Tanzania now turns to Arusha Declaration in war against graft

Saturday January 4 2014

President Kikwete has received a draft constitution, which will reintroduce a leadership code that bars civil servants from engaging in private business if passed. Photo/FILE

President Kikwete has received a draft constitution, which will reintroduce a leadership code that bars civil servants from engaging in private business if passed. Photo/FILE 

By RAY NALUYAGA The EastAfrican

In a fresh attempt to fight corruption, Tanzania is seeking to bring back the Leadership Code introduced by the 1967 Arusha Declaration for public servants.

The declaration barred civil servants from engaging in private business and was abolished 21 years ago though the Zanzibar Declaration.

Tanzania was listed among the 14 most corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer.

The final draft constitution handed over to President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and President Mohammed Shein of Zanzibar last week, if passed, will now see public servants barred from engaging in business while in office.

According to the draft, anyone accused of violating the code will be suspended immediately, pending the determination of the matter in accordance with the laws of the land.

The Arusha Declaration of 1967 among other things barred public servants from holding any directorship in a privately owned company.

This will be the second time President Kikwete administration is seeking to reintroduce the code after a 2008 attempt through an Act of Parliament was met with stiff resistance from his party members, most of whom are directors of private companies while a few own multibillion-shilling businesses.

Speaking during the 31st CCM birthday celebrations held in Zanzibar in February 2008, President Kikwete said he intended to start a process that would see business and politics separated to prevent conflicts of interest and corruption.

In October 2009, while speaking in Butiama in Mara region where the founding father of the nation Julius Nyerere was born, he said the government was in the final stages of preparing a Bill that would see business and politics separated.

Apart from barring public servants, who include elected officials, from engaging in business, the draft further prohibits a public servant from taking part in any determination of a matter in which the public servant’s spouse, child, relative, friend or any close associate is involved.

Public servants are also barred from opening or owning a foreign bank account unless proper procedures, which include express permission from th the Bank of Tanzania are followed.

According to data from the Swiss central bank, the amount of money that Tanzanians held in savings and deposit accounts in Swiss banks grew to $5.41 billion in 2012, up from $3.6 billion the previous year.

However, opposition leader Freeman Mbowe dismissed the move, saying Tanzanians should not be stopped from operating foreign bank accounts.

“It is a backward thinking to regulate people having a foreign bank account while the country has no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency that can enter the country,” he said.

The draft further says a public servant shall not request or receive a loan or any profit in a way and manner that shall undermine the reputation of the office.

The draft proposes that any gift received by a public servant during the execution of his duties belongs to the country. The public servant shall be required to surrender the gifts to the Principal Secretary stating its type, value, reason for receiving them and the source.

Public servants are also required to declare their own wealth and debts as well as that of their spouses and children under 18 years to the ethics secretariat within 30 days after assuming office and the same period after leaving office. The draft further requires them to repeat the same exercise once every year during their tenure of office.

The existing law requires public officers to submit to the ethics secretariat a written declaration of all properties, assets and liabilities in his or her name.

Although the ethics law gives members of the public the right to examine the declaration records of their leaders, it prohibits the publication or dissemination of such information.