13 June 2017

Tanzania: Time to Act On Mineral Theft, or We're Done For!

Photo: Fadhili Akida/Daily News
President John Magufuli displays the second report on mineral sand investigation shorlty after receiving it from the special committee he assigned to undertake the task, at the State House in Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania, and its people, have been ripped off their won mineral wealth, almost at will, by just about every idiot who came to this country in the guise of investment.

We've had the case of Acacia which, for almost two decades strutted on the investment stage from 1998 to this day, taking our gold out even as we offered the crooks behind it broad smiles.

It's our own money, says the Head of State, President John Pombe Magufuli, that has literally been holding us back; they steal, offer paltry bribes and sneak out of this country carrying trillions in mineral wealth.

Enough is enough, the president say, and he needs all the support we give in the war he has just declared against those stealing from our children, and their children's children; for the future of this nation lies in good management of its natural resources.

And, as they, we've not inherited it from our parents; we're simply borrowing it from our children! As all good borrowers will attest, we, too, need to provide stewardship in good loan management; we have to deliver to the next generation the way we received it from those before us.

That's why the behaviour of some of our past leaders begs hard question, and calls for equally hard decisions on our part: we have to bring to book all those who stole, in the form of give-away contracts, and surrendered our sovereignty over natural resources to their foreign masters - in exchange for miserable, personal pay-cheques.

The report on the export of mineral concentrates, unveiled and delivered to the president yesterday, provides a landmark starting point: if we do not learn from it, then we cannot learn from anything, especially as it continue behaving there's still plenty waiting to be exploited out there in our mineral-rich soils. For sure, mineral wealth is finite, and we've had living examples of dead heaps of sand where once there was a beehive of mining activity.

The much-awaited report compiled by the second Presidential committee led by Prof Nehemiah Osoro, and which was specifically formed to probe economic and legal issues related to the export of gold and copper concentrates is now out. Yet, it's only the beginning of the hard that lies ahead as we chart our way to meaningful management of our natural wealth.

One thing is clear, and that is, we simply do not put a premium on what God has so lavishly bestowed upon this nation.

In any case, where else - apart from this blessed country -- would the crooks masquerading as Acacia find the leeway to come in as 'expatriate' investors? That's the reality we face, and fact it we must. Otherwise, were lost.

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