Where were you when those corrupt contracts were signed by your government? Sumaye tells off investors By Zephania Ubwani, Arusha THE CITIZEN Former long-serving Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye yesterday accused foreign investors of plundering the natural resources in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa. Mr Sumaye, who has been out of the limelight for nearly three years, since stepping down in late 2005, denounced what he termed as the gross exploitation of the continent's huge natural resources. The ex-PM, who was one of the top aides of former President Benjamin Mkapa whose regime championed various controversial investment policies, especially in the mining industry and economic privatisation was addressing a two-day China-Africa conference in Arusha. Mr Sumaye served for the entire 10-year tenure of former President Mkapa. Yesterday, he also warned that Tanzania as well as Africa would remain poor and underdeveloped as long as they continued to export raw materials rather than the processed goods. Mr Sumaye told the China-Africa Business Forum that although the continent has vast resources such as oil, minerals and timber, most of them were not being tapped for the benefit of the Africans. Said he: African resources have been exploited not for the full benefit of African countries but for the benefit of the multi-nationals. Mr Sumaye, who introduced himself as a retired politician, noted that not many people outside Africa believed that the continent could ever catch up with the rest of the world. This is the first time the former PM, who was among top contenders for the ruling party�s presidential nomination for the 2005 General Election, has come out so forcefully on an issue of national importance. He has in the past publicly admitted that he was not �aware of why Tanzania is very poor until I attended a special master�s degree programme at Harvard University�. In an interview with our sister newspaper, the Sunday Citizen last September, Mr Sumaye defended the third phase government of President Mkapa, saying it had enabled Tanzania to record a stable economic growth. Yesterday at the Arusha meeting, Mr Sumaye said that even with the vast natural resources, Africa's share of world trade remained 2.5 per cent, well below that of countries such as China. The share of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the majority of which are in Africa was 0.5 per cent. Tanzania belongs to that category. Mr Sumaye urged African countries to make sure they export only processed goods instead of raw materials, which fetch low prices in the world markets. He also advised Africa firms to emulate their counterparts in China and the entrepreneurial skills of the Chinese, who had turned their country into the fourth world's strongest economy in a few years. The former premier, who now resides in Coast Region, said it was a shame that raw tanzanite gemstones were being exported, denying the nation billions of shillings in revenue. For instance, due to the exportation of uncut gems, Tanzania was earning only $100 million a year, while estimates show that if cut and polished locally before entering the world market, tanzanite alone could earn about $500 million. Only cut and polished tanzanite gemstones could fetch the country good export returns, Mr Sumaye said. He challenged the gemstone dealers and exporters to join hands and establish their own gemstone cutting and polishing facilities. For it to work, the ex-premier said that processing export products would create jobs for the local people and add value to the products. Mr Sumaye attended the forum from when it started on Monday and ended yesterday afternoon. His presence attracted the attention of many people, as he has not been at many public functions since his return from post-graduate studies in the United States last year. Many people, who knew him, were surprised to meet the former second most powerful man in the country in the corridors, rooms and halls of the executive lodge, and in most cases without an assistant. Seated at the high table during the opening session by the Vice- President, Dr Ali Mohamed Shein, on Monday, Mr Sumaye was repeatedly introduced ahead of other dignitaries, including Cabinet ministers. On the last day, he was invited to speak from his experience on investments in Africa and Tanzania, as the longest serving PM. He declined to speak to journalists. He took the floor by making it clear that he was neither a businessman nor a serving leader but only as a retired politician, something which many local delegates found intriguing. During his tenure, Mr Sumaye, like his boss former President Mkapa, strongly advocated for heavy foreign investment, especially in the lucrative mining sector. According to the report on mining industry, which was released early this year, Tanzania lost nearly $2 billion or 40 per cent of its annual budget due to the controversial mining policy championed and implemented by the Mkapa and Sumaye administration. China eyes Tanzania resources Meanwhile, China yesterday announced that it may finance several multi-billion shillings projects in Lindi and Mtwara aimed at making the southern regions an important economic zone. The projects, include exploitation of gypsum for cement production, setting up cement and fertiliser factories in the two regions and expansion of the Mtwara port. China has also shown willingness to finance the exploitation of iron ore and coal at Mchuchuma and Liganga hills in Iringa region. The minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Mr Mustafa Mkullo, said preliminary surveys on the projects would be undertaken in the next two months but could not reveal the cost. Discussions on the projects would be finalised in Beijing in August, followed by an agreement, he told reporters at the end of the two- day forum. The United Nations Development Programme, which supported the Forum that brought together nearly 500 delegates, will fund the preliminary studies of the earmarked projects. The minister said Lindi and Mtwara projects were among matters agreed by the officials of the two countries from both the public and private sectors during the forum. Plans include construction of two industrial plants to make cement and fertiliser in Lindi and Mtwara, respectively. Lindi has vast reserves of gypsum, which is used to make cement. Natural gas currently being tapped for power production in the two regions will also be used for the manufacture of fertiliser. Mr Mkullo said Chinese firms had also shown interest in supporting Tanzania in the exploitation of iron ore and coal in Ludewa district, Iringa region. Implementation of the industrial projects would require upgrading and improvement of infrastructure, which would, among other things, see the expansion of Mtwara port. The National Development Corporation has for many years unsuccessfully sought foreign investors to exploit iron ore and coal reserves.