Tanzania, the third largest gold producer in Africa is among the poorest nations due to decades of Western multinational exploitation and political corruption.
Press TV in its program Africa Today has interviewed Agnes Gutau, CEO of London Africa Media Network, London about Tanzanian gold mining, multinational corporation exploitation, the poverty of the people and the impact of new players entering the region like Russia and China.
Also interviewed on the program is Robert Oulds from the Bruges Group. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: When you look at Tanzania, when you look at the amount they could be earning in gold and the amount that they're actually bringing in and the extent of which people are profiting from it, what do you see and what are you concerned about?
Gitau: I'm very concerned about the ignorance of the Tanzanian and of the African people in general. The resource curse is just evident throughout Africa and also worried that how come in the 21st century we can continue letting multinationals take advantage of our resources. Haven't we learnt over the years?
Tanzania, reporters say, is one of the poorest countries in the world yet they're the third largest producer of gold in Africa after Ghana and South Africa. Yesterday I was watching a documentary and I was shocked at the poverty levels.
You know, around the areas where companies like Anglo-Gold Ashanti and Barrick produce, the people have no food, no access to clean water, access to sanitation. It is unbelievable and I think it's a moral outcry and if you ask me I would say it is a human rights abuse.
It's unbelievable that this day and age even the consumers of these products can watch silently on the sidelines and let this continue to happen.
Press TV: Robert (Oulds) seems to say directly we've got to look at the African government, we've got to look at corruption. You talked more about big companies and their corporate social responsibility saying it's a moral outcry.
Isn't it fair to say that the African governments who are the custodians of this wealth below the ground want to point the finger at them - because in the end if they allow someone to come into the household and rob it and (the robbers) give them 10p or a couple of schillings... It's their fault they're letting down their people?
Corruption is two-ways so both the multi-nationals and the African governments obviously. But we must remember there is a lot of pressure on the African governments to sort of liberate the economies. The World Bank has called on African governments to come up with tax concessions to encourage foreign direct investment.
What do we do? Obviously our government is worried that if they put up reforms, maybe these guys will go somewhere else.…
Press TV: But if you've been reelected there in Tanzania and your pleased and you're strong and you see yourself as an emerging power in East Africa and across the continent, and you see what you have below the ground, thousands and thousands of tons of gold and you know people want it all over the world and the Europeans the Canadians the British as well are coming in… You are in the driving seat, surely?
Gitau: I do agree with you, but transparency must come from everybody from the multi-national institutions, the World Bank, IMF and the companies.
Look at Tanzania… only two companies are obviously taking the stake i.e. Ashanti-Gold and Barrick, the Canadian one.… and the government does not have a stake in these companies. So, obviously it's a call on the government to make sure that as they are the custodian over the natural resources and they are accountable to the people, but also, my call is to make sure that me as a consumer, when I go out there to buy a product I must find…
Press TV: So you're saying that Africans or Europeans or whatever, when they're looking to buy gold they must look to see that it's been mined ethically and that there's a process… I mean, we have the Kimberley process for diamonds - there must be a process when it comes to the mining of gold, which will ensure that if you buy it, something is going back to the people who live on the land indigenously.
Gitau: Yes. The consumer must be able to make that judgment and I think it's not untoward to call for that. But also Africans ourselves, we need to just wake up, we have to hold our governments accountable and how do we do it? In the ballot boxes.
And now with the growth of technology, Africans are informed. Programs like these ones I guess they can log on and say Oh is this exactly what is happening? Mining is like 2.5 billion worth of gold revenues in Tanzania and only 28 million goes to the government - obviously there is a question mark…The public must ask where is this money going?
How come the people living next to Gator Mines, they have no food to feed their country. You see those children at Oxfam this is the sight I was seeing next to Gator Mines.
It's unbelievable. And I think the days have gone when Africa was a deaf continent - we have access to information and I think it's a challenge. We need to hold our governments accountable, but also the wider global community, before you go there and invest in gold you must really ensure that it's ethically mined and that there is no blood and human rights abuse associated with that.
Press TV: We're talking about Western multinational companies and those organizations that like to invest, but are concerned let's say invest in Eurobonds … or in stock and shares on Wall Street or here in the City of London and they see a very poor return on their investment… they look to Africa.
But Africans are being told, hmm, we need to watch out for these people, look at what they’ve done in their colonial past. Would they be better off then looking east to China or is China just as rapacious do you think?
Gitau: Well, Africa is ripe for investment. It's the greatest destination for investment I must argue that.
Press TV: Why do you say that?
Gitau: We have much untapped wealth in various industries, the tourism sector, the infrastructure for example.
Multinationals should not get scared. As long as the corporate social responsibility is open and clear and that the world also benefits - the local communities, so they shouldn't be scared.
Press TV: What should as a minimum a mining company do? Imagine it goes to some part a very nice fertile part of Tanzania, the government is concerned of the flora and fauna there, but say Rio Tinto or any of the companies says there's so much we can do. Yes we will spoil the land for a number of years; however, we'll put so much back in.
Should the minimum cost be a hospital, a school, roads, what should it be?
Gitau: As much as they pay their taxes and these ridiculous concession are not there.
We are not asking them to come in and feed us, no. Africans are ready to work. They must obviously utilize the local content - not just have Tanzanians working as the guards or the cleaners or the sweepers, but ensure training and development from the mining companies to achieve high level for Tanzanians to access employment.
There is a UN report that says the mining companies have no impact on local employment at all. They bring expats from their country.
Now, Russia, Brazil, there is competition for Africa. And what I think is we should align our priorities and our strategies to ensure that we get a better bargain and ensure that when everybody comes we ensure we get what is better for us, OK?
We used to focus only the West, but now we have other players and whoever has the best bargain for Africa is the person we go with.
But you know, it's a challenge for Africa. We can watch multinationals and also our fellow politicians taking so much of our resources - all we do is watch and clap after them and vote them year in and year out - it's unbelievable.
Press TV: Closing thoughts - your final recommendations to President Kikwete of Tanzania, what would you say about this, about mining about gold?
Mining laws in Tanzania should be amended to ensure that the local communities benefit from the resources.
The second thing, there should be no contracts issued and if there are the public must know with clarity what they involve and also the companies mining in Tanzania must make public declaration of how much they make and how much they pay back to the government.
It's up to the people, the Tanzanian people to hold their government accountable. And I think we'll start to enjoy our god-given natural resources.
Press TV: What if they say, well, across the border in Kenya, Uganda or any of these countries nearby, they're not being as strict, you know, they say hey come in, we want you - if they don’t want you in Tanzania we'll take you?
Gitau: That's why we need to have strong regional institutions Eastern African Community (EAC), all of those institutions needs, we need to be each other’s brother's keeper - we need to watch our brother and ensure that we are benefiting.
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Jun 16, 2012 9:10 AM
Multinational companies, who are stock-exchange listed, pay their taxes, utilize local procurement and still it is not enough. Why, you ask? Because inherently, the money is being used, stifled and pilfered by the many people in power who are on the receiving side. It is not used to benefit their communities, it is used to benefit themselves and their families. I dare you to have a close look at your own government and governance structures, and assess how effective they are. Then come back and speak about the mining companies who employ thousands.....take responsibility for your failed state,people!
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Symonin reply to Unknown
6/16/2012 9:48:54 AM
Typical of the abuser to blame the victimThe abusive husband, will never empower the abused wife, because he is the dependent one, though he tries his best to convince her of the reverse case.Endless appeals for reform and compassion are futile. The only course of relief for the wife is to empower herself enough to terminate the abusive relationship.The abusive husband, of course, will do all in his power to arrest this. But this is the only action that can possibly set the her free.As long as the abused wife continues to follow the same futile strategy of appeal, after appeal, after appeal, her continued abuse and wretchedness is guaranteed.
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Jun 16, 2012 9:3 AM
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Jun 15, 2012 9:26 PM
Thats what we call democracy.
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