The suspensions are the result of an intensive verification exercise conducted by the government across the country which found over 55,000 unqualified beneficiaries on the list.
Briefing reporters yesterday in Dar es Salaam, the Minister of State in the President’s Office (Public Service Management and Good Governance), Angela Kairuki, said the list of fake beneficiaries included retired public servants, local government leaders, and even people who don’t exist.
“The countrywide verification exercise which commenced in February this year has nabbed at least 55,692 households who shouldn’t be benefiting from TASAF grants,” Kairuki said.
According to her, the government has since removed these beneficiaries from the list and an intensive investigation is to be conducted into the issue.
Giving a breakdown, she said at least 13,468 beneficiaries were proven to be not poor and there not deserving of TASAF support; another 4,352 beneficiaries were actually local government leaders; 17,746 beneficiaries didn’t show up to receive their grants at least three times in succession; and 13,898 beneficiaries were reported as being dead.
A total of 6.4 billion/- has been saved from January 2014 to September this year following the removal of at least 42,035 households in the TASAF grants beneficiaries’ list, the minister disclosed.
She expressed concern that a large number of really poor households across the country could be missing out on the grants while undeserving people continue to pocket the money regularly.
“During the verification exercise, our team scrutinised the beneficiaries lists handed over to them by local authorities and found that many families did not qualify as they are not living in extreme poverty,” Kairuki said.
She told the TASAF management to continue scrutinise beneficiaries on an ongoing basis to ensure the most disadvantaged are not sidelined.
According to the minister, the suspended officials include 106 TASAF district coordinators and seven officials from the main office in Dar es Salaam, including coordination director and project manager.
She emphasized that the government won’t hesitate to take similar measures against other TASAF officials found to be not fulfilling their job obligations.
The minister also gave a one-month ultimatum for the investigation into the fake beneficiaries scandal to be concluded so that further action can be taken.
She called on regional and district commissioners, along with executive directors at local government level, to oversee the proper implementation of TASAF directives and ensure that grants paid to undeserving households are paid back to allow the government to accomplish its mission of eradicating poverty.
Kairuki also urge members of the general public to cooperate with the government by blowing the whistle whenever they notice TASAF fund beneficiaries who do not deserve to be on the list.
According to a 2013 World Bank report, the TASAF cash transfer programme has proved a successful method for reducing income poverty, with women beneficiaries more likely to prioritise the welfare of children.
In order to receive payments, targeted families have to abide by conditions set by a locally-elected village committee, which monitors how the cash is spent. For those who fail to comply, the committee will decide on punishments.
Between 20,000/- and 60,000/- is disbursed per targeted household to enable them to invest in small-scale, income-generating activities such as poultry businesses or vegetable farming.