By John Nditi in Ulanga, Tanzania
Efforts by the government to plug all loopholes of minerals smuggling have now been directed to Ulanga in Morogoro Region, where reports state that mining activities and trading of the minerals are going on without the players paying government dues.
To contain the problem, the government has resorted to form a special task-force involving experts in minerals and individuals from State organs to investigate the mining and trading activities.
Deputy Minister for Minerals, Dotto Biteko, announced the formation of the taskforce over the weekend when he inspected mines in Mahenge, Ulanga District in Morogoro Region.
According to the Deputy Minister, he reached the decision to constitute the team after he received information that smuggling of minerals in the district was at its peak.
The investigation, according to the Deputy Minister, will target individuals engaging in mining activities, owners of mining sites, traders of minerals with offices in Mahenge and brokers.
“Anybody who will be found to be conducting mining activities against the new Mining Act will have their operation licences revoked,” the Deputy Minister warned. During his tour in Ulanga District over the weekend, the Deputy Minister held a public rally at Epanko Village before an internal meeting in Mahenge involving smallscale miners, traders, brokers and districtCCM and government leaders.
The Deputy Minister also visited Spinel Mine at Epanko Village in Ulanga District owned by Franone Germs Mining.
According to the Deputy Minister, information available in his office showed that despite years of mining activities in the district, its residents were extremely poor, indicating that the minerals had no impact on their lives.
The Deputy Minister showed that the amount of government money paid as tax and royalties from mineral business in Mahenge was 25m/- only, despite the presence of spinel, gold and Rubby.
“The revenue collections by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) office here in Mahenge from 2016 are too little. In 2016, TRA collected 5m/- while in 2017 only 7.6m/- was collected. Since this year began only 10.7m/- has so far been collected.
This situation does not reflect the actual mining activities going on here in Mahenge,” the Deputy Minister said. As a result of the situation, Biteko ordered Prof Shukrani Manya, the Executive Secretary of Mining Commission to constitute a probe team to investigate all the mines in Mahenge, to establish how the activities were being carried out, including finding out if operators appropriately paid government dues.
Deputy Minister Biteko asked the executive secretary to revoke operational licences of all individuals found to be violating laws, rules and regulations governing the mining industry.
He said that the probe team to be formed would involve the Member of Parliament (MP) from Ulanga Constituency and security organs.
He added that some investors in mining in the district were cheating government officials by not divulging their sales. “I want all of you to understand that minerals belong to Tanzanians.
Everybody has the duty to protect them. We need to reveal identities of all individuals who steal from us so that appropriate measures can be taken against them,” he insisted.
He asked residents in the district to volunteer information to district leaders on people or investors in the mining stealing from them.