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|Taking the lid off energy and minerals ministry’s scandals|
05th September, 2011
The Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda on Thursday (August 25, 2011) averted a collision course between the parliament on one hand and the government on the other when he told the House that the government would give full cooperation to the parliamentary probe committee appointed by Speaker, Anne Makinda on August 26th this year (2011) to probe what has come to be known as the David Jairo saga and the Chief Secretary’s verdict that was seen to overdo the powers of the National Assembly by some of the house members.
On Tuesday (August 23rd 2011), the Chief Secretary, Mr Philemon Luhanjo accompanied by the Controller and Auditor General, CAG, Mr Ludovick Utouh, cleared, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals and Energy, Mr David Jairo of any wrong doing.
He said an investigation carried out by the CAG on the saga showed that Mr Jairo had not committed any offence in what he had done and that what he had done was in fact a common practice in all ministries in ensuring that their budget estimates is approved by the house committes.
Mr Luhanjo also argued that the money collected as a result of Mr Jairo’s directive was in fact less than what had been alleged when the Member of Parliament for Kilindi (CCM), Mrs Beatrice Shellukindo raised the issue in the House for the first time.
No sooner had Mr Luhanjo said what he had said, the Mps descended on him.
In a heated debate in the August House, they resolved to appoint a parliamentary committee to probe not only the energy and minerals ministry’s permanent secretary, but also the very person who had absolved Mr Jairo, Mr Luhanjo whether he interfered with the house powers or not.
During the debate in the House, the other person that came under scathing attack was Mr William Ngeleja who had participated in a highly publicized welcome home party for Mr Jairo at the headquarters of the ministry of energy and minerals as its political head, the minister.
The MPs questioned Mr Ngeleja’s conduct, wondering what picture the controversial minister wanted to sent to the general public after the government conduct on the Jairo’s affair had clearly shown its contempt of both the parliament and the Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda.
When Ms Shellukindo first raised the issue in the House, Mr Pinda commented that had he had the authority to punish Mr Jairo, he would have sacked him on the spot.
Responding to questions from MPs in the direct questions to PM on Thursdays programme in the House, Mr Pinda said that the government will cooperate fully with the parliamentary probe committee.
He also said that following the House’s decision to appoint a parliamentary probe committee on the Jairo saga, President Jakaya Kikwete had ordered the permanent secretary to continue with his leave just hours after being cleared by Luhanjo and Utouh and hence allow the committee to conduct its investigations.
Mr Jairo had apparently resumed work after being cleared by Mr Luhanjo following a probe report by the CAG.
President Kikwete appears to have read the foul mood of the House on the Jairo issue and immediately decided to act before the matter threatened to get out of hand.
From the start, it was clear that the Jairo saga would have led to numerous problems for the government especially when one considers the fact that Mr Jairo had served as President Kikwete’s personal assistant at the State House before being appointed to a very crucial ministry.
It would be recalled that when Ms Shellukindo raised the letter written by Mr Jairo that sought contributions from 21 public institutions and agencies under the ministry, President Kikwete was on visit in South Africa.
The prime minister told the House that he was awaiting further instructions on the issue from the President.
However, Mr Pinda would more than once be quoted by the media as saying that the president had further instructed him to do this or that on the matter, giving the public the impression that the president had issued more than one instruction on how to handle the matter.
Finally, entered the chief secretary who told a press conference he had summoned at the State House that as Mr Jairo’s boss, he had sent the permanent secretary on leave pending investigations by the CAG.
Why it had taken so long for Mr Luhanjo to enter the fray as Tanzanians awaited President Kikwete’s decision from South Africa is anybody’s conjecture!
However, one thing is crystal clear; the Jairo case unsettled the government, hence its decision to try to sweep the matter under the carpet!
One hopes that the parliamentary probe committee will come up with a down to earth report not only on the Jairo saga, but also on the workings of the ministry of energy and minerals which mothered the mother of all scandals, the Richmond scandal, which led to the resignations of Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa and two ministers who had served the energy and minerals docket, Dr Ibrahim Msabaha and Mr Nazir Karamagi.
Tanzania’s present power woes, the worst in history, are to a large extent thought to be as a result of the Richmond scandal and many analysts strongly believe that had the country’s sole power utility company, the Tanzania Electric Supply Company, TANESCO, not been interfered with by the ministry, Tanzania would not have been thrown into the present power crisis.
To understand the genesis of the Richmond scandal, it is important to look critically at the appointments of ministers for energy and minerals since the coming to power of President Kikwete at the end of 2005 overwelming victory as the fourth president of the United Republic of Tanzania.
All the three appointees to the ministry were somewhat linked to the men behind the Richmond scandal, namely Mr Lowassa and Mr Rostam Aziz and were all handpicked for the docket by Mr Lowassa.
For instance, the latest minister, Mr Ngeleja was a lawyer for the Vodacom Tanzania Limited before he decided to plunge into politics.
That Mr Ngeleja would later be appointed to head the energy and minerals ministry after the departure of Mr Karamagi to help in covering up the aftermath of the Richmond scandal is not a surprise.
All the three men, Dr Msabaha, Mr Karamagi and Mr Ngeleja were members of what came to be known as wana Mtandao (network members) who helped in the election of President Kikwete in 2005.
It is therefore not surprising that a man, who had served as President Kikwete’s personal assistant at the State House, would later be appointed by the president as permanent secretary in the ministry that is currently at the centre of not only a mega scandal, but also the most disturbing power woes in the country’s history.
One hopes that the parliamentary probe committee would be able to unravel what has been going on in the energy and minerals ministry which has also been responsible for mineral contracts that has left the country poorer and stranded!
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