21 Sep 2012


Zitto Kabwe, Let Dr. Muhongo Do His Job


Energy sector has brought to a disgraceful ending some very promising careers. It has sent packing very powerful and prominent figures in the country’s upper echelons of power; Infarct, at one point, it almost brought down the entire government, when the country’s premiere at the time, faced grand corruption allegations, and was forced to resign. It is our economic sector, by far mired by grand corruptions and ineptness. 

Reason behind all these has been nothing more than the bogus contracts. There is therefore, a critical need to review and even terminate some of the existing contracts in the eyes of the public, in order to close the loopholes fleecing the country of its wealth 

The Kigoma North Legislator, Zitto Kabwe, has unleashed in the past few days, some scathing attacks on the Minister of Energy Sospeter Muhongo, for proposing a thorough review of the Gas exploration contracts. Mr. Kabwe described Dr. Muhongo’s statements as irresponsible, publicity stunts and cowboy’s approach at the expense of transparency. What I found rather irresponsible, odd, flawed and vague, was the broad idea of “Transparency” in which Mr. Kabwe is attacking Dr. Muhongo’s premise without providing a practical solution under conventional wisdom

I also found Mr. Kabwe’s idea of shelving gas exploration for ten years as logically, and economically na├»ve. At best I would describe the proposition as a theory that contravenes the basic and natural economic principles that cannot be implemented in a needy nation like ours. Implementing this thought would be nothing short of economic suicide for a nation whose economy is extremely fragile. 

Mr. Kabwe’s Transparency assertion reveals nothing short of tactical political, intimidation, representation and defense of the unknown interests. I would not go as far as describing the verbal assault as a self serving personal act of vengeance. However, the premise under which Mr. Kabwe’s argument is based, and his pattern of attack, points towards just that.

Mr. Kabwe unambiguously failed to explain how making transparent shoddy contractual agreements, will benefit the country without identifying the loopholes and deficiencies through extensive review. Arguably, lack of legal and technical knowhow to intimately interpret word by word in the existing contracts to weed out the elements tilting the scale on the favor of investors and shadowy forces of corruption, would have lent Mr. Kabwe’s proposition of transparency, some flesh to stand the test in opposition Dr. Muhongo’s hypothesis

Mr. Zitto ought to understand that, major foreign companies operating in Africa have tremendous resources. They have access to some of the best lawyers, and subject matter experts with extensive experience in contractual review, interpretation, negotiations, and writing. A fact which has many a times, led to the creation of lopsided contracts that have benefited investors while fleecing the host country. 

Mr. Kabwe failed to provide a balanced approach to those deficiencies. In my opinion, Dr. Muhongo’s approach is heroic, and nationalistic. The public should, without reservation throw its absolute support behind this man for his position to temporarily suspend and review all the current contracts related to gas exploration and even electricity production

Having worked in the Investment Banking –Capital Markets- Can affirm to the fact that, success or failure of an investment, primarily depends upon how crafty a contract is. Managers across all economic sectors assemble top legal minds and experienced subject matter experts that would pull off successful investments through favorable and well structured contracts. These contracts at the same time have in them, clauses and provisions that provide room for ongoing review and amendments contingent upon the prevailing conditions or circumstances and market situations. 

My only question is why Zitto is up in arms trying to block the review of questionable contacts in the public eyes, what is his fear? Singapore, India, Venezuela, Brazil etc. in recent years, radically modernized and even terminated some contracts with foreign investors in various sectors that were becoming economic liabilities or not equitably representative. This is how things work be it in municipalities, public or private companies, sovereign states and government agencies. Dr. Muhongo as a subject matter expert has suggested just that. Why should he face political interference? 

From my understanding, TPDC, a body tasked with the contractual review is not a political body. It is a professional entity made of subject matter experts –seasoned professionals -. If Mr. Zitto is dissatisfied with TPDC current formation or the capability, he should demand the overhaul of its management team for a more qualified one, which will execute the task –contractual review- diligently, impartially and independently for the interest of the nation. All findings thereafter be made public to satisfy his demand for transparency 

Political meddling, intimidation and personal hostility are not doing the country any good considering the fact that, main victims of bad contracts in the energy sector are the country’s economy, and the public at large. Politics should be kept off professional undertakings. Mr. Kabwe should let Dr. Muhongo do his job. This man has been in the office for a very short period. He has taken bold and risky decisions no other minister has ever taken in the ministry and the energy sector in general. He is stepping on dangerous toes for the best interest of the country, and what he needs the most at this point is our support not interference

Dr. Muhongo’s success or failure is not going to be measured by how many politicians he pleased or displeased, but on what he delivered to the country at the time of need. Soon or later, the public will know whether he was a bluff or a HERO he painted himself to be.  Dr. Muhongo’s approach is the right step in the right direction. Wrong step into the wrong direction is to politically interfere with his work in the name of transparency. Give him a chance to do his Job
 
Mungu Ibariki Tanzania



Forwarded  by Dr Shaban Nzori. "Mzalendo Mtanzania" is Mr Mashaka John.

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