DIRECTOR OF WILDLIFE SUSPENDED AS TANZANIA’S TOURISM MINISTER GETS INTO HEAD-ON CONFRONTATION WITH HUNTING LOBBY
(Posted 07th November 2017)
More than the usual trouble is brewing at the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, after controversial Minister Hamisi Kigwangalla accused his Director of Wildlife Prof. Songorwa of not just ordinary misconduct but for attacking the government by leaking information to the public.
The minister had apparently visited the Serengeti and the border area of Loliondo where hunting has been allowed until the Minister in a recent move cancelled all paid for and legally obtained permits and was upset when his travel plans were laid open.
With no compensation offered for affected companies and the hunting lobby claiming a massive loss of business are considerations underway to have the ministerial order challenged in court with the aim to reverse it and retain the status quo for the time being. In view of this it comes as little surprise that the minister wanted to travel almost incognito to avoid any possible confrontation with those affected by his directives.
Additional allegations against the now suspended Director of Wildlife include collusion with hunting companies as well as illegally issuing hunting permits.
The minister has also fallen foul of other investors in the tourism industry after threatening to cancel privatisation deals for a number of former state owned and managed hotels and lodges, a move which only added to the notion abroad that Tanzania no longer is a reliable investment partner and prone to arbitrary decisions vis a vis investors across the economy.
Details obtained from a usually reliable source in Dar es Salaam speak of as many as 10 hotels which caught the minister’s eye and allegations have emerged that there may be more to his announcement than met the eye of the public so far.
Properties named as in the minister’s cross hairs are among others Lobo, Seronera, Ngorongoro and Mikumi lodges, the Lake Manyara Hotel, the Embassy Hotel and the Bahari Beach Hotel with the present owners / managers up in arms over what has been termed unfounded and malicious allegations.
Here too are said owners reportedly consulting with their lawyers to prevent arbitrary re-nationalisation of their properties after in several of these cases investing massively into upgrades and modernization.
Given his recent actions has the newly appointed minister promptly stepped into the proverbial with the tourism fraternity and one regular commentator from Arusha promptly accused him as being a dyed in the wool left wing socialist activist helping his masters with a return to the 1970’s command economy – a policy the late founder president Nyerere apologized for after it sank the country into poverty.
As always only time will tell how this might pan out but for sure have storm clouds overshadowed the relationship between government and tourism private sector once again if not turned outright for the worse.