18 June 2017

Tanzania: Straight Talk - Why MPs Divided On Mineral Concentrates

Photo: The Citizen
MPs in parliament in Tanzania.

There has been heated debate in the Parliament this week centring on copper concentrates following two reports that were commissioned over a month ago.

President John Magufuli thought it was wise to form them after he followed up the issue of containers seized at Dar es Salaam Port for alledgedly having riches that ought to have been due to Tanzania by way of taxes and profit shared. The reports hit the public domain and only one week apart have seen a major revelation in mining investment and business in Tanzania.

All of a sudden a wave of resource nationalism has hit the country and sweeping across not less than the power of tsunami. All discussions only lead to one destination: our stolen resources.

There is even more. The discussion, now a discourse for the more knowledge, but also the less informed and each side roots and pegs its argument on two pillars: nationalism and patriotism.

Whether blinded or fully sighted with what is going on, the march surges on, though the more cautious are trying hard to raise an alarm for reasoning, but the more resolute and determined say the way forward is to move on come what may.

That is exactly what is happening in the Parliament now. The divide is so open that it threatens to split the House into two sides something, which is not healthy for the country. It is either 'you are with us or with them' as US President George W Bush would have said during the Iraqi War.

It reached a stage a CCM member, Abdulla Ulega, likened the opposition camp to the Angola rebel group Unita and MP Tundu Lissu to its leader Jonas Savimbi, what a waste of precious time for contribution and sowing of so much hatred not only in the House, but also in society

The issue of copper concentrates as much as being a strong agenda, it had to stay out of Parliament or if it came in it should have been to little intervention to the current discussion on the national budget. Instead, the budget is hardly contemplated.

To add to the circus out of blues the Parliament is stunned with a motion proposed by MP George Mkuchika to support President John Magufuli on the issue of the concentrates, which for me is still work in progress.

As expected or planned the issue also divided the House, which its hatchers were exactly hoping clock political mileage in favour of CCM, while members of the opposition camp were branded national enemies and unpatriotic.

Thus, the issue of concentrates has shifted from a mining and one of the economy to one of politics and propaganda and who positions, where on the issue of what we get before members of the public. Sadly, the budget does not receive its due share of discussion. The concluding budget was hugely under allocated and hence the development aspect has suffered a lot.

While the last budget was not fulfilled, this year's has been beefed up to the surprise of many, but the MPs are busy putting up mineral concentrate stunts.

If there is time the budget has received less attention, it is this one. So, the mineral concentrated to me is a curse instead of a blessing when the discussion is not allowed to touch on former national leaders, who assented to bad laws and contacts we lament now passed under them. So, let the Bunge return to its constitutional duty and that is to advise and check the government.

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