Since the first multi-party general elections in 1995 one of the main priorities of the Government of Tanzania has been the improvement of the economy of the country.  To achieve this objective the Government has embarked on a number of radical reforms including privatization, liberalization of the economy and restructuring and improvement of the efficiency of the public service delivery.

However, one of the major constraints that have hampered the government’s drive towards achieving improvement in the economy has been the widespread corruption that flourish at all levels of the society.  It has led to massive economic losses in terms of reduced income from taxes, revenues and other fiscal charges, loss of income from natural resources and losses through misappropriation of government assets.  It has also resulted in general mistrust of the public administration and the judiciary by members of the public.  Under these circumstances the Government finds it absolutely imperative to institute drastic measures to deal with the scourge.

The Government’s policy on the fight against corruption is zero tolerance.  This is evidenced by the Government’s efforts to fight corruption.  In 1966 it established the office of Permanent Commission of Inquiry (Ombudsman), the first of its kind in Africa.  The aim was to check abuse of power by the Government officials and its agencies.  This was followed by the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Squad in 1975 after the legislature had enacted Act No. 16 of 1971 – The Prevention of Corruption Act.

In 1983 the Legislature, in addressing the problem of corruption and inequity, enacted a law known as the 1983 Economic Sabotage Act.  This law was short-lived and was quickly repealed and replaced by the Economic and Organised Crimes Control Act of 1984.  This Act incorporated offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act as economic offences.

There is also evidence of political resolve to deal with corruption.  The ruling CCM party demonstrated in its 1995 Election Manifesto that it is aware of the magnitude of the problem in the country.  The manifesto singled out corruption as the number one public enemy and it vowed that its Government would intensify the battle against it.  After the elections, the Government introduced a number of measures aimed at addressing the problem of corruption.

The legislature enacted another law (Act No. 13 of 1995) known as the Leadership Code of Ethics.  This law was designed to curb improper conduct of public leaders in the high echelons.  Towards the end of that year, the President appointed a Presidential Commission of Inquiry Against Corruption (PCIC) commonly known as the Warioba Commission.  The Commission carried out a diagnostic study of why corruption has become endemic in the Tanzanian Society.  This was a significant demonstration of the Third Phase Government’s resolve to deal with the scourge of corruption in the country.

The Commission discovered that there are those who receive bribes as a means of supplementing their meager incomes and those who involve themselves in corrupt practices because of excessive greed for accumulation of wealth.  The former group belongs to what is known as petty corruption and the latter represents the category of grand corruption.  The Commission, in its report, points out that the greatest source of corruption in the country is the lackadaisical leadership, the absence of clear guidelines on the accountability of leaders and the general erosion of integrity of leaders.  The emergence of competition in conspicuous consumption and changes in the liberalized economic environment that gives the perception that one can do anything and get away with it were also singled out.

As clearly demonstrated, the government is serious about instituting mechanisms to deal with corruption in Tanzania.  It must be quickly mentioned, however, that because of financial and institutional capacity constraints the government has been very selective in choosing modes of interventions.  Those that can be implemented quickly and less costly but with significant impact are planned to be implemented immediately and others will be programmed for the medium and long-term period.