- Published on Sunday, 22 July 2012 03:41
- Written by Tony Zakaria
- Hits: 1804
Tanzania is going ahead with the uranium extraction project. Great, you think. Tanzania could soon be floating in cash. But wait. How much will the country get out of the project? It will be some $650 million over a 15-year period. Is $30 million per year enough for prime real estate in the world-famous Selous Game reserve, a UNESCO world heritage site?
I asked my friend Nsoru Monamangi, suppose he owned 100 square miles of prime land, how much would he sell it for. That is equivalent to 10 miles wide and 10 miles long. He laughed. Mr Tony, who would let me own such a large area? The 'siri-kali' of course, I retorted.
Imagine owning the land north-east of Morogoro road from St Joseph's cathedral near the port to Ubungo, east to Mwenge and onwards to Kawe beach. Nsoru would own territory that includes all of Oysterbay, Kinondoni, Mwananyamala, part of Manzese, Ubungo and Magomeni, all of Sinza, Mikocheni, Upanga and Kijitonyama.
If an investor proposed to build a brand new Dubai on that piece of land, he would have to pay through his nose just to ge Nsoru's signature on the project. Pieces of land smaller than an acre are being scooped up in Kariakoo by buyers with 'vijisenti' for not less than 800mn/- each.
A 100 square miles are contains almost 650,000 acre plots. At 800mn/- each would fetch $ 325,000 million, not $ 650 million. You may argue 100 square miles in Tanganyika bush land is not of comparable value to prime real estate in Dar es Salaam city.
I tell you solemnly, that land is worth much more. Even though 50 square miles is the roaming area of one elephant in the endless plains of the Serengeti, it is worth much more than 100 square miles of hot, dusty Dar es Salaam or Mwanza.
Thousands of birds, rare insects and wild animals will flourish there for hundreds of years. It is a priceless piece of land. When the mine eventually closes, that land will be useless. There will be mountains of contaminated earth with gaping pits, perhaps harmful for agriculture, animal husbandry or human habitation.
Therefore it is not patriotic for warm bodies in industry and natural resources ministries to sell precious land for such a small payment. Real patriots would demand 25 per cent of shares in the mining venture just because Tanzanians own the uranium and the land.
Perhaps patriotic MPs exist in the august house. Tanzania-loving MPs should demand the agreement be renegotiated for the benefit of majority Tanzanians and scrutiny of the agreement by parliament. Yes we need investors but mining ventures should be on our terms, not on current global exploitative conditions.
It is unpatriotic to pay fat salaries and allowances to any cadre of workers in Tanzania. Some of us believe that if Mwalimu Nyerere was alive today, no MD would dare to demand 3.0 million/- salary and 4.0 million/- in allowances.
Is it selfish for doctors to want up to seven million shillings in emoluments per month? Absolutely. But doctors dare to demand such payment because some managers and political bigwigs are already being paid ludicrous sums in salaries and other entitlements.
Some damaging directors of public corporations get more than 10 million shillings per month, live in luxurious houses while being driven in vehicles that cost tax-payers hundreds of millions of shillings. Some public corporations have failed to provide decent services and are falling apart.
It is not patriotic to pay millions of shillings to a select few Tanzanians at senior level while public hospitals lack decent equipment and medical drugs. How much do Tanzanian ministers, managing and departmental directors earn per year? The public deserves to know. Even Muhimbili hospital directors get millions while frontline doctors get thousands.
Now you know why doctors and nurses are on long-term go-slow strike while patients pile up in corridors, stairs and on floors in wards, waiting for treatment that never comes on time if at all. Medics do all of this while happily pocketing salaries and any allowances at the end of every month.
It is the same in ministries and government departments at national, provincial and district level. It says in the good book that one should do a decent day's work but be paid only upon completion before the sweat dries from the brow. Religious leaders must speak out strongly against worshippers who do not perform their duties. Give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar.
Public workers report to work, read newspapers for news or scandal for the best part of the morning, before disappearing for 'chai' or lunch for unspecified periods, while those in need of services wait in corridors or open grounds. Patriotism is on leave in Tanzania. Supervisors who do their jobs diligently must have died when Nyerere's socialism and self-reliance perished in Zenj.
It is selfish for traders to hike prices at every opportunity. The month of Ramadan is here with us. Unscrupulous traders of foodstuffs are already salivating at the prospect of how much profit they stand to make from fasting Tanzanians.
Traders of fuel, construction materials or clothing have no qualms squeezing the life out of ordinary folks. From street vendors to supermarket owners, everybody is out to make a buck.