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Tanzanian President to tackle graft ahead of vote

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Geza Ulole, Feb 26, 2010.

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    Geza Ulole JF-Expert Member

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    Feb 26, 2010
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    Tanzanian president to tackle graft ahead of vote
    Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:09pm GMT

    • Orders anti-graft agency to target election financing
    • Says excessive corruption may destroy the nation
    • Government says one-third of budget lost via corruption

    DAR ES SALAAM, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete promised on Thursday to tackle widespread corruption and embezzlement ahead of the east African nation's general election in October.

    The Tanzanian leader, seeking re-election in a contest expected to feature graft as a key issue, ordered the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) to focus on election financing graft.

    "It is a widely known fact that corruption in elections has started to become a major problem ... if we don't take serious action now, bribery and corruption will become the order of the day," Kikwete said in a speech seen by Reuters on Thursday.

    The government, which admits a third of its annual budget is lost through bribery and corruption, has been criticised by donors who fund 33 percent of the country's spending for failing to curb graft.

    Kikwete said that corruption in the nomination of candidates within political parties during primary polls had "become a chronic problem."

    "If we reach a point where doing that is acceptable behaviour in our elections, our nation will be destroyed," he said.

    "The passing of the Election Expenses Act in the just-concluded parliamentary session is a historic and revolutionary achievement," he said. The law, passed earlier this month, is aimed at curbing corrupt election financing.

    Several high-level investigations into senior public officials are under way and Kikwete promised to step up such efforts, saying that 578 graft cases, 27 of them involving individuals implicated in grand corruption, came before Tanzanian courts last year, up from 50 four years ago.

    The international community is putting heavy pressure on the government to tackle corruption, warning aid-reliant Tanzania that rising graft and weak accountability have put this year's grants at risk.

    Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda became the first senior government official to declare his assets as part of an anti-corruption drive in January.

    Rising concern over weak governance, economic policy and the government's failure to keep agreements has prompted donors to give less than they had pledged for the past few years.

    The Netherlands is withholding 30 million euros ($40 million) in general budget support this financial year.

    Tanzania's stability in a sometimes turbulent region appealed to donors keen to spend in past years, but the country's ranking in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, a measure of perceived public sector corruption, has plunged 32 places in the past two years.

    (Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; editing by Tim Pearce)

    http://af.reuters.com/article/tanzaniaNews/idAFLDE61O21S20100225?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true
     
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