Dar es Salaam. Two leading opposition parties on Monday came forward to demand President Samia Suluhu Hassan holds to account government officials named in the Controller and Auditor General’s (CAG) reports to have mismanaged public funds.
The call comes in the wake of damning reports implicating numerous government institutions in massive corruption and the misuse of public funds scandals that have wagged tongues for the past few days.
In his audit reports for the 2021/2022 financial year, CAG Charles Kichere details how taxpayers’ money worth trillions of shilling went down the drain, triggering a public outcry amidst the soaring high cost of living in the country.
Kichere’s reports about the mismanagement of public funds were so damning that President Samia, receiving the reports at the State House in Dar es Salaam on April 7, 2023, concluded: “We are killing our own country.”
CHADEMA Secretary-General John Mnyika told journalists on Monday that President Samia is yet to apply the powers bestowed upon her by the Constitution in holding to account officials implicated in the corruption, something he thinks leaves many questions unanswered.
He said the CAG’s revelations are enormous and that Tanzanians are expecting their leader to take appropriate actions against all those responsible for the mishandling of their hard-earned money.
“Tanzanians are expecting President Samia, who apart from being the Head of the State is also the Head of the Government, to remove from offices officials whose portfolios have been implicated in these misuse of public funds,” Mnyika said during a press conference.
On Sunday, President Samia dissolved the board of Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) following revelations that the agency twice rejected the tender to purchase locomotives and passenger couches from the lowest bidder at an offer of $263.4 million and instead made a non-competitive purchase of $478 million.
In the contract to purchase locomotives and passenger couches, CAG found that TRC also implemented the process without a performance guarantee, leading to a loss of Sh13.7 billion.
The Head of State also sacked the Director General of the Tanzania Government Flight Agency (TGFA), John Nzulule, after CAG found that the last instalment for the purchase of a cargo plane that was ordered by the agency was $37 million. However, $86 million invoice was submitted for payment.
She also directed the Chief Secretary to ensure that permanent secretaries and director generals of government entities read the CAG report and implement issues raised in their areas.
But Mr Mnyika said Monday that Tanzanians deserve more than these steps, pointing out that one way to prevent corruption of this scale from recurring is to ensure perpetrators are brought before a judge to account for their misdeeds.
“Tanzanians are also expecting to see that the money that has been misappropriated is returned to state coffers,” Mnyika told a press conference. “At a time when everyone is complaining about the effects of the high cost of living, President Samia should assign a top priority to this proposal.”
While submitting his audit reports to President Samia, CAG Kichere revealed that apart from the discrepancies his team observed in how government entities handle public procurement, his recommendations are also implemented disappointingly.
For example, he observed that of the 6,947 recommendations he gave in his reports for the previous financial year, 2020/21, only 2,506, equivalent to 36 per cent, were implemented.
Zitto Kabwe, the leader of the opposition party ACT-Wazalendo, told a press conference on Monday that this surprises him, pointing out that if the recommendations were worked on, there would be less misappropriation of taxpayers’ money.
“There is no reason whatsoever why the discrepancies observed in the procurement process of locomotives for the [Standard Gauge Railway] SGR’s trains, which started in 2018, have not been resolved to date and keep recurring,” Mr Kabwe told journalists.
He described CAG’s findings as the same old story of issues committed by people from the same political party, the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), urging voters to replace the party with ACT-Wazalendo in the 2025 elections.
Asked for his opinion on how the government can ensure CAG’s recommendations are implemented in full, former CAG Prof Mussa Assad told Azam TV last week that the best way is to ensure the responsible person is accountable if they fail to do so.
“For example, a person may be told that failure to implement these recommendations will reduce your salary by five or ten per cent monthly,” Prof Assad said. “That means they’ll no longer receive any salary after ten months.”
He also proposed blacklisting government officials who fail to implement CAG’s recommendations, preventing them from receiving government employment in future.
Monday’s demands from opposition CHADEMA and ACT-Wazalendo followed that by CCM’s Central Committee (CC), which, sitting in Dar es Salaam under the chairmanship of Samia, directed the government to institute stern measures against officials implicated in the CAG’s reports.
CCM Secretary for Publicity and Ideology Sophia Mjema told journalists on April 1, 2023, that the party’s CC directed that public officials abusing their offices should be held to account.