Tanzanian Group Files Lawsuit Against Unapproved Mining Contracts

15 November 2009 (Last Updated November 15th, 2009 18:30)

Tanzania's human rights group Mtetezi has submitted a lawsuit in the nation's high court to terminate all mining contracts with mining companies signed by the government without approval from Parliament. The main goal of the lawsuit is to halt the decline of Tanzania's natural resources

Tanzania's human rights group Mtetezi has submitted a lawsuit in the nation's high court to terminate all mining contracts with mining companies signed by the government without approval from Parliament.

The main goal of the lawsuit is to halt the decline of Tanzania's natural resources, the petitioners said.

According to the lawsuit against the minister for energy and minerals development and the attorney general, Tanzania's constitution entitles Parliament to contemplate and approve all agreements and treaties in which the government is involved.

Contracts should, therefore, be considered unlawful without approval from the parliament.

News agency Dow Jones Newswires said they hearing has not yet commenced.

Rugemeleza Nshala, one of the activists behind the lawsuit, said the petitioners will mostly depend on the findings provided by the mining review commission, which was appointed in 2008 by Tanzania's president.

The commission has suggested mining laws should be reviewed to enable Tanzania to capture more shares in mining companies and increase royalties and taxes to help capitalise more on the country's mineral wealth.

Nshala said it is illegal for the energy minister to allot huge areas owned by artisanal miners and locals to overseas mining companies.

Tanzania is the third largest producer of gold in Africa after Ghana and South Africa.