Karl Lyimo 5 June 2011 opinion Nearly two decades after the second president of Tanzania, Al-Haj Ali Hassan 'Ruksa' Mwinyi (1985-95), pledged to eradicate corruption root and branch, the malady's taken several turns for the worse. Addressing the nation in early August 1994, Mwinyi said he'd set up a special team to probe grand corruption nationwide. Indeed, the man acknowledged the obvious: corruption was a big enemy of Justice, an ugly and shameful problem. In the event, he'd launch and personally lead a war on corruption, starting with corrupt elements in his government and the ruling party CCM! Was that unmitigated naiveté - or mere politicking? I asked myself, speaking into my sparse beard then! By the time Mr Mwinyi pontificated on the problem, petty corruption had matured into full-blown grand corruption in which principal public officials had become deeply immersed. For instance, soliciting and accepting bribes was no longer confined to petty officials in such strategic services like the Police, the Courts, Education, Health and Procurement. Public officials in high positions of power, privilege and influence had somewhat suddenly discovered they could indulge in grand corruption - and get away with it unquestioned, unpunished... Many of our very own compatriots whom we'd entrusted with development planning and decision-making jumped onto the gravy train as a matter of course. Partly to blame was the 'death' in 1992 of the Arusha Declaration, the blueprint founder-president Julius Nyerere had formulated in Feb. 1967 to put the commanding heights of the Economy in the people's hands. The Declaration was virtually stabbed in the back by the Zanzibar Declaration during Mr Mwinyi's Watch at State House. That's one of his major faux pas, managerial blunders. Another was to sideline his Home Affairs Minister of the time, Mr Augustine Mrema, who was already proving -- Mr Edward Sokoine-like - to be a really formidable foe of corruption and all its cousins across the malfeasance and misfeasance spectrum. Who knows... Had Mr Mrema continued as the Police Minister for (say) five-ten years - and, better still: had he become president in the October 1995 elections - things could have been positively different down the years. But, Fate would've none of that. Admittedly, Mr Mwinyi's successor, President Benjamin Mkapa (1995-2005), made a promising start to combat grand corruption, as per his 1996 Justice Warioba Commission on Corruption. However, the Commission's findings and recommendations just as soon became last week's dogs dinner, judging by the way they were blatantly ignored not only by Mr Mkapa, but also by his successor, President Jakaya Kikwete (2005-). What a waste of resources, talent, effort! Historically, Tanzania's had a decent police force and an upright judiciary system, right? We've in place an all-powerful directorate of public prosecution, right? There's a ubiquitous secret intelligence service, an anti-corruption force and, earlier on, a Permanent Commission of Enquiry. Today there's a Public Leadership Ethics Commission... You name it; the president does have it under his thumb... And, that is the problem: all the major anti-malfeasance and anti-misfeasance organs are directly -- too directly, I say! -- Under the presidential thumb, from where he can thump them hard and with finality if they don't toe the (presidential) line like the minions they are intended to be!Like 'Beautiful People,' the man - nay: the president who would, who could, seriously and effectively tackle and conquer grand corruption in Tanzania is 'Not yet born' (writer Ayi Kwei Armah pardon!)... Or, if he/she has been born, then the extant political machinery cannot put him/her in the line of duty that'd make eradicating grand corruption root and branch for ever and anon his/her Top Priority. So, unless and until Tanzania eradicates the current system of elections, presidential fiat/powers, etc through a truly democratic Constitution, Tanzania'll continue to languish in utter desolation - and, finally, perish as a failed state along with Somalia and the other Lands that God made last. Tears! ! Karl Lyimo is a veteran journalist and economic /political commentator based in Dar es Salaam.