Whether or not President Jakaya Kikwete and Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda really mean what they say in regard to combating theft in local government authorities, the truth still remains - the authorities are a conduit of stealing public money and in that sense they are failing the nation.
But a section of the public says embezzlement in the authorities is not news. The only new development is the magnitude and style, that is the amount of money being stolen and the techniques employed.
An awful culture is now dipping its root in Tanzanian society, with those engaged in the dirty game being wrongly regarded as role models as they lavishly display their ill gotten wealth. One could say the nation has taken the path of self destruction.
Unless stern disciplinary and legal measures are taken against dishonest leaders, theft of pubic money will become an embedded and entrenched culture in the operations of the local government authorities in Tanzania.
A quick look at the 2010/ 2011 audit report for Local Governments Authorities compiled by National Audit Office of Tanzania (NAOT) shows some local government authorities have now become looters as they squander public monies with impunity.
The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) Ludovick Utouh, in his reports, came up with what he described as special audit for eight councils, namely Sengerema, Ludewa, Kishapu,Kilindi, Moshi, Monduli , Longido and Ilala which revealed that billions of shillings were squandered in various ways in the year under review.
But in that list Kishapu and Sengerema district councils appear to have stolen the show under the special audit conducted, though each of the eight councils had its own level of misappropriation, embezzlement and theft of public funds.
According to the report, the CAG states that the special audit conducted in Kishapu revealed that payment vouchers worth Sh1.171 billion were not made available for auditing. It also says the propriety and authenticity of the expenditure incurred could not be ascertained.
Also CAG Utouh learnt that in the year under review Kishapu’s payroll contained salaries for employees who were no longer in service amounting to Sh66.325 million.
Worse still, the same council was found to have misappropriated development project funds amounting to Sh5.513 billion through various ways such as forged cheques, forged bank statements and bank payments to unknown payees.
Utouh also noted that supporting documents worth Sh4.258 billion were missing from contract files selected for audit purpose in the same district council (Kishapu).
As for Sengerema, Utouh noted that the district council effected payments reaching Sh1.119 billion to various recipients without supporting documents such as pay lists and analysis of costs from contractors.
It was also revealed the council overpaid Sh4.846 million to the contractor for the construction of two dormitories and toilets at Nyampuliko Secondary School. As far as Kilindi District Council is concerned, payment vouchers worth Sh31.245 million could not be availed for scrutiny.
In the case of Ludewa District Council, the CAG noted that employees were paid salaries above their approved scales amounting to Sh48.148 million. In the same council contractors and suppliers too are said to collude or offer an excuse for funds embezzlement. According to the CAG, Ludewa District Council for instance, paid double the retention of Sh11.7 million to a former contractor not named by CAG in the report.
In Moshi, a contractor identified as Faru and Ndekombeka who was awarded water irrigation schemes pocketed Sh17 million for a project worth only Sh8.3 million. A contractor in Longido was reportedly paid Sh10.5 million for shoddy work.
On Wednesday, the prime minister ordered Sengerema and Misungwi and district executive directors to be arraigned in court to answer charges of misappropriation of public funds.