Nyerere Foundation Counsels Government to Abort Plans to Hand Over  Tanzania Ports to UAE Operator DP World

Nyerere Foundation Executive Director Joseph Butiku on TV

By TZBN Staff

Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation has advised that the Tanzania Government should consider canceling the  Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) secretly signed by  Tanzania and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in October 2022 and whisked through Tanzania parliament after very limited debate in early June, 2023.

Opposition against this IGA has raged since June 10, 2023 when the controversial contract was overwhelmingly passed by legislators in Dodoma. Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), numerous economists, academics, legal experts, entrepreneurs, and opposition political party leaders have all outrightly rejected the  ‘treaty’, each speaker giving it a bad name.  

Deputy chairman of the opposition CHADEMA political party, Tundu Lisu,  has alleged this IGA is an international treaty which contravenes the Tanzania constitution, adding that it is the worst ever agreement to have ever been signed between the people of mainland Tanzania  and any foreign country in 100 years.  

“I have never seen a contract this bad in my life.” He said. The oil and gas contracts signed during the Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete administrations were bad contracts, but they were better than this  one between Tanzania and the UAE.

CHADEMA Vice Chairman Tundu Lisu talks to traders in Kariakoo area in Dar es Salaam holding DP World Contract in his hand

Tanzania Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has encouraged Tanzanians to continue talking, promising that his Government will listen and take action  based on what the public has said.  But  the  Executive Director of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation Joseph Butiku says the public debate on this matter should now stop. The debate threatens to split Tanzania into two parts, he said, explaining that it threatens to damage our reputation as a country in which its people are united.

 “This contract was started by the Government, it was signed in October last years. It was ratified in parliament in June this year.  People in Government discussed it I belive. Some few people discussed it.  The parliament discussed it. It was passed in parliament. It has been discussed enough. What more is there to discuss?”

The Tanzania Government, the UAE and DP World–the company in the middle of this whole controversy– should all consider weighing the  public opinion which is  everywhere on social media–so that proper action should be taken to help resolve this controversy–such that if this contract can be canceled then it should be canceled.

The contract has problems, Butiku said: “Tanzanians are afraid, they are worried this contract takes away their right to  ownership of their port…and I think [this contract] has problems in a big area”.

Professor Issa Shivji

Joseph Butiku is former President Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere Research Assistant and advisor. He currently runs the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation which partly exists to protect the founding father of the nation’s legacy.

Butiku noted in the TV interview that Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) which was created to be legal advisor to the Government,  and to help citizens understand legal matters, has already given its opinion to the Government stating that this Tanzania-UAE contract has legal problems.

The TLS advice reads in part:  “Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, specifically Articles 8 and 9, and most notably, Article 21(2), which grants every citizen has the right and the freedom to participate fully in the process leading to the decision on matters affecting him, his well-being or the nation.

“TLS expresses concerns over the inadequate time allotted for stakeholder’s engagement during the ratification of this Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). Although the Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania invited stakeholders to offer their feedback on the agreement on June 6th, 2023, the public hearing that followed was held on June 7th, 2023.

“This left many stakeholders unable to present their recommendations to the Parliament’s Standing Committee due to the short notice. The limited time did not permit TLS to thoroughly scrutinize the IGA and provide a detailed legal perspective, as stipulated by Section 4 of the TLS Act – Cap. 307.

“TLS has always closely collaborated with the Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania and other key stakeholders. We urge the Government and the Parliament to respect the legal provisions and regulations related to stakeholder engagement.

Dr. Rugemeleza Nshala

“TLS notes that the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) was not well- well-drafted, leading to vagueness, doubts, ambiguities and diverse interpretations by different actors. Also, there are provisions/clauses that overlook, contradict or contravene the national interests, and we suggest their total removal,” the barristers say.

“These clauses could lead to disputes during the implementation of the IGA, subsequent HGAs, and Project Agreements. In view of this, TLS advocates for the active involvement of experts and stakeholders with specialized expertise to share their insights on crucial matters towards modifying the highlighted provisions. We stress on leveraging TLS experts and/or individual private advocates to aid our nation in negotiating and drafting significant investment agreements, ensuring better clarity, efficiency, and mitigating the risks of future investment disputes, which could be costly for our country”.

Four citizens in Mbeya region have lodged a petition in the High Court of Tanzania in Mbeya city to invalidate the Tanzania –UAE ‘treaty’ passed by parliament–which gives permission to the UAE company DP World to take over all Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) operations on all sea ports  dotted on the entire Tanzania coastline, and to take over all ports in the lakes. The treaty gives DP World mandate to even control the country’s strategic port of Dar es Salaam–the gateway to nearly 50% of landlocked SADC countries.

The four petitioners against this contract include a seasoned lawyer Boniphace  Mwabukusi, who says the team has lodged this petition to nullify the treaty to protect Tanzania’s resources.  He also says the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Minister of Transport and Communications and the Permanent Secretary in the ministry  should all leave their positions for allowing this ‘treaty’ to get ratified in the country.

He explained, however, that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Tulia Akson—who happens to be member of Parliament for Mbeya Constituency—will not be removed from office by this petition. She will be removed from office  by civic action in the streets.

Emmanuel Chengula, one of the petitioners, says a careful look at the contract shows this treaty endangers Tanzania’s national security.

Tundu Lisu, the CHADEMA Deputy Chairman told a gathering of traders in the Kariakoo area in  Dar es Salaam city he found it very strange that this contract was signed by the President herself in October last year.   Such explosive documents  would usually be signed by  lower rank officials such as ministers to give the President an escape route if something should go wrong with the agreement at issue such as has now become the case.  The President cannot escape blame now.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan (middle in headscarf) in group picture with visiting UAE/Dubai Government officials in Dodoma (Photo Credit: Issa Michuzi)

This contract is actually a treaty between Tanzania and the UAE, Tundu Lisu said at another occasion. It binds the two nations as an international treaty even as it permits the UAE company DP World to take over all port operations in the country, to take control of all transport logistics hubs and all economic processing zones. The politician said he wonders which person in their right mind would sign such a hopeless contract.

This contract nullifies the Ports Act of 2004. It changes the country’s laws, Tundu Lisu complained. “Anyone who supports this contract has either been corrupted, or (…..insult which cannot be published on this website)”, he said.

Explaining how this IGA breaks the Tanzania constitution, he said the Ports Act of 2004 makes all Tanzania ports a Union matter. But this contract refers to ports on mainland Tanzania only. Zanzibar is excluded and the reason is not given.

Two University of Dar es Salaam Professors, an Economist and a Legal expert—both with a track record of advising the Government in the past- have all punched holes in this UAE-Tanzania contract and disqualified it.

Professor Issa Shivji who was instrumental in the writing of the current Tanzania Lands Act especially expressed serious concern on a provision which allows activities done before the contract was signed to be part of the contract. This, indicates, he said, that there probably were some activities done at the Dar es Salaam port  even before the contract was signed.

Any activities done before the signing of a contract amount to putting yourself in a weaker position during negotiations, Prof. Shivji said.  The University of Dar es Salaam Professor said he did not understand  why anyone would want “to expose your secrets’ so easily to a person you want to enter into a contract with.

Professor Haruna Lipumba

Profesor Haruna Lipumba, a University Economics Lecturer turned politician told reporters at a press conference Dubai is a  relatively poor country in the United Arab Emirates. It was even unable to pay its debts during the 2008 economic meltdown. It had to ask for help from its richer Emirates brother nation, Abu Dhabi, to settle its debt. Dubai was the wrong choice for a development partner here, he said.

The economics lecturer revealed at the press conference he had at one point advised the Tanzania Government to consider establishing economic links with  Abu Dhabi, a much richer Emirate–not Dubai– but the Government did not heed to this advice and instead picked the poor Dubai whose oil reserves are just about to deplete.

There  are countless critics of the so-called DP World contract. One of them is former TLS Chairman Dr. Rugemeleza Nshala who recently complained his life had been threatened by people sent by the Government after he critisized President Samia Suluhu Hassan for signing such a hopeless contract. He was later asked to report at a police station in Dar es Salaam.