Africa Top Tanzania prosecutor quits over escrow account scandal

Top Tanzania prosecutor quits over escrow account scandal

Tanzania's Attorney General Judge Fredrick Werema
Tanzania’s Attorney General Judge Fredrick Werema

(AA) – Tanzania’s Attorney General Judge Fredrick Werema has resigned from his position amid corruption accusations over his connection to a financial scandal implicating senior officials accused of having fraudulently authorized payment of at least $122 million of public funds to a private company.

In his resignation letter to President Jakaya Kikwete, Werema, a former high court judge, cited wrong interpretation to his advice on Tegeta Escrow Account as the main reason he is stepping down from his position.

“The Attorney General resigned from his position…because his advice with regard to Tegeta Escrow Account is not well understood and has caused misunderstandings to the entire community,” presidential spokesperson Premmy Kibanga told The Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

“President Kikwete has accepted the AG’s request of resignation and he thanked Judge Werema for his honesty, integrity and services he had offered to the public,” Kibanga told AA on phone from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s business capital.

Werema’s resignation has been reported by the state-run television as well as other privately-owned TV stations.

Last month, Tanzania’s National Assembly was told that the payment of $122 million from the Tegeta Escrow account jointly held by the state power company TANESCO and independent power producer IPTL was veiled in corruption.

In reaction to Werema’s resignation, MP David Kafulila, who led the calls for an investigation into the matter, told AA that the move was “just the beginning.”

“We want other government officials whose names were in the list of those who received money from James Rugemalira [the owner of VIP Engineering and a former IPTL shareholder] or facilitated the illegal transfer of public money to the private company should be taken to court,” he added.

Opposition leader in the parliament Freeman Mbowe, for his part, said; “This is not enough. We want to see Judge Werema facing legal actions by misusing public office, resulting to the loss of billions of the public fund.”  

Werema’s resignation comes several weeks after the parliament made resolutions asking Kikwete to sack four top government officials, including Werema himself, because they were implicated in the Tegeta Escrow saga.

Apart from Werema, the assembly also asked Kikwete to sack the Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo, his permanent secretary Eliachim Maswi and Minister Anna Tibaijuka of Lands, Housing and Human Settlement.

The four officials were accused of having been among the top government officials who received money illegally withdrawn from the Tegeta Escrow account.

The parliament also asked Kikwete to form an inquiry team to investigate judges Aloycius Mujulizi and John Ruhangisa whose names appeared on the list of people who received money from Rugemalira.

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, who was among those who were asked to resign before the house reached a decision to spare him, assured the parliament that the government is committed to implementing all the parliament’s resolutions.

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