The Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday decided that former cabinet ministers Basil Mramba and Daniel Yona, who are charged with abuse of office, have a case to answer.
The two, who served during President Benjamin Mkapa's rule, are accused of occasioning the loss of 11,752,350,148/- through tax exemptions. They are charged jointly with Gray Mgonja, former treasury principal permanent secretary.
Mramba was serving as the Minister for Finance while Daniel Yona was the Minister for Energy and Minerals when the alleged loss occurred.
The ruling was delivered by a panel of three magistrates, led by John Utamwa. Others in the panel are Saul Kinemela and Sam Rumanyika.
Magistrate Rumanyika read out the ruling after going through testimonies delivered by prosecution witnesses.
“Having gone through evidences presented by the prosecution side, we are satisfied that the accused have a case to answer,” he stated.
In February, this year, the prosecution brought 12 witnesses. In the course of the trial, the prosecution tendered in court 17 exhibits during which it alleged that the offence was committed between 2003 and 2007, in respect of a firm known as ‘Stewart Stewart (Assayers)’.
The accused are charged with failing to take reasonable care to discharge their duties by unjustifiably signing government notices that led to the loss of the said amount of money.
The case was instituted following three years of investigations by the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) and the police into the suspicious hiring of Alex Stewart (Assayers) Government Business Corporation (ASA) to audit gold production in Tanzania.
Alex Stewart (Assayers) was in 2003 controversially assigned a contract which saw it receive a whopping 65bn/- (USD 50 million) in gold audit fees. It completed the assignment and left the country in August, 2007.
The ASA was paid an average of 1.3bn/- (USD1 million) every month from June 2003 to August, 2007.