Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Tuesday, December 20, 2022.
Contract for Tabora–Kigoma SGR project signed
President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Tuesday witnessed the signing of the contract for lot six of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project, which runs from Tabora to Kigoma, at the State House in Dar es Salaam.
The contract to construct the 506km project was entered by three parties namely the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC), China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and China Railway Construction Company (CRCC).
The completion of the SGR project, which is scheduled for 2027, is expected to turn Tanzania into a regional transport hub, serving countries like Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Speaking shortly after witnessing the signing of the contract, President Samia said that the SGR project has so far cost Sh23.3 trillion, demanding diligence in its implementation because the money is a loan.
“So, those who say that this administration is borrowing heavily should also know that it is an administration that is building the entire SGR railway line,” President Samia said. “And we wouldn’t be able to build it using our own money, we had to borrow them.”
Because the debts have to be paid, President Samia said that tax collection should be efficient lest Tanzania fails to pay back the loans.
“Where we have been criticised for borrowing heavily we should also be applauded to pay back heavily,” the Head of State said.
Cash strapped,Tanzania President calls for more revenue collection
When Tanzania launched its Standard Gauge Railway in 2018, the government boasted to the world that it was using its internal revenues.
Truthful by then Government had secured several commercial loans, specifically from Standard Chartered as well as Credit Suisse AG and others to finance the project.
Today, December 20,2022, Tanzania has signed an agreement for the sixth lot of the Standard Gauge Railway which will run from Tabora to Kigoma costing a total of USD 2.21 Billion, making the total investment of the SGR about USD 10.04 Billion.
Tanzania’s President took a moment to explain the financing of the project, “all of this project [worth] USD 10 billion is implemented through loans” she explained. “So, those who say that this administration is borrowing heavily, should also know that it is an administration that is building the entire SGR railway line”.
Recently there has been an increasing discussion regarding public debt after the recent report that it has reached Shs. 71 Trillion in September 2022, a 13 percent increase from last year. Read the full story here.
Six jailed for terrorism
Six people, including three from the same family, have been sentenced to 50 years in prison for the offence of conspiring to commit terrorist acts and participating in terrorist meetings based on the decision made at the High Court (Corruption and Economic Sabotage Division) by Judge Yose Mlyambina.
The accused in the case Seif Chombo, Abdallah Chombo, Athumani Chombo, Mohamed Kamala, Omarily Mbomani, and Rashid Ally. The six were linked to Mozambique based terror groups and were associated with activities to mobilize youth using religion with the purpose of overthrowing government.
According to the judge, the accused were convicted following their terrorism attempts between January 2014 and July 2020 within Tunduru district in Ruvuma region and other places in the United Republic of Tanzania.
The witness in the case who was the Police Officer explained that the convicted had their leaders living in Ruvuma, Lindi, Mtwara and Coastal region. Some were arrested but other managed to escape to Mozambique. According to the witness statement those leaders who the accused mentioned include Jamal Seleman Kunyata, Abudhali Maonyo and Mtumbei.
The convicted who are resident of Lukumbale village in Tunduru were all worshippers of Al Malid mosque, they were accused of using it to plan for terrorism activities until they were arrested in July 13, 2020.
RAID responds to ‘attacks’ by Barrick Gold
UK-based corporate watchdog RAID urged Barrick Gold on Tuesday to recalibrate its focus to providing remedies to those harmed by its operations and taking steps to end the human rights abuses at its North Mara mine instead of “attacking” those who speak out.
RAID’s responses come almost a week after Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow accused it on December 13, 2022, of involving itself in the litigation against the miner.
Bristow said that the organisation has “a long history of making unfounded allegations about purported human rights abuses at North Mara.”
Bristow made the explanation following recent legal action by Tanzanian nationals against Barrick Gold in Canada in November 2022 and another legal action against the London Bullion Market Association in the UK announced in December 2022.
In a statement on Tuesday, RAID said that the watchdog is not a party, nor does represent any parties, in these proceedings.
“It is brave Tanzanians represented by experienced law firms who have chosen to pursue justice through the courts, not RAID,” the organisation said in a statement. “We fully support their decision to do so.”
In his statement, Barrick’s Bristow also accused RAID of having “a long history of making unfounded allegations” and having “shown no inclination to come to the mine,” an accusation that RAID called “inaccurate.”
“RAID’s reporting on the human rights situation is based on extensive research in North Mara, including nearly 200 interviews in the last three years alone, and we have frequently visited the site around the mine,” the organisation said in a statement.
RAID warned against public attacks on civil society groups, whether national or international, something which they fear can set a dangerous tone, especially for those working on the frontlines reporting on corporate human rights abuses.
“In 2021, there were more than 600 attacks against human rights defenders worldwide who were raising concerns about harmful business practices, with the mining sector considered the most dangerous,” the corporate watchdog reported.
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