Dar es Salaam. Mr Charles Kichere’s roller-coaster ride in government took another turn yesterday when he was appointed Controller and Auditor General (CAG).
He replaces Prof Mussa Assad who was appointed exactly five years ago today.
Mr Kichere’s appointment came less than six months after President John Magufuli demoted him on June 8 from Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) commissioner general to Njombe regional administrative secretary.
Swearing in Mr Kichere’s successor, Dr Edwin Mhede, at State House on June 10, Dr Magufuli, in his characteristic blunt tone, stated why he had removed Mr Kichere from the powerful post.
“It was during the tenure of (Finance and Planning minister) Dr Philip Mpango as TRA commissioner general that monthly collections rose from Sh850 billion to Sh1.3 trillion. I promoted him to a ministerial post as a result, but those who came after him have just stood there as if that was God’s formula,” Dr Magufuli said.
Mr Kichere was relieved of his duties as TRA boss just a day after President Magufuli held a meeting with members of the business community during which the taxman was roundly criticised.
Dr Magufuli outlined a number of reasons, including taxpayers’ complaints, which he said undermined TRA’s performance under Mr Kichere, adding that he would not hesitate to sack him as RAS should he fail to deliver in his new position.
But five months down the line, Mr Kichere has not only survived, but will now step into one of the most powerful positions in government as the head of the National Audit Office of Tanzania (Naot).
Prior to his demotion earlier in the year, Mr Kichere served as TRA commissioner general for two years and three months following his appointment in March 2017. He was previously the revenue authority’s deputy commissioner general.
Before Mr Kichere’s elevation to TRA’s Number Two, he worked as internal auditor with the Tanzania National Roads Agency. He previously served in the private sector as internal auditor with Unilever Tea Kenya Limited and Unilever Tea Tanzania Limited.
Neither Mr Kichere nor Prof Assad could be reached for comment yesterday.
Having succeeded Prof Assad, Mr Kichere becomes Tanzania’s seventh post-independence CAG. Others who have served in the position are Mr Ludovick Utouh (2006-2014), Mr Thomas Kiama (1996-2005), Mr Mohamed Aboud (1969-1996), Mr Gordon Hutchinson (1964-1969) and Mr R.W.A. McColl (1961- 1963).
Prof Assad leaves the post less than a year after National Assembly speaker Job Ndugai summoned him in January before Parliament’s Privileges, Ethics and Powers Committee following a statement he made in the US, which Mr Ndugai said undermined the august House’s authority. During an interview with the United Nations’ Kiswahili radio service, Prof Assad questioned the effectiveness of Parliament in working on reports compiled by his office.
“If we prepare reports but no action is taken, its means, in my opinion, that Parliament is weak. I believe it is a challenge that will be addressed as a matter of urgency,” he said.
Prof Assad was grilled by the parliamentary committee, after which Mr Ndugai declared that Parliament would no longer work with him.
Mr Kichere’s appointment set social media abuzz yesterday, with some users questioning the legality of the decision.
“Kinyume na Katiba, kinyume na Sheria (it is against the Constitution and against the law),” tweeted ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe.
According to Section 6 of the Public Audit Act, 2008, the CAG shall hold office for a fixed term of five years and shall be eligible for renewal for another term.
It further states that unless removed from office through a legal procedure outlined in Article 144 (3) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, the CAG shall only vacate office upon attaining the age of 65.
The CAG may also vacate office by resigning, submitting a six-month notice to the President, stepping down on medical grounds or offering any other reason which the Head of State may find reasonable enough and acceptable.
Prof Assad, who worked as an associate professor in the Department of Accountancy at the University of Dar es Salaam’s Business School before his appointment as CAG, was born on October 6, 1961. This means that he was 58 years and 28 days old when the new appointment was announced yesterday.
Article 144 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania states that the CAG shall be obliged to vacate office upon attaining the age of 60 or any other age which shall be prescribed by a law enacted by Parliament.
In this case, the law enacted by Parliament obliges the CAG to vacate office upon attaining the age of 65.
Article 144 (2) of the Constitution also says that the CAG may be removed from office due to inability to perform the functions of his/her office (due to illness or to any other concrete reason), gross misconduct or violating the provisions of the law with regard to the ethics of public leaders.
Should the need to remove the office holder arise, the President shall appoint a special tribunal made up of a chairperson and not less than two other members.
The members are to be person who are or have been judges of the High Court or of Court of Appeal in any country within the Commonwealth.
Article 144 (4) of the Constitution says: “If the Special Tribunal appointed in accordance with the provisions of sub-article (3) advises the President that the Controller and Auditor-General be removed from office on grounds of inability to perform functions of his office due to illness or any other reason or on grounds of misbehaviour, then the President shall remove him from office.”