On Wednesday, the President of Tanzania, John Magufuli, met with the Chairman of Barrick Gold, John Thornton, who had flown in from North America for the purpose. The State House communications team released a video, shot on the steps outside the meeting, in which the President and Mr Thornton shared their versions of what had transpired. This dominated the headlines on Thursday, with most papers presenting the meeting in a very particular way.
UPDATE 17/6/15: From the published parliamentary timetable, it appears that the government intends to pass these three bills under a certificate of urgency. The current parliamentary session has been extended until July 8, 2015, for this purpose. I have amended this post accordingly. I have also added some information relating to which of the bills are set to apply to Zanzibar, and which to Mainland Tanzania only.
Set to become a thing of the past? (Source: The Citizen, 7/11/14)
I will leave it to others to examine the bills in detail – there is a lot here, over 200 pages in all. But what do these laws say about transparency in the sector? I have collated some highlights. Continue reading →
Prof Sospeter Muhongo, Tanzania’s Minister of Energy and Minerals, speaking in parliament last week, said that there was no way his ministry would submit gas contracts to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament. This is despite the PAC having repeatedly requested the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) to provide copies of the 26 Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) the government has signed with oil and gas exploration companies. And despite the arrest (briefly) of the TPDC Chair and acting Executive Director for refusing to comply, on the orders of the PAC chair, Zitto Kabwe.
Here’s what Prof Muhongo said:
“We have to adhere to government regulations. We cannot subject the contracts to public discussions, because they are regulations in place governing them. Even contracts between individuals, like yourself and somebody else must be governed by certain rules.”
Last weekend, Statoil management finally broke their silence on their leaked contract for gas production in Tanzania. In an interview with The Citizen newspaper, Statoil’s Country Manager for Tanzania, Øystein Michelsen, spoke at length, including on the subject of contract transparency:
“Statoil respects the position of any government in the countries where we operate with regards to whether the contracts are made publicly available or not. In a number of countries where we operate the contracts are publicly available and Statoil does comply with that position. In Tanzania, the contracts are confidential and for that matter, Statoil also complies with that position.” [my emphasis]
“In 2012, Transparency ranked Statoil as the most transparent company among the world 105 largest publicly traded companies [see here]. We will continue to promote transparency, but we will also respect contract terms and the obligations we have towards our partners.”
The Citizen used this as their headline: “Investors accuse govt of keeping contracts secret.” And the point is clear: Statoil has no objection to contract transparency. Continue reading →
President Kikwete spoke in Washington earlier this week, as part of the US-Africa Leadership Summit. The clip below comes from the Civil Society Forum Global Town Hall event, where he shared a platform with US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and Vice President, Joe Biden, and the Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama, among others.
The questioner asks first what Tanzania is doing to avoid the resource curse, and second what message the President has for SADC leaders about Robert Mugabe and the situation in Zimbabwe. President Kikwete neatly avoids the second, but gives a lengthy response to the first. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) gets a mention, though there is nothing on transparency in extractives’ contracts.
I did note, however, an interesting remark on transparency in company ownership registers:
“We are now working on transparency with regard top who owns what – who is who in terms of ownership of the companies that are operating in the country.”
The full session is also available on YouTube, as is another session at the same event, featuring my boss, Rakesh Rajani of Twaweza, in a discussion about the Open Government Partnership in Africa.
Tanzania’s latest Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan is now available, on the much-improved opengov.go.tz website. The plan covers the two years from July 2014 to June 2016.
The first action plan was a disappointment, with very few of the 25 commitments implemented. This time there are only five, but they are focussed and (mostly) ambitious:
1. Freedom of Information: To enact an FOI by December 2014. 2. Open Data: To establish an open data system by December 2016. 3. Budget Transparency: To make budget data (eight key budget reports), audit committee reports and tax exemptions publicly available by December 2014. 4. Land Transparency: Make land use plan, ownership and demarcated areas for large scale land deals accessible online for public use by June 2016. 5. Extractive Industries Transparency: Tanzania to fulfill its EITI commitments by June, 2015
It’s good to see the Statoil gas story continues to make headlines in the Tanzanian press. Today (Monday) saw The Citizen lead with the story, asking some very pertinent questions about the contract and TPDC’s response to it.
I disagree with the TPDC statement, which I feel continues to misunderstand the issue. They are still not engaging with the key point: that the terms of the signed PSA (the leaked document) are significantly worse for Tanzania than the terms of the model PSA.
But it’s actually a different point I want to focus on here: transparency. Continue reading →