Friday, June 24, 2011, 7:24 Habari kuu, The african BY SYLVESTER JOSEPH IN DODOMA THE Parliament is set to debate on the steps taken by the Government to recover the swindled USD 40 million (about 60bn/-) by British Aerospace Systems (BAE), which sold to Tanzania the controversial radar in 1999. This came shortly after Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Bernard Membe, presented in the House an official statement on how far the recovery process has gone and steps it intended to take. It was the Kigoma North MP, Kabwe Zitto (CHADEMA), who stood up immediately after Membe's presentation and asked the Speaker to allow the statement to be debated by Legislators. His plea was supported by almost half of the MPs who stood up to support the motion. This left Speaker Anne Makinda with no option, but to accept, saying she would set a date for the debate. While presenting the statement, Membe informed the House that he had talks with the British Minister who deals with African Affairs, Henry Belingham, when he toured Tanzania from May 24 to 27 this year, and was assured that the position of his government to refund the money to Tanzania, had not changed. "BAE has ears but it is adamant to listen to a cry of the many. It has expressed an open contempt to the Tanzania Government and its citizen. "Honorable Speaker, your Parliament may be pleased to hear that this in a similar case, this company last year paid to the United States government USD 400 (2010). We did not hear that an advisory board was formed or channelling funds through British NGOs. "Our government has warned that it will not allow any British NGO, which will benefit from this refunded money, to come and dictate how our Government is run. "Tanzania is a poor country but it is not ready to be looked down upon, where its Government, institutions, and its Non-Governmental Organizations are not trusted. To allow such a thing, is like allowing these ‘cheats' to steal from us for the second time," said Membe. He added: "If the worst comes to the worst, we should be ready to lose/forgo the money to protect the dignity of our nation. We should not be ready to be humiliated and allow a company that stole from us to dictate who should be given our money in Britain and how we should use it. "It is my belief that all members of Parliament, disregarding our political orientation, together with all patriotic citizens, we will join hands to defend our dignity," he said. The Minister informed the House that a team of four from the National Assembly was sent to Britain to meet concern committees and talk to British MPs. They were also expected to meet influential leaders in Britain to convince them to pressurize BAE System to release the money without attaching any conditions. The team was led by Deputy Speaker Job Ndugai, Mussa Azzan Zungu, Angellah Kairuki and John Cheyo. He explained that Tanzania and the British government submitted a plan on how the money would be spent after getting a blessing from the Crown Court, indicating that it would buy 4.4 million books for primary school pupils, 192,000 textbooks, purchase 200,000 desks for 16,000 primary schools. The money could also build 1,196 primary school teachers' houses and construct 200,000 pit latrines in primary schools. Government's reaction comes just a week after BAE Systems formed an advisory board to determine the use of the proposed compensation to Tanzania of 29.5 million sterling pounds (about Sh75 billion). The rest of the money was to be used to settle court fees. According to a statement released by BAE Systems and posted on its website, formation of the board is in line with a settlement agreement with the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), approved by the court in December 2010. The SFO investigated the firm and established impropriety bordering on bribery during the sale of the radar to Tanzania. It is on the strength of the evidence that BAE Systems agreed to compensate Tanzania to escape corruption indictments in the UK. According to SFO investigations, BAE Systems had secretly paid $12 million (about Sh18 billion) commission to fugitive Sailesh Vithlani, its agent in Tanzania, via a Swiss bank account. This represents 30 per cent of the deal sealed in 1999 to sell the military radar. The actual price of the radar, according to the investigations, was $12 million (about 18bn/-). But Tanzania paid $40 million (about 60bn/-), with the extra $28 million (about 42bn/-) allegedly paid to government officials and individuals. Several high ranking politicians and individuals, including the former Attorney General now Bariadi West MP, Andrew Chenge and former Bank of Tanzania Governor Idriss Rashidi, were linked to the saga. But local and SFO investigations have not led to prosecution of the culprits.