In October 2008, I argued the case for splitting the Energy & Minerals ministry into two for greater efficacy. That was when the ministry was being hounded from Left, Right and Centre for all manner of shortcomings.That was the year when the Richmond Power Purchase Agreement with Tanesco had soured to the point of No Recovery.
In the event, not only had a Prime Minister and two senior ministers resigned under a cloud... The Richmond 'non-deal' had also been transferred to the Dowans Group under controversial circumstances. We're still in the throes of the Richmond/Dowans stranglehold - and Tanzania may yet live to regret knowing the two!
The year 2008 was also when Tanzanians were clamouring for a major overhaul of the extant mining regime which, under the 1997 Mining policy and 1998 Mining legislation, was heavily lopsided in favour of major investors.
As it happened, they were all foreign conglomerates, in a gambler's dream development that saw them 'winning' heads - and Tanzanians 'losing tails' in the warped tradition of coin-tossing!
Indeed, the government did heed the clamouring, and made what are not much more than cosmetic changes to the policy and legislation in 2010. This notwithstanding, it's the foreign investors who still benefit in large measure from the country's minerals, especially gold and other precious stones...
The small miners - estimated at around 400,000-600,000 countrywide - and local communities in general who were shoved off mineral-rich areas to give way to mechanised mining are yet to get their rightful dues by way of compensation and other support.
Today, mining contributes around a measly three per cent of the GDP, compared with 46 per cent from Agriculture, 17 per cent from tourism and eight per cent from manufacturing. Only about 13,000 jobs have been created via the 'new' mining investments, mostly for lowly-paid minions.
If nothing else, this highlights the limited role which the sector - both under the 1997-1998 and the 2010 mining regimes - plays in the socio-economic life of the nation; a role that's incongruously warped against the national interest amid rising world market prices of gold, diamonds, tanzanite, etc.
In view of the foregoing, I'm surprised the relevant authorities haven't seen the real need to split the ministry into two distinct entities. I'm aware doing so'll increase costs: it'll, for instance, mean two 'Shangingis' (4-wheel-drive luxury gas-guzzling behemoths) instead of one; two personal secretaries instead of one, etc, etc! But, real efficacy does have its costs, too!
The point here's this... like agriculture, livestock, natural resources, water, infrastructure and tourism, energy and mining are also crucial sectors of the economy and, as such, each deserves special consideration and handling.
As it happens, energy and mining continue to hog the news and other public forums of discussion - mostly negative - not only in Tanzania, but also beyond the country's borders. The two, therefore, pose an unduly heavy burden upon a single minister and a single permanent secretary.
And, as Mwalimu would've said (or Harvard Professor Derek Bok before him): 'If you consider Efficacy expensive, try Inefficiency'!Still on mining... I was somewhat gratified to find President Jakaya Kikwete praising the Tanzania Chapter of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (T-EITI) at the 5th Global Conference which begun in Paris on March 2, 2011.
The Initiative could be a good thing for beleaguered countries like Tanzania, where the authorities are kept in the dark by foreign mining investors on what goes on not only in their mining backyards, but also in the kitchens where their books of accounts are routinely cooked!
What's still of concern, though, is why (for example) there was such a big discrepancy - of Sh46.5 billion - between what the government in Dar reportedly 'earned' from the extractive industries between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009 (Sh128.4billion) and what was allegedly paid out to it (Sh174.9 billion)!
If and when such discrepancies are not satisfactorily explained and/or rectified, this gives a bad picture all round: witch-hunting and the blame-game...
Could the discrepancy perhaps be the work of officials of dubious probity - or overworked officials trying to fend for two huge entities: Mining and Energy?
Mr Lyimo is a socio-economic commentator based in Dar es Salaam