Ponda reacts to Lugola sacking

Saturday January 25 2020


By Khalifa Said @ThatBoyKhalifax

Dar es Salaam. Reactions to President John Magufuli’s decision to sack Kangi Lugola as Home Affairs minister continued to flow in yesterday - what with the secretary of the Council of Islamic Organisations in Tanzania, Sheikh Issa Ponda, being the latest in voicing his opinion over the development, describing it as a decision that was long overdue.
President Magufuli fired Mr Lugola, alongside the commissioner of the Fire and Rescue Brigade, Thobias Andengenye, over a deal to procure fire-fighting  and rescue equipment from a Romanian company without  Parliament’s blessings.
Briefing reporters at his office yesterday, Sheikh Ponda said President Magufuli didn’t have to wait for that particular development to sack Mr Lugola. As Head of State, he could have done so immediately after the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) reported serious financial irregularities in the ministry.
A former CAG, Prof Mussa Assad, uncovered massive embezzlement in the Police Force accounts, including  about Sh3.658 billion related to the procurement of Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) by the Force; expenditure which did not have supporting documents to confirm whether the expenditure actually took place.
The CAG also reported that about 58 Dell monitors costing Sh159,166,100 delivered to the Forensic Unit could not be traced during the time of the audit. There were other serious financial wrongdoings uncovered by the CAG.
Sheikh Ponda added: “An action becomes laudable only when it happens at the right time. This is the case with the sacking of Mr Lugola. The issue of financial irregularities at his ministry had been well-documented by the CAG - but no action was taken (against Lugola) and, instead, we saw attacks being directed at the CAG!”
While these were happening, questions were still being asked over the reported Sh1 trillion firefighting and emergency equipment deal. Chief Secretary John Kijazi directed the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) on Thursday to launch an investigation into the matter and bring all the facts to light.
Efforts by The Citizen to get the name of the Romanian company from the office of the PCCB - as well as an explanation on whether or not the anti-corruption watchdog has started investigating the matter - proved futile, as it was not ready to respond to the specific questions posed to them.