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Ministers under attack from MPs

20th April 2012
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  Mustafa Mkulo seriously wanting on integrity score, Filikunjombe tells House
  Committees: Theft of funds, waste of resources happening under their watch
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda shares a light moment with Ludewa lawmaker Deo Filikunjombe at Parliament grounds in Dodoma yesterday.(Photo: Tryphone Mweji)

Ludewa legislator Deo Filikunjombe (CCM) yesterday pointed an accusing finger at Finance minister Mustafa Mkulo, associating him with corruption, dishonesty and lack of integrity.

He did so as debate continued on reports tabled in the National Assembly by parliamentary committees for public accounts (PAC), parastatal organisations accounts (POAC), and local authorities accounts (LAAC).

Visibly enraged, the MP declared in the National Assembly that he was armed with enough impeccable evidence on the matter and on “all those bent on taking the country to Hell”.

“Our country is dying. There are ministers who are killing this nation. They swore to defend the nation and all its resources but they are doing contrary to what they were sworn in to do,” he said, noting that the people he was referring to were misappropriating public funds and other property with virtual impunity for selfish interests.

“This country does not belong to CCM. We are aware that you are protecting each other and this has a hidden agenda,” declared Filikunjombe.

He said it was minister Mkulo who appointed the probe committee under whose oversight the Controller and Auditor General conducted the audits of the accounts of various public institutions now being discussed in the House.

“The minister thought the CAG would side with him. I commend the CAG for fulfilling his duty diligently,” said the legislator, calling on all his fellow MPs to go through the CAG’s reports carefully and thoroughly “as it is there that the truth lies”.

Filikunjombe further declared that Mkulo wanted the Consolidated Holding Corporation (CHC) board of directors dissolved “as part of a plot to enable him to assume ownership of the assets or property concerned”.

“That was precisely why when the minister went ahead with his dissolution plans and the CHC director wanted to know why, he (the director) was suspended,” he said.

“We have been all along recommending that the government set up boards that perform, but there has been no response. The Tanzania Cotton Board is hopeless. So when we are talking of CHC, the person who deceived was not (POAC Chairman and Kigoma North MP) Zitto Kabwe, but Mkulo,” declared the MP.

“Mr Prime Minister, we have no faith in your Cabinet. We are saying these things in our capacity as people’s representatives,” he said, with Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda in the House chamber.

“This is our (CCM) government and not opposition Chadema’s. We must tell it the truth. The government is performing poorly,” he added.

Filikunjombe, who is also POAC deputy chairman, said Industry and Trade minister Dr Cyril Chami was not involved in the scandal allegations facing Tanzania Bureau of Standards director general Charles Ekelege. “Chami and his permanent secretary are doing all their best to see to it that the bureau performs to satisfaction, but there is someone killing it,” he noted.

Meanwhile, CCM legislators skipped part of the National Assembly session yesterday to attend a party caucus, which reports said was called to discuss the nature of proceedings in the House and government business.

Sources said the caucus discussed in detail the performance of some ministers, six of them in connection with their having apparently failed to deliver as expected, and made recommendations to PM Pinda on what measures to take to rectify matters.

Ministries that have drawn the most fire from MPs following the tabling of reports by the three House oversight committees include Finance; Industry and Trade, Prime Minister’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government); Transport; and Health and Social Welfare.

Some CCM legislators have been openly declaring in the House, as some are said to have done at the caucus, that poor performance by some ministers is portraying the government in poor light, making it risk losing public trust, confidence and support.

Debating the reports of Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Local Authority Accounting Committee and POAC tabled in the House

in the evening session, Hai legislator and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, Freeman Mbowe said the people were tired of the government not listening to them.

“What type of government is this that does not listen to its people or its members of parliament?” he asked, saying the government treated MPs and Tanzanians as if they were nothing. He said the government which had been overspending, was still borrowing billions which would be paid by the children and grandchildren of this nation can not be left to continue misleading people.

He said the national debt was increasing and in three years to come, it might reach 25trn/-.

He questioned the absence of the Prime Minister, ministers and all party members who were in a party caucus, leaving only two ministers (William Lukuvi and Attorney general, Frederick Werema) and some three CCM MPs in the afternoon session.

He faulted the habit of the government not listening to the people and the culture of officials enjoying protection even when they were linked to serious charges.

Earlier the Ludewa MP Filikunjombe had described most ministers as ‘thieves’.

Filikunjombe who is POAC vice chairman told his fellow MPs that he had evidence to substantiate his accusations against the ministers.

He leveled the accusations against the ministers immediately after Trade and Industries Dr Cyril Chami stood up in the debating chamber to respond to the MPs’ contributions, some of which accused his Ministry of protecting the Tanzania Bureau of Standard (TBS) boss, Charles Ekelege and the malpractices at the institution.

But, Ndugai did not grant Lukuvi’s request as the time allocated for the Parliamentary session ended.

In his defense Dr Chami said he had no personal gain whatsoever in the TBS malpractices uncovered by POAC and the office of the Controller and Auditor General (CAG).

The beleaguered minister asked MPs and any other individual with evidence to prove the case to adduce it to the Parliament. “If proved beyond reasonable doubt that I have personal gain in this case I will resign forthwith,’” Dr Chami stated in Dodoma yesterday.

The issue at the centre of the debate surrounds revelation by 2009/2010 CAG and POAC reports that the Tanzania Bureau of Standard gave false information to POAC regarding vehicle inspection offices abroad.

It is reported that the bureau under the leadership of Ekelege in 2010 lied to the POAC team by telling it that it (TBS) owned and ran vehicle inspection offices abroad.

But when POAC traveled abroad to inspect the offices – going to Singapore, Hong Kong and in China - as per information from the bureau’s management, what was seen was just offices owned by private agencies.

Meanwhile Members of Parliament yesterday put aside political differences, faulting government supervision of its operations, especially after various audit reports by CAG tabled in the House last week and those of watchdog committees, uncovered looting of public coffers.

“It is high time we used our powers to hold these people (Ministers) accountable or we shut up instead of complaining every now and then,” said Tundu Lissu.

The fierce reaction and anger against ministers was obvious in the protests against massive embezzlement, theft and misuse of public monies.

Deputy Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) Aggrey Mwanri failed to assuage the MPs’ anger as he pleaded: “We ask MPs to leave all this to us. We are going to deal with all embezzlers, thieves and all government officials misusing public money perpendicularly, right, left and centre.”

However Mwanri was criticised by Kabwe Zitto (Kigoma North) for his repeated commitments in Parliament but with no tangible results.

Winding up the debate on POAC report, its chairman Zitto Kabwe said he planned to collect signatures of 70 MPs in a bid to move a motion of lack of confidence in the PM who was leader of government business.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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