The Tanzania Gender Networking Programme Statement on Water Privatization
The Tanzania Gender Networking Programme this morning issued a strong statement condemning profit hungry companies that came to Aftica to reap profits from our natural resources such as water. The statement signed by TGNP Executive Director Ms. Usu Mallya mentioned Biwater Gauff as being a one such case, saying such trends were quite appalling and that the dispute currently under litigation at the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) was far more a human rights issue than an investment dispute.
The legal arbitration soon to open in Holland and in which British investor Biwater is demanding $25 million from Tanzania, a country said to be one of the poorest in the world is of great public interest to any Tanzanian, like our well-wishers all over the globe. This case is not only an international investment dispute but also a human rights issue. The outcomes of the case will have great implications on the lives of common Tanzanians. Tax payers’ money is definitely going into an area of no positive impact to poverty reduction let alone equity and justice in the country.
The Tanzania Gender Networking Programme(TGNP) condemns companies, such as Bi-water Gauff that have sought to reap maximum profits from natural resources, in countries that lack strong economies like Tanzania. We demand that the Biwater Gauff versus United Republic of Tanzania case currently being heard at the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) beginning Monday 16th April 2007, be open to the watchful eyes and cameras of the world so that the mayhem of plunder by profit hungry companies of the ‘global village’ can partly be revealed for all to see.
This is what forced privatization can do. We wish to re-affirm our unhappiness and anger over privatization of public services as one of the key conditionalities enforced by International Financial Institutions led by the International Monetary Fund(IMF) and World Bank (WB).Ironically, the ICSID is part and parcel of the World Bank system.
As gender and human rights activists, we are appalled by the trends. Aid and loans continue to come to Tanzania with difficult strings attached, most of which have working at the detriment of Tanzania. The City Water Consortium contract of 2003 is just one case in mind. We are confident that Tanzanians will continue to oppose such colonial type of contracts in future. But this case must end now and without harm to the economy and welfare of the people of Tanzania.
TGNP is part of an amicus submission that was presented to the ICSID together with six other human rights organizations in Tanzania, Switzerland and Canada last month. Although we are confident that there is no legitimate case against the people of Tanzania, dubious undertakings are likely to affect the conduct of the case. Bi-water is known for international maneuvers across the world and the likelihood is that the case may turn thorny to Tanzania. According to a report, Challenging Investment Rule, just released in the United Kingdom, nearly 70 percent of ICSID cases are ruled or settled in favor of the investor with a compensation award against the country where the investment failed. The report notes that in seven out of 109 cases filed with ICSID, the investor’s revenues exceeded the gross domestic product of the country they were suing. This case may add to the number of such cases.
Water privatization has failed to get water to those who desperately need it. The ongoing arbitration will definitely deliver water to the women and poor men of Tanzania. Tanzanians don’t owe, why pay?
Wednesday, 11th April 2007