July 3, 2008

Opposition calls for 'in-depth' probe into graft claims

The Civil United Front (CUF) has called for "an in-depth investigation" of allegations of corruption within the Bank of Tanzania (BoT). CUF national chairman Prof Ibrahim Lipumba said besides the External Payment Account (EPA) scandal, the central bank should be probed thoroughly over other corruption allegations involving the Meremeta, Mwananchi Gold and Tangold companies. He accused the Bank of being at the frontline of destroying the country's economy by abusing public funds. "The BoT is important for the country's economic development, but it is now on the frontline in the scramble for tax payer's money," he said.
In addition, the opposition chair urged President Kikwete to stand up to "the shameful corrupt officials from his government" to strengthen the country's economy and reduce dependence from donors. Prof Lipumba said other than the EPA scandal, which has become a topical issue, the government should thoroughly investigate all the allegations of illegal payments made by the central bank to the three controversial mining companies.
The CUF General Council, he added, reached an agreement to take up the issue, and push the government to make public a report of the EPA probe. The Council also wants legal action taken against people found guilty. The professor added his voice to the condemnation of Finance and Economic Affairs minister Mustafa Mkulo over his recent statements denying that the looted EPA money was government funds. Minister Mkulo said the money was not public funds but belonged to individual business people. His remarks, also backed by the Controller Auditor General, sparked outcries from legislators and some members of the public.
On the stalled peace talks between CCM and his party, Prof Lipumba said the opposition's think-tank agreed to appeal to President Kikwete to bring Mr Maalim Seif Hamad and the President of Zanzibar, Mr Aman Karume back to the negotiating table. The Professor said President Kikwete could not afford to "close his eyes" and remain passive on the stalemate.
It was imperative, he said, that the two sign the agreement, which was reached during the peace talks for the benefit of the country.
"The late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere clearly said that the government of national unity was the only solution that can heal the political stalemate in Zanzibar and nothing else. A lot of people have also talked about this: religious leaders and the international community included," said Prof Lipumba. He warned that if the problem is not solved urgently, it could degenerate into political instability not only in Zanzibar but also in Tanzania mainland.
Meanwhile, the CUF National Council has announced the appointment of Mr Mustafa Wandwi and Nasoro Mazrui as chairmen of the party's election committee for the Mainland and for the Isles, respectively.
The committee has been selected to step up preparations for the 2009 local government elections and the 2010 general election. In a related development, the opposition has also advised the National Electoral Commission to improve the voter's registration book in Lindi, Mtwara, Kigoma, Singida, Dodoma, Kagera, Mwanza and Tabora regions. It also wants NEC to provide enough resources and voter education to supervisors to avoid inconveniences during the elections. (The Citizen, Dar es Salaam)

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