Thursday, April 21, 2016

At last Kabwe reacts over his recent suspension from office

DAR ES SALAAM City Director Wilson Kabwe, who was unceremoniously suspended by President John Magufuli early this week in Dar es Salaam  over a series of alleged corruption-tainted malpractices, has maintained that all the contracts he signed while in office were legal and up to scratch. With regard to his suspension from duty, Kabwe said while he respects the president’s decision, he was ready for any investigation into his conduct and would cooperate with investigating authorities to prove his innocence. “The appointing authority cannot be challenged. I respect President Magufuli’s decision,” a calm-sounding Kabwe told The Guardian in a telephone interview. He was speaking shortly after the president announced his suspension in typically abrupt manner during the public inauguration of the new Kigamboni Bridge (Nyerere Bridge) in Dar es Salaam. Magufuli was responding to an earlier narration by recently-appointed Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda of alleged cheating in contracts entered between the Dar es Salaam City Council (DCC) and contractors for various city services. The alleged contract anomalies are believed to have cost the government billions of shillings in siphoned-off revenue from the city’s coffers. RC Makonda cited in particular two dubious contracts entered by DCC and different private agents for the collection of vehicle parking fees at the Ubungo Bus Terminal (UBT) and within the city’s central business district. He said two UBT contracts were signed for the same purpose within 24 hours of each other in January 2005, whereby one contract under existing 2009 legislation was signed on January 30 and another contract using a previous 2004 law was signed on January 31, using the same agent. The contract available for scrutiny at DCC is the one under the old 2004 law which charged 4,000/- for each bus using the terminal, but the agent was using the amended 2009 law to charge 8,000/- per bus, indicating that half the total revenue collected was in fact being swindled, Makonda said. “Under the 2009 legislation which was being used to collect the fees, the revenue should not be less than 84 million/- per month, while the (outdated) 2004 legislation presented in the city council’s books of accounts set the revenue collection at just 42m/- per month,” the RC stated. According to Makonda, the move has been causing the city council a loss of at least 42m/- monthly, amounting to a total loss of 3 billion/- for the full contract period since January 2005 to date. 

The suspended former Dar es Salaam city Director Wilson Kabwe. His suspension from the office was announced at a public function by his Excellency President John Magufuli.

Both contracts were signed by Kabwe on DCC’s behalf, he said. It had also been discovered that the same agent was still collecting the fees a good ten months after his initial contract expired, which was contrary to official contract regulations, Makonda added. He said in August last year, the DCC director wrote to the agent allowing him six more months on the job while the city council initiated a tendering process for a new agent. But just as the six months were about to expire, the acting DCC director gave the same agent another four months doing the same job through an official letter as the tendering process continued. After RC Makonda completed his narration, the listening President Magufuli wasted little time in announcing Kabwe’s suspension on the spot and telling present officials to “send him my greetings”. “I will not entertain such kind of leaders in my administration … and anyone else who will be caught doing things like this will also be removed,” Magufuli said. He directed relevant authorities to start investigating the apparent scam further and institute legal action against all people found to be involved. The head of state also directed that all activities under the current UBT parking fees contract to be halted and a proper legal process to be followed to find another agent.
MEANWHILE: During the 2012/13 parliamentary budget sessions in  Dodoma, Members of Parliament (MPs) became furious and  wanted the government to take action against the Director of Dar es Salaam City Council, Mr Wilson Kabwe, for various malpractices and inefficiency. The MPs said Mr Kabwe was forced out of office in Mbeya and Mwanza cities by councilors and the public for similar reasons, but instead of being disciplined he was transferred to the Dar es Salaam City Council despite mounting complaints against him. Chairman of the National Assembly, Mr Mussa Zungu Azzan, went a step further and hinted that the matter of the director was expected to be brought up during a meeting between the Parliament Steering Committee and Premier Mizengo Pinda. Mr Azzan, who is also the MP for Ilala in Dar es Salaam Region, said while Mr Kabwe was the director of Mwanza City Council, he caused many problems which eventually led to the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) losing elections in the area. "This person has serious problems. He caused CCM to lose elections in Mwanza and the government has been too lax in dealing with him after all he has done everywhere he goes. He has to go," he said. UIt was alleged that Mr Kabwe gave contracts to the company wherever he was posted despite its being suspected of malpractices. Mr Joseph Selasini also said that the Parliamentary Local Government Accounts Committee had already issued complaints about Mr Kabwe but the government had so far not responded.

Tanzania unveils 100trn/- national development plan

THE government on Wednesday this week unveiled an ambitious plan that it says will serve as a blueprint for the country's economic and social development for the next five years. The National Development Plan 2016/17-2020/21 aims to boost industrialisation and transform Tanzania into a middle-income country by 2020 by pumping 107 trillion/- of public investments into the economy. The spending earmarked by President John Magufuli's government over the next five years has jumped by 150 per cent compared to the previous development plan of former president Jakaya Kikwete's administration. The new blueprint titled "Nurturing Industrialisation for Economic Transformation and Human Development" is the latest indication of spending plans and priorities of President Magufuli's government over the next five years. The Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango, presented the plan to parliament yesterday and said the Magufuli government's development blueprint over the next five years will focus on flagship infrastructure projects such as construction of a standard gauge railway and the revival of the ailing national flag carrier, Air Tanzania. The current five-year plan (2011/12-2015/16), which ends in June, has been implemented by just 60 per cent and had a total estimated budget of 44.5 trillion/-, according to official government figures. "Some 107 trillion/- is needed to finance the implementation of the (new) plan and development projects over the next five years," Mpango said in his presentation to parliament. "This means that the government will have to spend an average of 21.4 trillion/- each year." The government has already announced that it plans to raise spending by 31 per cent in fiscal year 2016/17 starting in July to 29.53 trillion/-. Mpango said Magufuli's government will finance 55 per cent of the 107tr/- required to finance the 2016/17-2020/21 national development plan from its own resources. "The plan identifies two sources of funding, which are the government's revenue and non-revenue sources and external loans and grants," he said. The government said it would also rely on the participation of the private sector in the implementation of development projects. The plan expects gross domestic product (GDP) growth to rise to 10 per cent in 2020 thanks to investments in infrastructure projects from 7 per cent in 2015. It also targets a national per capita income of $1,500 by the year 2020 from the current levels of $1,006 (2015 figures), which would catapult Tanzania into middle-income status. "The plan envisages an increase of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Tanzania from $2.14 billion in 2014 to $5 billion by the year 2020," he said. "The government also expects tourism earnings to increase from $2 billion in 2014 to $3.6 billion by 2020." Tourist arrivals are seen jumping from 1.14 million in 2014 to 2 million within the next four years. Mpango said the government's goal was to lift millions of Tanzanians out of poverty, noting that the state will invest heaving in public education, water and health services over the next five year. He revealed that more than 10 million Tanzanians out of a population of over 47 million were currently living in conditions of abject poverty. “Poverty has dropped from 39 per cent of the population in 1992 to 34.4 percent in 2007 and from 28.2 percent in 2012 to 24.5 percent in 2015,” he said. He pointed out that progress in poverty reduction was a result of improved housing, transport facilities, mobile phone penetration and ownership as well as access to better farming inputs. Poverty in Tanzania has been fueled by poor agricultural yields which remains the economic backbone for the majority of the population living in rural communities, he said. Mpango told the National Assembly that government figures show that while there is an army of around 800,000 men and women joining the labour market annually in Tanzania, only 200,000 of them actually get jobs. “The government plans to cut national poverty levels from 28.2 per cent of the population in 2011/12 to 16.7 per cent in 2020/21,” he said. The national development plan envisions that the government will reduce the child mortality rate from 81 per every 1,000 live births in 2014/15 to 45 in 2020/21. Similarly, the maternal mortality rate is forecast to drop to 250 per every 100,000 live births in 2020 from 432 in 2014. The finance minister said the government also plans to improve access to clean and safe water in rural communities to 80 per cent and subsequently increase electricity access to 60 per cent countrywide from the current 36 per cent. Members of parliament yesterday started debating the government's second development plan, which will replace the first plan that ends in June and vote whether or not to approve the blueprint.

US envoy warns on political situations in great lakes

THE Great Lakes region could experience mass violence and economic crisis caused by the unfolding political situations in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the US special envoy for the region told The Guardian in an exclusive interview yesterday. Speaking in Dar es Salaam, envoy Thomas Perriello noted that as the atmosphere of public unrest tied to politics remains serious in Burundi, a similar situation of political turmoil and conflict could also arise in the DRC. Says Tanzania, as current chair of the East African Community, has a potentially influential role to play in ensuring peace and stability prevails across the Great Lakes region And as the current chair of the East African Community (EAC), Tanzania therefore has a central role to play in ensuring that peace and stability prevails across the region despite the threatening situations in the two neighbouring countries, Perriello said. According to the US envoy, the recent naming of former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa as the new Burundi mediator has raised hope that a peaceful solution will soon be found for the tiny country’s simmering political crisis. He noted that hardline opposition stances against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s extended rule were getting stronger and stronger within the country, and said the US government appreciated the role Tanzania has played in accommodating a huge influx of refugees from the troubled country. But even with Tanzania’s generosity and hospitality, the main hope is to eventually see the Burundi situation being stabilized so that the refugees can eventually go back home and live there in peace, the envoy added. On the DR Congo situation, he said this was also raising concern about the chances of maintaining regional stability. Here again, according to Perriello, Tanzania has a potentially influential role to play given the fact that current DR Congo president Joseph Kabila spent most of his growing-up years in the country. He also cited South Africa as another country that can play a big role in bringing about peace in the region. 

Former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa

The US envoy pointed to lessons learnt from the “unfortunate” Burundi episode which appear to suggest that whenever country leaders try to tamper with their national constitutions in order to stay in power, the effects can be disastrous. He said the situation could be replicated in DR Congo “should the constitution so much cherished by its people be side-tracked.” “(The US government) is very concerned about what could happen in the DRC because if the people’s voice is spurned in this matter, the outcome could overshadow everything else, given the sheer size of the country,” Perriello said. But the world remains hopeful that the DRC leadership issue will also be solved in a democratic manner that respects the country’s constitution, he added. The DRC is set to hold its general elections this year, but it is not clear yet if President Kabila will indeed be seeking to stay in power, as he indicated some years back. Said Perriello: “I have travelled throughout the Congo and people are very excited of the opportunity (provided by the constitution). Not out of disrespect of President Kabila, but out of appreciation that he himself participated in bringing about the country from out of war to the present situation.” He said if Kabila chooses to stay in power after ending his tenure in December this year, it could cause Africa’s second largest country to descend into cataclysm. “The crisis in Burundi and the possible crisis in the DR Congo are crises of choice and not of necessity,” the US envoy said, asserting that they are crises manufactured by leaders meddling with the constitution in order to cling to power. Speaking about the Great Lakes Region in general, Perriello said the continued warfare between various armed groups were more or less taking on a regional character with the possibility of other countries being drawn into the conflicts. These are the most challenging matters for the region, along with infrastructural development, investment in education, and general social transformation, he said. There have been some achievements in the region since he assumed the role of regional envoy last year, he added. For example, he continued, the crisis in Burundi has been prevented from blowing up into mass violence, while efforts are continuing to contain the DRC armed groups from assuming a regional character and transform the region with social and economic investments. He also noted that the continued political crises in the region had caused the prices of minerals produced locally to go down, raising the chances of an even more serious economic crisis eventually settling in.

Ugandan pipeline engineers tells Tanzanians about pipeline route

THE recommended Tanzanian route for a planned key pipeline from Uganda will allow that country to start exporting its crude oil to the world market via the Indian Ocean by mid-2020, while an alternative route through Kenya would take the project until at least 2022 to complete, Ugandan technocrats have explained. A leaked official report following recent negotiation meetings in Kampala has further confirmed that the Ugandan experts decided on the Tanzanian route to the port of Tanga as by far a better option than the Kenyan one to the port of Lamu. Both Ugandan and Kenyan media outlets yesterday cited the document, dated April 11 this year, as proof that Tanzania had been chosen for the pipeline despite spirited lobbying by a Kenyan delegation that was camped in Kampala since last month. “The comprehensive analysis of the different options, studies and due diligence results has been completed. The Kabaale (Uganda) - Tanga route is the only option to secure first oil export by mid-2020, with pipeline availability of 99 per cent,” the experts’ report was quoted as saying. According to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Prof Justin Ntalikwa, who was part of the Tanzanian delegation to the Kampala talks, the proceedings began with a meeting of the respective technical committees from all three countries involved (Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya). This was followed by another meeting involving the permanent secretaries of the ministries responsible for energy matters from the three countries, and finally a meeting of the ministers themselves, Prof Ntalikwa told The Guardian last week. 

Presidents John Magufuli of Tanzania and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. The two met during EAC heads of state meeting in Arusha in February this year.

The official submission and signing of the contract for pipeline construction to commence will take place during the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State summit which begins tomorrow in Kampala, the PS said. The wrangle between Tanzania and Kenya for the potentially lucrative pipeline project has been simmering since early March when President John Magufuli and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni announced that they had reached a concrete deal on the matter. This was followed days later by a formal assurance from one of the key sponsors - the French oil firm Total – that the funds needed for the project (around $4 billion) was already available for construction to begin as soon as everything was all set. Kenyan authorities were obviously not very happy with these rapid-fire developments, especially since Uganda had earlier been in tentative talks with them over the same pipeline deal. It has since transpired that serious security issues, the extraordinarily rough Rift Valley terrain, and land acquisition hurdles had also been tagged as major disadvantages of the proposed Kenyan route. The pipeline is thus set to link rich oil fields in land-locked Uganda’s Lake Albert basin with the Indian Ocean coast via Tanga, creating an estimated 1,500 direct and 20,000 indirect jobs while increasing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Tanzania by more than 50 per cent per annum. Upon completion, it will have the capacity to transport up to 200,000 barrels of oil per day, according to the project blueprint. It is estimated that there are about 6.5 billion barrels of oil accessible in Lake Albert, with 1.4 -1.7 billion barrels already confirmed as recoverable and available for transportation.

Tanzania keen on indicative school fees

THE government has reiterated its commitment to enforce control on school fees charged by private schools in the country to eliminate the notion of business in education. The Deputy Minister for Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Eng. Stella Manyanya yesterday informed Parliament that consensus on school fees would be reached through open discussions among stakeholders. These include schools owners, parents/guardians, legislators, the government and others. “It is true that in some cases the element of profit making in education provided in private schools was discerned. In-depth assessment of the school fees charged is absolutely necessary to authenticate the balance between the services provided and fees demanded. There are schools demanding 9.4m/- a year. We have to strike a balance,” Manyanya clarified. She was responding to a basic question by Halima Mdee (MP –Kawe, Chadema) who demanded clarification from the government on findings regarding the unit cost of a student/pupil in a private school as indicative to reasonable fees. Posing the question on behalf of Halima Mdee, Suzan Lyimo (Special Seats- Chadema) challenged the government to make the necessary improvement of public schools to allow convenient admission of students. 

Tanzania's Minister for Education and Vocational Training Dr. Ndalichako

“Evident measures have been taken and some are still underway to make sure that all public primary and secondary schools are brought up to standard. More than 6bn/- has been set aside for the purchase of desks and other basic teaching materials. I call upon legislators to give serious consideration to costs involved in education which is a burden to many families,” she said. She said preliminary investigations conducted by the government on fees charged in private schools, both primary secondary, revealed huge divergence depending on the facilities, school location, the infrastructure and related services offered. Consultation was made with some institutions managing private schools, she added, with the findings used as guideline to the grouping of these schools in appropriate categories for recommendation of corresponding school fees. Former deputy minister for education, Phillip Mulongo who is also owns private schools called for fair negotiations as the government undertakes standardisation of school fees charged in private schools. “Mutual understanding is necessary in the course of discussion on the recommended school fees. It should be taken into consideration that some school owners received bank loans and are obliged to honor repayment,” Mulongo pleaded. Deputy Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government, Suleiman Jaffo concluded the debate by insisting that the basic focus in cooperation between different stakeholders was to attain broader achievements in education for the benefit of the nation.