Friday, 27 November 2015

MCC grant at risk over Zanzibar standoff Implementation of cybercrimes law also cited as a factor

27th November 2015

 The impasse over the Zanzibar election and the implementation of the cybercrimes law are likely to deny Tanzania over 1trn/- (USD472.8million) in grant money from the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

This is largely an unexpected development in that MCC announced as recently as two months ago (in September) that Tanzania had met Washington’s Control of Corruption index demands and qualified for the grant for next year.

The Guardian has reliably learnt that MCC has notified the Tanzanian government that the two issues will determine the donor’s final decision ahead of a board meeting slated for next month.

“MCC wrote to the government a fortnight ago and expressed deep concerns regarding the ongoing electoral crisis in Zanzibar and the recent arrests made under the new cybercrimes legislation,” a source intimated.

According the source, the letter is addressed to the Finance ministry and warns that all MCC country partners are expected to maintain a commitment to good governance that would include strict adherence to democratic principles and protection of freedom of expression.

It is said the letter bears the signature of Jonathan Bloom, who is identified as MCC Deputy Vice President in-charge in the US Department of Compact Operations.

He is quoted as having stated that the two events made MCC and its stakeholders call into question Tanzania’s commitment to good
governance, which could “complicate” the partnership between Tanzania and MCC.

This is the second time the US is raising concerns and in fact declaring that the MCC money is not Tanzania’s for the taking. In September, after the approval, a statement availed to this paper by the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam similarly showed that MCC would continue to monitor the government’s efforts and commitment to combating corruption.

US Ambassador Mark Childress then underscored the need for Tanzania to enhance the war on corruption as part of strategy to ensure proper and efficient implementation of projects under the proposed compact.

“It is expected that Tanzania’s October 25 General Election will be free and fair, consistent with the importance MCC places on democratic rights,” said the envoy.

This time around, the issue is further complicated with the underscoring of the need for free and fair democratic elections in Zanzibar.

Notably, at the end of last year, the government’s image and reputation took a severe blow when the Bank of Tanzania’s Tegeta escrow account scandal saw the Attorney General and two ministers forced to resign.

Meanwhile, in May this year, the US government announced plans to withhold the signing of the MCC compact with Tanzania pending the government’s action on the scandal in which over 300bn/- was controversially withdrawn from the BoT escrow account.

The value of the MCC facility was by then pegged at around USD700 million for five years from this year.


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