NOW that it appears that the war against corruption is getting some traction, unlike in the past when only underlings were arraigned and convicted and the big crooks were given a slap on the wrist if summoned at all, the game has changed dramatically in the past two years under the Prevention of Corruption and Combating Bureau (PCCB) led by a reputed no-nonsense cop, Valentino Mlowola.
Mlowola’s new PCCB leadership zeal is telling in its redefinition of the mode of operation which has triggered a heightened momentum for change in a way that has never been seen at the nation’s prime anti-graft agency.
Under President John Magufuli’s anti-graft war, the hitherto ‘untouchables’ are now being poked with the hard questions in PCCB interrogation rooms. These so-called ‘sacred cows’ are being prepared for onward transfer to what would turn out to be their slaughter slab for the ultimate rite of humiliation.
And more than ever, the prospect of a good number of the politically exposed looters and fraudsters and their collaborators ending up in jail seems very bright. This is heart-warming in a country which until recently was a haven of greedy elements and fraudsters.
For the avaricious characters in the Tanzanian society, this is not the type of change they are prepared to accommodate. A change that upsets them in such a decisive manner as to not only dismantle all forms of corrupt practices, but also seek out their perpetrators, name them, and shame them by ensuring they end up in prison is certainly not what they want to welcome with open arms.
The anti-graft campaign can only be meaningful if the real thieves in the society, the big men who have ensured that our hospitals lack equipment and our children cannot go to school are made to pay for their criminal acts by being marched to jail one by one.
And that will just be the beginning of the change that Tanzanians expect, the restoration of core national values under the ‘My Country First’ campaign. Let there be no doubt. We believe in and are committed to the rule of law.
But the rule of law can’t be a basis to let loose on society men and women whose transgressions are no less than armed robbery, murder, terrorism and other allied crimes that more often than not are not bailable offences.
The government and the PCCB should expand the war against corruption. The mandate of the Bureau, for example, gives it the power to look beyond the mindless looting by the political class and their collaborators to other equally sinister criminals, including influential civil servants, who have made a killing in the name of public service.
The corruption is so glaringly clear and yet when one questions the source of the seemingly bottomless wealth of the new breed of our society’s nouveau-riche, they rain insults at you with the nonchalance of a spoilt royal! In the face of monstrous corruption and the associated hardship; the ordinary Tanzanian is crying for help.
Indeed, corruption has assumed the stature of a monster daring anybody to tame it. But under this current regime, this scourge will be a thing of the past. To say that corruption undermines democracy, rule of law and by extension national development will be sounding like a broken record. Under the ‘My Country First’ campaign, we should focus on tackling grand political corruption in Tanzania.
We are irritated with impunity of senior officials in who go to their state offices and steal money in amounts of a percentage of Tanzania’s Gross Domestic Product. So what do we do? What are our tools? Perhaps, we should advocate for a very good anti-corruption package of laws.
As professors Shiv Tripathi and Ganka Daniel Nyamsogoro of Mzumbe University contend, “Corruption touches our lives every day. It happens across the private sector as well as the public service in the realms of housing, education, health and agriculture. Its influence reaches dangerously further, too: it directly threatens sustainable development.” They say corruption takes many forms.
This makes it almost impossible to definitively calculate its cost, though one estimate suggests that corruption amounts to more than five percent of the global GDP. Tanzania is gearing up to meet the sustainable development goals but these goals are sadly vulnerable to corruption, whether in the realm of poverty eradication, access to health care or affordable energy.
So far, education is a valuable weapon in the fight against corruption because the cankerworm hampers the ability of a business to run well and profitably. It can affect the entire business supply chain and ultimately lessen an enterprise’s contribution to broader social and economic development.
Beating corruption will require a collective effort from all Tanzanians of all social classes because the disease has, by some accounts, perhaps, by all accounts the single biggest problem that can delay, stunt and truncate Tanzania’s development.