CORRUPTION’S CHALLENGER

Tanzania 2018 | ECONOMY | FOCUS: CORRUPTION’S CHALLENGER

With the appointment of new ministers and a recently launched national action plan, the Tanzanian government is showing no signs of backing down on its corruption crackdown, led most prominently by President Magufuli.

“I know that squeezing a boil hurts, but there are no two ways about it.” Famously, it was with these words that President Magufuli, not long after taking up office, let it be known he was taking a zero-tolerance stance on corruption in his country. According to Transparency International, an anti-corruption watchdog, in 2016 Tanzania placed 116th in a global corruption ranking of 176 countries. Globally, the cost of corruption is more than USD2 trillion on average each year, or around 5% of the world's GDP, according to World Economic Forum estimates.

Over the course of his term, Magufuli has proved he is not just all talk and has taken serious action. In 2016, he removed some 10,000 ghost civil servants from the government's payroll. In April 2017, he sacked a further 9,000 state workers, who, it was revealed, had lied about their qualifications. These purges included some key government officials from the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) and Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).
Given that anti-corruption has become almost a trademark of the president's mandate, it is no surprise that there was much interest surrounding the release of the third National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan 2017-2022 (NACSAP III), which came out in July 2017.

The 104-page document sets out a plan for the implementation of several nationwide measures to reduce illicit activities and their impact on the Tanzanian economy. It is an initiative jointly spearheaded by the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) and other governmental departments.

According to the action plan's authors, the challenges from the last cycle of measures are being addressed this time around: namely, better monitoring and evaluating practices and a targeted crackdown on certain strategic areas of the economy that yield large revenues. This could be a reference to the ramped up surveillance of activity in the mining, oil and gas, and telecommunications sectors.

And, while thousands of members of staff are being dismissed, the President has made several key appointments. Two new members of staff in particular will be driving this anti-corruption agenda forward.
The first is Angella Kainiki, the former state representative for Public Service Management and Good Governance, and signatory of the forward of the NACSAP III, who has just been made Minister for Mining. In her new role she will place emphasis on investor relations—somewhat necessary, following several scandals in the mining industry and fallouts with international mining companies—as well as undertake the implementation and overseeing of three new mining laws, put in place earlier in 2017.

The second is George Mkuchika, appointed as Minister of State in the President's Office, Responsible for Public Service Management and Good Governance, Kainiki's replacement. He has announced one of his priorities will be to reduce corruption among civil servants by ensuring they are properly compensated for the work they do, and that labor conditions comply in every instance with international standards.

Secondly, he revealed novel plans to collaborate with education authorities to incorporate anti-corruption as a theme in the national curriculum. Transparency International's research suggests that anti-corruption teaching in school can be instrumental for tackling this issue, as is evidenced from cases in Chile, India, Pakistan, and Thailand.

However, while many businesses are welcoming the President's tireless commitment, there are others who are concerned about the short-term implications, particularly on the secondary economy. Where before companies could take shortcuts, facilitated by a few greased palms, now they are finding they must complete the proper procedures, which is often more time consuming and expensive.

But the President maintains it is no pain, no gain, even for himself. Most recently, Magufuli revealed his monthly salary to the local press, a jaw-droppingly low USD4,000, reportedly three times less than that of his predecessor, and substantially less than the continent's average. Indeed, for a “boil free” Tanzania, squeezing might be the only option.