It is almost a cliché saying that corruption has become so endemic in Tanzania that some people now openly question the sanity of anyone out to lead a “clean” life or being so foolhardy as to attempt to restrain those perpetrating the vice.
That the cancer has eaten deep into the fabric of all sectors, disciplines and professions, notably politics and public procurement but also even previously revered ones such as medicine, teaching, engineering speaks volumes about the daunting task facing genuine anti-corruption crusaders.
We say this because we know for a fact that the vice is growing deeper and deeper roots in our society primarily because for most people it no longer matters that moral and other values are turned upside down with impunity.
It didn’t begin yesterday. Nor did it begin big. Its toxic seeds were sown decades ago, with the germination progressing rather slyly but all the same menacingly until, lo and behold, we suddenly found ourselves engulfed and overwhelmed.
Blinded by the sweet talk that often characterises political pronouncements so rich in the use of euphemism, gullible members of the public soon found themselves believing whatever they were told about why Tanzania the country was so filthy rich in natural and other resources but Tanzania the nation intractably remained among the poorest of the world’s poor.
One of the most salient results was that embezzlement or so-called misappropriation of public funds and other property gradually became the order of the day just as did abuse of public office.
The overly curious, who dared to question the horrific trend, were dismissed as hopelessly disgruntled cynics who felt sick seeing their fellow Tanzanians move up the ladder of economic success and therefore catch up with the likes of Bill Gates!
And with that, we soon witnessed the gradual collapse of such treasures like the hundreds of parastatal organisations for long years in proud existence in all manner of shapes and sizes and engaged in a wide array of activities, many of which earned the nation a guaranteed fortune in Tanzanian and foreign currency.
Textile industries like Kiltex, Mutex, Mwatex, Polytex and Sunguratex, whose products had won international accolades, are among those monuments of old that succumbed to managerial deficiencies chiefly driven by greed and corruption that were later to manifest themselves in the mushrooming of suspiciously built or otherwise acquired classy mansions and other expensive property.
It ought to have been a matter of great consequence that things later assumed alarming proportions and some of the evil practices in question went on in broad daylight. This was doubtless at the expense of common cadre workers, some of whom had the least knowledge about what it all meant and therefore applauded what they mistakenly took for the ingenuity and business acumen of their corrupt bosses.
The spiral of corruption amid impunity is running on – and these days with a vengeance – with little indication that it will come to a stop any time soon. And it’s getting too late for the likes of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau and law-enforcement agencies to tame the tide. Can anyone say who can – and will?