CAG report: Experts urge uplifting of institutions

10Apr 2021
Henry Mwangonde
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
CAG report: Experts urge uplifting of institutions

ELEVATING the role of oversight institutions is sorely needed in the wake of the annual report of the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) indicating massive misappropriation of public funds, experts believe.

Speaking to this paper yesterday, veteran economists and activists recommended that to prevent such wastage of taxpayers’ money, the government must shift from depending on “strong personalities” to fight graft in favour of strengthening institutions of governance.

Senior economist Prof Haji Semboja said the loss of billions of shillings in the 2019/20 financial year was a result of weak laws and systems to run institutions where everything is done within the law.

“This is a result of lack of competitiveness in appointing people in key positions, and as a result some laws were ignored, though he (late President John Magufuli) had good intentions but practically it went the opposite direction” he said.

“There was in a sense a lack of professionalism in people who were appointed to lead some of these institutions because some people took advantage of his passion to fight graft to misuse public funds,” he stated.

Prof Honest Ngowi, Principal of Mzumbe University Business School at its Dar es Salaam campus said the report is a good step for the government to see where to start in rectifying what has gone wrong, as indicated by the CAG.

“The CAG has done a good job by indicating areas of revenue losses and misuse of funds,” he said, elaborating that those responsible should take recommendations by the CAG as providing room for fixing the loopholes to avoid misappropriations next time. 

The report has simply shown that there is a long way to go in the management of public funds and in fighting corruption, he stated, underlining that it is shocking to see that misuse of public funds was deep rooted in a government vowing zero tolerance of corruption.

Prof Samwel Wangwe, a veteran researcher, said the report must be acted upon because the president has already directed what should be done.

“The president has been very bold and has indicated that she is capable dealing with corruption,” he said.

“There is no country which has wiped out corruption completely, even those ranking number one (in sensitivity to corruption) have some elements. However, we can do better as a country.”

Onesmo ole Ngurumwa, the national coordinator for the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) said accountability and good governance cannot be maintained in the government without democracy, enabling the presence of independent oversight bodies.

“We cannot continue create accountability if we refuse democracy to flourish. In the past these things were not happening because people were afraid as there were many watchdogs, but this was not the case in the previous administration,” he said.

“Previously political parties were very strong and nobody could dare; most of the people in oversight committees were very strong,” he declared, insisting that misuse of funds is a result of weaknesses of civil society organizations and the media in doing their work.

“It is not easy for a single individual to fight corruption as there will be less oversight. We need to create strong institutions and systems to do this job,” he said.

“We needs to address corruption by using all our institutions and the private sector should also be involved,” he added.