A Tanzanian businessman is recovering in intensive care at a South African hospital following an acid attack on him resulting from a business venture-gone-wrong. As we report in this exclusive series for the coming weeks, the affected businessman Said MOHAMED Saad is only one of the pawns on a very large chessboard used by Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete to maintain his grip on the country’s business landscape.
Businessman Said MOHAMED Saad has been in intensive care since July last year. Said MOHAMED Saad is a personal friend of President Kikwete and is the front-man conducting business deals for the First Family. Officially, Said MOHAMED Saad is involved in import-export of a wide range of merchandise including heavy home appliances.
Genesis of trouble
Early last year, the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) uncovered a trail of imports worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the names of different businesspeople. However, the imports were not reflected in the tax receipt database which meant they had not paid any taxes.
TRA commissioner general Harry Kitilya ordered a secret investigation which found that several businesspeople had brought goods into the country using waivers which had been fraudulently acquired. When TRA confronted the identified businesspeople whom we are not naming because they were victims of bad company, they each named Said MOHAMED Saad as the source of the waivers.
The TRA commissioner general impounded all the goods and gave the businesspeople two options; pay the taxes immediately or go to jail for tax fraud. This would be followed by an intense media campaign. To keep themselves out of trouble, some of the businesspeople paid up, but all of them went into bankruptcy.
Two of the affected businessmen committed suicide because of bank loans they could not pay back. The others vowed they would not fall alone and planned a revenge attack against Said MOHAMED Saad.
After he was done with the businesspeople who were supposed to pay, the TRA commissioner general summoned Said MOHAMED Saad to demand for answers. The revenue agency had found out that Said MOHAMED Saad had himself obtained illegal waivers to import without paying taxes, but chose to make more money for his boss.
The affected businesspeople had paid millions of dollars in bribes to Said MOHAMED Saad for the waivers. So when the TRA forced them to pay the taxes, they were paying yet more money and could not recover the bribes given to Said MOHAMED Saad.
According to people in-the-know of the investigation, the TRA commissioner general warned Said MOHAMED Saad against ever using his waivers for additional gain. The taxman vowed to go public if such a thing ever happened again. However, the revenue agency did not impound the goods belonging to Said MOHAMED Saad because the TRA commissioner general was aware to whom the multi-million dollar goods really belonged.
With their millions lost and almost all bankrupt, as reported above, two businessmen could not manage the emotional breakdown. They committed suicide.
The other network of businessmen tried but all in vein to plead with Said MOHAMED Saad to refund some of their money, or help them recover their impounded goods from TRA. By this point, Said MOHAMED Saad was no more and could not be traced anywhere. President Kikwete’s blue-eyed boy was enjoying protection from the highest authority in the land.
Convinced they were finally all going down the drain as the person who conned them enjoys the proceeds of their hard work, the businessmen were out to revenge. Said MOHAMED Saad was attacked with acid as he walked out of his Home Shopping Centre in Dar es Salaam at 8pm on Friday 19th July last year.
Said MOHAMED Saad was flown to South Africa over that weekend for specialist treatment. Medical sources intimate that he sustained extremely horrifying burns to his face and upper limbs.
As we reveal this information, the police know the planners of the acid attack but cannot arrest them, and may never, because somebody out there knows that taking such action risks exposing an uncontrollable can of worms. That is a price President Kikwete cannot risk paying.