4 January 2013

Tanzania: Academicians, Politicians Agree On Resources Sharing

ACADEMICIANS and opposition party politicians have supported the government's policy of equitable distribution of natural resources to benefit all Tanzanians, including the natural gas that has been discovered in Mtwara region.

They have, however, called for more public education for residents of Mtwara and Lindi in order for them to understand the benefits of the proposed construction of natural gas pipelines from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam.

They were responding to the recent demonstration by residents of Mtwara Municipality who were opposing the government's project and the comments made by the government on the matter.

The Chairman of NCCR-Mageuzi, Mr James Mbatia, said in Dar es Salaam that demanding exclusive rights to benefit from natural resources found in any region of this country will jeopardize the country's peace.

"We support the policy that the whole nation should benefit from any natural resources found in any part of this country and we need a smooth undertaking of exploration works in any part of this country where minerals are found," he said.

Mr Mbatia, who is also a nominated MP, wondered why people were complaining while the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof. Sospeter Muhongo, on Thursday stated that villagers and leaders of Mtwara were involved from the preliminary stages.

"If we allow division of our country on the lines of natural resources, we will be moving towards a black future," he said. Mr Mbatia noted that construction of a pipeline to Dar es Salaam for purposes of producing low cost electricity was a noble idea but added that people of Mtwara needs to be involved massively from primary stages.

He slammed some leaders of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) who have been reported in the media as making opposing statements contrary to what the Party's National Chairman, President Jakaya Kikwete and the minister had said.

He called on the government to find a forum with the people of Mtwara to articulate on how the gas found there will benefit them. They should also be asked to speak out on what they want their government to do for them.

A University of Dar es Salaam Senior Lecturer, Dr Benson Bana, said the pipeline construction to Dar es Salaam was inevitable to increase national revenue from the 80 per cent now collected in the city for the benefit of the whole country.

He said that politicians who have been backing demonstrators should be condemned as that was an act of seeking cheap politics. "All the natural resources available in the country, gas, diamonds, gold and oil among others belong to Tanzania and should benefit all Tanzanians," he stressed.

He said that politicians were mostly responsible for what happened in Mtwara recently and that the move to mobilize people to demonstrate in the streets to oppose government's plans for country's development was as bad as an act of treason.

Most of the readers of this newspaper who posted their comments in the newspaper online edition commended the government plan. "Those who oppose the project should be treated as enemies of the nation. This is a project meant to liberate the country economically once and for all. The government should ignore them and push the project forward," commented one Silas Mkasa.

Another reader, Mr Cosmas Likalika, said it was high time for Tanzanians to support their government in any move aimed at rescuing them out of poverty. "Let's stop cheap politics and build our nation. I hope the people of Mtwara and Lindi will be the happiest when the project is completed. They will, possibly, be the first to enjoy the benefits", argued Likalika.

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