Just after assuming office in 2005, President Jakaya Kikwete pushed hard to have in place a stronger law to fight corruption; to plug the many loopholes that had rendered the previous one less effective in combating the vice. This is especially after it was noted that corruption had entered the fabric of society, with more people resorting to the use of money in attempts to ‘buy’ themselves high public offices. There was therefore the real danger of a clash between the private interests of those who gained office in this manner and the public interests they were expected to promote. Obviously public interest would be relegated to a secondary role.
The law thus brought in a stronger institution, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), which has been able to net some ‘big ones’ in fighting grand corruption.
Besides enhancing the anti-corruption legislation, the government has enacted the Election Expenses law in a bid to check corrupt practices that those aspiring for leadership position resort to.
But as the Chairman of Human Rights and Good Governance Commission, Judge Amir Manento said, in themselves the laws are not enough to root out corruption.
He rightly observed: “Corruption cannot be driven out by using laws alone since the vice has dominated people’s mind for a long time.”
He cited the Takrima case which was rejected by the High Court saying to date people still consider elections as a period to make money.
He said Tanzanians had for a long time considered corruption part of their rights, insisting that it would take a long time for people to change. In citing the problem, Judge Manento is focusing on the other task of the PCCB and society as a whole, which is to provide education and take appropriate measures to prevent corruption. It is seriously worrying when people consider a corrupt practice as a right; demanding money and other gifts as some do before voting for someone.
The anti-corruption campaign must now focus equally on liberating of minds, namely of those seeking leadership positions and of the voters who have over the years come to accept as given that money or gifts must change hands to get someone elected into office.
What we should realise is that corruption lessens accountability and by extension holds development ransom to private whims. The public finds itself being reduced to complaining, instead of effectively holding to account the leaders and officials it has voted into office. More effort is therefore needed to make Tanzanians not pay lip service to fighting corruption, but totally commit themselves to it, by refusing to countenance anything remotely smelling of corruption from whichever source.
Granted, this will take time and untiring effort to be fully absorbed. But Tanzanians can be assured that they will reap more benefits in terms of faster development for all through more efficient use of resources than is the case now.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
6th September 2010