28 January 2013

Tanzania: Kikwete Briefs Africa On Anti-Graft War

Addis Ababa — PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has presented Tanzania's report at the African Union (AU) governance assessment body, African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), reiterating that he will continue with his policy of zero tolerance on corruption.

He repeated the country's anti-graft stance when responding to issues that were raised following the submission of the report here on Saturday before a Summit of African Union Heads of State and Government participating in the peer review mechanism.

Highlighting the findings of the report which incorporated views from a wider section of Tanzanians, the Team Leader for the country's review, Barrister Akere Muna, commended Tanzania's efforts to fight graft but urged more resolute action and effort.

In response, President Kikwete welcomed the report's recommendations and hinted that his government will continue with its policy of zero tolerance on corruption. "The government of Tanzania is known for its zero tolerance against corruption.

I remember during the era of our first president, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the country brooked no nonsense on corruption. Convicted wrongdoers were jailed two years and subjected to 24 strokes of the cane; 12 at entry and the rest on completing the jail term," he told a gathering of African presidents and other top government leaders.

He said he has during his tenure strengthened the anti-corruption war, including prosecuting several ministers and other top government officials who were suspected of involvement in acts of corruption.

"Several top government officials are in court today over corruption allegations. Some of them were my fellow cabinet ministers when I was a minister, ambassadors and senior officials who have served in my government.

"The Ethics Secretariat is now keen in ascertaining leaders' wealth. All senior government leaders have to sign declaration of wealth forms each year for the secretariat's verification. If the Secretariat finds a public servant's wealth is suspicious, it sends the case to the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) for legal action," he said.

Regarding Tanzania's benefits from the mining sector as advised by the APRM Panel, the president said his government has done a lot to review the mining laws, tax and royalty rates after coming into power.

"It is true that in the past our income from the mining sector raised more questions. When I came into power, I commissioned a team led by Justice Mark Bomani which, learning from best practices from countries like South Africa and Ghana, helped us to review our tax and royalty regime and we scaled them up.

"Today what we gain from the mining sector is not different from other countries. The report highlighted that most Tanzanians are wary of the benefits from the East African Community (EAC). Responding to the fears, President Kikwete said his government will increase public awareness to its people on integration issues and benefits.

He said contrary to the people's fear and perceptions, Tanzania will turn into a market for other country's good, statistics show that the country has been exporting more to the region that what it exports in other regions.

"These are just the fears of the unknown. My government welcomes your observation which advises us on the need for more education to our people. Our exports to the EAC region have now risen to above 500 million USD. "Our exports sometimes exceeded those of Kenya. We are exporting more to the EAC region than we do to some other developing countries.

So the EAC gives us more strategic benefits than the perception of some of our people," he said. Tanzania's review was attended by Heads of State and Government and other senior officials from South Africa, Zambia, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Benin, Senegal, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Gabon and Togo.

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