The discovery of natural gas reserves, apart from elevating Tanzania’s economic status, has also triggered heated debate, putting the country’s future at a crossroads. While the government has maintained that its policy aims to create what it calls ‘a win-win situation’, some observers believe Tanzanians have been locked out of the $500 billion gas bonanza.
Energy and Minerals minister Sospeter Muhongo did not take kindly to the debate initiated by Tanzania Private Sector Foundation chairman Reginald Mengi. Prof Muhongo believes Mr Mengi harbours selfish interests, and does not speak on behalf of the masses as he claims.
But even before Mr Mengi’s outcry against the exclusion of locals from the lucrative natural gas sector, Mtwara and Lindi residents had rioted against what they claim is their sidelining from the imminent boom. The government’s response was to fire tear gas and bullets at them and deploy the military to calm the situation. Countrywide, the nation is divided on how gas revenues should be distributed and spent. Amid the heated debate between Prof Muhongo and Mr Mengi, The Citizen asks in a special news analysis whether Tanzania could learn a lesson from Africa’s richest community.