A senior Tanzanian government official has defended the $180 million cashew nuts deal with Indo Power Solutions, a Kenyan company whose credibility has now been brought to question.
Trade and Industries Permanent Secretary Prof Joseph Buchweishaija, said the track record of the company was not the basic criterion for awarding it the contract to purchase 100,000 tonnes of cashews nuts from Tanzania.
"The seller of cashews is the Cereals and Other Produce Board of Tanzania, and our task (as a ministry) was to make sure that we seal the purchase deal.
"What you are looking at is the ability of the buyer to pay for the asking price, the rest is left between them," he told Mwananchi on Sunday.
When asked about the financial ability of the little-known company, the PS defended the apparent size of the Kenyan firm to see the deal through.
He said it was possible that the company may not have conducted such business before; but it saw an opportunity - and grabbed it.
"We all know that most rich people have no cash in hand; they borrow from banks. These people have taken a bank loan, and I urge Tanzanians to use such opportunities when they arise," said Prof Buchweishaija.
Reached for comment, Bank of Tanzania Governor Florens Luoga, through his spokesman, said that such queries should be referred to the Cereals and other Produce Board (CPB), who were better appraised on the matter.
CPB's executive director, Dr Hussein Mansoor, however, said would not divulge details of the contract.
"There are some things in progress, so I cannot say anything for now until they are concluded. I ask that you be patient," he told Mwananachi in a telephone interview.
When queried if due diligence was done beforehand, Dr Mansoor said "the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment saw the contract through. They are the experts, even if we are signatories, they empower us." He did not expound.