28 July 2012

Tanzania: Energy and Minerals Minister, Permanent Secretary Survive 'Coup'

AT last the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo and the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry, Mr Eliachim Maswi, have survived what has been described as a clandestine plot to oust them from office.

The heated debate that ensued in the House chamber and the previous meeting by CCM members of parliament thwarted secret operations designed to throw the two officials out of office.

Inside sources have been quoted as saying that majority of the legislators vowed not to make similar mistakes to that of 2008 whereby the former Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa, was erroneously implicated in the operations of a controversial Richmond Power Company leading to his resignation without convincing evidence of his involvement.

MPs who stood up to make their case at the meeting, according to sources, said they were not ready to act on unfounded allegations to punish the Energy and Minerals minister and the Permanent Secretary as it happened to Mr Lowassa who was such a diligent public leader.

The meeting was convened specifically to discuss ways to resolve power crisis in the country. However, several MPs spoke strongly against the two officials in the Ministry of Energy insisting that they should go.

The two were accused of breaching public procurement procedures for awarding emergency oil supply contract to Puma Oil firm without following the laid down procedures.

Among the MPs who wanted to have the officials out of office was Mr Christopher Ole Sendeka (Simanjiro-CCM), but was strongly opposed by Kangi Lugola (CCM-Mwibara) who made allegations on penetration of bribes to some legislators to make the plot a success.

Ms Anne Kilango (Same East-CCM), Deo Filikunjombe (Ludewa-CCM) and Ally Keissy Mohammed, Nkasi North-CCM) said there was no justification to hold responsible the two officials based on hearsay charges. Finally, the Prime Minister intervened to smoothen the debate and resolved to the formation of a probe committee which would take into consideration all matters raised at the meeting.

During House debate in Dodoma, Mr Joseph Selasini (CHADEMA-Rombo) accused a number of MPs, both from the opposition and the ruling CCM of receiving bribes from some of oil marketing companies.

He said the underground 'movement' was meant to discredit Prof Sospeter Muhongo and Eliakim Maswi after receiving kickbacks.

"There have been plots over the last one week by both CCM and opposition MPs funded by oil companies aimed at influencing the House to punish the two leaders for allegedly breaching the Public Procurement Act.

Mr Selasini praised Prof Muhongo and Mr Maswi as hard workers and shamed MPs who received bribes and thus damaging the reputation of the National Assembly.

At the heart of the controversy was a decision by Mr Maswi to award a tender of supplying oil to run power plants at the Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) to Puma Energy Tanzania, formerly BP Tanzania.

The tender was initially awarded to Oryx and Camel Oil by the Tanesco Board of Directors but Mr Maswi later intervened and awarded it to Puma since it had quoted the lowest price compared to the other two companies.

"The decision made by the Minister and the PS saved the nation 6bn/- per month.

It is a pity that some of our colleagues here are working in cohorts with Tanesco," he remarked as MPs applaused from the floor in support.

He further claimed he had reports that Mr Maswi had received threats through text messages and that some MPs had approached the PS soliciting bribes. 'Daily News' was shown an alleged message sent to Mr Maswi evening.

"Behaviours of some MPs in this House are very unbecoming; they are bribed so easily to advance interests of some corrupt elements. Corruption has no ideology, religion, ethnicity or any other boundary," charged the MP amid applause from fellow lawmakers.

He called for amendment of the Economic Sabotage Act, noting that penalties provided by the law are not sufficient, thus, suggested that suspects be tried for treason.

Mr Selasini also claimed that Tanesco was forced to deliberately shut down hydro power generation plants under the pretext of power rationing so that oil companies could sell oil for diesel-powered plants at the expense of suffering public.

Mr Kangi Lugola described the recently appointed top officials at the ministry as "gate-valves of corruption."I am very proud that today MPs from all parties have refused to let this House to be used by some corrupt elements to advance their selfish interests," Mr Lugola said.

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