Uncovered: TANGOLD`s secret 10bn/- stash of cash THISDAY REPORTER Dodoma THE shadowy company TANGOLD Limited, whose shareholders include ex-attorney general Andrew Chenge and deceased ex-Bank of Tanzania governor Dr Daudi Ballali, has more than 10bn/- stashed away in its bank accounts that has remained untouched for several years now. This was revealed in parliament on Monday evening by Kigoma North Member of Parliament Zitto Kabwe (CHADEMA), who said the secret billions were part of proceeds from the Buhemba Gold Mine in Mara Region. Debating the 2009/10 budget proposals of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, the MP called on the government to safeguard the cash stash in TANGOLDs bank accounts and also take steps to protect the mine itself, which has reportedly become the victim of frequent acts of vandalism for lack of care. According to past THISDAY findings, at least one bank account known to be maintained by TANGOLD is at the National Bank of Commerce Limited Corporate Branch in Dar es Salaam. Zitto, who is also chairman of the parliamentary public corporations accounts committee, sought explanations from the government as to why the Buhemba mine had been abruptly abandoned despite being assessed in 2003 to have reserves of at least 65 tonnes of gold within. He said government intervention is imperative to rescue the mines abandoned assets. At the time this mine was shut down, it had already produced five tonnes of gold, he told the House. Noting that the presidential mining sector review committee chaired by Justice Mark Bomani recommended in its final report that the government should take over the Buhemba mine, the Kigoma North MP was critical of the governments slowness in taking up this proposal. The Bomani report recommendations regarding the Buhemba mine are similar to the Kiwira coal mine situation. But the fate of the Buhemba mine continues to be ignored, said Zitto, who was himself a member of the mining sector review committee. He supported suggestions that the Buhemba mine be handed over to the State Mining Corporation (STAMICO), saying TANGOLDs two mining licences for the Buhemba area should also be transferred to STAMICO. If the mine has run out of gold, plans should be made to properly close down the facility, to avoid environmental hazards, he added. The Buhemba gold mine was literally abandoned in 2005/06 after its previous owner, Meremeta Limited - a joint venture project owned on a 50-50 basis by the Tanzanian government and a private South African firm called Trinnex (Pty) Limited - filed for bankruptcy. TANGOLD Limited, which was registered as an offshore company in Mauritius in April 2005, took over all assets and liabilities of the liquidated Meremeta Ltd, including the Buhemba mine. Although the Ministry of Energy and Minerals claimed at the time that TANGOLD was 100 per cent-owned by the Tanzanian government, it has since transpired that the company does not appear on the list of government parastatals maintained by the Treasury registry in Dar es Salaam. Apart from Chenge and Ballali, other listed shareholders of TANGOLD are past and present permanent secretaries Gray Mgonja (ex-Treasury), Patrick Rutabanzibwa (presently at home affairs ministry) and Vincent Mrisho (ex-defence ministry). Amongst other strange things, it is stated in the companys articles of association that the shareholders may transfer shares (or have shares transferred in case of their demise) to their spouses, parents, children, grandchildren, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. The government has attempted to impose a gag order in parliament blocking MPs from discussing the Meremeta/TANGOLD issue in the House ostensibly because the matter involves official military secrets. However, legislators from both the ruling CCM and opposition camp have refused to be silenced and have continued to push for answers from the government on the whereabouts of billions of shillings pumped by the Bank of Tanzania into Meremeta/TANGOLD. Investigations by THISDAY have long established that BoT paid $13.34m (approx. 17bn/-) into a bank account under the name of TANGOLD Limited located at the NBC Corporate Branch in Dar es Salaam soon after the company was established. This came on the heels of another BoT payment to a foreign bank account, amounting to over $118m (approx. 150bn/-), to liquidate a loan issued by a South African bank to the now-defunct Meremeta Ltd.