Magufuli appoints third mining minister in three years

09Jan 2019
By Financial Times Reporter
Dar es Salaam
Financial Times
Magufuli appoints third mining minister in three years

PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday made limited changes to his cabinet, appointing Doto Biteko as the Minister for Mining.

Angelah Kairuki Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for investment promotion.

Under the new changes announced by Chief Secretary John Kijazi, Biteko, a former deputy mining minister, replaces his erstwhile boss, Angelah Kairuki, who has now been appointed Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for investment promotion.

Biteko becomes the third mining minister appointed by Magufuli since he took office in November 2015, effectively making the post a proverbial cabinet 'hot seat.'

President Magufuli has repeatedly publicly expressed his dissatisfaction at the Mining Ministry's supervision of the key sector.

The mini-cabinet changes come just days after authorities arrested a group of suspected gold smugglers in Mwanza Region with over 300 kilogrammes of the precious metal and a bag full of cash.

The mining sector contributes less than 5 per cent of economic output or gross domestic product (GDP), prompting the government to accuse large-scale mining companies of not paying their fair share of taxes.

President Magufuli re-appointed Sospeter Muhongo, a respected geology professor, as energy and minerals minister in December 2015. Prof Muhongo had previously served in the same capacity in former President Jakaya Kikwete's administration.

However, Magufuli sacked Muhongo in May 2017 after a presidential probe uncovered allegations that Acacia Mining Plc, the country's biggest mining company, has been under-declaring both the export value and volume of gold and copper concentrates.

Acacia Mining has strenuously denied the allegations and is challenging a massive $190 billion tax dispute with the Tanzanian government, while exports of gold and copper concentrates from two of its three gold-producing mines in the country have been banned, severely limiting its operations.

In December last year, Magufuli split the energy and minerals ministry into two separate portfolios and appointed Kairuki as Mining Minister to replace Prof Muhongo.

The new Mining Minister, Biteko, a former chairman of the parliamentary energy and minerals committee, led a parliamentary investigation in mid-2017 that concluded that there was widespread tax evasion and smuggling in the gemstone business, allegations that companies working in the sector have denied.

In January last year, Biteko was appointed deputy mining minister, a post he served until his promotion yesterday to full minister.

The president yesterday also made several appointments of permanent secretaries and their deputies. The newly-appointed officials are expected to be sworn-in today at State House.