Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli yesterday named a second team of experts to join an ongoing investigation into the mineral content in hundreds of tonnes of copper concentrate held in different parts of the country.
The government has banned export of the copper concentrate mined by multinational companies as well as small scale miners until the investigation was completed and findings submitted to him.
The naming of the eight economists and lawyers brings to 16 the number of professional appointed by the Head of State to two different special committees carrying out the task.
Those named yesterday by the Chief Secretary John Kijazi will be sworn in today at the State House in Dar es Salaam, nearly two weeks after the first team of eight members was sworn in to start the probe.
The team will likely tackle the legal and economic aspects of the saga while the first one was tasked to look at technical aspects of the composition of the copper concentrate. There was widespread social media debate on what many saw as duplicity of the role.
The probe apparently underlines the high stake the President had attached to the matter of the concentrate export, and also portrays a desire that he may have held for many years.
President Magufuli started expressing his concern on concentrate exports long before he had the idea of running for president.
A widely shared video clip that emerged in the year running up to the nomination of the CCM candidate for the presidency in 2015 captures the then minister and Chato MP in an animated conversation over the exports.
In the clip, Dr Magufuli appears engrossed in a loud conversation with a group of individuals on the subject of why mining companies were exporting the copper concentrate. Among those in the conversation was former home affairs minister Charles Kitwanga.
The video clip opens with one man explaining the mining process and when he touches on the export of copper concentrates, Dr Magufuli interjects to say: “And that’s where the stealing from us starts.” And then, Mr Kitwanga interjects and asks him to let the speaker complete his sentence. “Keep the cool; let him continue,” says Kitwanga but Dr Magufuli holds his fort and quips: “There! He has now touched the raw nerve.” He then went on to explain his case.
He said: “In the concentrate exported to Japan, there is silver, titanium and copper that they could extract here.” But Kitwanga told him that there was no facility to do that locally, to which Dr Magufuli short back: “All that is required is heat of up to 1500 degrees… they could set up furnaces.”
When Kitwanga argues that there is no local capacity, Dr Magufuli raises up his hands and wonders how possible is it that Tanzanians could not afford an investment of a furnace to attain the boiling point for silver and copper “and have them (minerals) flow like water.”
Dr Magufuli then goes on to say that those who export the copper concentrate earn a fortune out of it while giving peanuts in return. He gave an example of Sh200 million donation that was given to him by the Japanese for the construction of a local health facility. “Silver is very expensive, titanium is used to manufacture airplanes… but what to do? Let’s keep on losing until when we die,” he says to prompt Mr Kitwanga who is heard telling him: “Then, go and pick the forms.”
“Which forms? Dr Magufuli asks, to a roar of laughter from the group. Amidst the laughter, he says: “For me, the people will plough using their teeth.” This adds to the laughter. The forms being referred to was apparently those which one picks to vie for the presidency.
Later that year Dr Magufli would go on to become the unexpected flag bearer of the ruling party and defeated opposition candidate, Former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa to become the fifth President of the United Republic. In his first Cabinet, he picked Mr Kitwanga as his Home Affairs minister but sacked him soon after when he allegedly went to Parliament drunk. The Citizen could not readily identify the other people in the video clip and where it was shot.
Source: The Citizen