and promotion of the freedom of information and expression.

“Development partners are also concerned about certain human rights issues and government’s commitment related to the right to information and the protection and promotion of freedom of the press,” Mr Hjelmaker noted.

The government has come under scrutiny for temporarily closing two newspapers in September. The daily Mwananchi which has already resumed publication was suspended for two weeks while another Swahili daily Mtanzania is still serving the 90 days suspension.

Death and attacks of journalists in the past two years have also been an issue of concern.

Donors yesterday commended the government for increasing domestic revenue collection.

Donors committed to remit to the government coffers $560 million this financial year. About $290.2 million has already been remitted.

In the 2012/13 they had committed to remit $495 million but ended up giving $584 million.

Countries giving aid through the BGS in Tanzania include Norway, UK, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Finland, Netherlands and Switzerland, together with the European Commission, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.