|Tanzania: Lipumba Wants Compensation for Tigite River Victims|
by Ray Naluyaga 26 October 2010, The Citizen
The Civic United Front (CUF) presidential candidate, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba has called on the government to compensate the Tigite River victims in Tarime district in Mara region.
Villagers living near a gold mine owned and run by Canada's Barrick Gold Corp. in Tarime District, had been demanding the immediate closure of the project, saying they are paying a deadly price for the mining activities in the area. Already, scores of people residing around Barrick's North Mara Gold Mine showed serious signs of exposure to pollution in the form of water contaminated with various chemicals allegedly flowing out of the mine and into the nearby River Tigethe. The villagers accuse the mine management, under the Canadian investor company, of causing fatal health hazards to human beings, livestock, and land in Kebasula Ward in Tarime, where the mine is located.
They say more than 20 people have died as a direct result of the contaminated water. Speaking during his campaign rally at Nyamongo village in Tarime recently Lipumba said there are also numerous cases of miscarriage due to water contaminated by acid seeping from the mine.
"The government is directly responsible because it is the one which brought the company and entered into contract with it," he said. In June 2009 the National Assembly speaker Samuel Sitta, threw the outgoing Bariadi East MP John Cheyo (UDP) out of the debating chamber.
The incident occurred when he decided to engage the Speaker over allegations of water contaminated by acid seeping from the North Mara Gold Mine in Tarime District. It all started after Mr Cheyo sought clarification when the House had transformed itself into an appropriation committee to review the budgetary votes allocated to the Vice-President's Office. He rose when the committee was debating vote 94 on the environmental impact assessment at the North Mara Gold Mine.
Mr Cheyo said the problem at North Mara was not new as it had been widely reported by the local press. He then asked why the Government had decided to leave the issue in the hands of the investor instead of putting in place checks and balances. "Problems at the North Mara mine did not start yesterday," he pointed out. But before he took his seat, Mr Sitta asked the MP to clarify what he meant as effects from chemicals were felt immediately. But Mr Cheyo answered that he was an expert in chemistry and that was why he had raised the issue. Then Mr Sitta wanted Mr Cheyo to revisit his science notes. The latter said because the Speaker had said so he would end there, though he was not satisfied with the answer. But the Speaker rose and said: "I think
I need time to speak about this as members from the opposition bench have been forcing things to be done their way. "They are dictatorial but if this is the case who else can raise his voice in UDP?" Mr Cheyo tried to respond but was ordered back into his seat. As he could not take it, the Speaker was left with no option but to order him out of the debating chamber, something which Mr Cheyo obeyed.
"Sit down. Get out remove that MP," said Mr Sitta before the committee continued with its business. Outside the House, Mr Cheyo said he would report the issue to the Parliamentary Rights and Previleges Committee because the Speaker was unfair to him and had erred in his decision against him.