Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wikileaks spills Dar beans, Hoseah reacts

Dr Hoseah
By Lucas Liganga and Florence Mugarula, The Citizen Reporters
Dar es Salaam. Tanzania has been finally dragged into the Wikileaks web of revelations, complete with cable dispatches that purport to quote the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) boss, Dr Edward Hoseah, as telling a US diplomat that his life was under threat and that corrupt senior politicians were untouchable.

According to US Embassy cables leaked by Wikileaks and seen by The Citizen, the PCCB director general confided to US diplomats in July 2007 that his safety concerns a result of his involvement in graft investigation that touched high profile individuals.

The cables further quote Dr Hoseah as expressing concern over Tanzania’s anti-corruption crusade, hinting that President Jakaya Kikwete did not appear comfortable letting the law pursue corruption cases that could implicate top level officials.

In his response, Dr Hoseah yesterday agreed to have met a US diplomat, Mr Purnell Delly at the time when he were the Deputy Chief of Mission in Dar es Salaam, but dismissed some of the cables released by Wikileaks, saying: “…the author of the US Embassy cables quoted me out of context.”

“For instance, at no time during our conversations, did I say that His Excellency, President Kikwete, wasn’t willing to let the law take its course, in prosecuting all high profile individuals within the government as claimed by the US Embassy official,” he said.

Dr Hoseah added that what he said was that the President was not willing to allow prosecutions of key government officials or anybody basing on hearsay or weak evidence, because in so doing, the government would risk paying a heavily in damages if the accused persons would win the cases before the court of law.

“My record as the head of PCCB is very clear; whenever we had enough evidence against suspects accused of corruption, we didn’t fear, but moved to take the accused persons to court regardless of their power or affluent,” he said.

The whistle blowing Wikileaks quotes the US Embassy cables as saying PCCB has never successfully prosecuted a high-level corruption case involving the elite in either the private or public sector.

On July 14, Dr Hoseah assured the US Deputy Chief of Mission, Purnell Delly, that the PCCB was prepared to prosecute a landmark corruption case involving the UK-Tanzanian BAE radar deal, according to the Wikileaks.

It added that beyond plans to prosecute the BAE case, Hoseah painted a mixed picture regarding Tanzania government’s progress in addressing the country’s endemic corruption problem.

On one hand, however, Dr Hoseah highlighted recent legal reforms and the increasing willingness of both Parliament and the Press push the government to fight graft.

The US Embassy cables give the impression President Kikwete was careful not to implicate former President Benjamin Mkapa or members of his (Mkapa’s) inner circle in corruption scandals.

“Finally, Dr Hoseah reiterated deep concern about his personal safety, explaining that he frequently received threatening letters. In the event of increasing threats to his life, Hoseah said he would not hesitate to seek refuge in another country,” leaked the cables.

Reacting to the leaked US Embassy cables, Dr Hoseah said: “While it is true that the named US official visited my office in July, 2007, his report which, he then filed back to his country is misleading, was written out of context.”

About claims of fear of his life, he said he remembers to have been asked by the US official whether he feared for his life as the head of PCCB, and his reply was straight forward “Yes of course, when you are dealing with high profile and rich people, you have to be alter and careful about your life.”

“But, at no time, did I mention that I was planning to flee the country ostensibly because my life was in danger. It’s surprising to see how again the US Embassy official quoted me out of context and I really don’t understand what his motive was,” he added.

Eastern African countries such as Kenya and Uganda, have not been spared by the Wikileaks, with one of a US cable released by the website claiming that Kenya could degenerate into violence worse than that which followed the 2007 disputed election results, unless reform is speeded up and corruption tackled.

Michael Ranneberger, the US ambassador to Kenya, reported in a dispatch in January that the “old guard” at the highest levels of the political elite was hindering progress. Wikileaks also revealed the US as expressing concern that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s autocratic tendencies were eroding an African success story.

The revelations that came in several memos were sent to the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Johnny Carson.

by The Citizen

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