Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Escrow to be major election poll issue

By Florence Mugarula ,Political platform Reporter

Dar es Salaam. Finally, the puzzle on the IPTL, PAP and Tegeta escrow account has been solved in Parliament amid hot debates among MPs.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) tabled the report, which was primed after analysing the CAG report on the Tegeta escrow account saga and MPs had the opportunity to debate the matter. This was difficult time for those who always think of protecting government officials regardless of their transgressions. But it was the right moment for MPs who think about poor wananchi.

As we head towards the General Election next year, Tegeta escrow account is likely to be one of the major criteria for wananchi to elect their representatives. MPs had to prove their capability in constructing useful arguments. The debate has clearly shown who is in the House for wananchi and for the political party’s interests.

What transpired in parliament last week showed the strengths and weaknesses of our dear MPs. The Tegeta escrow account debate gave wananchi ample opportunity to examine their MPs’ ability in debating issues.

There were MPs who wanted Premier Mizengo Pinda and other leaders mentioned in the report to take political responsibilities. Their arguments based on the precedent and the weight of accusations revelled against them.

However, other MPs interpreted the report and their fellow MPs’ arguments as personal attacks on some government officials and that they aimed at tarnishing their images. Some went as far saying CCM’s MPs who were also members of PAC had betrayed the party.

Some political analysts said from the way the debate was conducted, it was obvious some MPs have managed to prove themselves before voters that they were capable to protect this nation’s interests. Moreover, they argued that those MPs who stood to protect political parties’ interests were likely to collapse and fail their political parties in the coming general election.

A University of Dodoma lecturer, Mr Paul Loisulie, said majority of Tanzanians were aware of the IPTL saga and that in many areas they were following parliament proceedings on the matter.

“This scandal will cost some MPs their seats, because people have been following everything concerning the IPTL saga; those who thought protecting political parties and their friends instead of national interests are likely to be punished at the ballot box,” he said.

Mr Silvanus Mayenga, a Dar es Salaam based prominent advocate said both EPA and Richmond had impact on the 2010 general election. According to Advocate Mayenga, the opposition used the two scandals to attack the ruling party during election campaign.

“It is quite clear that things changed. President Jakaya Kikwete who recorded a landslide win in 2005 failed to maintain the same tempo in 2010, he collapsed from 80 per cent to 60 per cent, thus the Tegeta escrow account is likely to affect the party’s performance in the coming elections,” he said.

However, in building the nation, both institution and individual need to play their part effectively. Personalising issues with public interests always does not benefit majority of wananchi and instead it creates classes of the haves and have nots.

It is now on record that The Citizen newspaper managed to fulfil its responsibilities by revealing and telling the truth to the public. The Citizen investigated and reported the saga for the first time a couple of months ago. It was nice to hear the PAC’s narration on what happened to The Citizen after coming out with IPTL saga revelations.

Threats, abusive language and all other unusual actions could not stop the professional paper from reporting the scam. The courageous team maintained the spirit and made it up to the end.

It’s obvious that the public expected the same spirit from MPs in the House. Those who stood to fight for the nation’s interests will always remain heroes in this country’s history and those who stood to armour political parties’ interests and defend few individuals at the expense of majority poor Tanzanians will also be remembered for their cantankerous actions.

It’s on record that big scandals like that of Tegeta escrow account have caused collapse of many political parties in various countries. The famous Kenya’s Goldenberg scandal contributed to the collapse of KANU in 2002. The Cashgate scandal in Malawi, contributed to the collapse of Ms Joyce Banda in the last May general elections.

Moreover South Africa President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla scandal placed his party, ANC in difficulties before the opposition and the public at large. Mr Zuma was accused of using 238m rand to renovate his home in Nkandla.

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