Dar es Salaam. “Nothing will unlock Africa’s economic potential more than ending corruption,” said the former United States president Barack Obama, when addressing the Africa Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2015.
President Obama, used the words “the cancer of corruption” which, he said, is a serious hindrance to economic development in African countries.
When inaugurated the 11th Parliament President John Magugufuli enumerated some of the drawbacks in the country’s development as mega corruption, embezzlement of funds within local government, poor management and sheer waste of public resources, including natural wealth and bureaucracy in the government offices.
To start with, President Magiufuli’s admiration enacted a law, which established a special court for handling grand corruption and economic sabotage cases.
The two leaders’ remarks are reminiscent of Tanzania’s Founder of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere stance against corruption.
Mwalimu, as he was fondly referred to, was a thorn against people indulging in corruption.
He enacted several legislations to deal with leaders involved in corruption during his administration.
For example, he enacted a new law, which provided severe punishment for anyone found guilty of the crime of corruption. Convicts of such crime were subjected to a minimum two-year imprisonment plus 24 strokes of the cane, the first 12 to be administered upon his entry into prison and the remaining 12 to be administered upon his release therefrom.
Speaking during Labour Day commemoration on May 1, 1995 he said although it is a fact that during his era there was corruption, but his administration enacted laws to deal with the corrupts.
In that same speech, Mwalimu Nyerere told a story of how he was greatly disappointed when, in early 1963, a senior minister in his government was arraigned for having been involved in a corrupt transaction.
The minister was duly taken to court, but was quickly acquitted, for some technical reason. Mwalimu Nyerere went on to lament that in his opinion, a kind of injustice had been committed by the court’s failure to recognise the gravity of the corruption offence, which, in his Legislative Council statement quoted above, he had described as “a crime fit to be placed in the same category as that of treason.”
In his speech at the Sokoine Stadium in 1995 the founding President criticized the second phase administration of President Ali Hassan Mwinyi for its failure to collect taxes.
During the public rally Mwalimu argued that governments that fail to collect taxes are usually corrupt.
He said such governments did not collect taxes because they were being controlled by wealthy businesspeople and other moneyed individuals.
When he was appointed to the post of Chief Minister in September 1960 Mwalimu declared corruption as ‘an enemy of the people.
However, before his appointment as Chief Minister, Mwalimu Nyerere was already a member of the then Tanganyika Legislative Council, wherein he was the leader of the Tanganyika Elected Members’ Organisation’ (Temo).
It was in that capacity that he took the first step on the road to fighting corruption when, on May 17, 1960, he made a significant historical statement, declaring corruption as “an enemy of the people”.
Addressing the Parliament, Nyerere said, “let me also take this opportunity to add ‘corruption’ to the list of the three enemies, which consistently afflict our otherwise peaceful community, namely: poverty, ignorance and disease.”
Therefore, in my considered opinion, the crime of corruption deserves to be placed in the same category as that of treason because corruption among government leaders effectively destroys people’s confidence in their government, and such eventuality often promotes consequential harmful political results.
However, some analysts and leaders doubt whether Mwalimu’s legacy is fully protected. Not only that, but also there are those who believe the values that he defended are not being fully nurtured by today’s leaders.
In his article published in the Daily News, former National Assembly Speaker argued that although Mwalimu Nyerere’s administration maintained the fight against corruption but there was a little success because, “The fight against corruption is an uphill task…”
Even President Magufuli, who has modelled his leadership around that of the Father of the Nation in one of his speeches admitted that curbing corruption is still a herculean task. However, the head of state vowed to continue to wage a war on corruption.
Speaking during the Mwalimu Nyerere 20th anniversary symposium held at the Mwalimu Nyerere memorial university earlier this week, former CCM secretary general Mr Wilson Mukama said Mwalimu insisted on leadership ethics as a weapon against corruption.
Mr Mukama said he remembered during his (Mwalimu’s) meeting with the press in 1995 the Father of the Nation spoke passionately about his desire for leaders, who hate corruption
“The is no government in the world, which is governed without adherence to leadership ethics,” Mr Mukama quoted Mwalimu’s speech.
“We need a leader, who will fight corrupt practices; you can’t be entrusted with a public office and yet still you live a corrupt life,” said Mr Mukama.
Mr Msekwa argued in his article that on the basis of this strong policy statement Mwalimu Nyerere, in subsequent years during his leadership period, always took appropriate measures, both legal and administrative, to implement his earnest resolve to combat corruption.
For example, when the Tanu constitution was revised to spell out the party’s new objects and responsibilities upon the attainment of independence, Mwalimu Nyerere, in his capacity as President of Tanu, caused the inclusion tough declarations against corruption.