The Minister For Works, Dr John Pombe Mgufuli
CONTROVERSY still surrounds the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) after the exit of its embattled former Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ephraem Mrema, effectively from November 30, this year.
This comes following revelations that the new acting CEO, Patrick Mfugale, was a close member of Mrema's inner circle.
The Minister for Works, Dr. John Magufuli, could have been duped into approving Mfugale's appointment as Mrema's successor, according to sources within TANROADS.
"Engineer Mfugale was a member of the five-man search team that appointed Mrema as CEO of TANROADS in 2007 under dubious circumstances without following the required regulations," said one official close to the troubled agency.
"This same person behind the controversial appointment of Mrema as TANROADS chief executive has now replaced him in that job. There is something strange going on here."
There are fears that Mfugale could attempt to protect Mrema and conceal any incriminating evidence against him.
“We have been shocked with the decision to appoint Mfugale to take over from Mrema since we know for sure he will be there to protect Mrema's interests and hinder the ongoing investigation within TANROADS," said one TANROADS official.
In one case, he was accused of conflict of interest following his decision to appoint an official from the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Isaack Kamwela, as TANROADS' new manager of government-funded road projects.
"Kamwela participated in the process that led to Mrema's controversial selection as CEO of TANROADS. He was an evaluating and interviewing member in the search committee, hence his subsequent appointment to a senior position in TANROADS by Mrema comes as rather suspicious," said another official.
“The appointment of Mfugale recently as acting CEO and that of Kamwela previously are very suspicious.”
Other members of the said search team appointed by former Minister for Infrastructure Development, Andrew Chenge, were Prof. Burton Mwamila who was chairperson, Steven Mlote and Joseph Haule.
Engineers and other members of staff at TANROADS applauded the government's decision last week to remove Mrema, but expressed serious concern about Mfugale taking over as acting CEO, saying he would ensure Mrema’s interests are protected even after his exit.
Magufuli, and his deputy, Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe, tackled the TANROADS issue immediately after their appointment to the new ministry.
The government finally decided to terminate Mrema's employment after a long and protracted row.
Magufuli swiftly halted advertisements for senior management positions at TANROADS that were allegedly issued by Mrema in his last days in office contrary to directives of the board of directors.
Some of the posts at TANROADS advertised by the former CEO include chief internal auditor, principal legal counsel, director of planning, director of projects, director of business support, director of maintenance, director of procurement and contracts and 25 regional managers.
President Jakaya Kikwete was at one time personally drawn into the row over Mrema's alleged blatant insubordination against his superiors in government.