THE BUNYANHULU SAGA

Another headache for President Mkapa, which has been going on for six years rumbles on. Since 1966 there have been various accusations that some 50 small scale miners were buried alive during the establishment of a major gold mine at Bunyanhulu in Shinyanga Region by the Canadian company, the Kahama Mining Corporation Ltd.

The government and the corporation have insisted for years that no one was killed but recently a prominent Tanzanian judge proposed that there should be a commission of enquiry and opposition leader Augustine Mrema claimed to have obtained video cassettes indicating that several miners had been killed. In March this year a group of Canadian, American, British and Netherlands NGO members under the Dar es Salaam Lawyer’s Environmental Action Team (LEAT) arrived in Tanzania to investigate the matter. The government promptly expelled them from the country saying that they had infringed visa regulations.

LEAT said that nothing short of a fully transparent, open, public and completely independent commission of inquiry, conducted by credible and respected international and national experts would suffice to resolve these troubling questions. On March 22 two specialists from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank arrived in Tanzania and were allowed to go to Buyanhulu and meet villagers. Their report was awaited as this issue of TA went to press. It was then reported that one of the miners, said to have been killed, had appeared live and well and had accused some of his fellow miners of seeking ‘international financial sympathy’. The video, he said, showed body parts filmed during ordinary mining accidents which were frequent in small-scale mining. Amnesty International stated that the cassettes did not prove that the killings had taken place.

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