“An economic conspiracy was well orchestrated by the Government of Hamadi Jbali to marginalize the Gafsa Phosphate Company (CPG) regarding the operation of the Djerid project, said Abdelhamid Tabbabi, researcher and writer.
His statement follows the recent statements by the Minister of Regional Development and Planning Jameleddine Gharbi on the Government’s plans to sell the operation of the Djerid phosphate mine to foreign investors, such as Australians, Indians and Jordanians.
In a telephone interview with Africanmanager, Abdelhamid Tabbabi, considers that priority in the project operation should be given to the CPG.
“People of the mine basin and staff of the Gafsa Phosphate Company wondered about the recent statements by the Minister, who had not even taken into account the role played by the company in discovering the project, the CPG would indeed have conducted all the studies and scientific research of this project.
Huge expenses have been devoted to analyzing the quality of phosphate (30,000 tons of phosphate) in the laboratories of the same CPG.
Note in the same context that reserves of the Djerid mine are estimated, according to studies conducted by the CPG, at about 100 million tons and its use could extend over 100 years, by means of one million tons year.
As such, our interviewee wondered about the reason behind the government’s preference of foreign investors.
“No reasonable person could imagine offering the operation of this wealth to other than a national company that has all the skills to do it,” lamented the Tunisian researcher.
Tabbabi also replied “I think there are bad intentions on the part of the government of Jbali and this following pressure exerted by the International Monetary Fund,” adding: “I want to confirm that the visit of Christine Lagarde was not really innocent. ”
Tabbabi goes further in his analysis of what he sees as a conspiracy by the current government, since he considers that lower production forecasts of the CPG from 8.5 million tons to 4, 8 million tons would not be linked to social reasons, but to “a gradual decline in activity to make way for other sites to operate the project.”
Our interviewee, who believed the CPG was more worthy to exploit this natural wealth which it had contributed greatly to its discovery, explains that the Gafsa Phosphate Company had suffered greatly during the regimes of Bourguiba and Ben Ali of difficulties due to mismanagement.
“In 1986, the company was included in the program of restructuring of public enterprises imposed by the IMF and the WB under the SAP (Structural Adjustment Program) which took into account only the rate of profit to be made or to be kept,” said the Tunisian researcher, adding that” after the fall of Ben Ali in January 2011 and more than three years after the insurrection of the mining area in 2008, protest movements continue to demand employment and the establishment of a development policy that puts an end to rising unemployment and the continuing deterioration of living conditions in the mining area.”
For Abdelhamid Tabbabi, “the Interim Government is called to respect the tireless efforts of the company and to better focus on the local population, because when understanding and attention are zero, and whatever our judgment on that issue, the reaction may be violent, desperate and more destructive than previous ones, the researcher warns.
The researcher expects “swift actions that put an end to certain practices that are still resisting the so-called revolution: corruption, clientelism, regionalism, the outright exploitation of resources taken out abruptly from a region.