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sharing in governance of extractive industries

The Citizen, Barrick, Acacia Mining, and Tanzania's Extractive Industries

 

The newspaper front-page headline left reports on a natural gas story of 2014 as reported in Tanzania's highly influential newspaper, The Citizen. 

I highlight this story now, in mid-2017, to indicate that this newspaper is not afraid to splash with extractive industries governance issues, i.e. the very bread and butter of GOXI.

Petroleum, and in particular natural gas, is of key importance to Tanzania.  So too is mining.  An important, and more recent, example of mining content in that paper its Editorial opinion piece of August 2nd 2017, titled "Govt, Barrick should aim for amicable settlement". "Barrick" refers to mining company Barrick Gold and any settlement would be with regards to Acacia Mining, formerly Africa Barrick Gold, and still majority owned by Barrick Gold.

I will assume GOXIans have some background to this dispute, in light that is of the GOXI weekly newsletter making light-hearted fun out of the large number of recent Tanzanian posts directly relating to Acacia Mining, and the great scarcity of any recent Tanzanian posts written on any other topic.

This post, evidently, will do nothing to redress that imbalance; in fact, it will make it yet greater.

In my defence, this particular posting focuses on media issues as a way into considering possible outcomes to the above, mining, dispute (& noting that none of this is investment advice).

My points are as follows:

  1. as noted above, The Citizen is arguing in favour of an amicable settlement.  The Citizen is a highly influential paper in Tanzania, and what is says matters;
  2. the lead negotiator on the Tanzanian side is the nation's Minister of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Professor Palamagamba Kabuki.  For eight years, Professor Kabuki is a former Board member of the media group that publishes The Citizen, viz. Mawananchi Communications Ltd; and

  3. he was described by one of his fellow Professors at the University of Dar es Salaam as being "an excellent person when it comes to public relations".  Given such excellence in PR will be needed to sell any deal to the Tanzanian public, his selection for this role fits a Presidential end-game that sees an agreement made with Barrick Gold re. Acacia Mining, rather than a conflict situation which President Magafuli, known by many as The Bulldozer, could surely take in-hand himself.  

So, we have: The Citizen's support for an amicable deal (see 1 above) ; Professor Kabuki's past background overseeing The Citizen (see 2 above);  and his personal PR expertise (see 3 above).  

Additionally, the same newspaper reported on the "Puzzle of anonymous Tanzanian negotiators in talks with Barrick", noting that only lead-negotiator Professor Kabuki is identified on the Tanzanian team, whereas pictures of the entire Barrick team are publicly available.  One possible answer for this is that the Tanzanian team is otherwise composed of international experts, and that the Government do not wish to make this evident given that the dispute is one of resource nationalism.  However, and if true, the fact of their individual professionalism & expertise (rather than of their nationality, which could equally well be 100% Tanzanian) is consistent with the Government basing its position on highly rigorous, technical arguments and evidence, i.e. reason rather than outright populism.  Even though such a team, acting on behalf of Tanzania, doubtless will and is (8 working days in and counting) forming a tough negotiating front to Barrick, at least there is the basis for the two sides to come to a compromise agreement consistent with reason, and with the fact that this is not a zero-sum game: both sides can win through agreeing, and both would lose with no agreement.  

Communication this win-win and selling it to the Tanzanian people requires a master of PR.  Enter, stage left, Professor Palamagamba Kabuki, the Tanzanian architect of the agreement, just as his President, Magafuli, was of the dispute in the first place.

Of course, I could be completely wrong and the talks completely collapse.  Time will tell.

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Comment by Antipas Massawe on August 12, 2017 at 0:13

Daniel,

 

My views on the same are as follows.

 

I don’t expect the ongoing talks between Bаrrick and the government of Tanzania could conclude endorsement or rejection of the results generated from а presidential re-sampling of some of the containers of mineral concentrates dwelt on.

 

Meaning, the only way the talks could yield an amicable settlement which is а win-win for both sides is to conclude that the re-sampling of some of the containers of mineral concentrates carried out by а presidential team should be repeated by an independent/ а joint team which would generate legally binding re-sampling results which would be honoured by both sides as а valid basis of the talks.

 

And that, it is only the talks between Bаrrick/ АCАCIА and the government of Tanzania could yield а solution to the dispute which is а win-win for both sides.  

 

An international court of arbitration is definitely going to conclude that the results generated from а presidential re-sampling of some of the containers of mineral concentrates dwelt on are misleading, the ban of АCАCIА’s mineral concentrates exporting unfounded, hence favour АCАCIА which would be compensated by the government of Tanzania for the damages its ban of mineral concentrates exporting and misleading results of its presidential re-sampling of the mineral concentrates dwelt on would caused it.

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