EDITORIAL COMMENT: When CCM lawmakers speak out against corruption EDITOR THIS DAY DAR ES SALAAM, ANNE Kilango Malecelas passionate appeal in the National Assembly last week for the government to step up the battle against high-level corruption resonated with Tanzanias masses in such a profound manner that highlighted the peoples aspirations for a more just society. The Same East legislator from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) touched a chord with the majority of Tanzanians with her rallying call for fellow members of parliament to unite and expose the real architects behind massive looting of public funds. In her own words, Ms Kilango Malecela cautioned the government of the folly of shielding prominent people believed to have stolen 133bn/- from the Bank of Tanzanias external payment arrears (EPA) account and embezzled another 216bn/- from the Commodity Import Support (CIS) fund. She said she was even prepared to sacrifice her own life in the crusade against grand corruption in the country on behalf of the people of Tanzania, and vowed never to be silenced until all the looted public monies have been recovered. And hers was not the only CCM voice in the House calling for more decisive action from the government on the matter. Several other ruling party MPs joined in, demanding that all the apparently well-connected individuals known to have been paid billions of shillings by the BoT through fraudulent means should be prosecuted. But what is disturbing most right-thinking Tanzanians is the emergence of a powerful lobby group apparently trying to silence Kilango and other brave MPs from speaking out so strongly against grand corruption in the country � and even using threats and intimidations to do so. There are reports that some immoral CCM leaders have even threatened a few gallant CCM legislators with expulsion from the party if they continue to publicly embarrass the CCM government in the National Assembly by making such unwanted corruption allegations. These kinds of overtures are clearly contrary to the stance of the CCM national chairman, President Jakaya Kikwete, who has pledged a zero-tolerance government fight against corruption. We are also witnessing what appears to be carefully-coordinated and most probably well-funded personal attacks on the Speaker of the National Assembly, Samwel Sitta, in some sections of the local media by certain elements unhappy with his firm leadership of key parliamentary debates and decisions. It is clear that some powerful lobbyists feeling the heat of the anti-corruption campaign are now attempting to divide MPs against taking a strong enough stance against graft. And that is precisely why politicians of Ms Kilango Malecelas rare breed, whether from the ruling CCM or the opposition camp, who refuse to be intimidated by threats or compromised by corruption ought to be fully backed by all MPs and members of the public at large. After decades of massive looting of public funds, surely all of us have fully realized and comprehended how much of a major impediment that corruption is to development and the end of this cycle of poverty that appears to be trapping the Tanzanian nation as a whole. With the majority of the citizenry living on less than a dollar a day and failing to access adequate education, water and health care services, there is a need to start a national debate on why this is paradoxically so in a country endowed with so much natural resource wealth. While corruption may not be the sole cause of these teething national problems, it is certainly one of the key components. Therefore, we are ill-served by attempts to silence ruling party MPs from wagging their fingers at the government and allow those behind the looting of public funds to walk away scot-free. After all, the speaking out publicly against corruption by CCM lawmakers is not likely to drive voters away from the ruling party come the 2010 general elections. In fact, it is corruption itself and the perceived inadequacy of government efforts to combat it that will ultimately plant the seeds of disillusionment among Tanzanians.