Tanzanian President Asks Mining Minister to Resign

Dar Es Salaam: Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Wednesday ordered Minister for Energy and Minerals Sospeter Muhongo to resign after a report showed he was implicated in mining firms’ undeclared mineral sand exports.

The report revealed that the undeclared mineral sand exports led to tax evasion by the mining firms.

Magufuli said the report revealed that mining firms, including Acacia Mining, cheated over mineral sand exports for smelting abroad, making the east African nation to lose millions of U.S. dollars.

Magufuli asked the minister to resign when he was reacting to recommendations made to him in the report by a special committee he formed in March to investigate on how mineral sand was transported abroad by mining firms for smelting without paying due taxes.

“Professor Muhongo is my friend but I want him to reconsider his position. I am advising him to step down,” said Magufuli shortly after he had received the report.

The president also dissolved the Tanzania Mineral Audit Agency (TMAA) Board of Directors and suspended the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Dominic Rwekaza, for what he termed as negligence.

The report revealed that Acacia Mining declared the presence of gold, copper and silver in its mineral sand exports but did not declare other precious metals in the consignments, the president said in a televized address.

Mining accounts for about 4 percent of Tanzania’s gross domestic product. Acacia’s share price fell by more than 14 percent after the announcement, its biggest fall since March 3. Acacia, majority owned by Barrick Gold, has three Tanzania gold mines that also produce copper. It is also exploring in other parts of Africa.