DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzanian President John Magufuli has yesterday placed the Ministry of Minerals in his line of fire, tasking its top officials and the Minister of Constitution and Legal Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, to ensure they sign the new mining regulations by this Friday so that the newly enacted Mining Act takes full effect.

The president removed Benjamin Mchwampaka as the Commissioner of Minerals and replaced him with Prof Shukrani Manya from the University of Dar-es-Salaam's Geology Department, revealing that the former had failed to do his job.

Prof Manya will also be the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Mineral Commission.

Without mincing words, the Head of State stated here Monday that he was shocked to learn that the executives at the Minerals Ministry were just sitting on the regulations seven months after he endorsed the Act.

President Magufuli instructed top leaders at the ministry to "'shape up or ship out" and that he was not impressed with their performance. The Head of State pointed out the failure by the Ministry's executives to sign the regulations was thwarting the country's efforts to protect its natural resources.

Speaking at State House shortly after swearing in Dotto Biteko as a Deputy Minister of Minerals, the president said he thought things would work out fine after the changes he recently made but it was soon "back to business as usual".

This law was passed by Parliament and I signed it in July, last year until now, seven months have passed, you have not signed its regulations to pave the way for its implementation. There is a Minister, deputy minister, commissioner who is a key adviser, directors...all are there. We, in the government, have got big problems, the enraged president stated.

According to him, it seems that some appointees do not understand what he and the people want and reminded the public officials to reject appointments if they think they cannot deliver.

I stopped auctioning of Tanzanite of half a tonne in the middle of the night you can't auction the whole gemstones since would have not got our deserved royalties in absence of regulations. The auctioned part enabled the country to generate 1.8 billion shillings (about 802,000 US dollars). No more gemstone auction until regulations are signed, he insisted.

The President concurred with Speaker of Parliament Job Ndugai and the government has been implementing Parliament's recommendations including establishing a Ministry of Minerals to separate it from the energy sector but his executives are letting his government down.

Meanwhile, President Magufuli directed the Ministry of Agriculture officials to make sure that all regions identified as food basket of the country including Rukwa received supplies of fertilizers by Friday.