The Tanzania Episcopal Conference has released an official statement which relays the church’s stance on the controversial port Inter-Government Agreement between the Dubai Port World and the Tanzania.
The deal was to bring the UAE logistics firm, DP World to run operations at the Dar-es-salaam Port and possibly also other harbours in the country a move being opposed by many Tanzanians.
Endorsed by a total of 37 bishops and signed by the President of the Council of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Gervas Nyaisonga and Secretary General Father Charles Kitima, the statement called upon the government to respect the opinion of the majority of Tanzanians.
“The voice of people is the voice of God,” the TEC statement affirmed.
The Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) statement reminded that there were some cases in the past when the government failed to take heed of the public protests over questionable project agreements that later proved to be a major loss to the nation.
The Episcopal Conference made their stand clear, that they are not supporting the DP World Ports deal that some government officials had hatched with the United Arab Emirates.
According to the Bishops, local residents are still capable of running the country’s sea and dry ports as well as other important infrastructures, such as roads and railways networks.
“It is high time that we start building the nation’s capacity to run and control our own projects,” reads part of the cleric’s statement.
They pointed out that Tanzanians ability to start and run successful enterprises was evident in some of the best performing entities such as the leading financial institutions like the CRDB and the National Microfinance (NMB) Banks.
But on the other hand, the church, after taking time to read through the proposed agreement, discovered that the write-up leaves a lot to be desired.
Also the church leaders have expressed concern that the proposed port deal with the United Arab Emirates was already creating a rift between Tanzanians and causing a series of disagreements, in the process.
Tanzania inked an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with UAE in October 2022 is set to allow Dubai-based logistics company DP World to take over operations at the port of Dar es Salaam and later extend its control to other sea and lake ports in the country.
There have been protests from various groups of activists, politicians, investors, religious leaders and ordinary Tanzanians who consider the deal to be dubious and posing threat to both the country’s economy and security.
A petition was also lodged in court by four Tanzanians, challenging the Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) executed between Tanzania and the Emirates of Dubai.
The constitutional petition which was filed by Alphonce Lusako, Emmanuel Chengula, Raphael Ngonde and Frank Nyalu was however dismissed by the High Court of Tanzania whose judges claimed it lacked merits.
Judges Danstan Ndunguru, Mustafa Ismail and Abdi Kagomba ruled in favour of the Attorney General and other respondents.
The respondents in the case against the signing of IGA on execution of Memorandum of Understanding between Tanzania Ports Authority and DP World were Works and Transport Minister, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Works and Transport and the Clerk of the National Assembly.
The counsel of the Petition Advocate Boniface Mwabukusi was later arrested and held for three days and released on bail.