DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Tanzania’s president ordered the military on Wednesday to build walls around its tanzanite mines and directed the central bank to buy the precious stone to boost reserves – the latest twist in a spat with mining firms over alleged tax evasion.
President John Magufuli’s government accuses mining firms of cheating Tanzania out of its fair share of mineral wealth through tax dodging and smuggling, allegations they deny.
“All tanzanite gemstones will be controlled and will pass through one gate and he (Magufuli) ordered the (central) Bank of Tanzania to take part in the tanzanite buying trade,” a statement from the presidency said.
A parliamentary inquiry team said on Sept. 7 that it had uncovered massive smuggling of the blue-violet tanzanite gemstone, found only in the East African nation.
Magufuli ordered the military to build walls with security cameras and checkpoints around all tanzanite mining concessions in northern Tanzania “to control illegal mining and trading activities,” the presidency statement said. “Even if someone swallows some tanzanite gemstones, they will be detected at the proposed checkpoint,” Magufuli said.