31 October 2012

Tanzania: MP Refutes Claims on Questionable Tanesco Deals

Photo: The Daily News
Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited employee shows electric meters. The company has been plagued with alleged cases of corruption.

Dodoma — SPECIAL Seats MP Sarah Msafiri (CCM) has distanced herself from allegations that she has been doing business with the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO), noting however that it is not an offence for an MP to own a company and execute business deals.

Ms Msafiri made the remarks here during a news conference she convened to refute reports published by some section of the press, that she has been using her position as an MP and member of the disbanded Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals, to conduct business deals with the power utility.

"The press reports are aimed at tarnishing my image as a politician, I understand that there is a clique of political rivals that are behind all these allegations," she lamented. Ms Msafiri has been linked to M/s Sharrifs Services and General Supply, a company that won tender to supply tyres to TANESCO.

The MP, however, admitted before journalists yesterday that she personally knew the director of the company in question, one Mr Heri, whom she said was her neighbour and that she had played a role to ensure that the deal is awarded to the company after it won the tender legally.

"Mr Heri had sought my assistance following dilly-dallying at TANESCO after he had won the tender to which I met with the then Managing Director and presented the case before him. "After consultations with TANESCO's lawyer, he admitted that the contract for the deal had been finalized and since Mr Heri was not present at that time I took it on his behalf after signing the dispatch book," she explained.

According to the MP, even as she had obtained the contract on behalf of Mr Heri, she was not aware of details of the agreement. "I am neither the owner nor a shareholder of the company and I did not take part in the tendering process. I just intervened in the eleventh minute after its owner, Mr Heri, whom I consider my electorate, complained to me over uncertainty at TANESCO regarding the tender," she explained.

Ms Msafiri is among members of the parliamentary committee on energy and minerals which was dissolved by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Anne Makinda, during the previous session of the House. This followed a number of accusations that some members of the committee had business deals with the power utility and that some oil marketing companies had bribed a number of MPs to block passing of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals' budget for fiscal year 2012/2013.

It was at this juncture that Speaker Makinda disbanded the parliamentary committee and formed a sub-committee within the Parliamentary Privileges, Ethics and Powers Committee to probe the allegations and advise her on the way forward. It is now a matter of time before findings of the committee and its recommendations are made public at the discretion of Speaker Makinda.

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