Tanzania taxman reveals outspoken bishop avoided paying tax

Tuesday February 20 2018

Bishop Zachary Kakobe, the founder of the Full Gospel Bible Fellowship Church in Tanzania. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Bishop Zachary Kakobe, the founder of the Full Gospel Bible Fellowship Church in Tanzania. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

By BEATRICE MATERU
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Tanzania Revenue Authority has revealed that Zachary Kakobe, a self-proclaimed bishop and founder of the Full Gospel Bible Fellowship Church, had evaded to pay Tsh20.8 million (about $9,300) in taxes.

The taxman began probing the outspoken bishop after he criticised President John Magufuli, in his Christmas sermon, of turning the country into a one-party state and claiming that he had more money than the government.

TRA Commissioner General, Charles Kichere told journalists on Tuesday that their investigations also showed that a company owned by the bishop’s sons had evaded paying taxes amounting to Tsh37.2 million ($16,700).

Further, Mr Kichere said Bishop Kakobe does not hold an account in any bank in Tanzania but is a signatory of the church’s account held at National Bank of Commerce (NBC) which has about Tsh8.2 billion ($3.7 million) from members’ collections and alms.

He said the church owed taxes from investments made in the capital market.

In the course of the probe, Mr Kichere said, the Tsh58.1 million ($26,100) taxes owed were cleared.

Apology

The tax authority also revealed that the bishop apologised to the president.

“During the investigation, Bishop Kakobe wrote an apology letter to President John Magufuli following his statement that he has more money than what the country has,” said Mr Kichere.

Money in buckets

Mr Kichere also revealed that the church kept large sums of money in buckets, exposing it to security risks.

In addition, he said, the church lacks proper accounting systems of its revenues and spending.

-Additional reporting by The Citizen.