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CORRUPTION
Tanzania's growing burden

Published: 01-MAR-04

Corruption has gone out of control in Tanzania and has become a viable enterprise for unscrupulous public office and private office holders reports SHEEN MSUSA in Dar-Es-Salaam

According to the World Bank, the on-going worst phase of corruption in Tanzania began in the early 1980s. Today, almost all transactions with people in every facet of both private and public sectors, involve some sort of bribery.

The most affected areas include tax administration, public procurement, contract awarding, customs services and police roadblocks. Transparency International, a Berlin- headquartered corruption watchdog, ranked Tanzania in its 2002 Corruption Perception Index as the 12th most corrupt country in the world and the seventh in Africa.

Although the current rating of 2.7 suggests a slight improvement, advocates of good governance say Tanzania is still riddled with high- level corruption.

Tanzania, according to the United Nation's Human development Report of 2002, is still ranked among the poorest nations in the world. The European Union says that the cost of living in Tanzania is 20 percent higher because of corruption.

The country's scarce public resources and benefits are being sidetracked into private pockets. Every year, corruption eats away at millions of US dollars from public coffers - a significant percentage of Dar-Es- Salaam's budget.

Peter Eigen, Transparency International's Chairperson, says that the present level of corruption in Tanzania impedes sustainable development and is robbing children of the resources they will need to survive tomorrow.

A recent survey by the East African nation's Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA) unit found that relative poverty has increased dramatically in the last five years.

Under the weight of corruption, the pace of efficiency in public offices has slowed, and the queues in hospitals and passport offices are now being hastened for those willing to dish out gratuities.

Tanzania's image was recently given a further knock by allegations by Dr Hassy Kitine, a member of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi s (CCM) National Executive Committee and former Director of Tanzania's National Intelligence, saying publicly that some ministers as well as his fellow CCM officials are corrupt.

Although Tanzanians are in agreement that there is a need to reduce corruption, there are no concrete national solutions in sight. Many Tanzanians say their leaders should first set a good example in accountability.

The allegations made by Dr Kitine reflects a notable shift from the culture of silence inside the ruling circles, and have triggered a somewhat heated debate in public domains. As one clergyman, Hezron Hagai, said: "By breaking the silence, Dr Kitine has displayed patriotic qualities".

Augustine Mrema's Tanzania Labour Party has also registered its support for Dr Kitine's stand.

The Minister of State in the president's office responsible for Good Governance, Wilson Masilingi, has directed the former intelligence man to present names of the suspected corrupt ministers and politicians, either to the Ethics Committee or to the Prevention of Corruption Bureau (PCB).

Although Dr Kitine's allegations have created a crisis of confidence, they are not new. A presidential commission on corruption, headed by former Tanzanian Prime Minister, Joseph Warioba, made similar allegations in a 521-page report.

President Benjamin Mkapa has gone on record to state that he will never compromise on corruption and that he will never forgive any government member who is proved to be corrupt.

The World Bank and other international institutions have stated that Tanzania's institutional setup is too frail to deal with corruption. The donor community feels that Tanzania, an obedient pupil of the International Monetary Fund's economic theology, needs to do more to retain the donor confidence.

However, the PCB has not been given enough teeth to execute its founding objectives.

Although Tanzanians are in agreement that there is a need to reduce corruption, there are no concrete national solutions in sight. Many Tanzanians say their leaders should first set a good example in accountability.

Others are skeptical of having politicians marshalling the anti- corruption campaign, saying it would be a mockery to let the corrupt wage war on corruption.

Tanzania's chapter of Transparency International claim politicians in the country have not shown the will to tackle corruption head-on and restore the accountably balance because they themselves are corrupt.

Presently, the status quo is that the corrupt are going scot-free under a banner of 'sacred cows' and ordinary people are blaming this on the lukewarm attitude of law enforcers who they say have failed to provide a benchmark of integrity.

Tanzania adopted the 2001 protocol against corruption under the Southern African Development Community, the first sub-regional anti-corruption treaty in Africa. As with most issues concerning governments in Africa, implementation of the treaty has been weak.



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