World Bulletin / News Desk
A Tanzanian minister resigned Thursday after being named in reports from two parliamentary committees investigating the Tanzanite gemstone and diamond trade.
George Simbachawene, minister of state in the president’s office, responsible for regional administration and local governments, said he decided to step down to protect the image of the government and nation.
Speaking to reporters in Tanzania’s capital Dodoma, Simbachawene said he also decided to heed President John Magufuli’s call to resign during future probes.
“I have made the decision to comply with the president’s order today that those involved in the matter should leave their posts vacant pending investigations,” he said, maintaining his innocence.
Simbachawene, a former deputy minister for energy and minerals, is among those named in the reports for allegedly signing dubious mining contracts that caused the east African nation to suffer a multimillion-dollar loss in revenues, officials said.
A special parliamentary committee formed in July to investigate the workings of the Tanzanite gemstone trade has proposed that Simbachawene and two other former ministers of energy and minerals be questioned over their alleged involvement in the signing of the contracts.
Tanzania is rich in mineral resources, with mining accounting for about four percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
Tanzanite, one of the world’s most sought-after blue gemstones, is a thousand times rarer than diamonds and found at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in the Mererani Hills — the only place in the world that produces the native stone.Last Mod: 08 Eylül 2017, 10:56