9 September 2017

Tanzania: Police Pounce On Mineral Suspects

Photo: Daily News
Finance and Planning Minister, Dr Philip Mpango, centre, gets clarification on diamonds impounded at the Julius Nyerere International Airport on August 31. Looking on are: Prof Abdulkarim Mruma, 2nd right, Tanzania Revenue Authority Commissioner General Mr Charles Kichere, partly obscured - 3rd right, Deputy Director General of the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau Brigadier General John Mbungo, 4th right, and the Director of Public Prosecutions Biswalo Mganga (immediate right to the Minister).

BARELY a day after President John Magufuli received two reports detailing dubious deals involving Tanzanite and diamonds, police in the country yesterday revealed that they are holding several people implicated in the documents.

The force has also ordered all parties mentioned in the reports - by two parliamentary committees formed by the National Assembly Speaker, Job Ndugai to investigate Tanzanite and diamond mining - to surrender themselves for interrogation.

Addressing journalists in Dar es Salaam, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Simon Sirro disclosed that a special task force has been formed and already some of the people who are implicated in the scandal have been arrested in Arusha and Manyara.

IGP Sirro could not disclose the number of people who have been arrested on the ground that it would interfere with the ongoing investigations. "Immediately after receiving the President's directives, we began working on the matter.

On the other hand, the Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI) has opened a case file related to the issue, therefore, it is important that the individuals appear at his office for questioning," said IGP Sirro.

The IGP went on to say that the inquiry process will help the police to learn of the level of the individual's involvement for the law to take its course. "It is wise that these people on their free will and for the sake of their dignity surrender themselves to the office of the DCI.

The reports that were handed over to the Head of State revealed massive irregularities in the contracts that cost the government billions of shillings. This prompted Dr Magufuli to order immediate arrest, grilling and investigating all officials who were named in the damning reports.

"All people who have been mentioned in the report, be it a minister, Permanent Secretary (PS), District Commissioner (DC), RAS, District Executive Director (DED), should reconsider their positions and for the law enforcers to carry out their duties, it is my hope that they will stay aside to pave the way for investigation."

The list of senior government officials asked by the president to step down includes the Manyara Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS), Mr Eliakim Maswi. Mr Maswi was the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.

With the President's order to bring to book all people who were implicated in the report, this means, high profile officials including former cabinet ministers and other senior government officials will soon be in the hands of law makers and later appear in the corridors of justice after the completion of investigation.

"I hereby direct all security agencies to make a thorough follow-up and investigate all officials who were mentioned in the reports and this should be done expeditiously," he said.

Just few hours after Dr Magufuli asked those implicated into the mineral scandal to quit their positions, Mr Simbachawene announced at a news conference in Dodoma that he had bowed to the President's plea to step down after being involved in signing of dubious Tanzanite mining contracts when he served in the Energy and Minerals docket.

He said he had decided to resign so as to give room for government organs to conduct further investigations into the matter. "I've made the decision in compliance to the President's order today (yesterday) that those involved in the matter should leave their posts vacant pending investigations," said the Kibakwe MP.

Equally, Mr Ngonyani told the 'Daily News' that he had also stepped down. Asked if he had bowed to the President's plea, Mr Ngonyani responded: "It is true... we have to support our President who beyond reasonable doubt is fully committed for the country's economic revolution and eventually transform our country into a middle income economy," he said.

Mr Simbachawene and Mr Ngonyani would now join the list of four ministers who have so far been sacked since Dr Magufuli took oath of Office - others being former Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Charles Kitwanga who was fired after appearing in Parliament while drunk and former Minister for Energy and Minerals, Professor Sospeter Muhongo, who was axed after he was implicated in the mineral concentrates saga.

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