Presentation on theme: "The Role of Religious Institutions in Connection with Conflicts around Natural Resources Experiences from Tanzania."— Presentation transcript:
The Role of Religious Institutions in Connection with Conflicts around Natural Resources Experiences from Tanzania
Introduction Are there conflicts around natural resources? If so what are the reasons behind them? First and foremost we have to affirm that there are conflicts around natural resources particularly in resource rich countries. These conflicts are even more stringent in developing countries due to either laxity of laws or laxity in their implementation.
Introduction Such conflicts are either directly connected to operations related to investments on natural resources or due to unguided expectations of the people around areas of operations. Whatever way they might come through they are bracketed in the zeal of governments to give incentives to investors as attractions or as outcome of corruption and lack of transparency on the investment deals. We come to realize that there are conflicts when they are already there consuming both the local communities, investors and governments.
Introduction Specifically, most of these conflicts are related to compensation due to property loss - mainly land taken for investment; unmet expectations of communities; the impact of investment operations on the communities for example, issues related to environmental destruction, trespassing into the mining areas so as to pick up the left over, etc. Therefore, two main root causes to the above are: first, poor contracts due to poor negotiation power of hosting governments; second is corruption. These two are somehow connected.
Government Response Responding to these dissatisfactions the country’s President decided to form a number of committees to investigate on the matter. Three famous review missions were then undertaken that included the Kipokola, Masha and the Bomani review missions. Jonas Kipokola committee reviewed the general policy orientations of the mining industry and reaffirmed once again that the private sector, if led with strategic Government participation in mining sector, could be future winning economic bullet for developing the nation’s economy.
Government response Lawrence Masha; a lawyer and Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals by then gave a comprehensive fiscal regime road-map for the mining industry in Tanzania. Noting that the findings of the two committees were not adequately clear and were met with serious critique, President Jakaya Kikwete formed another committee famously known as the Bomani Committee.
Government response The official name of this committee was the Presidential Mining Industry Review Committee, formed in 2007. Its mandate was to collect a wide range of views from within and outside the country on the best way forward for improving the mining sector. As it will be noted, to that time the main focus was on the mining sector which was growing yet found not to be beneficial to the nation.
government response The findings of the Bomani committee, particularly its recommendations, were profoundly significant to the reforms made in the mining sector in Tanzania including the writing of the 2010 Mining Act. Some significant changes made to the law included increment in loyalties by about 1% and to be calculated from gross value rather than back net value. In addition to that, and for the sake of increasing transparency in the mining sector Tanzania joined the EITI in 2010.
Government response I am among the first members of the EITI Multstakeholders Group (MSG) in Tanzania representing the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) from the Faith Based Organizations (FBO) and have witnessed gradual growth of revenue collection from the mining sector to the govt. According to the TEITI latest report the contribution of the mining sector to the national budget has grown from about 2% to about 10% in the last four years.
Involvement of Religious Institutions Religious Institutions in TZ have been involved in advocacy in various sectors of society life. They did and still doing so for the sake of strengthening the voices of the ordinary people. Recently, areas which have been on focus are natural resources at large but mainly started with the extractive industry, environmental issues, land issues, and tax system.
Religious Institutions... This special interest on natural resources started around mid 2000s. This was a time when public complaints started to surface that Tanzania was not benefiting from the natural resources, particularly the mineral resources, their country is endowed with. Actually at that stage complaints came from various groups which constitute mainly the public sphere.
Religious leaders participation When the government was struggling to respond to the dissatisfaction of the public before the Bomani committee, religious leaders decided to side with the public to press the government to be more transparent in the mining sector. That is the time when we formed the so called Interfaith Standing Committee on Economic Justice and Integrity of Creation. I had the privilege of being one of the founding members of this committee.
Religious leaders participation As a matter of fact the conflicts within the natural resource sector in Tanzania brought religious leaders together to stand with the public. The Interfaith Standing Committee made a considerable number of visitations to the mining areas to assess the situation. We have come up with a number of reports which made the government listen and even created a kind of partnership to discuss together challenging issues around natural resources as a way of sustaining peace in the country.
Religious leaders participation This partnership made it easier even for the International Land Conference last year with active participation of the government, members of parliament, private sector, researchers, local and international NGOs, etc. We took land to be the womb of other natural resources. Beyond the conference we created a common platform = the Tanzania Land Forum formed of various stakeholders as meeting point to discuss challenging land issue.
General challenges There are general but damaging challenges which ISC faces in its advocacy work. The first challenge we are facing is that of lack of political will to change the situation. Second, is rebuilding trust broken between the public and the government given the situation of immaturity of our multi-party system in the country.
challenges When religious leaders took a position that seemed to coincide with the government then the opposition took it as if we are siding with the government and vice versa. Third challenge is lack of strong unity within the CSOs. Segmentation within CSOs mainly composed of different NGOs with various interests make it difficult sometimes to push together some important common agendas.
Conclusion As I have said above religious leaders have tried several times to bridge the gap between the government and the public and have attempt to advise the govt on what to be done, including changes in policies and laws. We cannot say totally that the government hasn’t responded rather hat the will and pace of responding have always been very slow. Thus there is still much to be done in the future.