Tuesday, September 19, 2006

When Criminals Walk Free

Crime is crime. Full stop. Period. At least that is how I view it. It appears, however, that the world is not aligned to my liking all the time, for criminals are not viewed the same. I am talking about criminals in Tanzania and in some other countries as well. But we can first focus on Tanzania, for charity starts at home.

Folks, Tanzania is a poor country. And that is not according to me, but according to the measuring standards that have been accepted across the globe. There are so many theories that have been cooked as to why Tanzania is lagging behind economically despite her over 40 years of political freedom and independence. One of the factors for our continued poverty, I am convinced, is theft. Stealing of public funds for trusted officials’ own enjoyment. Hilo sidhani kama lina ubishi, because there are so many cases to back my argument.

The recent example, of course, is Professor Mahalu, who allegedly stole a whole lot of dough for his personal gains. I am convinced that you know of a former or present official in the Tanzanian government who got away with some cool loot. For some reason it appears that stealing is justified. It appears that leaders who do not steal are an exception to the rule. In a nutshell, “ujambazi” in the Tanzanian government is rampant. It is an epidemic. It is sickening.

Despite that fact, it appears that no one is concerned in the government (Duh! Metty, why would someone create a law to deal with him or herself?). But anyways, the government guys came up with an idea. In their thinking, they thought majambazi were a bigger problem than white-collar criminals in the government. So they created a law that would award majambazi 30 years in jail. That is fine, because any government has to do what needs to be done.

While it may sound that ujambazi, as we know it, is a bigger problem, white-collar criminals hurt wananchi more than we think. Let’s face some facts. According to the Auditor General’s report issued in February 2006, the Ministry of Health alone misappropriated over $1 million during the 2002-2003 fiscal year. So let’s try figuring out the magnitude of the problem. Assuming each ministry “ate” the same amount – we will get roughly $20 million dollars cleanly misappropriated in 2002/2003 alone. Try multiplying that to the past 10 years – you get a staggering $200 million! My question is: has majambazi caused such a loss in the past 10 years? You know the answer – NO.

I can understand the sentiments surrounding the loss caused by majambazi, because in many cases, they have not only got away with lots of money, they have cut short innocent lives. The bigger question, however, is whether the effects of ujambazi are greater than that caused by the white-collar criminals as the government wants us to believe. This is the reality - a government official who is entrusted to purchase medicine but does not practically kills many Tanzanians each year. A government official who is entrusted to engage a good contractor to construct our highways but does not, also kills Tanzanians through an ever-increasing poverty spiral.

My argument is that creating a law to jail majambazi for 30 years while slapping white-collar criminals on the wrist is just an insult to our intelligence. Furthermore, it just creates a notion that white-collar criminals are not criminals enough. It makes it creates the impression that a Matonya who wags a gun to steal $2,000 is more dangerous than a Matonya who wags his pen to steal $20,000. It makes it look like a Matonya who can affect one person at a time is more dangerous than a Matonya who affects the entire society at once.

Well, we have examples to prove my argument. We all know that Aden Rage stole a lot of money from TFF. Not only did he get slapped on the wrist by the legal system, it is amazing that he has also been awarded a leadership position with Morogoro United even though he has a criminal record. We can go on and talk about the Professor Mahalus and many more who looted the country, but are regarded highly than majambazi.

My conviction is that in a Tanzanian context, white-collar criminals are more dangerous than regular majambazi as they affect wananchi at a larger magnitude. This is something that you would expect the government and the Chama officials to realize. Given the development goals that we have, and knowing that white-collar thieves stand on our way, why aren’t we sending them to jail for 30 years or more?

May be the boys in the government and parliament could tell us why. But I guess I am a little ambitious, because who would set a trap for themselves?


Anonymous said...

You should find Kikwete's e-mail adress and send this and other articles to him. Duhh tunaliwa tukiwa hai!!! How should this be stopped? I know most people reading these articles will be tomorrow's leaders in the same system so please pay attention and make certain plans to work for the people jamani!

Jaduong Metty said...


Thanks for your comments. I understand how you feel. I feel the same way too. If you can give me JK's email address, I certainly send him my thoughts. We lete hiyo e-mail kama unaweza kuipata and I won't disappoint.

Jeff Msangi said...

You raise very good points here.How can someone with criminal records like Rage be able to get such high class job so easily? Are there no laws,regulations,guidelines in these kind of positions(football clubs?)

Jaduong Metty said...


That is exactly what is surprising me too. It appears that stealing with a pen is more dignified and less penalized than stealing with a gun. I wonder how Morogoro United, for instance, couldn't get any other "clean" administrator for their club. Furthermore, I wonder why the Club closed their eyes to Rage's background.