Human Cost of Foreign Investments


JF-Expert Member
Nov 14, 2006
What is the Human Cost of Foreign Investments?
The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)
6 November 2007
Posted to the web 6 November 2007

On 29 January 1993 at around 4: 00 pm one Tanzanian miner was shot dead and two others were injured by two Thais from Tom Mines at Lukande,Morogoro. The episode began with accusations that Tanzanian miners were mining illegally in the areas licensed to the Thais.

A day before the shooting took place the District Commissioner had announced that all local miners without claims had to clear the areas within three days. After the shooting,the police went to the local miners and started harassing them on the pretext that they had to show the exact place where the miner had met his demise. The story did not end there. Systematic harassment of small-scale miners by authorities became the order of the day.

This culminated in the razing of a miners' camp at Kijiweni. The destruction was carried out by the police in collaboration with Morogoro Regional Miners Association and the Thais. The Thais,who once claimed to be simply implementing a district authority directive,provided the graders and the labour for the task. Many mining areas in Tanzania have similar stories to tell since the late 1980s when many foreign companies started taking over. How have these companies been able to acquire the mining areas,and to what extent are they really benefiting the country?

Since most of the areas that have been acquired by the companies were being operated by small-scale miners,the whole process has involved their displacement. About 30,000 miners were removed in 1998 and 1999,with the construction of Nzega and Geita gold mines respectively. Displacement has been undertaken by force,as it was the case with Bulyanhulu,Shinyanga,where Kahama Mining Company is operating.

In this case,it is alleged that more than 50 miners were buried alive during their forcible removal in 1997,and the government and other global mining interests have prevented investigation on these killings. Among the board members of this company were powerful people such as George Bush Sr.,former US President; Brian Mulroney,former Canadian Prime Minister and Andrew Young,former US ambassador to the United Nations. Numerous conflicts in recent years have been reported. It has been estimated that almost 85 percent of the areas under mining are locked in conflicts,with the government backing large scale miners.

In 2001,the villagers of Kakola Division threatened to sue Kahama Mining Corporation for mining illegally in village lands,unlawfully evicting the villagers and demolishing their homes. Over 50,000 miners in Mwabomba area in Bukombe District,Shinyanga were battling a British mining company,Twigg Gold Exploration Ltd.,which was granted areas that were previously in the hands of local miners. Over 10,000 villagers and miners from Nyamongo in Tarime,Mara were rendered homeless when the Australian-owned Afrika Mashariki Gold Mines Ltd.,started activities in 2001. The people were removed with the assistance of Tanzania Government's Field Force Units (FFU). A permanent FFU unit was stationed in the area,paid by the company.

In the same year there were violent clashes between the South African gemstone mining firm AFGEM and small scale-miners on the one hand and the village authorities on the other. This occurred in Mererani,Arusha when AFGEM started branding tanzanite as a unique gemstone,so that the company can become the only monopoly in production and marketing of the gemstone in world.

AFGEM guards unleashed dogs at the miners and shot some of them. There are several other instances in Geita and elsewhere where it has been reported that officials have used force to push small-scale miners to accept to sign some dubious agreements with the large-scale miners,which would allow the takeover of their claims. Buck Reef Gold Mines is known to be one of the companies that have been forcing small-scale miners to sign such agreements.

In such instances,small-scale miners have been threatened by government officials with the revocation of their title deeds if they do not sign the agreements. Thus many small-scale miners have lost their claims in this way. The attempt by the government to establish a company through the army (Meremeta) in partnership with some South African mining houses to provide modern equipment to local entrepreneurs and buy gold from them in 1997 proved to be very unpopular among the large scale concerns.

The equipment were to be supplied on the condition that the villagers sold their gold to Meremeta. With this system,production in some villages began to increase tremendously. However,mining companies hasten the signing of contracts with those who had claims through bribing some of the officials,or blocked those with contracts with them from participating in the project or using sophisticated equipment. Companies such as Ashanti gold Fields,Pangea and East African mines openly admitted that they stood to lose if they did not impose restrictions on small scale miners.

Given the activities of large-scale miners and their tendency to displace small-scale miners,a large number of more than a million people who depended on mining for their employment in the 1980s/90s lost their sources of livelihood. Moreover,for those who continue to eke a living on the activity, there is very limited job security,when they are working under an employer who is under contractual obligations of a large-scale miner,and has been promised compensation of his/her property.

In the course of allocating prospecting licenses to large-scale miners,it is not only the claim holders who have been affected,by also whole villages,farms and even some dispensaries,schools and other amenities. There are also instances whereby forest reserves and gazetted areas (e.g. Mkomazi game reserve, Umba, Kigwasi, Makijembe, etc.) have been allocated to mining companies for prospecting. In all these instances,there have ensued conflicts.

While child labour has always existed in the mining areas,especially among small-scale miners,it seems,with the increased insecurity in the areas,the tendency has been for this category of workers to increase. The reason is their parents have been impoverished and there are hardly any schools to cater for them.

But,there is also the other category of children who do not have parents (in some instances orphaned by HIV/Aids) who are also to be found in the mining areas. In Mererani,employers use child labour in the pits,since their small bodies allow them to move with ease when they maneuver their way around in the pits. They are popularly known as nyoka-snakes. Despite the fact that there has been an increase in the number of mining projects over the years-at about 128 projects by 2000,the number of those employed in the industry has been very small,and often than not,it has been mainly foreign labour which has been employed in the areas that are considered sensitive.

By 2000,the sector had only 3 percent of the formally employed labour force i.e. 16,134 workers. As far as remuneration in the large companies is concerned,differential treatment is accorded to local and foreign employees. In all the companies,local employees,even if more qualified than the foreign ones are paid less by three to four times than a foreign one. Even foreign junior staff is paid more than senior experienced local staff. Part of the problem relates to the fact that the new labour relations legislations hamper any possibilities of the workers to unionise.

What mining is doing to Tanzania is to contribute in the breakdown of any possible integration of the mining interests into the nation-wide economy, with the granting of monopoly to companies in keeping with the international developments.

All that it is managing to do locally is to benefit some of the sections of the local elite,at the same time making the state incapable of fulfilling its developmental obligations.

Watanzania wanachimba madini illegally kwenye nchi yao bali wageni ndio wameuziwa utajiri ambao unatajirisha wale ambao wamepewa peremende. Je, tufanyeje?
0 Reactions
Top Bottom