Tanzania: Red Cross Members Cry Foul, Seek to See Magufuli

Some members of the Tanzania Red Cross Society (TRCS) are seeking audience with President John Magufuli over alleged embezzlement, maladministration and misuse of the humanitarian organisation's properties.

Impeccable sources within the organisation who declined to be named confirmed that they have already requested to meet Dr Magufuli and are waiting summon from the president for the meeting. The sources told the 'Daily News' that the situation has reached an alarming point, warranting the intervention of the president.

Apparently, the members blame the organisation's leadership for laxity and failure to punish officials involved in the misappropriation of funds and properties of TRCS. The institution is currently under the leadership of the Deputy Secretary General, Mr Peter Mlebusi.

They alleged that the institution's top brass was also selling the institution's properties without the members' consent and appointment of consulting firms without following proper procedures.

The members claim that the TRCS deputy secretary general failed to take action against a project accountant with the organisation, Mr John Machumbe, for embezzling 138m/- . Apparently, in his defence the accountant claims that the amount is an accumulation of funds from 2008.

Surprisingly, in a letter to the deputy secretary general, the accountant acknowledged taking the money, claiming family problems, ending the letter with an apology. Still the TRCS boss did not take any action, forcing many to believe that he might have benefitted - somehow.

A member from the TCRS Igombe Branch in Mwanza Region, Ms Agnes Lwena, who spoke to the 'Daily News' said President Magufuli's initiatives to weed out dishonest officials should not end up in the public offices alone, but should also extend to international organisation meant to assist the country in terms of humanitarian aid.

"As a patron of TRCS, we hope President Magufuli can do something otherwise some few officials will completely ruin the image of the country globally," she said.

Another member, based in Arusha Region, Mr Elisante ole Nakunaye, said the scandal originated from imbalance found in organisation's accounts.

Documents availed to this reporter show that TRCS top level management has been shielding unscrupulous members misappropriating the institutions funds, which was also noted through an internal memo from the Director of Finance and Administration, Mr Ali Rajabu, to Mr Mlebusi on March 25, 2013. In the internal memo, Mr Rajabu expressed concern over discrepancies found in the society's account statements.

According to Mr Rajabu, a meeting held in February 2013 between International Community for Red Cross Society (ICRC) delegations from Nairobi and Dar es Salaam discussed the differences noted in the TRCS accounts.

He said the meeting noted a huge difference of 130m/- between IRCS and TRCS books of accounts, attributing this to two possibilities; that there is a lapping practice, where the national society withdraws funds for her own use and returns it back later or there is an individual staff that fraudulently uses the funds for personal use.

Reacting to Mr Rajabu's claims, TRCS deputy secretary general said the allegations were baseless, saying; it was a witch hunt move from former TRCS President, Dr George Nangale, who was ditched by the organisation's board after he logged a case at the court.

When contacted for comment, Dr Nangale trashed Mlebusi's accusations, stressing that they are pack of lies manufactured to tarnish his image when he has already left the office. TRCS is the leading humanitarian agency in the country.

It provides relief and support to the communities affected by disasters or large-scale humanitarian demands.

Source: Tanzania Daily News.