Tanzanian authorities this week appeared to back down, for the first time, in the face of relentless opposition to the country's ports management deal with an Emirati firm.
And the government abandoned review of laws that would have aided the controversial agreement with DP World.
Attorney General Eliezer Feleshi announced on Tuesday that the government had withdrawn proposed amendments on two laws governing Tanzania’s natural resources that were up for passage by the National Assembly.
Mr Feleshi told a parliamentary sitting in Dodoma that the government had accepted ‘advice’ from a House committee to remove the two sections in the Bill that contained the proposed amendments.
“Following our meeting with the Parliamentary Governance, Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee, both sections have been scrapped and the Bill amended accordingly," he announced to a loud applause from a significant number of legislators.
Parts 4 and 5 of the Bill had proposed amendments to the Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Act and Natural Wealth Resources (Review and Re-negotiation of Unconscionable Terms) Act, both of 2017, to ensure neither law could be applied to "prejudice the performance of sea, dry and lake ports in Tanzania."
The proposal further stated that the amendments would "enable Tanzania’s ports to operate at international standards level and attract more countries, more ships and larger cargoes."
According to conditions set out in the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed last year between Tanzania and Dubai (UAE), both parties were required to ensure that their laws facilitated smooth implementation of the IGA and subsequent host government agreement (HGA).
The IGA was designed to allow Dubai-based multinational logistics firm DP World to take over operations at the port of Dar es Salaam initially and later potentially other sea and lake ports in Tanzania.
Since it was approved by parliament on June 10 this year, the pact has continued to garner harsh public criticism from various actors including opposition politicians, legal experts and religious clerics who believe that, as it stands, it will benefit the Dubai firm more than Tanzania.
The two laws in question were prominently cited in a recent High Court case in which four private citizens petitioned for the agreement to be annulled for breaching Tanzania's constitution and threatening the country's sovereignty and security. On August 10 the High Court ruled against the petition.
Last week, the Governance, Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee last week suspended its own initial discussion of the proposed amendments and said it was seeking further "clarification" from the government on the "contents" of the proposal.
Following AG Feleshi's intervention on Tuesday, National Assembly Speaker Tulia Ackson banned further debate on the subject in parliament "until such time as further agreements related to the IGA are brought before us for review."