JPM sacks 2 ministers in cashews fallout


President Magufuli sacks Agriculture minister Charles Tizeba and his Industry counterpart Charles Mwijage

Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli yesterday sacked two key ministers and disbanded the board of directors of the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT) in a fallout over the crisis now bedeviling the cashew nut subsector.

The ministers dropped in the cabinet mini-reshufle are Dr Charles Tizeba (Agriculture) and Charles Mwijage (Industry and Trade).

A brief statement issued at 6pm yesterday and signed by State House Director of Communications Gerson Msigwa said President Magufuli had also annulled the appointment of CBT chairperson Anna Abdallah and disbanded the Board.

President Magufuli has appointed Japhet Ngailonga Hasunga, who is the MP for Mbozi (CCM), to the Agriculture docket and moved the deputy minister Mary Mwanjelwa (Special Seats, CCM) from the Agriculture docket to the President’s Office (Civil Service Management and Good Governance), the statement added. Joseph George Kakunda (MP for Sikonge-CCM) has been appointed new Industries and Trade minister.

Hasunga was deputy minister for Tourism, while Kakunda was deputy minister in the President’s Office (Regional Authority and Local Government).

Constantine John Kanyasu has taken Hasunga’s place in the Ministry of Tourism while Mwita Waitara, the Ukonga CCM legislator, who recently decamped from Chadema and won the parliamentary by election, has been appointed the new Local Government deputy minister.

Innocent Bashungwa (Karagwe, CCM) has been appointed deputy minister for Agriculture.

The President made the mini-reshuffle a few hours after he inspected 75 trucks from the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF)’s transport unit, and ordered the army to be on standby to buy cashewnuts if the price war fails to end by Monday evening.

On Friday, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said if buyers failed to purchase the thousands of tonnes of cashew nuts the government would intervene and buy the produce.

So far a small portion of the cashew nuts on offer has been purchased in the auctions that were held several times in Lindi and Mtwara, leaving close to 200,000 tonnes lying idle in warehouses. The buyers, it seems, are not ready to buy the produce for Sh3,000 a kilo.

Speaking after inspecting the trucks, President Magufuli said the army would be deployed to Lindi, Mtwara, Ruvuma, Coast and Tanga regions.

“They will collaborate with the National Cereals and Produce Board in purchasing all cashews at Sh3,000 per kilo and the funds are available,” he said.

The purchased cashews will be stored in Mtwara and Dar es Salaam warehouses capable of storing 77,000 and 90,000 tonnes, respectively, President Magufuli noted. According to him, the government would look for foreign markets for the purchased cashews. Some will be processed for foreign and domestic consumption.

“Since production this season is forecasted at 210,000 tonnes, a few other warehouses are required to make the exercise a success,” he said.

Only 14 out of 37 firms registered to purchase cashew nut participated in the just suspended auctions, it emerged yesterday.

The President yesterday told TPDF, through the National Services, to consider building a large cashews processing factory even if it means the government providing the money.

He said the country’s focus should be on processed products. According to him, this will also go a long way in creating jobs for the country’s youth.

The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) General Venance Mabeyo said apart from the 75 trucks, a landing craft with capacity to ferry 500 tonnes will also be deployed during the operation codenamed ‘Operation Korosho’.