MPs have got a point:BoT gold storage has been problematic in the past

08Jul 2017
Dar es salaam
The Guardian
MPs have got a point:BoT gold storage has been problematic in the past

DEBATE on what to do about gold concentrate or minerals sand it at a low ebb as institutional correction is afoot with radical changes in the regime in which mining, refining, storage and even depositing of cash is going to be handled.

Evidently there will be long discussions not only with the mining companies but organizations or agencies, including foreign governments with an interest in the matter, but with a proviso.

What will be discussed at those gatherings is the copy of law and policy that the government has tabled, to work on it, not the older, wasteful regime.

When Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi spelt out intentions of the new legislation and mentioned gold storage and harboring at the Bank of Tanzania and not exporting it from airfields at the major mining sites, one thing came to mind.

What were the issues surrounding BoT closure of a similar facility in1992, which at that time was handling chiefly artisan gold? Is there a structural difference between handling artisan gold produce and what is produced by Acacia Mining plc and others? Could those problems occur this time again?

Addressing the gathering when receiving the first report on gold concentrate exports, President John Magufuli had decried the suggestion that smelting facility is too expensive for Tanzania, saying that there is a small smelter in Geita and another in Dar es Salaam.

Significantly, the BoT has never seen the need to conduct the business of receiving and verifying gold, from artisan or these other sources, but now the task is being given back to it. Yet there is some clarification that may eventually have to be made, whether it is just major mines that will place their gold at BoT.

How is security assured, apportioned for DRC-bound lorry drivers?

HUGE sighs of relief were registered at midweek as news filtered from the Democratic Republic of Congo that around 21 abducted drivers had been freed after operation by the armed forces of that country.

This effort followed plenty of pressure and follow up on the part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, to obtain assurances and progress reports on what was being done to free the drivers held by the notorious Mai Mai rebels operating on the restive eastern border region close to Tanzania. The group is among weighty illegal groups active there.

While we have all the reasons to congratulate the Congolese armed forces for obtaining the release of the drivers safe and sound, there is a lingering question on how commercial ventures or activities in the Congo DR are to be treated at the moment, chiefly in relation to assurances of safety.

Ordinarily when a national of a country travel to another country by full permission of his or her national authorities, the latter are implicitly responsible for the safe conduct of the fellow, as otherwise the person would have been dissuaded from going there. Does this logic apply here?

Taking goods to the DRC in lorries is something between international trade and cross border trade, as it is national in character and starts from the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam for a long trip inland.

It is part of regulated transit trade for which a broad legal structure exists, but it isn’t likely that there is provision for when drivers can be allowed inside the country, and if this permit can be the subject of updates from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, depending on the security situation. That is the sort of anomaly being felt here.

This problem is akin to taking out insurance, that it isn’t compulsory except for certain areas for which explicit regulation or legislation exists to that effect, in which case it isn’t the ministry that allows or permits drivers to go to the Congo. It is like parking in a slot anywhere in the city or strictly speaking anywhere at all, unless there is a commercial entity guarding the place and is also likely to extract a fee for its services.

Outside that provision, there is usually the disclaimer that one parks a vehicle at his or her own risk, in that no third party will answer for loss, damage.

Abductions have a way of jolting national sentiments into a collective sleeplessness and waiting, whereas when the drivers decided to make the trip to the Congo they did not have to obtain the permit of the government or any acknowledged advisory agent.

The issue is whether we should treat this as a risk we ought to live with, either as part of globalization where guns are all over the place and some cash is splashed around to cause chaos.

Alternatively the no man’s land as to whether it is appropriate to take goods to the Congo as a foreign driver could also be addressed.

Maybe it is firstly a stakeholders’ issue as to what proposals they have to make trips to Congo DR less of a psychological torture for the population, or what remedies exist in case of danger.