FORESTRY OFFICIALS FINGERED IN ATTEMPTED FOREST GRABBING
Kazimzumbwi forest, located only some 20 kilometres south of Dar es Salaam in the Pugu Hills and adjoining the Pugu Forest Reserve, was exposed as the latest assault victim by land grabbers and corrupt officials, when the outgoing District Commissioner Ms. Khanifa Karamagi, now on transfer to her new station after recent changes in deployment made by President Kikwete, complained about attempts inspired by people in the natural resources ministry but thwarted at the time by the Ministry of Lands Housing and Human Settlement, trying to change the boundaries of the reserve.
A regular conservation source from Dar es Salaam confirmed that while that case the DC referred to was about 2 years old, efforts were ongoing to carve out a sizeable piece of land for development from the nearly 5.000 hectares forest, which was already under the British colonial rule recognized as an important natural resource and got protection as early as 1936 when it was officially made a forest reserve according to information sourced from the web.
Accusations, notably by officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, where new minister Ambassador Khamis Kagesheki last week twice vowed to find and fire corrupt officials, were in the meantime pointing fingers at housing ministry staff, alleging they were behind the latest attempt to create residential plots for development at the fringe of the forest, with both the Coast Regional Commissioner and the minister for housing Prof. Anna Tibaijuka claiming they did not have formal communications on the controversial issue. Said the source We can only hope official communication is forthcoming soon so that government can act. Two weeks ago the President fired 6 ministers when they became untenable in his cabinet after parliament dug up the dirt on them. Natural resources was one of them and we all know that illegal logging was ignored if not encouraged by them. There are lots of rumours their officials benefitted from encroaching forests and we hope the new minister will throw the lot of them out. Forests are water towers, ecological hot spots, a resource for tourism, for medicinal plants, for carbon absorption and we must protect those and not destroy them so that a few can profit. In fact, we hope that the new minister invites stakeholders to formulate a new policy on forestry which can lead to sustainable use and protects forest boundaries.
What is clear here is that with a new minister in the natural resources ministry in place, bureaucrats are more likely than not to throw up smokescreens, blaming others, to conceal their own involvement in past and current corrupt schemes but with parliament in Dodoma now having tasted the proverbial blood, after successfully getting 6 cabinet and 2 deputy ministers fired, they will be more inclined than ever before to get tip offs from whistleblowers and unearth more dirt and corruption. This is likely to force the hand of the newly appointed ministers to act ahead of parliament and to avoid facing their wrath too better find the rotten apples in their midst and deal with them. Watch this space. To better understand the location and vicinity of the forest to Tanzanias commercial capital Dar es Salaam go to: www.getamap.net/maps/tanzania/tanzania_(general)/_kazimzumbwiforestreserve/