The Dowans saga, like its sister scandals including; Richmond, Kagoda, Deep Green, Meremeta, etc., are destined to agonise Tanzanians for a while to come.
This is mainly because the real truth about these scandals is not being revealed by those who know or should know. Every where you turn, and depending on whom you speak to, you get either a different story or different versions of the old stories.
The whole tragic mess remains shrouded in mystery, portending potential danger to those who may dare to probe too deeply. Dowans reminds me of the late Stanley Katabaro’s Loliondo investigative inquiry, which proved fatal for the heroic scribe.
Lately, Dowans has become even more compounded by the publication of the ICC judgement and the reactions that have followed in its wake. Some of the revelations in the verdict itself are, to say the least, very disturbing. Take, for example, the threat directed to then MD of TANESCO that if he did not sign the contract “something would happen to him”.
Consider too, the decision by the Ministry of Energy and Minerals to violate the tendering and procurement process by terminating the TANESCO process and taking over.
The ICC, in its verdict, has suggested that this could because of the power and influence wielded by Rostam Aziz. Aziz had comprehensive powers of attorney over the operations of Dowans in Tanzania. Significantly, he was also CCM Central Committee member and Treasurer at the time!
Immediately after the settlement was announced, Attorney General Werema made a statement, almost celebrating his own defeat, to the effect that the settlement was legal and bore no malicious intent. He emphasized that Tanzania had no choice but to proceed with the implementation of the settlement in the shortest time possible to avoid incurring further possible costs.
He did not find any feasible grounds for lodging an appeal. This has since been confirmed by the unusual Clause in the contract which stipulates that the parties waive the right to appeal against any decision handed down by the ICC.
E. A. Minister Sam Sitta (past- Speaker) confidently replied that there was no legal basis for the government to comply with the judgement. He went further to assert that Dowans was a conspiracy hatched by a few individuals to rob Tanzanians for the 2015 elections.
He stopped short of calling it a criminal conspiracy. Later, in responding to Energy and Mining Minister Ngeleja’s expressed intent to proceed with the payments, Sitta reasserted this position, this time with the support of Harrison Mwakyembe (Deputy Minister – Infrastructure) of Richmond inquiry fame.
Sitta stated, unambiguously; “There is every indication that there is a group of people who are bent on sabotaging the national economy. There is no substantive reason for the government to pay Dowans all this money”.
Mwakyembe questioned the breakneck speed with which the government seemed to be proceeding. Meanwhile, Premier Mizengo balked, vacillated and finally, condescendingly, invoked a CCM Central Committee (not government) decision to engage a team of lawyers to enquire into the possibility of “…sparing Tanzanian tax payers the burden of paying the compensation”.
All this time the President stayed loudly silent; until his CCM 34th anniversary speech to members of his party. Essentially Kikwete reiterated Pinda’s position. To this day, therefore, there is no coherent government statement on the Dowans matter. There is also not even the pretence of an explanation to Tanzanians on what actually went wrong and led to these disastrously costly outcomes.
Why he chose a party event to pronounce himself on such an important national issue remains unexplained. Some believe it is the hang-over from single party authoritarian rule.
I beg to differ. Kikwete’s failure to state a government position and his choice to act through CCM is tantamount to openly declaring the party’s involvement in the case. This should not surprise anybody.
Many have linked Dowans, Kagoda, Deep Green, etc. to the 2005 CCM election ‘fund raising’. Think 2015 to make sense of all this!
Professor Mwesiga Baregu lectures at Saut