Recently we carried, in this column, whispers over Tanzania’s alleged involvement in helping the Iranians burst, with impunity, sanctions slapped on her by the United Nations over its perceived involvement in the development of nuclear weapons.
Of course the Iranians have, as we had occasion to point out, repeatedly said that their involvement in nuclear energy is for peaceful purposes only.
But those presently ranged against them do not think so, and have advanced several reasons why they think so that includes what they claim to be Iran’s refusal to ‘cooperate’ with the international community in its nuclear programmes.
Our involvement in this particular incident revolved around us allowing Iran’s sea-going oil tankers and cargo ships to use our national flag. While the Tanzanian government sought assistance from the international community in finding out who had allowed the Iranians to use the Tanzania national flag, rumours in Dar es Salaam had pointed accusing fingers to two people, a very powerful Zanzibari and a former Mainland politician-cum-businessman.
Later the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe, told the just-ended Parliamentary budget session in Dodoma that ‘a friendly country’ had handed the report to the Tanzanian government which had in turn submitted it to the Zanzibar government.
For those who followed the issue in the House closely would recall how the Zanzibar government was showered with ‘praises’ for working on the issue! But how the isles government had ‘acted’ on the Tanzania/Iran flag project to deserve such accolades remains nothing but surprising to date.
However, almost two months after the incident, Tanzanians are still in the dark on the culprits behind the flag project, but the Americans have now called on their government to add Tanzania to the list of sanction bursters by giving her what the Iranians are going through!
It would be recalled that when the incident first reared its ugly head, the Americans had warned the Tanzanian government of their intention to slap it with sanctions. Only this time around they are not carrying out any further threats, but rather they want their government to act, apparently after realizing that the Tanzanian government not playing the ball.
But the latest rumour that is making rounds in the Haven of Peace is that the Tanzanian government is tight-lipped on the matter due to the high profile nature of the man ( not in the two governments), involved in the racket!
Rumour mongers, however, insist that since the Zanzibari alleged to be involved in the incident is not in the two governments, there is no need for the government to continue to remain silent on the issue. In short, they are calling for the exposure of the man. Yes, they want the man to carry his own Cross.
They say there is absolutely no point in Tanzania suffering from deeds of former government officials who served in very high places in the two governments. Why, because these people are nothing but thankless; they are not comfortable with the lucrative pensions they get every month -- not to talk of the opportunity of being treated abroad coupled with two foreign trips per annum!
According to whispers, they could not understand how such well treated (by the state) people would involve themselves in such grand corruption that ends up eroding the country’s image in the eyes of the international community. Rumour mongers now say that the US Foreign Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton overflew Tanzania to Malawi during her recent visit to Africa mainly because she was unhappy with Dar es Salaam’s conduct over Iran.
They said if Tanzania is a friend of the Americans, as some people would like the world to believe, how could Mama Clinton of all the people out there fly to Lilongwe to meet tough-talking Joyce Banda after visiting Kenya?
They warned that unless the Tanzanian government acted swiftly on the issue, one of the sanctions it will sooner than later smart under includes a travel ban for Tanzanian leaders to the West which includes the US, with whom some of them have fallen in love!
Rumour mongers called on their government not only to prosecute those involved in the scandal, but also to confiscate their property earned through corrupt activities.
Others are saying that there’s need for the government to review its lucrative pensions schemes set aside for top Tanzanian leaders, arguing that there was no point in paying such leaders so handsomely in their retirement when such people were repeatedly being involved in one grand corruption after another as if there was no tomorrow!
Whispers aside, it is interesting to see how the Tanzanian government is going to act on those behind the re-flagging of the Iranian ships project. Who will announce the name(s) of the culprit, the Union or the Zanzibar government?
The question of announcing the names of culprits alleged to be involved in grand corruption or sabotage is increasingly becoming difficult for the powers that be in this country. For instance, during the last day of this year’s parliamentary budget session in Dodoma, the shadow minister for finance from the opposition, Mr Kabwe Zitto threatened to disclose the names of those behind the stashing of over 300bn/- in Swiss banks if the Tanzanian government continues to drag its feet on the matter.
Another legislator, this time from the ruling party, submitted a pile of documents he said contained reports on trillions of shillings stolen by Tanzanians from 1970 to the present day and presently banked abroad. He said he had decided to assist the government in pursuing the issue because of its repeated claims that it was in the dark over the matter!
However, rumour mongers who always fill in the void caused by the absence official statements from the government said it was difficult to fathom a government which had professional paid investigators in the form of the police, intelligence and security organs could declare ignorance over such matters.
Yes, how could they say they are in the dark in such important and very sensitive issues that are central to the country’s economy when they have institutions with people who are not only trained for such work, but are also paid to do exactly that?
Rumour mongers were also extremely busy, during the week, after some Tanzanian leaders issued warnings to the Malawian government over the border between the two countries. They said much as a war between the two countries was wrong, it was wrong for Tanzania to start issuing such warnings so early in the incident.
Besides, they said, it was important that Tanzania realized that the ‘conditions’ that prevailed during the time which helped her win the eight-month bush war with General Idi Amin may not be the same.
Yes, do we still have the crack army we had during the time, the highly patriotic man in the street who was ready to fight for the nation free of charge?
They said Idd Amin lost the war partly because he had lost the first one against his own people, what with the disappearance of hundreds of people and other atrocities he committed against his own people. Secondly, do we still have around us old men who turned up in hordes at meetings, clutching whatever weapons they had, and demanded to be sent to the Kagera Salient to face the serpent?
They said it was important Tanzanians asked themselves hard questions over what had driven the Malawians, especially at this point in time, to conduct gas explorations in the lake. That was important in finding out whether Malawi acted alone or there are powerful countries behind our neighbour to the south.
Besides, President Joyce Banda is not presently confronted with the kind of problems that General Amin faced before his troops crossed into the Kagera Salient. Let’s think about that, they implored.