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What a new cabinet must do for Tanzania

Let’s say one drawer spills the beans about how his deputy was going above and around him to make deals with perks such as an all-expenses- paid trip to a foreign destination ostensibly to negotiate contract terms. Eeh? It paints a bad picture of how the different drawers work together to function as one cabinet. Talk about hanging dirty linen in public. Linen?

This sounded like airing yellow undergarments at the fish market. Without any whiff of corruption from the general auditor’s report, I would have burned that cabinet drawer for drying soiled government pajamas in the glare of paparazzi and gliterati. Now we know how secret government secrecy can be. Fortunately I am president only in my own household. The official spokesperson for a ministry is usually the minister himself. We heard from the horse’s mouth.

It is usually difficult to get a statement out of many ministers for any issue of national or capital importance. In any other democracy or dictatorship, such solo performance of a team member would have resulted into immediate dismissal. Can you imagine what would happen if a minister in the UK or USA was to go on Sunday meet-the-press rounds and openly differ with a deputy or the head of government agency?

The tabloids would probably have a field day and media outlets that are friendly with the opposition would have roasted the government till the steak was well-done. Perhaps our media follows the-boss-is-right rule. A minister is capo di tutti capi or boss of bosses. President Kikwete already promised to sweep unclean drawers of his cabinet and for that he obtained endorsement from the ruling party. Those drawers were found to be dirty by the top government auditor.

Had honorable Mrema and Cheyo been priests, they could have extracted many confessions of cardinal sins from regions and districts. Former president Mwinyi once promised to use an iron broom to sweep corrupt elements from government. Now Kikwete has a real chance to redeem the presidency, if he chooses to use such a broom fearlessly. He has nothing to lose except perhaps his reputation as the president with a winning smile. He once stated in parliament that his smile hid a strong resolve, an iron will if you like. He might just prove it now.

How far can the president go in purging the Tanzanian system of corrupt elements and those leaders who failed to stem misuse and embezzlement of public funds? It would be such a waste to sacrifice a few ministers and their deputies and stop there. In ministries, government agencies and corporations and in provinces and districts are the people who make plans, budgets, contracts, tenders, payments for works, supplies and services both genuine and fake.

Those who steal by the pen or computer must be swept out by the same broom. Some DEDs are still living in districts where money grew wings and flew to the top of the Kilimanjaro like from Rombo, Moshi or Mwanga. Some money dropped into the depths of Lake Victoria like from Sengerema, Meatu, Kishapu and Mwanza. Some public funds could have been swallowed by Indian Ocean currents as from Mtwara, Lindi, Kibaha, Bagamoyo or Tanga.

CAG reports from 2007 to present tell it all. Some managers and assistants need weeding out from the national drug lowsupply company called MSD. Often many citizens have had to dig deep into their pockets to pay for medicines after attending public hospitals and clinics, even the ones within easy reach in Bandar-Salaam. Imagine the situation in a rural hospital far from the public glare of authorities in the two capitals of Dar and Dodoma.

Shortages of drugs and medical supplies in Tanzanian public hospitals are so common they have become normal. Private hospitals and drug shops have healthy stockpiles of essential and rare medicines. Only the wealthy or top government bureaucrats on public-funded insurance schemes can afford those. Since president JK came to office, electricity supply became a major problem. Tanesco director’s boards seem unable to reverse the trend.

Instead, Tanesco continues to cry for more money like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel without showing how the company is saving costs and working efficiently. While ordinary folks endure pocket-bursting electricity charges, and manufacturing industries stumble through crippling electricity blackouts, executives at the power company sit in comfy offices, sleep in nice houses renovated and equipped with the latest facilities paid at great expense from public funds.

The power company spent 1,800 million/- to repair turbines instead of 65/- million allocated for this activity (about 2,700% over-expenditure) according to a parliamentary committee. They must be overspending big time on other procurement of goods and services e.g. electric wires, transformers, vehicles and fuels. Electricity consumers which include ordinary wananchi, government ministries and agencies carry this cross of unnecessary extra costs as if Ikulu was our Calvary.

Some directors, managers and other folks at the Tanganyika electricity shortages company must go. Where? Out. The price of everything from bread made from local oil and flour to drinking water that is drawn from our rivers and lakes went up significantly this year. The cost of electricity made worse by frequent use of generators has forced many companies to pass higher production expenses to consumers.

Whoever the president appoints to fill gaps left by departing civil and political leaders must emulate his example by uprooting bad elements in their ministries and departments. Each must say the buck stops with me. Otherwise CCM will face grim consequences come election 2015.

tnaleo@hotmail.com; cell 0755-246136

LAST week, following the inauguration of the newlyelected ...

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Author: TONY ZAKARIA

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