TANZANIA: Bishops Call for Cancellation of Tanzania-Dubai Port Deal

By Arnold Neliba

DAR ES SALAAM, AUGUST 22, 2023 (CISA)-Catholic bishops in Tanzania are calling for the cancellation of the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between Tanzania and Dubai, which gives exclusive rights to a Dubai-based logistics company DP World to take over some operations at Tanzanian ports.

Following their plenary, the bishops in their August 18 statement which was publicly read in churches on August 20 stated that the agreement goes against the interests of Tanzanians.

“We have carefully monitored the discussions, opinions, suggestions and cries of the majority of citizens, who are the owners of all ports and resources, and we have realised that the majority of citizens do not want this Agreement which gives the foreign investor the authority and right to own the main economic routes as specified on this Agreement,” reads the statement signed by member bishops of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC).

The bishops said they do not endorse the deal, calling on the government to create the necessary environment to allow Tanzanians to run and manage their resources for their benefit and those of future generations.

“It is a must that projects such as this one are run and managed by Tanzanians themselves while inviting partnerships that they will themselves control,” the Bishops said.

“This is what citizens have been crying for so that we can improve our own capacity to manage critical investments,” they said, further noting, “Because we have already analysed the shortcomings in how we run our ports, we can work on them while the means of the economy remain in our hands.”

The agreement, which was signed in October 2022 and received parliamentary approval on June 10, gives way for economic and social partnerships for the development and improving performance of sea and lake ports in Tanzania.

According to the bishops, “Now that the majority of citizens do not want investments with such bad conditions in all our ports; and since the Government is accountable to the people, the leaders must listen to the voice of the people because their voice is the voice of God.”

The prelates disclosed their attempts to advise the government on the implications of the agreement were unsuccessful as they were ignored by the authorities.

The bishops stated the ongoing debate on the ports’ agreement is ‘divisive’ and has divided the country into two parties. A situation they say has given rise to intimidation by the government and targeting those opposed to the agreement.

The agreement on economic and social cooperation to expand and improve Tanzania ports also gives the UAE-based DP World an exclusive right to discuss with the government of Tanzania about operating and developing other port projects.

Among the controversial issues on the agreement are the validity and failure of the implementation process to mention a specific execution time frame for projects for the broad interests of the public.