VERBA volant, scripta manent” These Latin words mean that ‘what is spoken may be forgotten and lost, but what is written lasts permanently.
Former Presdient Ali Hassan Mwinyi’s autography book titled: “Mzee Rukhusa :Safari ya Maisha yangu” (Mkuki and Nyota Publishers, Dar es Salaam, 2020); is a permanent record of a brilliant and master piece presentation of the words and actions, of a national leader who was an ‘original thinker’.
President Mwinyi is widely credited for having successfully ‘ferried’ our nation through the most turbulent times, when the country’s economy was at its worst downswing. I was among those invited to attend the inauguration by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, of former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi’s book.
The event took place inside Julius Nyerere Convention Center, Dar es Salaam, and I was ushered to a reserved seat between the of former President Mwinyi’s ministers, Anne Semamba Makinda and Cleopa David Msuya. Next to Msuya was former President Mwinyi’s Prime Minister, Joseph Sinde Warioba.
I myself was, at the material time, Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). We had all been asked to be seated before 15.00 hours, but the formal proceedings did not commence until when President Samia arrived at 16.00 hours. Thus, the four of us had plenty of time to make reflections (or to refresh our memories) on some of the matters pertaining to former President Mwinyi’s ‘original thinker’ style of leadership.
I was particularly interested in the rather unusual event, when President Mwinyi suddenly dismissed all his Ministers by dissolving the Cabinet, only to re-appoint all of them the next day, with no explanation given for this extraordinary action! I was of the view that this was such an extraordinary event, that it would merit inclusion in his book.
I therefore asked Joseph Warioba, whether he thinks that this peculiar incident would have been included in the book that was being inaugurated on that day, as none of us had seen the book yet. He wasn’t sure.
That is when the other two former President Mwinyi’s Ministers, (Makinda and Msuya), joined the conversation; each narrating how, on that day, they were first asked to write letters of resignation, and a short while later being told that such letters were not necessary, as the President had actually dissolved the cabinet.
But former Premier Joseph Warioba then came back with more details. He explained that the President’s decision to dissolve the Cabinet, was based on his desire to demonstrate that he was taking the matter of the “ fight against corruption”, extremely seriously.
And that quickly reminded me that around that time, there had indeed been some strong criticism raised at a CCM National Executive Committee meeting, regarding the large increase in corruption deeds committed by government officials, and other public officials.
There had also been numerous complaints regarding the apparent lack of action taken by the Government against the offenders. So, I had thought that this was probably President Mwinyi’s response to that criticism and those complaints.
The mere surprise and disbelief that was created by this unprecedented action of dissolving the entire Cabinet had, in fact, partly achieved the purpose of demonstrating the President’s absolute seriousness about fighting that evil.
And there was widespread public expectation that further action would soon be taken by the President, following his initial action of dissolving the Cabinet. However, no such action was taken. Instead, on the next day, the President reconstituted the Cabinet in exactly the same format in which it had been just before dissolution. We were all puzzled.
What then, was the purpose of dissolving it? I was therefore expecting that former President Mwinyi’s book might provide the answer to that question, because ‘dissolving the Cabinet’ was a very grave matter. But when I subsequently read the book, I noticed that this particular story is not included. Hence, that question remains unanswered in my mind.
But the question of fighting corruption is of great importance, and it may thus be useful for our readers, to have a brief narrative of the different methods which have been adopted by our respective Presidents in this ‘war against corruption’. The war against corruption.
The available records show some of the supreme efforts which were invested by different national leaders over the years, in this “ war against corruption” project.
It started with Mwalimu Nyerere’s characterization of ‘corruption’ as an “enemy of the people”, in his speech delivered in the Tanganyika Legislative Council, on 17th May, 1960; when he said the following:- “ Mr. Speaker, I think we must add another enemy to the three enemies of poverty, ignorance, and disease, namely corruption . . . I think corruption is a greater enemy to the welfare of the people in peace time, than war is during war time.
Corruption in a country should be treated in almost the same way as treason”. That was Mwalimu Nyerere’s clarion call to action in the ‘fight against corruption’, which was thus declared to be “an enemy of the people”.
Subsequently when Mwalimu Nyerere became Head of State and Government; he quickly caused the enactment of a severe anti-corruption law, which introduced a minimum sentence of two years imprisonment without the alternative of a fine; plus twenty-four strokes of the cane, twelve to be administered upon entry into prison, and another twelve on the prisoner’s completion of sentence.
Sadly however, despite these tough legal measures being introduced, , corruption still continued to rear its ugly head everywhere within our community. President Kikwete’s input When President Kikwete came to power, he too produced his own input into the legal regime, specifically in respect of electoral corruption.
He caused the enactment of a new law titled “The Election Offences Act” (no. 6 of 2010); which made provision for ‘controlling the use of funds by candidates’ during all the stages of the electoral process, namely the nomination stage, the campaign stage, and the actual election stage.
The said controls included the disclosure of, and accountability for, all such funds; plus the imposition of an upper limit to the expenses that may be incurred by the candidate; and also prescribes the stiff penalties that may be imposed upon a candidate who is proved to have breached its provisions.
President Magufuli’s contribution When he came to power, the late President John Pombe Magufuli also made his own contribution.
In May, 2016; the Minister of State in the President’s office responsible for Public Service Management Angela Kairuki, issued the following announcement:- “Following the public outrage over light punishments given to grand corruption culprits, the Government is preparing a specific Bill for amendment of the existing Combating and Prevention of Corruption Act, so that those convicted of this offence may get stricter punishments.
Tougher punishments will help reduce this problem” she confidently declared. In my humble opinion, stiffer punishments alone will not provide a solution to the intricate problem of corruption, particularly electoral corruption; because of corruption’s intricate nature.
The intricate nature of corruption In particular, ‘electoral corruption’ is a most intricate problem for the Government Authorities to deal with. And Its intricate nature is what creates some insurmountable obstacles in fighting against this evil through the courts of law. And yet, the courts are the only places wherein corruption can be effectively managed.
This is so because, in our country’s legal regime, “corruption” is categorized as a criminal offence, whose handling must therefore comply with the basic principles of natural justice, which are:- (a) that any offence of a criminal nature, must be handled only through the courts of law; and (b) that an accused person is presumed to be innocent until he if found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.
These are, of course, perfectly fair principles which govern the administration of justice in the majority of countries around the world. But they are certainly not the problem. In the matter of corruption, the real problems are the following:- (i) the presence of factors which can cause immense difficulties in achieving a successful prosecution of persons accused of corruption offences; primarily those relating to ‘procedural technicalities’.
These provisions which can be, and hare often been successfully relied upon by the defense counsel, to save their clients from conviction. But even the courts themselves can rely on such technical procedural provisions, and have indeed done so quite often, to set free an accused person.
This actually happened in the story that was once told by Mwalimu Nyerere, in which he revealed the following information:-“Tulipata habari kwamba Waziri wetu wa sheria, amehongwa. Hatukuwa na utani hata kidogo; tukampata yule aliyemhonga, naye akakiri mahakamani kwamba amemhonga Waziri.
Kwa hiyo akaswekwa rumande, na akapata vile viboko vyake ishirini na vinne. Lakini kumbe Mahakimu wetu wa wakati ule, walikuwa hawaipendi sheria ile hata kidogo; Hawakuipenda kwa sababu: kwanza, ni kwamba iliwatamkia adhabu itakayotolewa.
Kwa kufanya hivyo, sheria hiyo iliwanyima Mahakimu na Majaji uhuru wa wao wenyewe kuamua watoe adhabu ya kiwango gani. Lakini pili, pia hawakupenda dhana yenyewe ya mtu kutandikwa viboko. Basi, katika kesi yetu hii, wakatafuta tafuta njia ya kumwachia huru waziri huyo, na wakaipata. wakaamua kwamba eti Waziri “hakuwa na kosa”, pamoja na kwamba waliamua kumfunga yule mtu aliyekuwa amemhonga.
Kumbe sheria, na haki, ni vitu viwili mbali mbali! (ii) The second factor, which is clearly the main one contributing to the difficulty of fighting corruption through the courts, is the legal requirement to produce evidence which will satisfy the court “beyond any reasonable doubt”, that the accused person has, in fact, committed the offence with which he is charged.
The difficulty which arises here, is caused not by that provision of the law, not at all. It is caused basically by the great secrecy which normally surrounds such corrupt transactions. It is this secrecy which makes it difficult to obtain credible evidence of such transactions.
And, in addition, because the law generally holds that “both the parties” in a corrupt transaction stand accused of that offence; obviously neither the giver, nor the receiver, will be willing to give evidence regarding their secret transaction. The accused ‘briber’ (who readily pleaded guilty) in Mwalimu Nyerere’s story was, obviously, a rare, isolated case.
Thus, in such circumstances, how will the prosecution be able to obtain sufficient credible evidence which will convict the accused person or persons? He will, obviously, find no assistance in the provisions for stricter penalties. Imposition of ‘stricter penalties’ is not the answer.
In my humble opinion, the problem of prosecuting some of the corruption cases, especially those relating to electoral corruption, is not caused by inadequate penalties. It is solely caused by the difficulty of obtaining evidence which will satisfy the courts “beyond reasonable doubt”.
For example, section 108 of the National Elections Act provides that the corruption offence must have been committed “by the candidate, or on his behalf and with his knowledge and consent”.
These are, obviously, pretty stiff conditions for the prosecution to be able to obtain a conviction for electoral corruption offences, simply because the candidate will deny any knowledge of, or consent to, any such transaction; just in order to save himself valuable time, plus the personal trouble and inconvenience of having to appear repeatedly in court for a lengthy period. email@example.com / 0754767576.
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