The ups and downs of Kidata, Mataragio

Tuesday April 06 2021
Kidata pic
By Josephine Christopher

Dar es Salaam. If what had happened in the past to the newly-appointed Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) head Alphayo Kidata, and the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) Director General, Dr James Mataragio, is anything to go by, then the two are really not new to ‘on-and-off’ appointments by heads of state.

In the two Presidencies of the late Dr John Magufuli and the current President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the two officials have seen it all: both ups and downs.

First, the new TRA Commissioner General, Alphayo Kidata, has been moved from one posting to another more than five times in the past six years.

Kidata served as TRA Commissioner-General from January 2016 to March 2017, before being sacked in by President Magufuli.

Before he was reappointed to TRA this March, Mr. Kidata was serving as the Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS) for Mtwara, a position he was appointed to by the late President Magufuli on September 20, 2019.

Before being Mtwara RAS, Kidata experienced a fall from grace after having served shortly as Permanent Secretary at the State House.


Then, later, he was appointed Tanzanian’s diplomatic envoy to Canada, a position he only held for 10 months only.

Mr Kidata took over at the embassy in Canada after Ambassador Jack Mugendi Zoka’s tenure expired. However, he was stripped of his diplomatic status in November 2018.

Mr Kidata has also served as the Permanent Secretary of the ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development.

In another twist of events, the State House yesterday announced to have reinstated Mr James Mataragio as Director General of the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) hours after it had announced his removal.

President Hassan revoked the appointment of Mr Thobias Mwesiga Richard which was made 12 hours earlier.

The holder of a PhD in Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Structural Geology and Petroleum Geology, Dr Matarigio was the Senior Geoscientist for an American company Bell Geospace, in Houston, Texas, before President Jakaya Kikwete (2005-2015) appointed him TPDC director in December 2014.

It was not all rosy for Dr Mataragio as the TPDC boss. In August 2016, the corporation’s board suspended him from over claims of abuse of office.

Together with four other TPDC executives who were suspended at the same time, Dr Mataragio was charged in court.

However, what happened to the case has never been made clear. A statement from the TPDC board Chairman, Prof Sufian Bukurura said at the time that Dr Mataragio and other top officials had violated procurement laws and infringed public service regulations in the conduct of their work, in terms of conflict of interest. They were also accused of spending budget funds without the approval of top authorities... However, his experience and expertise has made him one of the most important government assets in the development of the oil and natural gas sector.

Dr Mataragio has also worked with different global companies in the petroleum industry.

These have included Petrobras and ANP (Brazil); BP; Anadarko; Tullow; Pemex (Mexico); Ecopetrol (Colombia); Petronas, (Malaysia) and Vale Rio Doce.

Dr Mataragio was a project manager at the Anglo-Gold Corporation, owner-operators of the Buzwagi gold mine in Tanzania in the year 2000.