Tanzania: Fight against corruption intensifies

Tanzania's fight against corruption has taken a new turn with the arrests of former government officials, ministers and high profile individuals from early November. Last week for instance, retired Treasury permanent secretary Gray Mgonja was taken to court on allegations of abuse of office and occasioning loss of 11.7b/-. Mr Mgonja is accused of abusing his official authority by arbitrarily ignoring the recommendations made by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) not to grant tax exemption to M/S Alex Stewart (Assayers) Government Business Corporation company in 2003.

The appearance at the Kisutu court of Mra Mgonja, of the former Minister for Finance Basil Pesambili Mramba and of the former Minister for Energy and Minerals, Daniel Ndhira Yona late last month has increased the stakes in the fight against corruption in Tanzania. The former ministers were brought to court last month over the same scandal.

(Photo of one of the court appearances from Mpoki Bukuku's blog Mzee wa Sumo)

In November in another case 20 suspects including business tycoons and Central Bank senior officials were brought to court on charges of conspiracy, forgery, theft and obtaining credit under false pretence through the Bank of Tanzania (BoT)'s External Payment Arrears (EPA) account. The EPA case involves the theft of billions of shillings from the Bank of Tanzania's External Payments Arrears account.

For the best part of 2008 Tanzanians have been waiting to see how President Jakaya Kikwete handles corruption scandals dogging his government. Since the recent arrests, President Kikwete has received praises, even though some are sceptical and are calling for more heads to roll over numerous high profile corruption allegations.

On December 15th, Dr. Faustine of the blog Faustine's Baraza [Sw] gave a tip that the retired Treasury permanent secretary Gray Mgonja was about to be taken to court that morning on allegations of abuse of office. And Bongo Celebrity [Sw] confirmed later on that indeed Mr. Mgonja had appeared in court. Praising the president one reader wrote:

JK BRAVOOOOO!! Umeshaanza kuandikia historia ambayo haijawahi kuandikwa na kiongozi yeyote, si wa Tanzania, Afrika na pengine pia Ulimwengu. Tunaamini kwamba hii ni hatua muhimu sana ya kwanza ili nchi iweze kupiga maendeleo. Bila kuondoa ufisadi nchi haitaweza kupiga hatua zozote za maendeleo.
HONGERA kwa kazi kubwa. TUNAOMBA mwenyezi Mungu azidi kukupa BUSARA na UJASIRI, kwa kuwa hii vita si rahisi na lele-mama kama ambavyo watu wengine wanadhani.
NAOMBA watanzania wote wapenda maendeleo, bila kujali itikadi, tukumbuke ule umoja wetu tuliofundishwa na Mwalimu tumuunge mkono Rais katika vita hii.

BRAVOOO JK !! You have already started to write history that no other leader has ever written, in Tanzania, Africa and probably not anywhere else in the world. We believe that this is very important first step for the development of a country. Without eliminating corruption the country cannot make any steps towards development.
CONGRATULATIONS for the great job. WE PRAY that Almighty God continues to give you WISDOM and BRAVERY, for this is not any easy battle like many people think.
I ask all Tanzanians who like development, regardless of their political leaning, we must remember our unity taught to us by Mwalimu (Julius K Nyerere) and let us support our president in this war.
GOD BLESS Tanzania

More hopeful comments were also left in other Tanzanians blogs. In Issa Michuzzi's [Sw] post titled “Breaking neeewwwwwzzzzzz” one comment reads:

Naona mambo yanazidi kuwa mambo. Hawa akina Mgonja waliifanya wizara ya fedha na kodi zetu kuwa shamba la bibi. Ngoja vianze kuwatokea puani. Ngoja sheria ichukue mkondo wake ili liwe fundisho kwa walio kwenye madaraka na wanatumia nafasi zao kuhujumu mali ya umma. Inaweza kusaidia angalau hata kidogo maana hali ilikuwa imefikia pabaya. Mtu anaamua tu kufanya jambo lolote analojisikia ili mradi tu ni mali ya umma. Inasikitisha sana…

I can see things are heating up. People like Mgonja treated the treasury department and our taxes like their grandma's farm. Let everything come through their noses now. Let the law take its course so that it can be a lesson to all those in power that use their positions to sabotage our wealth. This will help, even if in a small way, because the situation had reached a worst stage. Somebody could just decide to do what he or she felt like given that it belongs to the public. It is ver sad…

While congratulatory comments pour in, others still have doubts about the government's preparedness to go after all high profile figures. In the same post by Issa Michuzi a reader wrote:

hiki ni kiini macho kingine unafikiri kuna cha maana kitakachofanyika zaidi ya kupewa dhamana? halafu kesi kupigwa dana dana hadi watanzania watakaposahau. Kumetokea nini kwa mafisadi wa EPA? wote wako nje kwa dhamana wanakula kuku. vitu kama hivi vinafaidisha vyombo husika vya mahakama kupata posho na hongo kutokana na marekebisho ya masharti ya dhamana. tumeshaushutukia mchezo huu we need to do more and seen to be doing something.

This is just another smoke screen, do you really think that something more meaningful will happen after being granted bail? They will dribble until Tanzanians forget all about it. What has happened to EPA suspects? They are all out on bail having a good time. These cases just benefit courts to get more money and bribes to amend bail conditions. We already know this game, we need to do more and seen to be doing something.

Another sceptic reader at Issa Michuzi's thinks that these corruption charges are part of a political game that started during the last elections:

Nakubaliana na wewe kiasi kidogo kuwa sasa tunaelekea Mahali, Lakini kumbuka kuwa hawa wote wanaopandishwa kizimbani ni kundi la pili ambalo halikuwa upande wa muheshimiwa wakati wa uchaguzi. Hawa walikuwa upande wa Mkapa wakiwa na dhumuni la kumuweka Sumai kwenye kiti hicho. Ambao ndio inasemekana walianzisha fyoko fyoko za Richmond Ili kumuharibia Mkuu asipate tena 2010. Na yeye sasa anawarudia na mbio hizi zinamuelekea Mkapa kama ukichunguza vizuri. Kwahiyo mimi naona huu bado ni mchezo mchafu wa siasa tu.

I agree with you to some extent that now we getting somewhere, But remember all those appearing in court belong to a another faction that was not on the side of his Excellency during election. These were on the side of Mkapa (the former president of Tanzania) with the intention of placing Sumai on the (presidential) seat. Those are the ones that started the Richmond kaffufle to sabotage his Excellency's chances in 2010. And now he is going after them, and this race leads to Mkapa if you look closely. Therefore I think this is just another political dirty game.

In all the posts discussing the high profile corruption cases in Tanzania there are calls for more powerful individuals to appear in court. In another post by Issa Michuzi on the EPA case a reader wrote:

Kwa kweli wakamatwe samaki wa aina zote! Nyangumi hadi dagaa! Msituchezee picha halafu mkawaacha nyangumi wakiendelea kututimulia vumbi na ma-epa yao barabarani, na majumba ya mabilioni!…

Indeed fish of all types must be arrested! From whales to whitebaits! Don’t you show us the drama and then let all the whales cruise in their EPAs (meaning big cars purchased with dirty money) on roads, and their billions worth houses!…

For more photographs of the accused in court check out the blogs Dr Faustine's Baraza, Issa Michuzi and Mzee wa Sumo here and here.


  • This write up is biased? The source of all these corruption cases is http://www.JamiiForums.com/jamii-intelligence/

    http://www.JamiiForums.com (former JamboForums) has done a great job on highlighting with evidence corruption in Tanzania, they deserve a credit!

  • Linda Levy

    Whilst Tanzania appears via President Kikwete, to have a rethorical committment to fighting corruption, it is very much an abitrary decision as to what corruption is exposed.

    That which keeps foreign donors happy perhaps at the forefront. However, there are those in Tanzania, who are above the law and abuse it with immunity.

    Look at the Silverdale Case.Benjamin Mengi sold the lease to Silverdale & Mbono fams in Hai District and one year later asked for it back. When the investors refused Mengi unleashed a vcious attackon the investors lasting four years.He stood at the gates of Silvedale Farmin frnt ofsenior policeofficers and toldthe investors he woulddrve them outof Tanzania by any means and ifnecessary cut temint peces and send them homein a cofin. Hewas not arrested for his actions.

    In this case British investors, bona fide in every respect, were chased out of Tanzania like dogs by Benjamin Mengi who abused the law together with a legal process filthy with corruption. The corruption was exposed time and tme again and senior goverment Ministers have chosen to inore it. President Kiwete promised the Bitish goverment that he would insure the case was resolved in accordance with the law. He has not.

    It is the view of many in the U.K. that all foriegn aid to Tanzania should be stopped until such time as the goverment addresses the appalling abuse of these investors, the condct of Benjamin Mengi and his brother Reinald Mengi who used and abused the media to commit crminal libel to aid the investors demise.

    No one really takes Tanzania serousñy all the time this ovet abuse of the law is sanctioned by the President.

  • isaac

    Corruption is worse and terribly than Prostitution because the latter endanger the individual but former endanger the entire society!!So JK pull up the socks for this fight for the betterment of all Tanzanians!

  • Mizizi

    Napenda kumpa hongera Raisi Kikwete na Takukuru kwa hatua waliyofikia. Hosea ongeza bidii achana na maneneno ya mafisadi wasiokutakia mema.

  • Ezron Mushi

    Kwa kweli alichokifanya Benjamini kinasikitisha. Sisi tulio hapa wilayani Hai tunaona aibu hadi leo! Alimtendea yule Mzungu ukatili na manyanyaso ya wazi kabisa. Alimwibia akisaidiwa na watu wake kwa hila, uongo, kugushi nyaraka. Pia wamiliki wa shamba la Silverdale walikuwa wanatishwa nae mwenyewe na polisi wetu. Aliweza tu kumwondoa Mzee Stewart kupitia rushwa mahakamani, polisi na kwa wanavijiji wachache aliowahonga vijisenti. Ila kinachosikitisha sana ni kuwa, kila kitu kilikuwa bayana! Aliuza haki zake zote za umiliki wa shamba hilo kihalali kwa huyu mwekezaji na akalipwa fedha zote walizokubaliana kimaandishi. Inakuwaje akumbatiwe na viongozi wetu ambao kila kukicha wanaimba wimbo wa kusimamia utawala bora na utawala wa sheria? Ilikuwaje mahakama zetu zicheleweshe haki kutendeke hadi mwekezaji akate tamaa na kuondoka? Hakutoroka kama Mengi anavyodai. Hata mimi ningeamua kama alivyofanya. Mengi alijua akimnyanyasa kwa kesi nyingi sizizo na misingi yeyote ya kisheria, basi kwa namna yeyote yule Bwana angeliondoka! Alikuwa anajigamba kwa hili wazi wazi. Na ilitokea, akafanikiwa nia yake ya kulipora shamba hilo kinyume na sheria!Mimi sio mbaguzi. Ila kwa hili, mimi naona kuwa RUSHWA ITAIMALIZA NCHI YETU NA WATU WAKE! KAMA SERIKALI INAKATAA SI RUSHWA ILITUMIKA KATIKA SUALA HILI, basi viongozi wa ngazi za juu wa serikali yetu wameweka agenda ya siri na viongozi wa chini wa serikali yaani Mikoa na Wilaya kuwa LINAPOTOKEA SUALA LINALOMHUSISHA RAIA WA TANZANIA NA WA NJE, BASI UZAWA NDIO UTAKAOAMUA; NA SIO MISINGI YA HAKI WALA SHERIA! Ubaguzi mtupu! Tutafika? Ndio falsafa iliyotumika hapa! Na ndiyo falsafa ya waziwazi ya Bw. Reginald Mengi, nduguye Benjamin! Kwao ubaguzi si dhambi. Ndio maana alimuunga mkono Nduguye katika hili. Na katika imani ya dini yao, hili linaruhusiwa. Raisi Kikwete kuwa mwangalifu na watu hawa, ni balaa kubwa. Fuatilia Reginald anachokifanya nyuma ya pazia la ‘kumuunga Rais mkono katika kampeni ya kupiga vita ufisadi’. Ubaguzi umevuka mipaka akasahau Wahindi ni raia wa nchi hii pia, ambapo wote aliowataja katika orodha yake, wote walikuwa Wahindi wenye asili ya Asia. Mimi naamini kuwa wote hao si mafisadi! Sitaki niingie huko ila Watanzania wenye akili wanaona anakoelekea. Nyuma ya watu hawa wametawaliwa na tamaa kuu ya kujilimbikizia mali bila kujali wanachokiacha nyuma ya umma wa Watanzania wenye nia njema na ya dhati ya kuliendeleza Taifa letu mbele. Rais, HIMA tazama anachofanya Benjamin. Amebaki na shamba.. sasa ziko wapi ajira alizokuwa anatoa Stewart? Anafanya nini kuliingizia Taifa pato? Ana haki gani ya kututesa sisi wenye shamba? Halipi kodi shamba la ekari 533! Ni aibu tupu! Kuna Serikali hapa jamani? Tunawapeni pole sana Mzee na Mama Stewart. Wako Watanzania wengi wasafi, tofauti kabisa na akina Mengi. Tunawaombea kwa Mungu.

  • Scott Lee

    President Kikwete has reneged on his promises to the British Government that he will fairly resolve the now infamous ‘Silverdale Case’.

    Tanzania’s most senior law officer Chief Justice Augustino Ramdhani has told the British Government week that he will not Review the fourteen civil and criminal cases brought against British Investors Sarah Hermitage and Stewart Middleton by Benjamin and Millie Mengi between 2005 and 2008. This was despite stating in January, that he would do so. The Chief Justice has given no reason for changing his mind.

    Benjamin and Millie Mengi initiated the litigation against the investors in what is now widely known as the ‘Silverdale Case’. In May 2004 Benjamin and Millie Mengi, through their company Fiona Tanzania Ltd sold the lease to Silverdale & Mbono Farms (Hai District) to the investors company, Silverdale Tanzania Ltd and one year later, after negotiating to sell the lease a second time to British Investor Konrad Legg (Tudeley Estates) demanded the lease back. The litigation followed the investor’s refusal to do so.

    Former British High Commissioner to Tanzania, Andrew Pocock describes the ‘Silverdale Case’ as a continuing outrage and in February 2008, the British Foreign and Commonwealth office in London, issued a statement to the BBC, that it had ‘..credible evidence of harassment and intimidation against the investors’. Despite several assurances to the British government from President Kikwete, that the ‘Silverdale Case’ would be fairly resolved, it remains very much unresolved and, set to undermine Tanzania’s commitment to the rule of law for the foreseeable future.

    A cursory glance at the litigation quickly prompts the question ‘why doesn’t the Chief Justice review them as a matter of urgency’ given, they show overt and serious abuses of law and due process. Most, if not all of the plaints issued by Mengi contain no right to sue and others show legal defects so serious, that any failure to address them must question the objectively of the Tanzanian government in the ‘Silverdale Case’. The abuses of law are unsophisticated and obvious. An example of the overt and simplistic nature of the abuse was that in early 2006, Mengi sued the investors for statements printed by the Daily News. The investors did not print, publish or write the article (the Daily News did so) and therefore could not be sued for Libel. Despite representations to the Chief Justice and Public Corruption Bureau (who agreed the proceedings were abusive) the Moshi Magistrates court allowed and heard the plaint and gave judgment to Mengi for TSH 90,000,000 ($90,000). Following this and despite further representations from the British Government, the courts ordered seizure of the investors property in October 2007 on the basis of the court ruling. None of the fourteen cases issued by Mengi against the investor’s shows any lesser or more complicated degree of legal abuse.

    The couples lawyer filed and appeal which was set down for hearing on the 25th February 2009. On that date, the judge informed the couples lawyer that the court had been heard and struck out two weeks earlier. This order was again appeal and the Appeal court Moshi now state they have ‘lost the court file’.

    Tanzania’s Minister of Lands John Chillingati refuses to register the investors lease to the farms and the Minister of Home Affairs Joseph James Mungai refuses to recognize the legal assignment of the lease to the investors or, any of the their company documents properly registered at Companies House in Dar es Salaam. Whilst the Chief Justice seems reluctant to talk to his law officers in order to rectify their overt abuses of office, he does offer to sit and talk with the investors and mediate the situation between themselves and Mengi.

    This suggestion is surprising and given the clarity of the legal abuses to some, abhorrent. Commenting on the offer, British investor Sarah Hermitage who is admitted to the Supreme Court of England & Wales states, ‘There is nothing complicated abut the ‘Silverdale Case’ but it is important to be clear that it is not a commercial dispute. The case involves abuse of legal process and the failure of the Tanzanian government to address that abuse for whatever reason. The abuse is simple and clear to see vis-à-vis the laws of Tanzania. There is no legal or constitutional provision for mediation of this kind. We ask and have only ever asked for the proper application of the rule of Tanzanian law. Our conduct in Tanzania has been and remains exemplary. We purchased a lawful assignment of a lease, paid in full and refused to give it back when harassed, imprisoned and threatened by the police and courts. The suggestion that we now mediate the abuses is repugnant and insulting and objectively illegal. The Chief justice originally made this offer when we had fled Tanzania in fear of our lives and lost our entire investment. As much as the Tanzanian government wish to portray it as such, this is not a commercial dispute. It is and remains, a choice that the Tanzanian government have to make. A choice between the lawful interests of bona fide investors and the unlawful activities of certain State institutions. Mediation can never circumnavigate these fundamentals’.

    Asked how he sees his future in Tanzania British investor Stewart Middleton states, ‘One thing is for sure. The issue is not going away. If the Tanzanian government refuse to implement the domestic law of Tanzania then it will be forced to account to international law for its failure to protect our investment. This is only right and proper. If countries sign up to International Treaties, they must account to them for their conduct’.

    In January 2008, British Member of Parliament for Thanet North, called upon the British government to suspend all aid to Tanzania until the ‘Silverdale Case is fairly resolved. The investors state they are now meeting with lawyers in London with a view to take the case before the International Bilateral Investment Treaty arbitration panel.

  • Pebiki

    Hogera Raisi wetu. Kwa kiwango tulichokuwa tumefikia cha ufisadi usio na kificho maendeleo haya ya karne hii ya kasi ya hali ya juu ya teknolojia yangetupita pembeni sana hata harufu yake tusinge isikia, hasa sisi tuishio pembezoni mwa miji anbao tatizo letu kubwa ni kuiona kesho kupitia kilimo. Usisahau kutuhusisha katika maamuzi yahusuyo maendeleo yetu.

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