THE Lawyers' Environmental Action Team (LEAT) in Tanzania has said that the recent results contained in a report by a special probe committee formed by President John Pombe Magufuli to investigate mineral content in gold sand destined for export were not a surprise to them.
It said the findings matched their own many years back when they raised their voice during third and fourth phase governments.
They said Acacia Mines, formerly Barrick Gold, rejected their findings, terming them as activist-driven with a hidden agenda against investors.
LEAT Chief Executive Officer Dk. Rugemeleza Nshala said his organization was committed to working with other experts in unveiling cheats in the country’s mineral resources sector.
A statement signed by the CEO and availed to the media said LEAT was ready to work with the government in its effort to expose cheats.
“We are also able to help the government to look for expert lawyers to defend for our rights and our resources,” the CEO said.
He said although LEAT was recognized by the government as having extensive expertise on mining and oil exploration regulations, there were government officials who had ensured that they were not given a chance to comment.
According to LEAT, since 2001 Tanzania has been giving out its minerals free of charge and paying for the carriers through tax exemptions, investment incentives and by dodging value added tax payments.
The commission formed by Judge Bomani, according to LEAT, clearly explained that the country was being robbed of its mineral resources and proposed amendment to the Mining Act 2010.
According to them, the government needed to stop and renegotiate all mining, gas and oil contracts.
It said there should also be an effective Law Department in the government responsible for the gas, petroleum and minerals contracts.
The NGO CEO said the country lacked competent lawyers with negotiation skills, hence the need to train lawyers in negotiation skills in the interest of the country.
“In Western countries there is training in legal negotiations being taught at several universities including Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Berkeley and Georgetown in the US,” he said.
The NGO said the government needed to develop a specialized committee of experts to review all mining contracts with a view to plugging their weaknesses.
Professionals who make up this committee should come from inside and outside the government to replicate the Botswana Mining Policy Committee composed of experts whose love for their country and trust is not in doubt.
This committee should comprise economists, experts in investment, tax, mining, environmentalists and lawyers.
The committee should be permanent and be eligible to seek professional advice including involving experts from within and outside the country.