Sinikka Antila – Finland's Ambassador to Tanzania
On 31st January Finland’s ambassador to Tanzania Sinikka Antila paid a courtesy visit to Reginald Mengi at the offices of IPP Media.
She is clearly not aware of the Silverdale Farm case or the fact that Reginald Mengi has recently been found by the London High Court to have been complicit in corruption in Tanzania which led to the destruction of British investment and the loss of 150 Tanzanian jobs.
One of the things the envoy discussed with Reginald Mengi was press freedom. Lord Justice Bean of the London High Court found that Reginald Mengi had encouraged or knowingly permitted a campaign in IPP Media’s Guardian and Nipashe newspapers that facilitated Benjamin Mengi’s (Reginald Mengi’s brother) corruption of local officials and helped destroy and steal the British investment in Silverdale Farm. This should be of grave concern to the government of Finland.
Tanzania is one of Finland's eight long-term development partner countries and amongst the main receivers of aid which totalled 35 million euros in the year 2011. Development policy is an important part of Finland’s foreign and security policy and is based on Millennium Development Goals which aim at the eradication of extreme poverty. Human rights are an integral part of Finland’s development policy, because development is not sustainable without all people having an equal right to influence and participate in the definition and implementation of their own development. Corruption can play no part in any aspect of a development policy no matter who engages in it.
Why it is here asked, would a foreign envoy for a government that is committed to such a policy feel it appropriate to pay a courtesy call on a man that has been found to be complicit in corruption and the destruction of British investment. Investment, that as a development partner Finland should seek to protect and not, afford courtesy to those that destroy it. This visit is simply inexplicable.
Ms Antila may like to consider the words of Finland’s Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala:- “Finnish development cooperation is deeply based on human rights, and therefore, there is no room for corruption, one of the worst forms of human rights violation......there are always two sides to corruption”.
Is Reginald Mengi’s side to corruption to be ignored by the government of Finland?
Finnish envoy: Learn to turn conflicts into opportunities
By Sylivester Domasa
1st February 2013
Finnish Ambassador to Tanzania Sinikka Antila affording courtesy to Reginald Mengi
The government would have been better placed to deal with the conflict relating to the natural gas discovery in Mtwara if it had promoted alternative means of economically enabling the region’s residents.
This was said yesterday by Finnish Ambassador to Tanzania Sinikka Antila during discussions with the IPP Executive Chairman, Dr Reginald Mengi.
The envoy, who discussed with Dr Mengi a wide range of issues on press freedom, business development and the role of natural resources in improving Tanzania’s economy cited the recent discovery of natural gas in Mtwara and Lindi regions, which he said has invited chaos even before the extraction work starts.
The diplomat said: “…the government needed to improve other economic-trapping-potentials within the region as it implements the gas project.”
She added: “The government should set up a framework which can be used to tap the country’s natural resources…in Mtwara, the ordinary citizens have other potentials and if considered they can lead to employment creation and thus improve their livelihood,” she suggested.
According to the Finnish envoy, most of the people in Mtwara Region were aspiring for a better living, especially after the discovery of natural gas. The government should therefore improve cashew-nut production and agro-production, invest in agribusiness as well as in tree plantation since the country’s economy primarily depended on forests.
Antila, who has been in Tanzania since 2011 said lack of transparency, is undermining economic progress in the country, adding that since in all democratic countries the question of transparency prevails, then people are free to question the legitimacy of all issues of public interest.
“Government secrecy should be where security implications are likely to jeopardise the nation’s peace and harmony….the role of the media in creating public awareness did not surface in the gas exploration and extraction programme in the regions. This may not be right when presenting information based on facts,” she observed.
Meanwhile the Finnish ambassador forecast that Tanzania might not need more foreign development aid in ten years time, if the resources she has are well allocated.
This would also be possible if corruption is tamed, service delivery is strengthened and public funds are safeguarded.
Currently, the Ambassador said industrialised states and development partners are debating key areas where they can allocate funds and the Tanzanian government has to take this into consideration.
“It’s very possible that in the next ten years Tanzania can be free from foreign aid, although some areas including health and education still need more assistance,” she explained.
The envoy said Tanzania needs to invest in innovation, business incubators for start-up so as to test more people with business ideas.
For his part, IPP Executive Chairman Dr Reginald Mengi faulted the outdated laws and regulations such as the Newspaper Act of 1976 saying it vests too much power on the minister, thus limiting freedom of the press and media owners.
Dr Mengi expressed satisfaction with the constitutional review process saying, the strategy would address a number of issues that include freedom of the media.
Speaking on the gas pipeline protests, he said: “The protests should not be translated as chaos. The same politicians who it is claimed instigated violence should have used the opportunity to push for development agenda in other economically potential areas that the region has,” he observed.
He added: “Many civil wars in most countries are a result of natural resources…it’s unfortunate that those who benefit from such wars don’t want to seek solutions…and these are just corrupt persons.”
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN