The thirty-seven Tanzanian bishops object to the government’s business dealings with the United Arab Emirates. The following article was published in the September-October 2023 issue of NewsNotes.
In a statement entitled “The Voice of the People, the Voice of God” issued August 18, 2023, the Tanzanian Catholic Bishops Conference decried the unpopular economic dealings with the United Arab Emirates, in particular, the transfer of the management of the nation’s ports to the U.A.E. Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation approved on 10 June 2023.
At least 24 activists have been arrested and released for criticizing the deal. On August 11, the Inspector General of Police told the media objections to the deal were tantamount to “inciting the public into overthrowing the government.” Over the following two days, three more were arrested to be charged with treason, a crime that requires the death penalty in Tanzania.
In their statement, the bishops wrote: “We are driven by a conscience that aims to protect resources, solidarity, peace, freedom, and national unity; we dare to say that after 63 years of the independence of this country, the people have not wanted to leave the port of Dar es Salaam to be given to one investor to run it, since the Tanzanians themselves have the experience of running it.
“We consider it important now to continue to build NATIONAL capacity, for our Tanzanian public and private sectors, establishing partnerships with technologically advanced companies from different parts of the world, and not partnerships from one country.…
“Ignoring the voice of the people on investments has also brought suffering to the people of the areas where they live, as seen in the Maasai communities of Loliondo, whose cultural and social rights have been violated. Investments have been given unproductive priority and the Maasai people have been left to suffer.…
“Now that the majority of citizens do not want investments with such bad conditions in all our ports; and since the Government is accountable to the people, the leaders must listen to the voice of the people, because their voice is the voice of God.”
Faith in action:
Read an update from the Maasai in Tanzania. https://mogc.info/MISA-Sept2023
Image of the statement in Swahili