Tanzania’s ‘Bulldozer’ intensifies graft crackdown in election year

Tanzanian President John Joseph Magufuli.

Tanzanian President John Joseph Magufuli.

from ALLOYCE KIMBUNGA in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
DAR-ES-SALAAM, (CAJ News) TANZANIA’S general polls might be months away but if his address to the nation at the beginning of 2020 is anything to go by, it is apparent the war against corruption will feature prominently in President John Magufuli’s bid for another term.

He will appeal to Tanzanians to give him another mandate to sustain his presidency that has been marked by a focus on reducing government corruption and spending.

Magufuli’s current term, as the fifth head of state, started in 2015 when he was inaugurated to succeed Jakaya Kikwete.

Aptly nicknamed The Bulldozer, after taking office, Magufuli immediately began to impose measures to curb wasteful government expenditure.

The size of cabinet was trimmed from 30 to 19 ministries to help reduce costs.

More drastically, government officials implicated in impropriety or laxity were fired.

Among these were six senior officials in the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

The Director General of the Tanzania Ports Authority, Ephraim Mgawe, was sacked over a scandal involving the non-payment of US$40 million.

The president also relieved longtime Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau, Edward Hoseah, of his duties.

Magufuli cited the snail’s pace of the agency’s fight against graft.

If the president’s New Year message to his compatriots is anything to go by, expect more of the same of the incumbent’s final year of his first tenure and ahead of elections scheduled for October.

“This country was being robbed of its resources by a handful of greedy individuals,” Magufuli stated.

He emphasised that despite strides made, corruption was still an issue.

“…And they (looters) are still robbing this country. I will continue dealing with them head on,” Magufuli said in his typical combative tone.

He said the funds recovered from culprits had been used on projects that improved the populace’s lives.

“The money recovered from looters of public funds has helped us to construct the standard gauge railway and offer free education,” Magufuli said.

The 1 800 kilometre-long Tanzania Standard Gauge Railway will be linking the country to neighboring Rwanda and Uganda, and through these two, to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Expected to be complete before end of this year, it is intended to replace the old and inefficient metre-gauge railway system.

In 2015, Tanzania introduced fees-free education policy.

The release of Sh18 billion (US$177 million) ushered in the programme meant to remove all forms of fees and contributions in government schools.

Adika Ezekiel, a political commentator, said the president’s recent sentiments indicated the fight against graft would again feature in his campaign.

“The New Year message is an indication that the war against sleaze will be central to the ruling party (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) manifesto. I anticipate crackdowns to be intensified,” the analyst said.

Transparency International, the anti-corruption group, concurred with Magufuli that graft was still prevalent despite Magufuli’s crackdowns.

“The Tanzanian government under the presidency of Magufuli has cracked down heavily on corruption. Despite the current anti-corruption campaigns, however, political, petty and grand corruption seem to be endemic in the country,” the organisation stated.

– CAJ News

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