Tanzania’s transport minister hints at new board, explains sacking and suspensions


A few days after sacking former Acting CEO Paul Chizi did Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe, Minister for Transport in the Tanzanian government, make his first public comments about the circumstances which prompted him to take this decision and make Capt. Lazaro Lusajo the new man at the helm of the ailing state owned airline. The original announcement was made a few days earlier by his Permanent Secretary, who however only stuck to the prepared text and would not go into background information.
Dr. Mwakyembe cited murky deals, lack of transparency in major procurements including ignoring the provisions of the relevant laws on procurement by state corporations, but also outright disobeyance of government directives vis a vis the insurance payout for the crashed Bombardier Q300 aircraft.
The minister is reported to have taken particular issue with the lease of the B737-500 aircraft from a Dubai based company, which according to a regular aviation source from Dar es Salaam shows that the airline management had learned nothing of the scandal revealed by parliamentary investigations about the lease of the Airbus A320 aircraft some years ago. Instead of going for the mandatory public tender system, which is transparent enough, the airline negotiated a deal for this Boeing behind closed doors, and it seems even shutting out their own ministry representatives. After 6 ministers including the transport minister were sacked a few weeks ago, they should have known better and not provoke their new minister by doing the same shady things, leaving him no choice but sack and suspend them.
The minister was reportedly confronted by angry workers of Air Tanzania, apparently induced to vocally support their sacked Acting CEO, in a meeting on Thursday, but gave as good if not better than he got when he laid out the facts behind the suspensions and sacking, including the alleged unauthorized use of an insurance payout for the Q300 aircraft which crashed in Kigoma on take off a few weeks back. Here the minister in particular laid heavily into the former CEO and his suspended brethren for ignoring to deposit a reported 4 million US Dollar insurance payment into the main government account while at the same time receiving billions from government to pay for the repairs of the aircraft.
The minister then turned his attention to his ongoing efforts to appoint a new competent board, which in his words will have to enter into a performance contract, under which they would have to appoint a new permanent management team and shape the future of ATCL into a financially viable entity, or else also face the sack. Traditionally is the announcement of a chairman made by the president himself with the responsible minister then announcing the rest of the board members.
It seems that here as is the case in the natural resources and tourism ministry, the new brooms brought on board by President Kikwete are indeed sweeping the rot out of the front door and it is hoped that a new wind will sweep state corporations under these two ministries, but in particular of Air Tanzania, which seems to now be on its last life of the proverbial nine, and either makes it or breaks in attempting. Watch this space.