Mangula's response to External Payments Arrears scam claims By The Citizen Team Former CCM secretary-general Philip Mangula has declined to explain his role in the External Payments Arrears (EPA) scandal, pleading to be left alone after retiring two years ago. But Mr Mangula, who was the ruling party's secretary for a decade from 1996, did not deny or admit his involvement in the scam in which BoT irregularly paid 22 companies a total of Sh133 billion in the 2005/5 financial year. Mr Mangula was responding to queries on whether he played a central role in the scandal as claimed by some of the suspects. According to information made available to The Citizen, the majority of the prime suspects have claimed before the presidential task force charged with investigating the scandal that the payments were schemed by senior CCM officials who wanted to raise funds for the party ahead of the 2005 General Election. We are seeking to establish whether these allegations are true or whether the suspects are just using the ruling party as a shield in this scandal�we are still investigating, a member of the task force, who did not want to be named, told The Citizen by telephone. But contacted for comment, Mr Mangula said: I can't say yes or no, but please leave me out of this EPA thing I am a retiree. Pressed further to state whether it was true that his office issued memos on EPA payments, Mr Mangula replied politely: I'm in my home village, just a peasant, so please if you want any information from me on the matter, I'm not in a position to give it to you. You can ask me questions about the progress of my agricultural projects and not matters concerning my party. I can't remember everything, he said before hanging up. Sources within the task force told The Citizen that most of the suspects questioned so far said they were directed by top CCM officials oversee the scheme under special agreements. The suspects said they could produce copies of memos written by the officials to prove that EPA was special project initiated by CCM to fund the party during its 2005 campaign. Sources said the allegations had puzzled not only the task force investigating the scandal but also the ruling party's top brass. But contacted recently, CCM secretary-general Yusuf Makamba strongly denied the allegations, saying exhaustive investigations should establish the truth. Mr Makamba said people alleged to have a hand in the scam while holding CCM posts should be investigated individually without being linked to the party. In February this year, CCM declared it was not opposed to the tabling in Parliament of the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) audit report, which revealed the theft. CCM national publicity secretary John Chiligati told The Citizen that the party's top brass had no intention whatsoever of stopping its MPs from debating the report in the House. The party has no problem with calls for the BoT report to be tabled in Parliament by the Government. We are in agreement with MPs on the need to openly discuss this matter, he said. He said the party commended President Jakaya Kikwete and the Government on the decision to investigate BoT and subsequent measures taken to bring to account those involved in the scandal and recover money siphoned out of the central bank.