COUNCILS PRAISE FOR HIGHWAY ATTRACTS PROMPT ‘INDUCEMENT’ ALLEGATIONS
No sooner had several councils enroute the controversial Serengeti highway made their support for Tanzanian president Kikwete known, did allegations enter the fray that they were given inducements and promises of ‘other goodies and big jobs’ were made, if only they’d come out loudly in support of the project. Opposed by all serious conservation organizations, top environmental experts, UNESCO, WWF, AWF and many similar global bodies, this has seemingly not deterred Kikwete’s government to go flat out in their attempt to ‘kill the Serengeti’, in the process overturning the verdicts and commitments made by Tanzania’s founding father Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. Even senior staff at TANAPA and SENAPA are quietly opposed to the highway across the crucial annual migration paths but it is understood that anyone of them openly opposing the plans or being quoted publicly, especially in international media or publications in this regard, may be subject to immediate disciplinary measures, possible dismissal and even trumped up criminal charges.
Said a regular source in Arusha in response to questions raised: ‘the present generation of politicians is the greediest we ever had. Nyerere’s generation made many mistakes and their Ujamaa policy crippled us economically, but at least he had the guts to stand up and say sorry and that he was wrong. But today’s politicians are only interested in eating, maintaining power and clobbering the opposition including killing them, as we recently saw here in Arusha when police became executioners for the regime. This highway is a mistake, and only when the big herds are decimated, the tourists stay away and we are a pariah of conservation will people start to listen. Even then I expect the Kikwetes of today will blame others for their own mistakes and failures’.
Damning words from a senior stakeholder in the tourism sector who spent his entire adult life in the sector and has a sizeable investment to worry about, should indeed game numbers – as widely predicted – drop and tourists listen to the de-campaigning promised to the Tanzanian government, the moment he bulldozers start rolling.
Watch this space and don’t shoot the messenger who only reports on such issues and has no hand in them otherwise.