17 January 2013

Tanzania: Unethical Leaders 'Annoy' MPs

MEMBERS of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Constitution and Legal Affairs have taken to task the Ethics Secretariat for failure to take action against unethical public leaders.

This came amid revelation by the Commissioner of Ethics, Judge (Rtd) Salome Kaganda, that four out of 133 public leaders who had their wealth verified by the secretariat last year were found to be in breach of the Public Leadership Ethics Act of 1995.

The legislation requires public leaders to declare their assets and liabilities 30 days after assuming office either through appointment or election. "Likewise, declaration of wealth and liability by six public leaders had shortcomings and the leaders were told to correct them," Ms Kaganda said while appearing before the Parliamentary Committee in Dar es Salaam.

The retired Lady Justice however fell short of mentioning the names of the unethical public leaders or those whose declarations had shortcomings. Ms Kaganda explained that the Ethics Tribunal, which is appointed by the president, did not perform its duties during 2012 since its tenure had expired.

The tribunal is responsible for conducting thorough investigations on allegations of misconduct against public leaders and ultimately advises the Commissioner of Ethics on course of action to be taken. Singida East MP Tundu Lissu (Chadema) and his Muhambwe counterpart, Felix Mkosamali (NCCR-Mageuzi) expressed concern that no action had been taken against immoral public leaders since the Act was enacted in 1995.

"We want to know who these fours leaders are and what action has been taken against them," queried the outspoken Singida MP, Mr Lissu, who is also the Chief-Whip of the opposition in the National Assembly. The legislator was also of the view that unethical conducts by public leaders are at present worse than it was the case when the law came aboard in 1995.

Mr Mkosamali queried as to why there was no policy on public service code of conduct to guide enforcement of the legislation. "There is no way we can assess the efficiency of this legislation if offenders are not punished. It is also high time that the legislation was amended so that the wealth declared by the leaders is made public unlike now where the process is shrouded in secrecy," the youthful legislator proposed.

In a quick reaction, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee, Ms Pindi Chana (Special Seats-CCM), hinted that it was just a matter of time before the Act is tabled in the august House for amendments. The Muhambwe MP as well challenged the secretariat to explain whether it was aware that there are some Tanzanians who have stashed billions of shillings in offshore bank accounts.

"We should also be informed whether there has been any valuation of assets by former presidents since the law was enacted," he questioned. In reaction, the retired Lady Justice asked for more time to enable the secretariat to prepare written responses to queries raised by the MPs.

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