Once again, Tanzanians are mourning the deaths of five of their
fellow citizens shot dead by police on May 16, at the African Barrick
Gold’s North Mara gold mine in Tarime District, Mara Region. According
to police reports, about 1,000 people had invaded the mine and five of
them lost their lives. However, any report from Tanzanian police ought
to be taken with a grain of salt since the poorly trained and
ill-managed force is notorious for misinformation and the government has
no means of curbing this.
Barrick, for their part, reported on
May 25 that the number was likely to be more than 1,500, perhaps in an
attempt to create a defensible statement should the matter go to court.
“astronomical” number deserves a critical look. How could all those
people meet, plan and carry out such an operation without the
authorities noticing something unusual?
If police were forced to
shoot at 1,500 plus invaders, how could almost all of them escape
unhurt, as only five died and 12 were wounded? How could all those
people run for their lives at dawn without any melee ever happening
According to the postmortem reports, the victims were
shot from behind. Why? Why did police offer Sh3 million to each family
that lost their loved one after labelling the dead criminal invaders?
Where did the money come from?
Why did police object to
independent postmortems before yielding to pressure from the locals and
the opposition leaders? Why did police revoke the permit for Tarime
people to conduct a public funeral? Why did police interfere in the
funeral arrangements, including purchasing coffins, beating, arresting,
and charging the mourners in court?
Why did police rush to
transport the bodies and dump at least one by the roadside? Do police
bury criminals? Why have police failed to adequately respond to the
allegations that they snatched the bodies from the mortuary, leaving the
You have to be either crazy or the beneficiary
of what is going on to comprehend the whole story. If this had
happened in a developed country, scores of people would have resigned
and faced charges. Those who were murdered were not animals; they were
sons, brothers, husbands and fathers of some people.
after the killings, politicians from the governing party, CCM, made the
whole thing a political stunt. And it was simply because lawyers from
the opposition party, Chadema, responded to the cry of the people. It’s
nonsense to accuse the opposition whenever Tanzanians rise up to defend
We, as a country, are losing big time in the mining
sector and nobody is listening. Despite the natural wealth that Tanzania
is blessed with, our people are languishing in abject poverty with the
leaders lamenting why we are so poor! It’s a curse, as global analysts
Shamelessly, Barrick brag about their alleged annual
community relations budget of $2 million, and another $300,000 for new
local public health service, but don’t tell Tanzanians how much money
they are making from that gold. With all due respect, these cents can’t
buy a decent single bedroom flat in New York. Furthermore, Barrick
makes noise about very basic things they have done in Tanzania. In fact,
all of them are for their operational conveniences rather than anything
else. Nothing worth a mention here!
Look at this! The Canadian
Centre for Policy Alternative released a report in January, stating that
the chief executive officer of the parent company, Barrick Gold, Mr
Aaron Regent, made $24.2 million in 2009. Thus, the aforementioned
handout is absolutely nothing to hundreds of thousands of Tanzanians.
would Barrick be so confident, put the blame on police after the whole
fracas, and then somehow convince the government to call its own people
criminal invaders? Remember the saying: “He who pays the piper calls the
There can never be any justification whatsoever for such
inhumane deaths in any country where sensible people govern. Only in
Africa can the government dismiss such deaths, as merely the deaths of
criminals. The Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, once said
that corrupt governments don’t serve their poor people. He also said
that law and justice are totally different. Simply because Barrick
signed a contract with the government doesn’t make everything right.
in Tanzania is disappearing and the people are getting fed up! Our
leaders may care less because they know that come 2015 they will rig
elections, anyway. But they must realise that there can never be peace
in the midst of poverty and injustice. North Mara gold mine is a sign of
things to come!
Mr Matinyi is a consultant based in Washington, DC