One of the promises made by President John Magufuli during his campaign trail last year was to fight against graft and abuse of office, two evils which had become the order of the day during the fourth phase government.
President Magufuli made the promise after he learnt on his campaign trail that CCM, one of the oldest ruling parties in sub-Saharan Africa, and its government had lost popularity, threatening the party’s very survival in this era of multiparty democracy.
According to him, the reasons behind CCM’s unpopularity – and hence the government – were theft, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, and abuse of office by public officials.
Those who critically followed the government’s performance in the previous regime would no doubt agree with the fact that civil servants, who were supposed to serve the public, had turned into lords or masters while the public, which actually employed them, had been reduced to ‘slaves’.
It had reached a point whereby civil servants, especially those working in ministries, had completely lost public trust. Besides being steeped in corruption, they had also turned public offices into their personal property to push personal gains.
During the fourth phase government we witnessed some government officials become rich overnight. It should be made clear here that we do not condone poverty, but overnight affluence is also to be abhorred.
The issue we question here is: how can a civil servant earning a government salary build over seventy houses? Or, how can a civil servant who has just spent two years in the job build a one-storey residential house complete with a swimming pool? Common sense smells a rat here.
No wonder Tanzanians have developed the notion that working in government (being a civil servant) is the best opportunity ever because that is where one can steal with abandon, misuse and embezzle public funds and still gain respect and awe in the community.
These are just some of the issues which Dr Magufuli noted during his campaigns. People told him the truth and he promised to act decisively. Now he is walking the talk and we strongly support him for that.
But, as the president throws his weight into waging this war, some individuals have begun ‘making noises’. These noises claim that the president is targeting some government officials of certain religious affiliations.
Looking at the manner in which the government is ‘purges’ individuals suspected to have misused, stolen or embezzled public funds, you outright conclude that the noises are baseless and should therefore be ignored. Misuse, theft and embezzlement and even abuse of office have no religion. People must pay for what they did.
Some top government officials have gone on record as failing to explain why this country has all along remained poor despite its abundant resources. What is being uncovered now by Dr Magufuli’s government, in one way or another, gives answers to this question.
This nation cannot develop while some of its public servants are busy looting its meager resources. Time has come for us to make a turnaround. The mentality of ‘deals’ has brought this nation to where we are today.
This is unacceptable. Everyone must work hard and make legal earnings.