Tanzanian authorities on Tuesday ordered officials with cooperative unions to repay Tsh124.05 billion (about $54 million) that were released for buying crops from farmers but disappeared through negligence and misappropriation.
Japhet Hasunga, the Minister for Agriculture, said an audit conducted by the Cooperative Audit and Supervision Corporation (Coasco) in 2018/2019 uncovered the misappropriation of the money from 4,413 audited Agricultural Marketing Co-operative Societies (AMCOS) across the country.
Speaking in the capital Dodoma shortly before he handed over the audit report to the Acting Director General of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), John Mbungo, Hasunga said:
"Officials who swindled the money should start repaying today before appropriate measures are taken against them by the PCCB."
On October 20, Tanzanian President John Magufuli said the country's anti-corruption watchdog arrested 92 officials with cooperative unions for defrauding cashew nuts farmers in southern regions of Mtwara and Lindi.
Magufuli said the 92 officials from AMCOS defrauded cashew nuts farmers in the two regions to the tune of Tsh1.2 billion ($522).
He commended the PCCB for arresting the 92 officials, saying: "The government will make sure that no cashew nut farmer is defrauded by dishonest officials."
Magufuli said the cashew nuts farmers in the two regions were defrauded between 2016 and 2017.
The head of state said about Tsh255 million ($110,918) out of the Tsh1.2 billion have already been recovered by PCCB from some of the fraudsters.
During his working visit to Mtwara and Lindi regions in October, President Magufuli was told by cashew nuts farmers that they were yet to be paid after they had sold the cash crop to cooperative unions since 2016 despite the fact that the government had released money for buying the crop.
Magufuli ordered PCCB to launch investigations into claims by the farmers and submit to him a detailed report.
This article was originally published by The East African.