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Undercover mining deals put Tanzania out of range

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by BAK, Dec 21, 2008.

  1. BAK

    BAK JF-Expert Member

    Dec 21, 2008
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    Undercover mining deals put Tanzania out of range


    A DAY after National Assembly Speaker Samwel Sitta spoke in support of transparency -- openness on the signing of government agreements contracts I was very much surprised to hear from the media on 5 December 2008 about Adam Malima, Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, defending the old bad system of 'secrecy' of the same deals. My humble advice to Malima is that, as a high ranking official, he should have prayed to be blessed to embrace good practices and ways which can ensure that the citizens of Tanzania do objectively reap the benefits of the resources that lie in their land.

    For me there is no other way of achieving that noble objective except through transparency and discouraging bribery and corruption.

    What Sitta was benevolently advocating and wanting his fellow Tanzanians to seriously take note of was that, though Tanzania has been doing business in the extractive industry for more than 10 years, as a country we have not got even closer to the full value of the resources (Tunaliwa tu!).

    So far Tanzania has not been in a position to get a larger fraction of the value of its mineral resources.

    While lamenting, Sitta sent a powerful message to the government that we are where we are because of poorly designed and poorly executed policies. In addition, Tanzania has not been fairly treated by the notorious corporations involved in the extracting industry.

    Indeed, the fundamental question that Sitta raised on 4 December 2008 ( in support of Prof. Joseph Stiglitz of the University of Columbia) was: Why should taxpayers in the developed world continue to subsidize a government which, in effect, is giving away its resources through dubious contracts that condone secrecy but officially described as 'best practices

    Rather than come up with the type of negative comments he made about Sitta's call on transparency, Malima should have done a great honour and service to Tanzania, to the Speaker and to himself by endorsing the Speaker's prudent message.
    Whether Malima likes it or not the truth remains that transparency has for long been recognized as one of the strongest antidotes to corruption.

    Wealth lost
    As the expression goes Sunshine is the strongest antiseptic. So if the citizens are to provide a check against corruption for resources, which are rightfully theirs, they should always know what is going on. This is necessary in promoting both meaningful democracy and accountability.??It is prudent and it makes sense for Tanzanian ministers to realize the fact that as a nation we have in the last 10 years lost a lot of wealth through undercover contracts.

    Sitta should be hailed for having come up in full support of transparency in the conduct of government business and in support of the president, who is now waging a serious war against corruption and abuse of public office.

    Through the media, Tanzanians should all the time get full disclosure of what is paid and how much was taken in the extractive industry.

    Without such a broader agreement as has long ago been forewarned by Stiglitz, former chief economic advisor to then US President Bill Clinton, Tanzania will continue heading to the bottom. Let us keep it in mind that trade deals can be useful in promoting good behaviour. It is high time politicians and government officials came forward to do more in this direction than just provide pious lectures to the people on what should be done in order to get more from the country's minerals and natural resources.

    Our leaders should be role models in the provision of practical advice. If Tanzania continues to give its resources away unprocessed, we shall never know the revenue that the government deserves to earn.

    This means the government will continue getting less money to pay for infrastructure, water, schools, hospitals, and other facilities that are absolutely necessary for development.
    Lobbyist intrigues

    With poorly designed and poorly executed policies and agreements, the government is bound to end up with raw deals.

    We should be grateful to Energy and Mineral Resources Minister William Ngeleja for having acknowledged this anomaly, as reported in one local daily.
    Much as trade negotiations have always been done in 'secret' our ministers ought to be well advised that trade pacts are always a result of long and complex processes of negotiation.

    But, it is important to note that lobbyists also work hard to include in the deals self-serving provisions that are likely to pass unnoticed.

    Obviously, our ministers are ill-equipped to grasp the full implications of each contract clause, especially when they are told the clauses refer to 'standard best practices'. This underlines the call by Sitta to members of parliament to scrutinize these agreements.

    Recall Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere's warning: (Tunaliwa kwa kuingia mikataba na kutunga sheria za kuliwa! Sisi mazuzu?)

    Another serious point that Sitta put across in defence of openness in a poor country such as Tanzania is that transparency is too important for economic development to be left to free trade economists only.

    Tanzania should not continue being forced to auction off its future for petty immediate gains through secret agreements. The parliament cannot sit back and watch while the economy doesn't benefit from the extractive industry.

    Insistence by government that it cannot disclose information in the name of business confidentiality, according to Stiglitz and Ha Joon Chang of the University of Cambridge, ''is nothing more than an excuse that is only the veil behind which government officials and corporations can continue in the corrupt practice!'' The two academics advise that prudent governments, especially of the developing nations, can set rules because there are enough honest corporations willing to play with rules of transparency. The citizens' right to know should trump any claim to business confidentiality.

    Media's role
    Our leadership in Tanzania should know that things done against the will of the people always end up in shame! Cases like EPA in Bank of Tanzania, BUZWAGI, and RICHMOND are recent telling examples.

    It is only through labour and painful efforts that Tanzania can move to better and greater economic growth and development. Some of the things that are likely to destroy Tanzania are the love for undue praises by our leaders, avarice and intimidation of the press.

    My tribute to Sitta for having boldly mandated the local media to spearhead developmental consciousness in the mind sets of wananchi. ??But contrary to conventional wisdom, Ha Joon Chang advises: The historical fact is that rich countries did not develop on the basis of policies and institutions that they are now recommending to and often force upon developing countries.''

    Our leaders should realize that the role of government now needs to be rehabilitated. Some of the practices and initiatives we see these days amount to 'green wash' or are just mere attempts to camouflage what Sitta rightly said was doing ''business as usual.''

    Emphasis must be on building the capacity and accountability of our government and not undermining it. Good government reputation takes time, big resources, creativity and efforts to build.

    This good government's reputation can be damaged in a much shorter time with very little energy and can be difficult to rebuild. Foreign corporations coming to do business in Tanzania have a vital role in fostering genuine economic development, but they have no legitimacy to replace the functions of the government in the name of globalization, good governance etc.

    We have of late seen in Tanzania corporations behaving like 'unsympathetic global tourists' seeking and soaking up undue profits while detached from concerns of society.

    This is a result of secret contracts in spite of persistent warnings by our local whistler-blowers the media houses. Heeding Sitta's call, the media should prop up our civil society to take the lead in ensuring that government is objectively held accountable and puts an end to office abuses by our leaders.

    Most important, Tanzania needs to view both its mineral and natural resources as an endowment of which the current government and generation are but trustees for future generations!
    The writer is retired private secretary to the late Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere
  2. A

    Alpha JF-Expert Member

    Dec 21, 2008
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    Tanzanians waking up and demanding some accountability and Transparency. Viva la revolution !!!