ARUSHA (AA) – A report by a Tanzanian parliamentary committee has called on Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda to resign over the Tegeta escrow account scandal, which has in recent months captured national attention.
“The prime minister was in the know about the transactions, but failed to take action, leading to the loss of the escrow money,” Zitto Kabwe, chairman of parliament’s public accounts committee, told The Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
“The premier was quoted in a local daily as saying IPTL was a clean deal,” he said.
He said other government officials implicated in the scandal included Attorney-General Frederick Werema; Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo; the latter’s deputy, Stephen Masele; and Permanent Energy Ministry Secretary Eliakim Maswi.
A committee report called for Pinda and other top government officials to resign over the scandal, which involves some 306 billion Tanzanian shillings being fraudulently withdrawn from the Central Bank.
The report, presented in parliament on Wednesday, recommended that Pinda take political responsibility for certain “misleading” statements he made at the National Assembly and for failing to effectively discharge his constitutional responsibilities.
“The prime minister had critical information on the money that was stolen from the escrow account, according to evidence submitted to the office of the controller and auditor-general’s office,” the report read.
It went on to recommend that officials implicated in the scandal resign and face prosecution.
“The entire Tanesco board should be dissolved and the officials charged for their role in the scandal,” Kabwe said.
“We also want all funds taken from the Bank of Tanzania to be returned to state coffers immediately,” he added.
If Pinda resigns, he will be the second senior official to do so under President JakayaKikwete, who came to power in 2005.
Kabwe said the attorney-general, who is the state’s chief legal adviser, had failed to discharge his duties properly when he advised the Bank of Tanzania to withdraw the Tegeta escrow cash.
“Judge Werema misused his discretionary powers when he advised the BOT [Bank of Tanzania] governor on the interpretation of the High Court ruling that was delivered by Judge John Utamwa,” Kabwe said.
According to a special audit carried out by the controller and auditor-general’s office, the attorney-general had ordered that 21 billion shillings – that should have been paid as tax to the government – not be released.
“The attorney-general’s appointment should be revoked and he should be arraigned in court immediately for abuse of office over the loss of billions of shillings,” Kabwe asserted.
The committee report further recommended that the banks used to move the escrow money be sanctioned for money laundering.
It also called for those who benefitted from the pilfered funds to have their properties seized in order to repay the money.
“The government should form an independent Grand Corruption Agency along the lines of the South African model to deal with crime in high places to deter the looting of public resources,” the committee report reads.
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