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Mr Maige, was that the full story?

I will not argue against that only that good leaders should never expect to have friends, only enemies who they should know how to deal with.

But the case against him is also very clear. He has wealth the value of which he can hardly justify by his public service income and, especially so given the relatively short time he has been in government.

At the centre of the entire controversy is the purchase of a one storey house in the upscale Mbezi Beach area of Dar es Salaam said to be worth dollars 700,000 (Sh 1.1billion) against an array of mega corruption allegations in the ministry he heads, charges the minister vehemently denies.

The minister says he bought the house for dollars 410,000 (about Tsh 652 million only) through two loans he obtained from CRDB Bank valued in total TSh 504 million repayable in 48 months, that is until 2015. (Lucky ministers they can get a series of loans even before they had finished servicing the first one).

But even if we agreed with Mr Maige’s version of the story, there is still a difference of Tsh 148 million between the cost of the house and the two loans, a shortfall that the minister did not explain how he covered up.

Indeed, public service has changed a lot since the days of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. As a young reporter, I happened to cover the case against Mr Gray Mapunda, an immigration officer who was charged with corruption.

It turned out that poor Mapunda was a highly enterprising public servant and managed in those days to build a house valued at Tsh 100,000/- (dollars 62 by current values). He was dragged to court, found guilty and sentenced to serve time in prison.

In addition to that, the house he built, near Stereo Bar in Temeke, was confiscated by the state. In defence, Mr Mapunda told the court that he was given part of the money for building the house by his sister, who in turn was given that money by her white boyfriend.

The magistrate though, was never convinced even after the sister testified in court in defence of her brother. Mr Mapunda died not so long after serving about five years in jail. Now, that was in the days of Mwalimu.

I believe Mr Maige is only a sardine in the game of public servants possessing huge sums of money they cannot quite account for. Why bother about Mr Maige when one senior public servant boastfully calls a million dollars stashed in an overseas bank account “mere pocket change!” Nevertheless, his wealth is enough to raise eyebrows.

I believe being in possession of huge sums of money that officials cannot account for should not be the culture and norm by which our public servants are identified. Mr Maige also said he has a stake in a transportation company he owns jointly with his wife. He has two trucks in that company, he said. But where did his wife get the capital from?

Stupid here to recall the Arusha Declaration but under the terms of that highly ethical code of conduct for public servants dumped many years ago, man and wife were deemed to be one and the same person!

The transportation angle is another quite curious revelation. Mr Maige has trucks that haul cargo to DR Congo and other landlocked countries. I believe he is not the only one in government who owns a transportation company. Could that be the reason the Central Railway line shall never see the light of day because people like Mr Maige cannot agree to lose their line of income if the railway were to operate?

I am not a lawyer but I think if the law were to be strictly applied, then Mr Maige and his wife have quite a number of charges to answer either under the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Act, 2007, the Economic and Organised Crimes Act or simply the Penal code.

The three laws have several provisions that make it an offence for anyone to be found in possession of sums of money the source of which could not be traced to lawful gain.

But the problem is that the law in this country tends to be applied selectively. Big potatoes are hardly ever unearthed. It is only the small roots that end up in the frying pan.

I sympathise with Mr Maige for the many enemies that surround him for no other reason than genuine desire to clean the rot in his ministry. But are those enemies really behind the many acts that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Environment accused him personally for either commission or omission? I don’t think so.


Author: Mboneko Munyaga

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