Kikwete stronger after scandals: Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete's quick and decisive action following a spate of political scandals has burnished his image both in the continent and beyond. Report by Neil Ford.

Author:Ford, Neil
Position:TANZANIA
 
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Tanzania's normally stable political elite has been rocked by the recent political crisis that saw veteran politician Edward Lowassa lose the post of prime minister.

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The entire cabinet has been reformed as President Jakaya Kikwete seeks to prove that his 2005 election promise to tackle corruption was not a mere campaign aspiration but a concrete pledge on his part.

While Tanzania's economic reforms over the past 15 years have boosted economic growth, the policy of outsourcing many major contracts has increased the gap between rich and poor, and also appears to have created an environment conducive to more frequent instances of corruption.

Ibrahim Msabaha, the minister for the East African Community (EAC); Nazir Karamagi, the energy and minerals minister, and Prime Minister Lowassa were all dismissed after a financial scandal came to light.

US energy firm Richmond Development was awarded a contract in early 2006 to provide 100MW of emergency power generation, as Tanzanian electricity supplies were affected by low rainfall and low water levels at the reservoirs that supply the country's main hydro schemes.

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Despite receiving more than $100,000 a day from the government, an investigation by parliament that was launched in November last year revealed that the company had failed to provide electricity before the water levels had risen and power supplies had returned to normal.

Richmond's generating equipment did not turn up on time and the state power company, Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO), recommended that the company's services were no long-needed but Lowassa's office advised the government to extend the deal, despite the fact that Richmond sold its contract on to another firm, Dowans, in 2007. The panel of MPs that considered the case advised the government to prosecute those involved. The head of the investigation, CCM member of parliament, Harrison Mwakyembe, said that Richmond "lacked experience, expertise and was financially incapacitated".

Lowassa denied that he had done anything wrong. He told the bunge, or parliament: "I've thought long and hard about this issue. I've offered my resignation without any ill motive. I have done it as a sign of my responsibility and to register my disagreement with the manner in which the committee misled parliament." He has since blamed officials in the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Energy and Minerals, and the Bank of Tanzania for...

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