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Revealed: A tale of sisal scam

REPORT by a special team formed to investigate assets of the Tanzania Sisal Authority (TSA) that was privatised to Katani Limited Company has opened yet another can of worms.

Arbitrary breach of contracts, misuse of public office and sickening thievery, including questionable public assets sell-offs to private investors, are among rots the probe team unearthed.

Presenting its findings to the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa in Tanga region yesterday, chairman of the committee Mr Gerald Kusaya hinted that the company, among other things, criminally sold out some of the assets including houses and farms.

According to the report, the company also lied on the amount of money that was obtained in the sales which caused massive loss to the company. As a result, the company failed to meet operational costs.

“When it was privatised, the Katani Limited was expected to transform the sisal farming system and increase productivity, but it has failed even to meet cost of operation as a result the company has been closed down,” he said.

According to him, the firm has created huge debts to farmers and failed to clear dues to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) amounting to US Dollars 16.7m and 1.6bn/--- just some  of the missing billions.

The probe team that started its work on November 29, last year and concluded its mission February 7, this year, also revealed cheating that was done by senior officers of the company on the government, especially on the money that they were paid.

Names of those implicated in the wrongdoing are Salum Shamte, Ally Mnyani, Francis Mkuba, Andrew Boimanda, the late Yusuph Mahumba and Frank Maro who worked for the TSA in the 1990’s.

The committee recommended for the immediate recovery of all the assets that were sold illegally, including a house that was given to Mr Shamte in Bombo area and others in Raskazone, Nguvumali and Market Street which were all sold illegally.

The report further found out that there was conflict of interest in the management of Katani Limited as its Managing Director Mr Shamte participated in all meetings and preparations on the privatisation of the TSA.

“We have established that there was abuse of power during the process as all shareholders in Katani Company were civil servants, so they had their own interest,” he said.

All individuals who were involved in scam should face the wrath of law, recommended the committee and urged further probe into reports that two houses of the Tanzania Sisal Authority in London were sold without observing government procedures.

Receiving the report, Premier Majaliwa instructed the immediate implementation of all the recommendations of the probe team.

He also expressed the government’s determination to revive sisal plantations so that it can contribute highly to the country’s economy and boost the lives of farmers.

Sisal is in the list of potential cash crops that Tanzania exports, other crops include tobacco, cashew nuts, coffee, tea, cloves and cotton.

“We are determined to bring changes in sisal, investors are highly welcomed and for those who have farms should plant it,” noted Mr Majaliwa, pledging that the government will offer all kinds of support that will be needed.

The premier warned however that should they fail to develop the farms, the government will reoccupy and give to other people who can develop them, noting that the government will closely monitor the crop.

“We have to pay due attention, let’s boost productivity for our own development,” he added.

Currently, the former Katani Limited Director Salum Shamte faces economic sabotage and money laundering charges. The investigation into the case is still ongoing.

Shamte, who was the chairperson of both the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), and Southern African Development Community (SADC) Business Council, is accused alongside two others; Katani Ltd director, Juma Shamte and Katani Limited Board member, Fatuma Diwani.

They were arrested on October 17 on the directive of Tanga Regional Commissioner (RC) Martine Shigella during a meeting to discuss an audit report presented by a senior auditor from the Ministry of Finance and Planning on conflict between Sisal farmers of Korogwe based five sisal plantations and Katani Limited.

The RC directed the Prevention and Combating Corruption Bureau (PCCB) to investigate the case.

They were arraigned for the first time on October 31, last year, facing three charges of economic sabotage, money laundering of 1.14bn/-and causing a loss of 1.14bn/-to Agriculture Marketing Cooperative Society (Amcos).

THE ruling party, CCM, has promised to open ...

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Author: DEOGRATIUS KAMAGI

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