Tanzania signs a controversial port management deal with Dubai-based company despite protests

Tanzania’s government signed a controversial port management deal with Dubai-based DP World that had fueled protests in the African country in the past months and led to arrests of dozens of critics.

The deal was signed on Sunday in the presence of Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who has recently been accused of cracking down on critics such as her predecessor, the late John Magufuli.

Tanzania Ports Authority Director General Plasduce Mbossa said that DP World, based in the United Arab Emirates, will only operate four berths of the Dar es Salaam Port, located in the country’s financial capital, and not the entire port. Its performance would be reviewed every five years for a total contractual period of 30 years.

The opposition and civil society have protested the government decision to have a foreign logistics company manage Tanzania’s ports. The government has said the move would increase port efficiency and grow the country’s economy.

The ports agreement was approved by Tanzania’s parliament on June 10, triggering protests in which more than 22 people have been arrested so far, according to Human Rights Watch.

The international rights group in August urged Tanzania to respect freedom of expression and the right to protest.

Tanzania has made some reforms since the death in 2021 of autocratic President Magufuli, who cracked down on critics and introduced draconian laws.

Hassan, who is serving out Magufuli’s term, has been accused of continuing his anti-democratic policies. However, she was lauded in 2022 for lifting a prohibition on four newspapers that had been banned by the former leader.

Source: AP