End to government corruption in Tanzania?

[November 26, 2015]
Every five years on the last Sunday of October: elections in Tanzania. President Kikwete cannot be re-elected, he already is at the end of his second term. The opposition brings the old slogan called ‘change!’ back to life. That’s not that strange, because these are the only moments when the 50 million Tanzanians bear a sparkle of hope from a new government. A government that finally does something about the lack of morals of the leaders of the country. Tanzania is on the top of the worldwide corruption list.

Reading back how things went in 2005 and 2010, you get much food for dejection, also for projection to the near future: it’s always promises, promises, promises about fighting nepotism, abuse of power, disguised censorship and the misleading of international donors. But yes, charity begins at home. “I will fire every public servant that appears to be guilty of corruption”, presidente Kikwete said after his first election in 2006. Even foreign media had more concerns about the unrealistic promises by then, than that they felt this could just be hollow frases. Hollow frases they proved to be: under Kikwete’s administration corruption really got extreme.

In 2010 an online corruption detection system was launched on the internet. Lots of bribary scandals were published online. In 2012 it was one of the most popular websites in the country. Right now the website is nowhere to be found. I find a Facebookpage about the project, but the last message is posted in 20012. Maybe some pressure is being put on the project some years ago?

The Tanzanian people are very proud of the fact they live together in peace and harmony, being together with so many different peoples. Tanzania counts 99 different tribes! Sure, they’re all very much against corruption, but deep down inside it has got more to do with something like ‘accepted human nature’: if you want to climb up in society, you also have to be flexible with the game rules. If you’re not willing to ‘play the game’, you will always be worse of than ‘the others’. Lots of times, while I was traveling in Tanzania last summer, I asked people: who are you gonna vote for? And why? Almost everybody emphasized, with a smile, they would vote for ‘the least poor’. They just don’t trust anybody. By that time it was not yet clear, who would be the running man for CCM, the leading party. Although they knew very well that this party was responsible for a government that is one of the corruption champions of the world, lots of people told me they would give their vote to CCM again. One of the main arguments: we don’t have war here, this is a peaceful country and we’re proud of that.

But something happened last month. At least: it seems something is changing. Really changing. Even the most sceptical spectator feels ‘there is something in the air in Tanzania’. Magafuli, the new president, immediately started actions against corruption. During his first month as president he paid surprise visits to a major hospital, the revenue authority and some other governmental institutions and uncovered abuses instantly. Non-present civil servants, without explanation (quite normal in Tanzania), got fired immediately. Top officials spend lots of public money flying by airplane from meeting to meeting, also getting the so called ‘sitting allowance’ (income for only being present). The new president abolishes all kinds of luxury services of governmental officials. He also promises the people primary and secondary education will be totally free, no school fees anymore.

Last week Magafuli held his inaugural speech in the Tanzanian parliament. His enthousiastic speech lasted one and a half hour. “I will fight corruption without fear or favour. I will personally lead the charge… pray for me and support me in this war because those involved are not the ordinary nwananchi (civillians).” Magafuli promised to compose a smaill and efficient cabinet, asked all members of parliament (all very familiair with power abuse and corruption) to help him fight corruption. Yes, this really looks great. Is change really gonna come?

Hope springs eternal and the least Magafuli deserves is the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he feels Tanzania doesn’t profit enough from its natural resources and its touristic highlights. Maybe he realises Tanzania’s potential: it could be a rich country. During the last decades the people did not profit whatsoever. It’s still one of the poorest countries in the world. Maybe he just knows and feels the time is right after all. But remember 10 years ago. How is the situation different from then? Kikwete by then was talking like Magafuli right now. So the first steps are promising, but only time will tell if he persists on his mission towards a fair society.

The best would be when it comes clear in a couple of years Magafuli achieved something quite extraordinary. Like some kind of an ‘under cover’-revolutionary he spent years and years in the snake pit of parliament and cabinet building up his credibility, being ‘one of the guys’. And when he found the time is right for going for the leadership he brought himself to the right position. Whe he was ready for campaigning, he threw off his jacket: “and now for genuine change!”. The establishment is scratching their head: what have we overlooked!?

Niko Winkel / GoTanzania, November 25, 2015 
(with help from Herman Erdsieck, MamboViewPoint, Mambo, Tanzania)

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Message from All About Arusha:

"Tanzania now has a president !!!!



Last weekend they were opening parliament and there was a state dinner planned for all guests that was going to cost about 300 m. President Magufuli cut the budget to 25 m and ordered that the rest be taken to buy hospital beds for Muhimbili they got 300 beds and mattresses and 600 bed sheets from that money.

On 23rd Nov 2015 he announced that there will be no official ceremonies for Independence Day on 9th December, the money is to be used for more pressing issues and the day should instead be spent cleaning up our environment.

On Saturday 21st Nov 2015 a group of 50 people were about to set off for a tour of commonwealth countries (don’t know for what) but President Magufuli cut that list down to 4 people, saving government 600 m in tickets, accommodation and per diems

No more foreign travel, embassies will take care; if it’s necessary to go, special permission must be sought from him or Chief Secretary

No more 1st class and business class travel for all officials except President, Vice, and Prime Minister.

No more workshops and seminars in expensive hotels when their so many ministry board rooms available. President Magufuli asked how come engineers are given V 8s when a pick-up is more suitable for their jobs.

No more sitting allowances, how the hell are you paid allowance for a job which you have a monthly salary; that also applies to MP’s. President Magufuli has literally pressed the reset button; returning Tanzania to default factory settings, because that was the TZ Nyerere left us with.

On the day after he was brought to power, in the morning as State House officials were showing him round he decided to take a walk to ministry of finance, told them to get their act together, asked why some employees weren’t in office (ever since then the traffic jam in mornings has become worse) and ordered TRA to scrap all tax exemptions, everyone must pay taxes especially the big guys

President Magufuli went to Muhimbili Hospital unannounced and walked thru the worst parts that they keep hiding from important visitors he fired the director, fired the hospital board and ordered that all machines that weren’t working (so that people go to private hospitals owned by some doctors) to be repaired within 2 weeks otherwise he fires even the new director; the machines were repaired in 3 days

Finally, last week when going to officially open parliament President Magufuli didn’t go by plane, drove the whole 600 km from Dar to Dodoma.

President Magufuli has reduced the size of the presidential convoy, even reduced the size of presidential delegation that travels with him President Magufuli chose a Prime Minister we haven’t heard of before, a guy with reputation for hard work and no corruption all the big guys we expected could be PM have been let wondering what hit them.

His motto is: Hapa Kazi Tu = "HERE, ALL WE DO IS WORK/ SERVE!"

After President Magufuli visited Ministry of finance and Muhimbili Hospital without announcing it is said the port (most corrupt, delaying, thieving officials) were all of a sudden the most efficient place. No loads are missing, things are done quickly and that habit of forcing for a bribe so that your container is released is no more.

Oh, they say when he was confirmed as winner people started congratulating him and wanting to bring gifts to his place he turned them back, saying he will receive all congrats over the phone, nobody should visit himb All individuals/firms that bought state companies that were privatized but haven’t done anything (20 yrs later) are to either revive the industries immediately or hand them back to the government.


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