Tanzania: MP queries Tanzania-Canada talks on investor protection
by This Day reporter, Dodoma

1. MP queries Tanzania-Canada talks on investor `protection`
2. Canadian NGOs question envoy’s tete-a-tete with Tanzanian MPs
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1. MP queries Tanzania-Canada talks on investor `protection`

A member of Parliament yesterday questioned on-going negotiations between the government and Canada for an agreement aimed at protecting the interests of Canadian investor companies in the country, including the mining giant Barrick Gold Corporation. Speaking during the Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) weekly session in the National Assembly, Zitto Kabwe (Kigoma North-CHADEMA), asked premier Mizengo Pinda to explain the motives behind the recently-initiated official talks geared towards finalizing a legally-binding Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) between the two countries. He expressed concern that the proposed agreement could effectively cancel out the work of the presidential mining sector review committee chaired by retired judge, Mark Bomani, of which he (Zitto) was also a member.

’’Tanzania is currently in negotiations with the Canadian government to enter into this agreement. In fact, Tanzania has already agreed to speed up these negotiations, even before the recommendations of the Bomani committee report have been enforced by law,’’ said the MP, following this up with a direct question to the prime minister: ’’Why has the government agreed to undermine the sovereignty of our nation and undercut the authority of Parliament, by engaging in negotiations aimed at protecting dubious contracts with foreign companies, even as the Bomani committee report is still being handled by Parliament right now?’’ he continued.

Responding, premier Pinda said he was not aware about the ongoing negotiations between Tanzania and Canada cited by the MP. He asked Zitto to give him time to look into the matter, in order to come up with an informed response to his questions. The MP, who is also chairman of the Parliamentary Public Corporation Accounts Committee, told THISDAY in an interview later yesterday that he was ’’deeply suspicious’’ about the real motives of the talks, which he said actually began while the Bomani committee was still doing its work.

According to THISDAY’s own findings, while the Bomani committee was formed on November 12 last year and presented its report findings to President Jakaya Kikwete on May 24, this year, the negotiations between Tanzania and Canada for the FIPA began in March this year. ’’This timing is very suspicious,’’ stated Zitto, adding that he had personally seen a ’model’ of the proposed agreement and concluded that ’’it is purely an instrument aimed at protecting the interests of Canadian companies in Tanzania.’’ He advised the government to halt the negotiations with Canada until Parliament has properly debated the report findings of the Bomani committee, along with its recommendations for key reforms to the national mining sector policy and tax regime.

According to Zitto, proceeding with the negotiations at this stage would only pre-empt the recommendations of the Bomani committee report. He further noted that, although prime minister Pinda was �gentleman enough� to admit that he was not informed about the ongoing talks, such an admission did not reflect well on the workings of the government. Said Zitto: ’’If the prime minister has not been briefed about such important negotiations with a foreign government, it means there must be a serious lack of coordination within the government.’’ He faulted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service (TISS), and other relevant government departments for apparently failing to properly brief the premier on such important issues.

According to information posted on the website of Canada’s own department of foreign affairs and international trade, Dar es Salaam and Ottawa have ’’pledged to work together to conclude an agreement in a timely manner.’’ ’’A bilateral FIPA will provide greater predictability and certainty for Canadian investors considering investment opportunities in Tanzania, and will underscore Tanzania’s reliability as an investment destination,’’ says a report on the website. It continues: "Canada’s objective in entering these negotiations is to secure a comprehensive, high-quality agreement which will protect investors through the establishment of a framework of legally binding rights and obligations.’"

THISDAY recently reported that the Canadian High Commissioner to Tanzania, Janet Siddall, and other officials from the embassy in Dar es Salaam were in Dodoma on an intense mission to lobby MPs about their positions on the Bomani committee report findings. Parliamentary sources confirmed that the Canadian delegation had been in private talks with influential legislators from both the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and the Opposition camp. ’’They were keen to ensure that Parliament does not endorse the Bomani committee report for immediate implementation, because that would have quite negative consequences for that country’s business and investment interests in Tanzania,’’ one source told THISDAY. The report is in line to be debated in the National Assembly during the ongoing budget session. 

2. Canadian NGOs question envoy’s tete-a-tete with Tanzanian MPs

http://www.thisday.co.tz/News/4348.html

Dar es Salaam

Civil society organizations in Canada have voiced concern that their government may be putting pressure on members of the Tanzanian Parliament to ignore the recommendations contained in the final report of the mining sector review committee chaired by former Judge Mark Bomani. A group of Canadian NGOs last week formally wrote to the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, David Emerson, demanding clarification on reports that the Canadian government has been actively lobbying Tanzanian MPs not to endorse the Bomani Committee report. ’

’On behalf of the Africa-Canada Forum, a working group of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, we would like to have clarification on meetings between Canadian High Commission staff and Tanzanian legislators on the report of the Presidential Mining Sector Review Committee, and the Canadian government’s position on the Committee’s report,’’ said the letter from the Canadian Council for International Co-operation to foreign affairs minister Emerson. ’’Canadian and Tanzanian civil society organizations are concerned that Canada may be pressuring Tanzanian legislators not to endorse the report,’’ it added.

The letter, dated July 23, was also copied to Canada’s International Trade Minister Michael Fortier; the country’s High Commissioner to Tanzania, Ms Janet Siddall; and Tanzania?s own High Commissioner to Canada, Peter Kallaghe. It asserted that the mining sector review process was a ’’significant effort by the government of Tanzania to re-examine mining investment in the country’’, in order to ensure democratic governance and ownership. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has already taken a similar approach which ’’looks poised to nullify or renegotiate a number of unfair contracts,’’ the letter further noted.

According to the Canadian civil society statement, the Bomani Committee recommendations include the establishment of a ’’national mining authority’’ charged with supervising all mining activity in Tanzania. ’’The committee also proposes changes to taxation and royalties paid by the mining sector, to reflect more appropriately what is owed to the Tanzanian government,’’ it stated. It quoted organs like Canada’s standing committee on foreign affairs and international trade (SCFAIT), and ’’the consensus-based Final Report from the National Roundtables’’ as making heated calls for fair deals with Tanzania and other countries.

According to the CSOs statement, SCFAIT is seeking the adoption of measures that ’’make Canadian government support ? such as export and project financing and services offered by Canadian missions abroad ? conditional on companies meeting clearly-defined corporate social responsibility and human rights standards, particularly through the mechanism of human rights impact assessments.’’ On the other hand, the National Roundtables report recommends that the Canadian government, ’’while respecting the national sovereignty of developing countries that seek to promote economic and social development through investment in the extractive sector, should work with these countries’ governments to develop strategies consistent with optimizing benefits of extractive projects.’’

The Roundtables report also called for the establishment of Canadian corporate social responsibility standards, and the appointment of an independent ombudsperson to monitor compliance with these standards, said the CSOs’ statement. But it also noted that over 15 months since this report was released, the Canadian government has yet to implement any of its recommendations. Said the CSOs’ statement: ’’We urge the Canadian High Commission in Tanzania to follow the SCFAIT and Roundtables recommendations in its dealings with Tanzanian legislators.’’

Going further, it also quotes a recent statement from the Africa Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society, adopted by 39 African members including representatives from Tanzania, which calls for ’’all pressures and policy prescriptions for Africa and African governments to cease forthwith, so as to allow African governments and people to enjoy the right to policy choices, and review their laws and mining contracts without any limitation.’’ The CSOs’ statement concludes with a call to ’’promote and ensure that Africa optimizes the benefits of its mineral potentials in ways that guarantee national economic development, human rights, environmental sustainability, and promotion of community interest.

’’With Tanzania, Canada has the opportunity to show leadership in corporate social responsibility in the extractive industries. We are convinced that Canada can demonstrate its commitment to promote the kind of development that Africans envision for themselves, and that so many Canadians support.’’ Contacted for comment, Judge Bomani told THISDAY that although he personally has not seen a copy of the letter itself, he has heard reports about such concerns from Canadian civil society organizations. ’’It is pleasing to see that there are some people out there who value the work of our committee,’’ said Bomani.

On Thursday last week, a local legislator questioned the reports of ongoing negotiations between the Tanzanian and Canadian governments for an agreement aimed at protecting the interests of Canadian investor companies in the country, including the mining giant Barrick Gold Corporation. Speaking during the Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) weekly session in the National Assembly, Zitto Kabwe (Kigoma North - CHADEMA) asked Premier Mizengo Pinda to explain the motives behind such talks apparently geared towards finalizing a legally-binding Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) between the two countries. The MP expressed concern that the proposed agreement could effectively cancel out the work of the Bomani Committee, of which he (Zitto) was also a member. Responding, premier Pinda told the House that he was not aware about such ongoing negotiations between Tanzania and Canada, and asked for more time to come up with an informed answer.

THISDAY recently reported that the Canadian High Commissioner to Tanzania, Ms Siddall, and other officials from the embassy in Dar es Salaam were in Dodoma on a particularly aggressive mission to lobby local MPs about their positions on the Bomani Committee report findings. Parliamentary sources confirmed that the Canadian delegation had been in private talks with influential legislators from both the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and the Opposition camp.