Dodoma — Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda clarified on Thursday on the differences of opinion between the Zanzibar government and Tanzania Mainland over oil and natural gas explorations, saying that there was no problem in the removal of oil-related matters from the Union.
Mr Pinda said that he sees no problem if Zanzibaris were allowed to make their own decisions on their oil and natural gas and that the Mainland had nothing to lose. Instead, it would benefit for being close to the source of the resources.
The Prime Minister's stand came when Mr Khatib Said Haji (Konde-CUF) demanded to know why the Union government was unnecessarily delaying to remove oil related matters from the Union Mr Haji said that oil and gas were one of the burning issues that trigger disagreements and cause shortcomings in the Union.
He said that a Zanzibar Minister of State, Mr Mohammed Aboud Mohammed, had assured Zanzibaris through their House of Representatives that officers in the government would do all they could to safeguard the interest of Zanzibaris in oil and natural gas matters.
"The people of Zanzibar have demanded the removal of oil exploration and drilling from the list of Union matters, Mr Prime Minister. I need your statement in this dispute as it is one of the matters setting off many misunderstandings in the Union government," he said. The premier said that there was no difficulty in letting the Isle's government to have substantial decision-making autonomy on oil and natural gas resources.
However, he insisted that it was a legal matter which needed review. He said that after reviewing its operation the issue would be taken to the Cabinet for discussion so that a permanent solution is reached. "I personally do not see any reasons for preventing the Zanzibar government from undertaking any substantial decision on oil and natural gas exploration across in its territory", he said.
However, Mr Pinda said that oil and natural gas exploration takes a very long time - up to eight years. Thus it was unnecessary to make decisions on a matter that was not yet ripe. Under the existing petroleum Act of 1980, Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) is the only body mandated to license, monitor and supervise exploration and production of oil and natural gas on the entire territory of Tanzania - Zanzibar included - whether offshore, onshore or deep sea.