Resign, Butiku tells tainted politicians THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam MWALIMU Nyerere Foundation Executive Director Joseph Butiku has called for the resignation of cabinet ministers and other senior government officials who have been tainted with allegations of corruption. Speaking in an interview with THISDAY in Dar es Salaam, Butiku said such leaders should voluntarily quit public office instead of waiting to be sacked by President Jakaya Kikwete. Public leaders must be ready to take responsibility. Those who cant do that are not fit to be public leaders, he said when commenting on public leadership ethics and ongoing allegations of corruption against some public leaders. When things go wrong, these leaders must agree to shoulder the burden of responsibility by resigning of their own accord - before the president drafts their dismissal letters, he added. Butiku, a former long-time close aide to the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, cited the example of former president Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who once resigned as home affairs minister in Mwalimu Nyereres government following the murder of innocent civilians in Shinyanga Region. According to Butiku, it was mainly because of this show of responsibility and accountability that Mwinyi would later become president of Tanzania. Offering a perspective of political accountability during the Nyerere and Mwinyi administrations, Butiku continued: Saidi Natepe also once resigned as home affairs minister, when inmates escaped from Ukonga prison. Edwin Mtei, as finance minister, resigned over the IMF saga. But when Joseph Mungai wouldnt resign as minister for agriculture, he was removed from his post. He noted however, that most national leaders today have stopped taking responsibility for their mistakes, and have become more interested in their own personal survival in government. Welcoming President Kikwetes stated plans to review and tighten the existing legislation on public leadership ethics, he said this move was likely to help restore the peoples confidence in politicians. He said the presidents decision to fire former Bank of Tanzania governor Dr Daudi Ballali over a confirmed funds misappropriation scandal at the central bank demonstrated seriousness on leadership ethics. According to Butiku, leaders responsible for public institutions where massive corruption occurs have a moral and ethical responsibility to resign voluntarily. Meanwhile, a prominent political commentator and University of Dar es Salaam don, Dr Azaveli Lwaitama, has expressed cautious optimism about the presidents move to restore public leadership ethics in the country. He noted that local politics has long been infiltrated by wealthy businessfolk using their financial prowess to win elections, and then tend to abuse public office to repay the huge costs and debts they incurred to get into public office. Its obvious that if youve used your personal wealth to finance your political campaigns in order to get a certain position in the government, theres no way that after getting the desired post, you can avoid using it to compensate the costs you incurred, Dr Lwaitama asserted. He stated that such business tycoons-cum-politicians also tend to abuse public office to further cement their personal wealth and businesses by influencing lucrative government contracts and through other unethical means. According to Dr Lwaitama, public leadership ethics as prescribed in the Arusha Declaration clearly stated that any person seeking to become a member of parliament should not own shares or be a director in any private business company. But he cautioned that President Kikwete could run into many problems when trying to implement his intentions of rewriting the rules to separate public leadership and private business. He said contradictions could arise when politicians try to entrust their businesses to trustees, noting that it would be difficult for authorities to enforce the separation. Even if say an MP leaves his or her business interests under the control of a trustee, he or she will still have vested interests in that business, and would not hesitate to direct some favours towards that business, even if there is a law prohibiting that, Dr Lwaitama suggested. He said there was a need for a more detailed explanation on how the presidents wishes to separate politics and business are to be implemented. In his latest national address, President Kikwete announced plans for sweeping reforms to the existing leadership ethics legislation, to make it illegal for cabinet ministers and MPs to be involved in politics and at the same time hold supervisory positions in private companies doing business with the government. In a surprise move likely to send shockwaves through the countrys political establishment, the president said the planned review of the Public Leadership Code of Ethics Act of 1995 would in effect compel cabinet ministers and MPs to make a choice between politics and private business. Currently, there are no distinct laws in the country that guard against such conflict of interest, with politicians often known to also hold key positions in private companies that do business with the government. The presidents announcement has received overwhelming support from the public, with many people saluting him for the bold and courageous decision.