Monday, February 16, 2009

Masha laughs off resignation calls..

A defiant Home Affairs minister Lawrence Masha yesterday gave an unequivocal ``NO WAY`` response to a fresh call that he resign over reports that he interfered with the National Identity Cards project tendering process.

Contacted by telephone by The Guardian yesterday, the minister challenged those behind the calls ``to bring forward concrete evidence of my so-called involvement instead of continuing to make hollow appeals that I should step down``.

``It`s all lies If they have evidence, let them give it. Otherwise, I will continue performing my ministerial duties and responsibilities as usual,`` he said.

Masha, who sounded clearly annoyed, slammed the media for what he called ``running a series of malicious stories just to tarnish my image``, adding: ``They should stop using my name for cheap publicity purposes``.

He was specifically responding to yesterday`s call by the opposition Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) that he quit as cabinet minister over reports that he made attempts to help a company he favoured win the national ID project tender.

Addressing journalists in Dar es Salaam, Chadema Information and Publicity director Erasto Tumbo said Masha should resign forthwith or our party will take up the matter with wananchi.

``We expect Masha to resign because there is enough credible evidence about his having indeed interfered with tendering process but (National Assembly) Speaker Samwel Sitta has decided to protect him,`` he stated.

Tumbo made an impassioned appeal to Inspector General of Police Saidi Mwema to act on the matter to make sure that politics does not disrupt the course of justice and good governance.

Minister Masha was last month reported to have acted improperly by interfering with the process of obtaining a company to implement the National Identity Card Project, contrary to the rules and regulations governing public sector tendering procedures.

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda confirmed in the National Assembly recently that the minister had sent him a letter complaining about being interfered with by Chief Secretary Philemon Luhanjo in connection with the tendering process.

But authoritative sources say it is in fact the minister who interfered with the process after indications that Sagem Securite, the firm he deemed most appropriate for the job, was likely to lose the tender.

Plans to execute the national ID project, which is scheduled to start in December this year at a cost of a staggering 192bn/-, have been in progress since 1995.

SOURCE: Guardian

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