Saturday, January 9, 2010

EU aid with strings attached

The head of the European Union to Tanzania, Ambassador Tim Clarke has read the riot act to the Tanzania government, saying that the EU will no longer bankroll the now openly rampant graft in the country.

I like that, and I think it has long been overdue. Watching events over the past years the government has been acting as if the warnings are a big joke. They EU will say that, wouldn’t they? Something to please their governments back home.

I just hope the Mr. Clarke, and the EU in general, mean what they say. He wondered “the rationale of providing such resources at a time when the local media is full of corruption scandals, alleged abuses of power, of grotesque wastage of public resources, of elitism and insufficient attention given to the plight of the poorest of the poor, of the disabled, of the most vulnerable parts of society.”

I hope the government thinks about this. Otherwise we, the wananchi, might think what is the point of the EU pouring millions of euros into Tanzania government coffers when the money is openly stolen and pocketed by the rulers with impunity while efforts to curb these crimes are hardly made. What’s the point of any aid at all?

I think, like any family, if some members of the group feel they are being short-changed by the minority, we have to start asking each other some pertinent questions. How much did we get in aid? How did we spend that money? Who spent it?

Otherwise Tanzanians might as well line up, everyone gets his cut and everybody gets on with it. What’s the point of getting 383 million euros to buy silly four-wheel vehicles for district commissioners? It’s a question of status conscious Tanzanians playing around with badly needed resources.

Chadema opposition leader, Dr Wilbrod Slaa has just accused the ruling CCM party for importing 200 vehicles without paying taxes. Fine. They hold the guns so they can’t and don’t feel the need to pay tax. But can anybody really say that not paying tax is a crime, when a brilliant example is shown by the government?

“The government’s fight against corruption is just a rhetorical smoke screen unless we see the main corruption cases prosecuted, particularly
the infamous Kagoda Agriculture Company of the EPA (external payment arrears) scandal,” Dr Slaa said.

“Tanzanians and development partners are being cheated . The government talks about fighting graft, but in real sense nothing is being done.” He declared.

We Tanzanians already know that. It seems Ambassador Tim Clarke has work to do to find out what he already suspects!

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