At last, some progress was made yesterday on the route to finding a solution to the current dispute pitting the government against the Acacia gold mining firm.
It was undoubtedly a sigh of relief for those whose interests are adversely affected by the continued crisis arising from the government ban on the export of mineral concentrates.
The meeting between President John Magufuli and the Barrick Gold Corporation Executive Chairman John Thornton at the State House in Dar es Salaam is a welcome step in the right direction in efforts by the two parties to arrive at a mutually satisfying agreement.
We are encouraged to see that Barrick has given the matter the agency it deserves by flying in its senior-most executives to meet President Magufuli. We also note the pledge from the mining giant and the government to open discussions immediately to allow for resumption of normal mining activities as soon as possible.
Now that the ground has been set for negotiations, our prayer is that both the parties will engage in earnest talks based on good intentions for mutual benefit.
President Magufuli who banned the export of the concentrates to allow for investigations into the mineral content of the concentrates as well as the economic benefit accrued from the exports is clearly well meaning. He is determined to ensure Tanzanians benefit from their natural resources.
As President, the public has rallied behind his cause and would expect to see tangible results out of the talks. For its part, Acacia, which has mined in Tanzania for nearly 20 years, has a huge stake it would want to protect.
At the end of it all, it is in the interest of both parties to find a middle ground and secure a win-win situation, for we wouldn’t like to see this standoff degenerate into a fully-blown crisis with devastating consequences.
END LAND GRABS, HOARDING
Land, being such a precious resource, is becoming increasingly scarcer and a cause of disputes and conflict either between citizens and investors (both local and foreign) or between farmers and pastoralists due to population increase and market value.
Yet, there are undeveloped chunks of land, which are hoarded by an affluent class. A few moneyed individuals buy huge expanses of land at throwaway prices and hoard them so that they may later resell for huge profit.
To address this problem, President John Magufuli on Tuesday held a meeting in Dar es Salaam with regional commissioners across the country and directed them to repossess all idle land and reallocate it to people.
Of course, the power to revoke land lies in the President, much as he can only do so if there is a breach of condition or good cause. This is according to the Land Act, 1999.
But sometimes presidential appointees make arbitrary decisions, thinking doing so makes them effective and pleases the boss. This shouldn’t happen. We are happy, though, that even the President himself cautioned them to follow legal procedures.
Which is to say, we expect them to do justice in the whole process so that no person will be undermined because the President has directed to them to repossess idle land.