- Feb 11, 2006
Less than a fortnight after promising he would set up an independent committee to review mining contracts, President Jakaya Kikwete has already lived up to his word.
Not only has he allayed fears of critics who expected he would drag his feet over the matter, but the President actually went ahead to form a committee that incorporates people from diverse shades of expertise and political spectrum, to look into this sensitive matter.
The inclusion of a long-time critic of the sector who is very patriotic when it comes to agitating for the right of Tanzanians to benefit from their natural resources, John Cheyo, (MP, Bariadi East), is very laudable.
Commendable too, is the inclusion of Zitto Kabwe, the youthful legislator for Kigoma North, who was suspended from Parliament for 'annoying' certain quarters in the course of raising very pertinent issues surrounding one of the mining contracts.
The sensitivity that the President showed in his choice of the committee members, more so the inclusion of Kabwe and Cheyo, has demonstrated that he is a visionary, who is apt to isolate politics from matters of common good.
This move will come to pass as one that depicted Kikwete as a leader fully aware of the cry of the people who had been clearly unhappy with the mining contracts of the day. For that, we highly commend him.
His choice of the review committee has impressed all and sundry, and even cynics are beginning to see in him a leader with a genuine desire to see Tanzanians benefit more from their resources.
Experts from within and outside the country have been preaching, since mid this year, that the only way a review of mining contracts could yield tangible results would be to put in place an independent team to take charge of the crucial task.
Southern Sudan Controller and Audit General (CAG) BM Barnabas earlier this year told the Sunday Citizen that the team the Tanzanian government had entrusted with the review the mining contracts would never bear fruits, since it comprised people who had signed the doubtable contracts in the first place.
The Executive Director of Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT) and well-known critic of the mining industry, Tundu Lissu, had also been very vocal, casting aspersion on the credibility of the previous mining contract review team. Lissu questioned how people, the very ones who prepared the flawed contracts, could be tasked to review those very contracts.
The most laudable gesture of the President, though, came a fortnight ago during the official opening of the ruling party's General Conference in Dodoma, when he announced the plan to form an independent mining contracts review committee.
The President said then: "Regardless of our political or other differences, we are all building the same house, so anyone with views on improving the mining sector, is welcome to contribute ideas."
From the foregoing, we hasten to say that the call from CHADEMA's Chacha Wangwe, published in a section of the local press on Friday, that Kabwe should remove himself from the mining contracts review team, ostensibly on account of his political affiliation, is most regrettable.
Wangwe, who is the CHADEMA assistant secretary-general, is reported to have said their party is for amendments to various bad mining laws before any review of mining contracts is carried out. He argued that Kabwe's presence in the team announced this week clashed with CHASEMA's standpoint.
We urge Chadema to put aside party interests at this stage, just as the President has done, for the sake of national interest.
Granted, it is within the present mining laws where the problem lies, and many contracts cannot be meaningfully amended without first amending the prevailing bad laws. But then, if the review committee is allowed to do its job properly, the need for a review of such laws will certainly be taken on board.
And because we believe the President genuinely wants to revamp the mining sector in a way that benefits Tanzanians more, he will listen to such recommendations objectively.
Any move that could scuttle the newly-formed committee at this stage is neither wise nor patriotic. The interest of the Tanzanians should always rise above partisan politics.
Soource: The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)
18 November 2007