MISSING THE POINT : Observe rule of law as anti-corruption drive intensifies

Wednesday April 27 2016



Peter Saramba_news@thecitizen.co.tz

Peter Saramba_news@thecitizen.co.tz 

        High on the agenda of the fifth phase government, which President John Magufuli leads, is the fight against corruption and embezzlement of public funds.

President Magufuli vowed that he would lead the anti-corruption drive dubbed ‘opening boils’ by taking to task all civil servants who illegally make a mint from abusing public coffers.

The drive comes when many civil servants had put their selfish interests ahead of those of Tanzanians, as they no longer respected ordinary taxpayers who had, in principle, hired and paid them salaries and allowances, among other perks.

As a result of the culprits shifting the vice from one work station to another with them, if not walking scot free, the entire public sector became inept.

Job seekers were not recruited if they failed to dish out kickbacks in public institutions particularly those which are directly responsible for revenue collection.

Some corrupt civil servants with Tanzania Revenue Authority and Tanzania Ports Authority, for instance, reportedly bagged home at least Sh10 million cash each a day.

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With the public sector’s rot in mind, President Magufuli promised during his election campaign and when inaugurating the 11th Parliament late last year that his administration would wage a vigorous war against the culprits.

And barely a day after he was sworn in, President Magufuli made a surprise visit to the Treasury only to be greeted by empty chairs, if not national coffers.

Three days later, President Magufuli announced drastic measures aimed at boosting government coffers, including immediate ban on foreign travels by public servants.

Even before he clocked a month at the State House, Dr Magufuli fired the Commissioner General of Tanzania Revenue Authority Rished Bade over alleged abuse of office and fraud at the revenue collection body, replacing him with the former executive director of the Planning Commission, Dr Philip Mpango.

As President Magufuli continues purging the civil service of the rot that haunted the sector for years, I personally support him for the good course aimed at restoring the lost public trust in the government.

As a nation, we are duty bound to rally behind the President and his administration by ensuring discipline, which is the foundation of any meaningful growth, prevails right from the family to national level.

Discipline, being an important requisite for growth of every nation, has to be employed at all stages, including of planning, revenue collection, and expenditure or project implementation.

Indiscipline hampers prosperity of the nation, as it compromises with public resources management, service delivery, integrity, and patriotism.

It was indiscipline among men and women in uniforms and other civil servants which led hundreds of containers at the Dar es Salaam Port to disappear.

Civil servants, who deliberately enter into lopsided contracts, can be likened to enemies of the nation, if not murderers, for their actions lead many innocent Tanzanians to die for lack of quality health services.

But as the President and other authorities attempt to deal with these enemies squarely in the ongoing anti-corruption crusade, they must liaise with their legal experts.

Appointing authorities can easily fire presidential appointees, including ministers and district and regional commissioners.

But such an impromptu decision could not augur well with technocrats whose appointments are protected by laws, regulations and employment procedures.

Trampling on laws, regulations and procedures governing employment of technocrats may cost the nation billions of shillings in compensation for damages.

I am not attempting to sympathise with wayward civil servants at all, but I am rather advocating for the need for adhering to the rule of law.

Technocrats are equipped with sufficient knowledge and financial resources -- stolen or judiciously earned -- to hire competent lawyers and wage legal battles at court in case employment procedures, rules and regulations are violated.

Consultations will deny room for dishonest civil servants to cash in on legal discrepancies and siphon public funds once again in compensation for uncalled for damages.

And our legal experts should be bold enough to tell the truth in case their advice appears to be in conflict with good intentions of the appointing authorities. God bless Tanzania!

Mr Saramba is The Citizen Bureau Chief for the Lake Zone