THE nation came to a stand still for about three hours yesterday as the second presidential committee presented its report on mineral sand before President John Magufuli.
The general public across the country were glued to television sets and digital gadgets as they followed the event broadcast live from the State House.
The Head of State was in a sombre mood throughout the presentation of the report, presented by the second probe team chairperson, Prof Nehemiah Osoro, with occasional shakes of his head in disbelief over the revelations from the report.
Donning a dark suit, white shirt and a red tie, his facial expression displayed deep pain over the loss of trillions of shillings in government revenues from mineral sand exports by mining companies operating in the country.
The president was flanked by Vice- President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, National Assembly Speaker Job Ndugai and Acting Chief Justice Prof Ibrahim Hamis Juma.
A survey conducted by the ‘Daily News’ showed crowds of people, including civil servants, following the event in offices, restaurants and pubs, while others listened from their mobile phones.Parliamentarians were not left out as they swarmed the National Assembly canteen and closely monitored the presentation.
Shortly after presentation of the report by the probe team comprising economists and legal experts formed to establish the extent and value of mineral concentrates exported since 1998, some of the MPs said that it was high time the nation forged unity as the fifth phase government continues to unveil the rot within its systems.
The MPs told the ‘Daily News’ that President Magufuli had shown the way by forming probe teams on the matter and that the public must stand together during this challenging time.
Mufindi South MP (CCM), Mr Medrad Kigola said it’s time for all Tanzanians supported President Magufuli’s efforts. He said the government he is leading was everything in its capacity to ensure that ‘wananchi’ got what they deserved and that in this war all people must show their support.
“As an MP, I support Dr Magufuli and his entire government; it is high time we regained our lost glory and made sure we managed the country’s resources effectively,” he said. Nanyamba MP (CCM) Mr Abdallah Chikota said as a Tanzanian and MP, he supported the report and President Magufuli’s efforts, saying judging by what the probe team had revealed, it was obvious that Tanzanians are not supposed to be poor.
“We are what we are because some people have been stealing from us; we must stop this exploitation,” he said. The MP added that the probe team had also provided perfect recommendations and that he would be happy if those who were named were investigated.
“We have lost a lot of money that may have financed our current budget for years, but we are now here discussing where to get the money while some people are stealing our resources,” he lamented.
Mbinga MP (CCM) Sixtus Mapunda commended the probe team and the Head of State, saying the report reflects the mind and spirit of our current government’s leaders. He said ‘wananchi’ had complained for several years over bad contracts and exploitation by mining companies.
According to Mr Mapunda, President Magufuli has applied the best approach in dealing with the problem. “The Head of State has applied the best approach by forming probe teams to know and understand the situation; after getting tangible evidence, he allows the public to access the information and open discussions.
This is the best approach because it is transparent and everyone understands what is going on,” he said. Msalala MP (CCM), Mr Ezekiel Maige, said Bulyanhulu mining is within his constituency and that for several years the mining companies had failed to provide water, health facilities and construct roads for the people.
“They have exploited us for many years; we thank President Magufuli for dealing with this matter decisively,” he said.
The former Energy and Minerals Minister, Mr William Ngeleja said he had no comment, but expressed concern over the Mining Act of 2010. Mr Ngeleja, who is also Sengerema MP (CCM), said Section 10 of the Mining Act, 2010, allows Tanzanians to own mining firms’ shares.
He added that Section 11 of the Act provides for a review of mining contracts at five-year intervals. The law needs to be implemented to improve the situation, he stressed.
Vunjo MP (NCCR-Mageuzi) Mr James Mbatia said MPs should shoulder the blame for enacting bad laws that have cost the nation trillions of shillings.
He said President Magufuli’s idea to review and amend mining laws was brilliant but MPs need to be prepared and be given adequate information on the mining sector.
“The problem here is that some officials pushed these laws and MPs approved them without debating and discussing them critically; today we are paying the price,” he said.
Ms Rhoda Kumchela (Special Seats -Chadema) said the only and best way to win the war against exploitation and theft in the mining sector is through reviewing mining laws.
“We must review the mining law so that we can beat those who use available loopholes to steal from us,” she said. Reached for comment, former Attorney General and current Bariadi MP (CCM), Mr Andrew Chenge simply said “I can’t say anything to anybody.”
Speaking on behalf of the Dar es Salaam elders shortly after Dr Magufuli’s speech at the State House, the Chairperson of Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, Mr Joseph Butiku, commended him and his government for their good work and called on Tanzanians to be supportive.
He said an economic war was tough, particularly considering that the western world had forged far ahead in terms of technology and laws. “Although we are learned, we lack gallantry.
But I am very thankful that we now have a learned person who is also very bold and daring … President Magufuli. We must support him. You cannot go into this war of stopping thievery without being united.”