TANAPA’S ANGRY REACTION A HARBINGER OF THINGS TO COME UNDER NEW LAWS
(Posted 02nd May 2015)
Going by the angry reaction of TANAPA over recently published figures on elephant and game counts in the country, it can be anyone’s guess what will happen to those who use and rebroadcast such figures inside Tanzania when the draconian new bills will come into effect about using unauthorized inofficial statistics and data.
While President Kikwete is still pondering his options have his mouthpieces already trumpeted that the new bills will be signed into law, defying international outcries over attempts to muzzle the already hamstrung media and NGO’s inside Tanzania even further.
Similar to a case in Kenya some years ago, when then Director General of KWS, one Julius Kipng’etich had the Executive Director of Ecotourism Kenya locked up when he did not like the challenge thrown at him that the KWS data on poaching were misleadingly low, can it be expected that TANAPA too will the moment the bills have been signed into law come with a vengeance at those they consider their enemies, detractors and generally a thorn in their side.
Last weeks’ article here on the devastatingly low figures of elephant remaining now in the Selous and Ruaha ecosystems was also mirrored by British broadcaster ITV titled: ‘Exposed: Tanzania’s elephant killing fields’.
This correspondent is habitually threatened by Tanzanian officials, sycophants and hypocrites over what has been termed ‘constantly hostile anti Tanzanian reporting’ and the ITV report too got to taste the wrath of those in charge of conservation in Tanzania who however by overwhelming consensus have failed to stem the industrial scale poaching of recent years. While authorities are now harping on what more recent successes they had in arresting poachers was the damage done long before any action was taken with tens of thousands of Selous elephant wiped out under a government which as far as conservation was concerned slept on the job.
Local Tanzanian conservation activists have already signaled that they will not ever go on record if at all they continue to provide information as they could find themselves facing arrest, prosecution and jailtime, if any government officer would find that the figures and data shares were ‘false and to the detriment of Tanzania’ as described here when reporting about the latest threat to press freedom in that country.
‘Shelutete (Tanapa’s spokesperson) of course says such things as the counts not being true and stuff like that. He is paid to say it and is not risking his position. There are many ways to establish game figures and while Tawiri, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute may claim to be the only official body tasked with game counts, they are neither infallible nor own the truth. In fact going by past experience they are the ones putting up smokescreens and delaying the release of date which then prompts others to get the fact out into the public domain’ said an Arusha based source.
It remains to be seen if the two bills are signed into law and what the reaction then will be but it can be expected that, ahead of the country’s formal election campaign, this will be a new additional stick the government will wield to beat up, proverbially speaking though beatings by police against protestors and media are not uncommon in Tanzania either, those they consider anti ruling party and therefore anti establishment and a threat to what they think is their own image of national security.
Said another source ‘You should tell your friends at Frankfurt Zoo what individuals they are dealing with in Tanapa, anti democratic, authoritarian if not outright dictatorial and followers of ruling party ideology which tolerates no opinion but its own’. Ouch came to mind when that was said but in fact, going by past experience one can put nothing beyond them, having threatened NGO’s last year with unspecified measures and court cases for exposing failures and considering the various scandals the organization faced in recent years. Holding tourists hostages to force camps and lodges to pay additional fees to them as was reported here some time ago, is just another case in point. Clearly, telling the world what is going on is not something they like to be subjected to.