Villagers from northern regions have underscored the need for the Controller Auditor General (CAG) to be given ‘teeth’ to ‘bite’ all those who will be found misusing public funds in local and central government offices.
They made the call here at the weekend, during a one-day seminar on monitoring recommendations made by CAG reports, organised by an NGO Hakikazi Catalyst.
Nola Ilanga, a villager from Manyara region, said “the CAG office has been doing a commendable job, but as people at the grassroots level, we’re wondering why the government is backpedaling, when it comes to disciplining those involved in swindling public money.”
He said the country’s top audit institution needs to be given all the powers, including that of punishing all those behind misuse of public resources.
“The office of the CAG plays an important role in ensuring that public funds are wisely spent, but it needs to be given another task, taking into account that other institutions, which are in place do not seem to be working properly,” said another villager identified as Annah Anatory.
She said the office of the CAG is doing a good job, but it has no powers to take all those allegedly found misusing public money to court. Anatory explained that the CAG has tried to work in a very transparent manner, “But his task ends when he presents the report in Parliament. To me, I think, this is not enough, he should be given powers to take all those linked to dubious deals to court and if possible to penalise them…I’m sure discipline in public money spending will be maintained that way,” she said.
Another villager from Babati, Asia Lembarit, said: “It is high time Tanzanians take the matter as part and parcel of the debates on the proposed constitution.” She stressed that giving powers to the CAG office would improve public spending.
Responding to villagers’ suggestions, Acting Assistant Auditor General (Central Zone), Mhina Kombo, said the current country’s constitution doesn’t give such powers to the CAG, but if people wanted the office to have such powers, they should propose it under the new constitution.
Citing some examples, Kombo who was facilitating the training said such a system has been effectively operating in Mozambique, Angola and Finland, where there is an audit court.
“Under this court, there is a judge, who is there to hear cases brought in by the office of the CAG, rather than taking them through the ordinary court system,” he said, adding that it was difficult for Tanzania to adopt the system as it currently used the Westminster system, which doesn’t allow one institution to audit, prosecute and convict the suspects.