In Tanzania, opposition political parties are calling for the resignation of government officials who were allegedly involved in the purchase of overpriced radar for the country’s aviation industry. They are also blaming President Jakaya Kikwete’s government for selectively punishing low-level corrupt officials while sparing the so-called big fishes, claiming the lack of adequate evidence to prosecute them.
Hamid Mohammed is Minority Leader in the Tanzanian parliament. He said the opposition parties are not satisfied with the government’s radar purchase.
“We had a rally, and one of the issues which we raised was the radar deal. Remember, in 2002, the Tanzania government bought a radar from British Aerospace worth $14 million dollars, and you may recall that the British minister at that time, Linda Chalker, resigned because the Tanzania government insisted that the deal must go on,” he said.
Mohammed said the government went ahead to purchase the overpriced radar despite warnings that it was too expensive.
“Some ministers and members of parliament, and even the experts in civil aviation in Canada, said that the radar could hardly cost $10 million dollars, and on top of that, the government still went ahead to buy that. The British government did some investigation… and it was realized that the radar was overpriced by 30 percent,” he said
Mohammed said he suspects some government officials of being behind the controversial purchase to enrich themselves.
“This money went to some business people in Dar-Es-Salaam. We think that the government officials in one-way or the other were involved also in that deal. That is why we are asking the government of Tanzania to put on trial those people who were involved in this scandal,” Mohammed noted.
He said the opposition parliamentarians strongly objected to the price of the purchase and boycotted proceedings in parliament.
“We raised this issue in parliament in 2002. You may recall that the opposition walked out of parliament when we argued that the price of the radar was not a true figure of what was presented to us, and we said that Tanzania only needs a radar worth 5 million dollars. The government insisted, but the opposition protested,” he said.
Mohammed added that when the President was asked about the controversial purchase on his recent trip abroad, he said he was not involved in the deal.
“You remember when the Minister of State from the British government came to Tanzania, asking support from the Tanzania government not to purchase that radar, she had information that the radar was too expensive for the country and overpriced, and this information, which came from the British investigation team, raised the question to President Kikwete when he was in London, and the President said that he had nothing to do with the question of the British government. But the money comes from Tanzania,” he said.