Tanzania President John Magufuli has ordered the head of the Bank of Tanzania to weed out “ghost” workers after demanding an audit of the 1,391 employee workforce and terminate those the bank deems redundant.
Magufuli's remarks came after he paid a surprise working visit to the bank headquarters in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.
He is also demanding an inquiry into suspected corruption in an estimated $424,565,107 the state owed to companies for various work done for the government.
Magufuli's says the payments should be suspended until the ministry of finance completes its investigations. Officials say the president wants to ensure corrupt people are not hiding behind “ghost” companies to steal public funds.
Local media quoted a statement released by the president’s office following Magufuli's unannounced visit to the central bank.
"The president ordered [Bank of Tanzania] to immediately halt payments approved from the exchequer accounts, and instead these claims should be returned to the Ministry of Finance and Planning for verification ... As President Magufuli gave the directive, the Bank of Tanzania was in the process of making payments amounting to [$425 million] that had been approved by the finance ministry.”
Asahi Mwambene, the Tanzanian government spokesman, says President Magufuli is serious and committed to his promise to weed out corruption in the country. He also says there have been suspicions that the Bank of Tanzania has employees who might have gotten jobs there because of their connections to senior government officials.
This, he says is what the president wants to ensure is discontinued, in order to allow what he says are competent people to work in a bid to improve the lives of citizens in all public institutions.
Mwambene says Tanzanians have been making fun of those who are alleged to have gotten their jobs there because of their connections.
“The president has a list of workers and he had the knowledge that there are workers who appear on the list who happen not to be working in the bank. So he actually ordered the governor of the bank to ensure that he cleans up the ghost workers that appear on the list of those that work at the central bank … When the governor of the bank tried to [explain] the president because angry saying he knows everything and all the governor has to do is to take precaution and make sure he implements [investigation] to remove the ghost workers within the central bank,” said Mwambene.
“The good thing is the president did not give them an ultimatum, [but] all he said was you have to do it and for sure there is no option for the central bank governor. He will certainly have to do [the investigation]. As the president rightly said there are some workers who are found not to be working at the central bank, but they still get their salaries.”
Critics say Magufuli's actions are just populist posturing to gain support from a majority of the population. They said his commitment to weed our graft is yet to have any impact, despite repeated promises.
Mwambene disagrees. He says since his election the president's actions are beginning to instill accountability in all government institutions.