Tanzania’s tourism minister in trouble with parliamentary committee

Wide ranging allegations were made earlier in the week by the parliamentary committee on Land, Natural Resources and Environment against Tanzanias controversial tourism minister Ezekiel Maige, to the point of the committee chairman accusing the minister of having created a corrupt environment in the ministry. James Lembeli, according to a regular source in Dar es Salaam, went on to say: The minister has so far failed to enact 16 regulations as required for the implementation of the wildlife act of 2009. This leaves corruption loopholes which deny the government of revenue. Further allegation include that the minister ignored the advice of the parliamentary committee when granting hunting block rights to unsuitable companies, while also awarding hunting blocks to companies which had apparently not even applied for them, denying locals the chance to get into the business. Hunting in Tanzania is legal, and while a lucrative business has in recent years come under increased criticism from conservation groups around the world, especially in view of the massive upswing in illegal poaching. Unsavoury pictures published recently of the sons of Donald Trump in a hunting frenzy, or news of the Spanish king breaking a hip while on a hunting trip notably while holding the office of President of the WWF have enraged the anti hunting lobby, and with Tanzanias track record on wildlife conservation under the media spotlight, these further controversies will not help at all.
Said a regular source from Arusha: Maige is on record of calling UNESCOs World Heritage Committee names, when they raised issues over the Serengeti highway or the planned Uranium mining in the Selous. Hunting even within Tanzania is controversial. It may bring in money but some blocks granted to Middle East sheikhs were shot empty in no time, so where was the supervision on quotas there? Smuggling out of the country of blood ivory continues, Tanzania is a conduit for illegal trade in birds, reptiles and animals. If parliament now found more dirt on how the ministry has behaved, maybe hunting should be suspended altogether and like Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya we should review our policy. Hunting excesses bring bad publicity, fiddling hunting block allocations gives a bad picture of how our tourism ministry is operating. This government has a poor track record on the conservation principles our founding father Mwalimu Nyerere has set. For them today it is all money, logging and mining more important that protecting our priceless heritage for which we became known around the world. Maybe we should have a public debate with all stakeholders from tourism and conservation confronting government and lobby for a change of direction.
Meanwhile did news emerge earlier in the week that villagers filed complaints with the local district commissioner for having been illegally detained and tortured by Serengeti national park rangers. The group of at least 6 were allegedly beaten and abused before handed over to a police station in Mugumu / Serengeti district, but were then released for lack of evidence. Other complaints voiced also include claims that herders were being shot at by wardens after their livestock strayed in to the park in search of pastures, accusing TANAPA of failure to promote better relations with communities living near the park boundaries.
Watch this space.

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