9 July 2017

Tanzania: Straight Talk - Gold Concentrates Saga, Turning Point in TZ History?

opinion

There is no doubt that Tanzania has been endowed with immense resources. So abundant such that it can be stated that it stands the chance to become one of the richest countries in the world.

The resources are scattered in the forests, in the lakes, in the sea and in land. They range from natural gas, oil, iron, minerals to a long list of flora and fauna.

To most of us, Tanzania should have been a donor country had it wisely exploited its vast resources. But instead this has not been the case and hence the citizens hardly enjoy benefits accrued from them.

On the contrary, Tanzania has been a huge recipient of donor handouts and sometimes under conditions that are, at best, dehumanising. This I believe is not acceptable and it should end.

The country was shocked recently when President John Magufuli revealed a very radical approach to order that gold and copper concentrates should be smeltered locally.

However, this was not completely new to Tanzania. The bad smell on this side of investment venture has been known to many Tanzanians, especially through the calls by the Opposition, but no one would listen to them. Those in power looked the other way as opportunists at the national cake left, right and centre.

Many committees to investigate such trends have been formed, coming up with long reports. Nothing was being done. The good thing this time around is that the President has decided to act.

Some believe that those involved in acts of economic sabotages through mineral dealings were not punished because they were close to the epicentre of power and hence they were protected.

The recent action by President Magufuli is supported by many but not to that extent. Questions are still hanging in the air. Some opine that the removal of Energy and Mineral minister Prof Sospeter Muhongo was just a political campaign to try to cleanse the government and the ruling party which have long been informed of the trend. He is a sacrificial lamb.

Asking Prof Muhongo to step down while this has been happening for years, might appear to mean to absolve all other ministers and key executives who have overseen the ministry and hence the exportation of containers containing the said big amount of gold.

But also this decision will not be of great benefit if the government would not implement what has been advised all along in a bid to totally end the trend but also in a way that the government respects its contractual obligations.

The euphoria should not end with a negative note by being taken to international arbitration bodies for violating contractual obligations as provided under contracts the government has wilfully and freely entered with those firms probably with the right to these containers for processing outside the country.

We believe the government has been prepared to face off any legal challenge that will emanate from such action which seems to be popular with the people, knowing that there are cases that the government has found itself on the wrong side when enough care was not taken.

It is the ardent hope of the citizens that President Magufuli will also turn his head towards other rotten sectors that are sadly part of his own government and where there are complaints that things are not well and the "eating of the country" is going on unabated.

But to many the main problem is that there is a flaw in the law and this should be addressed urgently to save this country before it is too late. We do not require formation of commissions to give publicity to the Presidency when this would have been addressed if there were strong laws and strict implementation.

Tanzania

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