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Tanzania sacks head of state-run power firm over graft

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DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Tanzania’s state-run power company said on Wednesday it had sacked its managing director over allegations of embezzlement of public funds and abuse of office.

The Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) board said an audit report confirmed Managing Director William Mhando flouted company regulations and was guilty of conflict of interest in awarding a tender to his own private company.

“The Auditor and Controller General has found clear evidence of abuse of company procedures and abuse of office against the managing director,” the company said in a statement.

Mhando was suspended in July to allow investigation of claims he awarded a contract worth more than 880 million Tanzanian shillings to a company he jointly owned with his wife and children.

A source familiar with the investigation in Tanzania’s government told Reuters Mhando will likely face corruption charges in court following his dismissal.

Phone calls to Mhando for comment went unanswered.

Tanzania’s energy sector has over the past five years been hit by widespread graft allegations amid significant gas discoveries and a chronic energy shortage.

The Speaker of Tanzania’s National Assembly in July disbanded the parliamentary energy and minerals committee after some of its members were accused of corruption and potential conflict of interest over their alleged involvement in deals with TANESCO.

In 2008, former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa and two other ministers were forced to resign after a parliamentary probe linked them to a scandal over a power generation contract.

President Jakaya Kikwete sacked six cabinet ministers in May, including the energy and minerals minister, over the corruption allegations in their ministries.

He also pledged to follow up the ministerial sackings with disciplinary action against heads of state-run institutions implicated in graft allegations.

Investors have long complained of graft as one of the main reasons for the high cost of doing business in Tanzania.

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