Tanzanian president to tackle graft ahead of vote

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete promised on Thursday to tackle widespread corruption and embezzlement ahead of the east African nation’s general election in October.

Kikwete said that corruption in the nomination of candidates within political parties had "become a chronic problem."

The Tanzanian leader, seeking re-election in a contest expected to feature graft as a key issue, ordered the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) to focus on election financing graft.

“It is a widely known fact that corruption in elections has started to become a major problem … if we don’t take serious action now, bribery and corruption will become the order of the day,” Kikwete said in a speech  on Thursday.

The government, which admits a third of its annual budget is lost through bribery and corruption, has been criticised by donors who fund 33 percent of the country’s spending for failing to curb graft.

Kikwete said that corruption in the nomination of candidates within political parties during primary polls had “become a chronic problem.”

“If we reach a point where doing that is acceptable behaviour in our elections, our nation will be destroyed,” he said.

“The passing of the Election Expenses Act in the just-concluded parliamentary session is a historic and revolutionary achievement,” he said. The law, passed earlier this month, is aimed at curbing corrupt election financing.

Several high-level investigations into senior public officials are under way and Kikwete promised to step up such efforts, saying that 578 graft cases, 27 of them involving individuals implicated in grand corruption, came before Tanzanian courts last year, up from 50 four years ago.

The international community is putting heavy pressure on the government to tackle corruption, warning aid-reliant Tanzania that rising graft and weak accountability have put this year’s grants at risk.



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