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Interivew: Tanzania PM Peter Pinda
Ahead of elections on 31 October, Tanzania’s prime minister was charged with helping to reach a compromise in Zanzibar and convincing domestic and foreign audiences that the government is fighting corruption and improving the business environment.
The Africa Report: Tanzania’s new mining law has people talking. Some investors say it has gone too far and civil society says it has not gone far enough. Are you confident that it will not turn away investors?
Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda: I don’t think so. In the preparation of this legislation we did not ignore the big stakeholders in the mining sector. We had a long meeting in Arusha and we went almost section by section, particularly over those areas which were new. They made some good comments. As a government we have to look at both sides, the public and the investors as well. I still believe it’s a good law, it’s a balanced law, but as a government we are always open to further discussions. The passing of the legislation by itself is not an end to changes.?
Part of the new law states that it is only Tanzanians who can mine gemstones.
That was one of the recommendations of the Bomani Commission [chaired by Judge Mark Bomani], that gemstones are just gemstones. They’re not a mineral that requires attention from the whole international community. They were not saying no foreigners will take part, but that they will take part in partnership with Tanzanians.??
Tanzania has been seen as the least enthusiastic country about East African integration. Is Tanzania’s commitment to regional integration still strong??
1948 Born in Rukwa region??
1974 Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Dar es Salaam??
1982-1992 Serves as assistant ?private secretary to Presidents Julius Nyerere and Ali Hassan Mwinyi??
1996-2000 Works as clerk to the Cabinet??
2000 Elected as member of parliament for Mpanda East and named deputy minister in the prime ministe’s office??
February 2008 Appointed prime minister by President Jakaya Kikwete
Don’t forget we are the ones that pushed the idea of East African cooperation coming back. It was ?Tanzania, and we stood very firm on this one because we still believe ?integration is necessary.
There was a stage when there was a request that we should fast-track the process of reaching the final destination of the East African Community. Tanzania said ‘fine, but we have to go back to the people and ask them.’ It has just turned out that the majority has said there’s no need for fast-tracking.
Some people tend to say, ‘Tanzania’s becoming difficult.’ No, no. Integration is not as simple as people think. We are five countries, with diverse political situations and ?diverse social dimensions. It’s just not something that we can rush.?
Parties are discussing a government of national unity (GNU) in Zanzibar. Do you think the 31 July referendum will lead to a GNU? ?
Whether they will say yes or no, I’m not sure. But the intention of the government and the people of Tanzania is to see to it that we reach that conclusion of a ‘yes’. [Zanzibaris voted in favour of the referendum in July]. At the political level, there are two strong ?parties in Zanzibar: the ruling ?Chama cha Mapinduzi and the Civic United Front. One is very strong on one part of the island and another is very strong on another. It is as if you are almost dividing the two islands into two parts. It creates a little bit of tension between the two parties, between the people generally. And this is why whenever we go for general elections, the result of the vote is almost neck-to-neck.The wish of the government is to see to it that at least people move together amicably and you can only do that if you can manage to get a government that unites both parties. This is the goal we are trying to achieve. It doesn’t matter who comes into power, at least the other party will be part and parcel of the government.?
Does that cause a conflict, if you are in a GNU in Zanzibar and yet you are the ruling party on the mainland?
It doesn’t. It’s not going to be an issue at all. For the government of Zanzibar, they have areas that they govern under their constitution which can be done smoothly without any problem. There are matters that are also union matters which, no matter who comes in, nobody’s going to question why this matter is a union matter.
??Corruption is a looming issue. There has not been as much movement as the public wants on the External Payments Arrears account scandal at the Bank of Tanzania. How can you maintain momentum? ?
Battling against corruption is exactly what we are doing now. We have the judiciary, we have the executive and we have the legislature. As an executive arm, we have done our part, tackled those suspects for whom we feel there is some strong evidence. It’s up to the courts now, depending on their processes, to come up with the conclusions which people are waiting for anxiously. I’m waiting for it, everybody is waiting for it. To me, it’s just a question of time. I’m sure some of these cases should be coming to a close any time, depending on the investigations and the prosecutions that are going on. But at least something is in court.?
Tanzania has slipped down the rankings of the World Bank’s Doing Business report. What are you doing about that??
When you have so many of these reforms – public service reforms, local government reforms, financial, legal sector reforms – it can occur that if you cannot sit down and see how they relate to each other, at times you miss certain points that may lead to confusion.
What we have done is create a strong team under the permanent secretaries, headed by the chief secretary himself. We’ve already started taking action in some areas, particularly with those relating to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Trade is where most of the complaints linger, particularly with the Business Registrations and Licensing Agency (BRELA). We’ve done a lot in BRELA in order to equip it and modernise it so that things move faster during the registration of companies.