The Tanzania-China Friendship Textile Company Limited ‘Urafiki’ Workers Union has requested the government to give some of its shares in the firm to workers as it prepares to relinquish its stake.
Speaking to The Guardian in an exclusive interview, Laurian Mahalu the Urafiki branch TUICO chairperson said workers were proposing that 15 per cent of the government shares be given to the workers and 34 percent sold at the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange to allow any Tanzanian to buy them.
Mahalu said the government has already opted to sell its shares in the company creating fears that workers may lose their rights.
Mahalu stressed that the 49 percent of the shares that the government has in the Urafiki textile firm belonged to all Tanzanians and not otherwise.
“We TUICO, will not agree with the government proposal of selling its shares.
For his part the Tanzania-China Friendship Textile Company Limited deputy general manager Nassoro Baraza confirmed the government plans to sell its shares. “The government decided so after the Chinese side which owns 51 percent of shares said it was not easy to operate the industry under the current status,” said Baraza.
Called for comment, the Industry and Trade minister, Dr Abdallah Kigoda said the government was still discussing the sale of the shares. “The proposal is still under discussion,” said Dr Kigoda, adding that the government has no direct answer until the discussion is over.
But yesterday Members of Parliament tasked the government to provide thorough explanations on its plans to rescue the company whose production is about to halt. They asked the Speaker of the National Assembly to allow formation of a subcommittee to investigate the problems affecting operations at the factory and advise the government.
Reading the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee for Industry and Trade for the budget estimates for the Ministry of Industries and Trade for the financial year 2012/2013 the Committee Chairman Mahmoud Mgimwa mentioned the misuse of about 27m/- which was disbursed by the government, uprooting of factory machines and selling them as scrape and removing the workers from the factory houses and renting the same to other people as some of the problems affecting the firm.
He said buildings of the factory have been rented to businesspeople who have turned them into warehouses and yards for selling vehicles.
“Most of the workers have been suspended and the ones who were present were being paid very low wages,” he said.
Mgimwa said when his committee visited the factory it advised the Ministry to suspend plans of a joint venture with a new investor and resolve the problems at the factory.“We want the government to tell us its strategic plans to rescue this factory,” Mgimwa insisted.
Shadow Minister of Industry and Trade Highness Kiwia in his alternative budget said failure by the government to make frequent follow ups on issues related to operations of the factory has caused it to incur big loss.