THE Minister for Minerals, Doto Biteko has ordered the suspension of two mining officers at Ilindi Mwime Mining Centre in Kahama District, for allegedly involving themselves in minerals (gold) theft in collaboration with some brokers.
Mr Biteko directed Kahama District Mining Officer, Mr Ernest Maganga to issue the suspension to the Centre's supervisor, Mr Isaya Rock and its Chairperson, Mr Joseph Malimi, while detaining 15 brokers during his tour of the mining site on Thursday.
The minister uncovered a new technique of theft, whereby minerals are either not recorded (skipping records) in the Centre's registration book, or their weight under declared, a malpractice carried out by traders in collaboration with the Centre's officials and brokers.
According to the minister, the Centre was found to have purchased 600 grammes of gold from ten sellers in a single day on Thursday, while in actual sense in that particular day, two people had already sold 700 grammes of the minerals before noon.
"This is unacceptable, because the government loses a lot of money through this kind of fraud," the minister who was vividly angry said.
He further revealed that the same day (Thursday) he arrived at the Center, the mineral brokers showed that only 167 grammes had been purchased, but after detaining them, they presented the hidden grammes, which made a total of 1.97kg.
"I know that there are some dishonest people from Dar es Salaam who have been asking small miners to engage in illegal mineral businesses. You have been unofficially selling the minerals. I urge you to follow the procedures as the government plans to register all small scale mining sites, and we are responsible to serve you," stressed the minister.
Mr Biteko further told the small miners that they should all switch to the official electronic payment system in paying all levies, whereby all charges are paid through control numbers, insisting that the manual payment mode should be discarded.
"You have also been paying a weekly fee of 1000/- manually to the government. This also should be paid through the government control number. The levy payable to Kahama Municipal Council should continue being paid through their established payment system," Biteko said.
Speaking on behalf of his fellow small miners, Mr James Chenya lamented that some mining officers have been collecting levies without issuing receipts.
He also said auditing officers have been demanding 10,000/- per head, but without clear justification for the payment, said Mr Chenya.
One of the apprehended brokers, Mr Simon Madila admitted to have been selling the minerals without getting registered in the Centre's books, or sometimes underdeclaring the amount of the gold, hiding some.
It was further noted that at the time of the arrest, Mr Madila showed only 0.3 grammes while he had a total of 60.1 grammes.