Tanzania: Mponde Tea Factory to Commence Operations

THE government yesterday handed over Mponde Tea Factory to Mponde Holdings Company, a joint venture between the Workers Compensation Fund (WCF) and the Public Service Social Security Fund (PSSSF), which had sought to invest in the factory.

The Mponde factory was closed in 2013 because an investor who had been hired by the Usambara Tea Growers Association (UTEGA), violated the privatization terms, and the government was satisfied that the investor had no plans or intentions to develop the factory.

PSSSF and WCF each own 42 per cent of the shares, while the government owns the remaining 16 per cent through the Treasury Registrar’s Office.

The factory, including certificates, assets, and various documents, was handed over by Treasury Registrar, Mr Mgonya Benedicto, on behalf of the government, to a representative of Mponde Holding Company, Mr Paul Kijazi, who is also the Director of the Company’s Board.

The handover was witnessed by PSSSF Director General, CPA Hoseah Kashimba and his WCF colleague, Dr John Mduma.

During the handover, Mr Mgonya stated that the government deemed it necessary to hand over the assets and paperwork to the company’s management so as some of the important issues that required the documents to be resolved so that production activities could begin immediately.

“My office would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Mponde Holding Company Board, as well as the management of PSSSF and WCF Funds, for their cooperation and efforts in ensuring that the Mponde factory resumes production and that the people eventually get jobs again after a long period of unemployment,” he said.

Mr Mgonya further said the Treasury office will continue to provide necessary cooperation whenever needed to ensure the intended purpose of reviving the Mponde factory is achieved.

Given the circumstances, the government decided to repossess the factory in January 2016 in accordance with the agreement. Mr Mgonya has also handed over three factory vehicles in addition to documentation.

Mr Kijazi expressed gratitude to the government for the decision to hand over the factory, vowing to do everything in his power to meet the objectives of their investment, which is projected to provide a variety of benefits, including job opportunities.

In November 2018, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa ended a five-year ordeal for tea farmers from five tea schemes in Bumbuli when he announced the reopening of tea processing operations at Mponde Tea Factory that closed in 2013 after they were involved in a conflict with an investor.

Announcing the reopening of the factory, Mr Majaliwa said the government decided to reopen the factory, which was repossessed in 2016 by the government, to ease farmers’ economic and social problems. History shows that the factory was commissioned on September 14, 1971, and officially opened on December 28, 1973, by the then Prime Minister and Second Vice President, Mr Rashid Kawawa.

The factory was built by the Tanzania Tea Authority (TTA) to serve indigenous small-scale tea farmers in both Lushoto and Korogwe districts in the West Usambara.

In December 1999 it was privatised and sold to UTEGA with financing from Lushoto Tea Company Ltd. The government was forced to break the sale agreement because UTEGA contravened sections of the agreement.

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