Mkapa's corruption hot potato.

Author:Visram, Nizar
Position:Tanzanian Pres. Ben Mkapa

The recently released Warioba report on corruption in Tanzania has set the public imagination alight. One Cabinet Minister has already resigned and several leading figures have been implicated. The question, is will President Ben Mkapa carry out far-reaching reforms or shelve the report? NIZAR VISRAM has been finding out.

When President Benjamin Mkapa received a 521-page report on corruption in Tanzania, he said it would serve as ammunition in his war against graft and bribery. Having been elected on the anti-corruption platform and having promised action, within one year after taking power he had declared his own and his wife's assets in public. But apart from his Prime Minister and Vice-President, no other leader followed suit and people had been left wondering if the war against corruption was running out of puff.

President Mkapa, upped the ante by appointing Mr Joseph Sinde Warioba, a former Attorney-General and Prime Minister, to head a nine-member Presidential Commission on corruption. Within eight months, the report was ready and Mr Mkapa promised that, unlike other Commission reports in the past, this one would be made public. Early last December, he invited the Press to the State House and handed them copies. When a question was asked, he just smiled and invited them for tea.

The Presidential Commission was appointed to look into how best the Government and its institutions can fight corruption. It was required to collect opinions from individuals, professional associations and other interested groups and present a broad, analytical and open report taking into account the prevailing situation in the country.

The Warioba Commission was required to review the laws, regulations, procedures and the modes of operation in the Government and parastatal sectors. It was also required to suggest ways of plugging loop-holes and on how to curb the increase of corruption in the country.

It has been said that the Warioba report contains nothing much that Tanzanians don't already know. But the difference is that this Presidential Commission minces no words. Some big wigs are implicated and documents are quoted. For example, reference is made to how the former President, Ali Hassan Mwinyi's family members were allocated building plots. The report also offers practical solutions, like when it says that a tourist hotel being built by Mr Jayant Ladwa on Dar es Salaam's Oysterbay Beach be immediately demolished.

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