Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli yesterday said Acacia Mining must pay billions of shillings in royalty and tax arrears arising from its activities since 1998 if it expected to continue operating in the country.
The President ordered a sweeping review of all the Mining Development Agreements as well as redrafting of the gas and oil laws to protect national interest in the exploitation of the resources.
He also tasked various security arms to investigate current and past State officials implicated in any circumstances that undermined Tanzania’s interests in mining.
The Head of State declared he would stop at nothing to reverse or undo what he views as an unjust system that has prevented the country from benefiting from large mining activities during the period.
He was speaking shortly after receiving the second report of the special probe committee tasked with investigating legal and economic impact of mining in respect to impoundment of 277 mineral concentrate containers due for export by Acacia.
Among those present were Vice President Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, top security organs heads, regional commissioners and other invited guests. They listened in silence and applauded the President on some of the unprecedented actions he was announcing. Some of the actions were among the recommendations of the team lead by Prof Nehemiah Osoro.
The report was handed to him at the State House in Dar es Salaam, and as was the case with the first report which reviewed the mineral content of the copper concentrate, reported losses running into trillions of shillings over the years.
President Magufuli raised the stake in the dispute with the gold miner, saying he would be ready to negotiate but only after they have cleared debts as reveald by the Osoro Committee.
“Summon the company before registering it and demand that they pay all the money pending. l want them to repent and say we are ready to do business but we will not discuss anything with them while debts pending,” said Dr Magufuli in the address that was televised live nationally.
He warned that no mineral concentrates would be exported or registration extended to Acacia under the current circumstances. “I must do this…fellow Tanzanians I say pray for me and lets all support the steps I am taking because it is for our national interest,” he pleaded. He said he had sworn to protect the country and its people even at the cost of his own blood.
“We need investors but on a win-win situation and not those that exploit us…they can come from the North, South, central and from anywhere but we must share in the profit,” said Dr Magufuli as he took the hard stance which he equated to an “economic warfare.”
He tore into past and current government bureaucrats for the rot in the management of the mineral sector which he said had the potential to turn around the fortune of millions of poor Tanzanians who were dying for lack of essential social services.
He further dared Acacia mining to sue his government over the mineral export dispute, saying he would not sit back and watch them continue to mine in the country while challenging the country’s sovereignty overseas.
‘Enough is enough! We have been given raw deals for too long and this has to end...we can’t allow ourselves to be be exploited for ever,” Dr Magufuli said. He said Acacia has sought to malign his actions by citing the thousands of jobs it has created in its mines. He said he will not relent and cautioned citizens whom he said were fighting on the side of the “oppressor.”
“Even the devil is laughing at us over our own self-inflicted level of poverty amid natural wealth given to us by God,” he said.