December 7, 2001
Tanzanian Government Refutes Claims
The African, a Tanzanian daily newspaper, reported the Minister for Energy & Minerals, Edgar Maokola-Majogo, refuted claims linking tanzanite miners and dealers to al Qaeda terrorists. The allegations were made in a Wall Street Journal report on Nov. 17. Maokola-Majogo made the first official statement by the Tanzanian government in response to the WSJ report.
"There was no truth at all in the article," he said. Maokola-Majogo told The African "A certain fool was engineering the campaign against tanzanite." He claimed this individual was conducting a worldwide campaign to bring the tanzanite trade into disrepute.
The African quotes other Tanzanian government officials who also expressed shock at the allegations made by WSJ. "Our duty is to arrest the culprits, we should be given reports of those involved in the foul play against the tanzanite trade," John Chiligati, minister for home affairs told The African. "This is not a time for them to distort the image of Tanzania and tanzanite as the international crusade against terror goes on."
Meanwhile, sources in Tanzania say several other western news agencies had visited Arusha and Merelani in Tanzania and were preparing reports concerning the allegations. Tanzanite dealers in the U.S. say purchases of tanzanite continue to increase following the statements made by several American industry trade associations, designed to ease buyer's apprehensions.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.