Time for Mr Clean to `come clean` -Ex-president said to be preparing long-awaited response to simmering corruption charges THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam FORMER president Benjamin Mkapa, who has remained silent in the face of serious allegations of corruption and abuse of office, may now be forced to come out of his shell as pressure mounts from within the National Assembly for an official investigation against him. Insiders say the ex-president is now being advised by close aides to publicly respond to the various allegations of wrongdoing during his 10-year tenure as head of state from 1995 to 2005. ''The people close to Mkapa are counselling him to convene a media conference or something along those lines as soon as possible, and effectively respond to these rather serious charges,'' an informed source told THISDAY. This comes in the wake of new demands being made by some members of parliament, including those from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), for an official corruption probe against both Mkapa and his former energy and minerals minister, Daniel Yona. In a rare move, a CCM lawmaker - Alloyce Kimaro (Vunjo) - this week made an open call for a formal investigation into the duo's alleged involvement in the dubiously-conducted privatization and buy-out of the formerly state-owned Kiwira Coal Mine in Mbeya Region. And parliamentary sources have told THISDAY that another MP, this time from the opposition camp, may also soon table a private member's motion for the formation of a Bunge probe committee to investigate Mkapa's role specifically in the controversial Kiwira mine privatization deal. It is furthermore understood that the presidential mining sector review committee chaired by Judge Mark Bomani, which also studied the Kiwira deal, could also issue a highly critical report. Since approximately this time last year, Mkapa has been the subject of a number of allegations of corruption and abuse of office, threatening his record in government as 'Mr Clean.' Among other things, he and former first lady Anna Mkapa have been reported to have registered a private company, ANBEM Limited, in 1999 (while still at State House), listing themselves as sole directors and 'entrepreneurs.' With ANBEM Ltd operating from within the official State House walls in Dar es Salaam, Mr and Mrs Mkapa are reported to have obtained loans of up to 750m/- from the National Bank of Commerce and CRDB Bank Limited. It has also been reported that in 2004, Mkapa, Yona (while both still in public office) and various close relatives jointly registered another private company under the name of Tanpower Resources Limited. It has been further reported that the following year (2005), the two of them went on to oversee the 'fast-track' privatization and ultimate sale of the government-owned Kiwira coal mine to Tanpower Resources at a ridiculously cheap price of just 700m/-. The infrastructure at the Kiwira mine was built by the state at a cost of 4bn/- in the 1980s, and the coal deposits alone are estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of shillings. Out of the 700m/- purchase price, Tanpower Resources are understood to have made a down payment of just 70m/- for a majority stake in the coal mine, and proceeded to sign a lucrative $271.8m (approx. 326bn/-) power generation deal with the state-run Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) in March 2006. When asked numerous times last year to respond to all these reported allegations, Mkapa opted to maintain an odd silence, remarking at one public function that he was now a 'retired politician' and should therefore be allowed to 'rest.' Sources say Mkapa's aides now fear that his continued failure to respond to the allegations could be proving more damaging to his public image than initially thought. ''It has even been suggested in some quarters close to him and his associates, that they should perhaps take legal action against certain media outlets and politicians who they believe have been spreading these allegations for malicious reasons,'' said our source.