Artisanal miners, investors contest was a time bomb waiting to explode

13Aug 2017
Guardian On Sunday
Artisanal miners, investors contest was a time bomb waiting to explode

POLICY is taking a sharp turn towards what a number of analysts in agencies backing foreign investors are likely to identify with populism,

in that measures are being taken to favor local populations in contentions with foreign investors because the latter have no representation in the country’s political map, as they are basically strangers.

That kind of perspective can also be set forth to explain investigations into the gold concentrate business and all what was discovered, that it is populism meant to generate political support at the mass level. While there is an element of truth in the popular appeal, it is not true that there is no substance but political posturing, just.

After the probe into gold concentrates business and its hidden secrets, there is now a new dawn in some mining areas where large miners and local artisanal miners can scarcely share space, and logic has it that the mass of the population have leeway over the matter.

That is due to the fact that it is possible for a large miner to seek other alternatives if the place of his choice is crowded, and hopefully he would have returned his initial investment and earned a profit, respectably as well, so that there is no rip off when he has to close shop.

But other expectations of his, tied to that adventure, would predictably have hit a snag, and there isn’t much that can be done to help.

When big miners started being called into the country in 1996, only the bureaucracy was happy about it, that the move would generate revenue for the government, but as a matter of fact it was negative from a total value point of view (comprehensive generation and realization of value).

Small miners used to sell gold at the Bank of Tanzania, but owing to socialist habits that were creeping back in the second term of the second phase presidency, people started worrying that their names were being jotted down when they sell gold at BoT, or send agents to do it for them.

And also, BoT was paying a small price as state agencies often do, so miners sought other outlets.

That is the manner in which Tanzania is the leading producer of tanzanite but it is Kenya and India which export tanzanite to world markets, and the same goes for coffee, gold, emerald and plenty of other precious stones mined in Tanzania and sold across the border because there is a functioning market there, not here.

In that way, it is vital that these hindrances to local mining and sale of precious stones or metals by local people be removed, and BoT or any other agency start purchasing gold and other metals or stones, and no jotting of names needs to occur.

This idea that a gold miner is a rich person and is thus liable to be overtaxed takes gold to countries which show greater respect for investors.

President John Magufuli has gone a long way to remove bureaucratic bottlenecks to enhanced production and setting up of industries, but finally he will have to combat some ingrained beliefs which help to mold our culture as Tanzanians, and our poverty is also enshrined in that cultural outlook.

This will not be easy as the sort of agencies which had the task of jotting down names of people with houses to rent during the first phase are there to jot down names of those who sold gold at BoT or were purchasing farms, etc during the second phase, and are relearning their trade again .

To move forward, prejudice must give way first, and people should sell gold or precious stones without fear.