19 February 2016

Tanzania: Drive Against Rot in Public Service Must Be Sustained


The zeal with which the fifth phase government is fighting corruption, thieving and wasteful expenditure is revealing to wananchi, as well as well-intentioned foreigners like donors, that the scale of the problem is far bigger than had been perceived. One of the latest in a long chain is the special audit that the education minister, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, has launched into the operations of the Higher Education Students' Loans Board (HESLB).

It has been prompted by pointers that include fictitious records of loans purportedly released to unregistered university students, and to those who had dropped out of the institutions. Plus, approved but uncollected loans not being surrendered to the Treasury.

The imprisonment of culprits, as well as the sacking or early retirement for the ones who are guilty of violating ethics, would deter potential wrong-doers. So would those netted and the ones facing similar fate elsewhere.

Originally, the public service, and the government at large, were largely characterised by sound financial management, adherence to ethics and patriotism.

Somewhere between liberalisation of trade in the mid-1980s, and of politics in the mid-1990s, they were converted into limitless sources of cash. But the trend, fuelled particularly by the conversion of politics into a cash-driven profession and a platform for an ego-obsessed species, was a mirage.

For cash looted singly, as part of syndicates, evaded tax, and what is pocketed in corruption deals, is tax payers' money and donor funds.

The majority, whose economic and social prosperity is compromised by the thieving minority, are banking heavily on the government to produce positive results. It must sustain the tempo of curbing social and economic ills.

Wananchi should play a supportive role by exposing crooks and categorically refusing to give bribes for services to which they are duly entitled, and shed the notion of the government being the big provider.


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