TARIME District Councilors have expressed the need to embrace relationships between the government, foreign investors, businesses, and local communities to promote local growth and development for the benefit of public interests.
Civic representatives who gathered in Tarime District at a workshop organised by the Legal Human Rights Centre (LHRC) on Thursday aimed at explaining the relationships and conditions on business and human rights as far as mining investment is concerned.
Tarime Council Chairman, Moses Yomami said several mining investors in the region do not comply with labor laws and regulations, such as the right to work, the right to freedom of association and the right to health, whereby over 70 percent of workers are unaware of their labor rights and duties.
‘’I was one of the beneficiaries of the North Mara mine student sponsorship in Nyamwaga, one of the villages that are included in the mine’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and therefore we recommend to the government to strengthen monitoring of the investment sector among the surrounding population,’’ said Mr Yomami, who is also the Nyamwaga ward Councilor.
He said the primary duty to protect citizens from corporate harm is vested in the state, whereby the state has the duty to protect its citizens through legal frameworks, on business and human rights in the context of business activities in the region.
According to Jonathan Machango on behalf of Tarime DC Mtemi Msafiri who was the guest of honor, foreign and internal investors operating in the region have a noble duty to respect the rights of workers and communities surrounding their areas of investment, and govern ethical behavior in business and mining operations.
‘’Large scale and medium companies must put strategies to re-mediate human right grievances as a powerful measure that demonstrates commitment to a fair, transparent and independent remediation process, ‘’ he noted.
He cited the North Mara Gold Mine, operating at the township of Nyamongo in Tarime district, where the miners have set up an Operational Grievance Mechanism, but recently several actors here questioned whether it meets any of the essential requirements to enlighten the citizens on the importance of engaging in benefit sharing.
According to LHRC Program Officer Paul Mikongoti, the investors must put in place proper methods for implementing the basic human rights that shows clearly their cooperation with local authorities where both mining communities have faced conflicts between small scale miners and foreign investors, and the conflicts have reached higher levels to rectify.
‘’The major aim of this gathering is to focus on the triangular relationship between the government (including local authorities), foreign owned mining companies and local communities to identify guided benefit stream management and factors that enhance or hinder development at the local level” he explained.
He said according to various LHRC studies, critical voices argue that the companies’ investment opportunities are simply for their own benefit, giving an example pointing that they repair roads leading to the mine only.