Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Tanzania: CCM bigwigs under fire over ivory deal gone sour

By Peter Nyanje
The Citizen Reporter

Tuesday, 30 April 2013 22:22 


Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Secretary General Abulrahman Kinana  

Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Secretary General Abulrahman Kinana and other party leaders found themselves on the spot in Parliament yesterday over allegedly suspect deals in natural resources and the tourism sector.
Mr Kinana (pictured) was cited in connection with a consignment of elephant tusks impounded in 2009 in Vietnam. The allegations came in a strongly-worded speech by the shadow minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban-Chadema).
But Minister for Home Affairs Emmanuel Nchimbi swiftly came to the defence of Mr Kinana, telling the House that investigations had proved that he had nothing to do with the consignment. According to Dr Nchimbi, several people were arrested and charged in the case of a four-tonne consignment that originated in Kenya and Tanzania, but Mr Kinana was not one of them.
The case has since been withdrawn after the prosecution failed to secure important information from Vietnam. The Far East country has refused to co-operate because it does not have an exchange arrangement on such matters with Tanzania.
Mr Msigwa had earlier said records from the Business Registration and Licensing Agency (Brela) indicated that the consignment was exported by Sharaf Shipping, a company owned by Mr Kinana and his wife Rahma Hussein. “The official opposition in Parliament believes that illicit political and economic interests of a few individuals in the hunting sector is dominant in CCM and its government and it involves top ranking leaders in the party,” Mr Msigwa said.
The company is also said to have employed a foreigner whose residence documents have expired. Mr Msigwa added: “The certificate to transport the cargo was signed by Mr Samir Hemani on November 13, 2008. Mr Hemani was then the finance and administration manager but records from the Immigration Department show that his residence permit had expired when he was signing the documents.”
The permit reportedly expired on May 7, 2008.
Mr Msigwa requested the government to provide a detailed explanation on the involvement of Mr Kinana in the illegal export of the elephant tusks. But Dr Nchimbi objected, noting that the opposition was aware of the developments in the case. “I am amazed at what the opposition spokesperson has said here because I am aware that they know each and everything involving this case,” the minister said. “I think Chadema is going wayward.”
Mr Msigwa also accused CCM and its government of embracing businessmen with records that were not clean. He named Mr Mohsin Abdallah, who was recently cited as a major dealer in the illegal ivory trade by the Environmental Investigations Agency during a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) meeting in Bangkok in Thailand. “Mr Abdallah is a former member of the CCM National Executive Committee,” he said.” This tarnishes the image of Tanzanians before the international community.”
Mr Msigwa also hit out at the government for allegedly failing to resolve the land crisis in Loliondo in Ngorongoro District for more than 23 years. He accused the government of subjecting Maasai pastoralists in the division to “untold suffering” for lack of recognition as legal residents. He also accused the government of siding with Ortelo Business Company, which has been granted a professional hunting licence to operate in the area.
Tabling his budget earlier, the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki, told Parliament that plans to establish a Wildlife Authority were in top gear. The authority is expected to boost efforts to safeguard natural resources, mainly wildlife.
In the meantime, the ministry has been engaging stakeholders in a bid to amend the Wildlife Act No 5 of 2009 with the intention of charting out supervision and control responsibilities. The draft amendments are ready and consultations with stakeholders are set to begin. If all goes well, the Bill should be tabled in Parliament in November.
The government is, meanwhile, still following up the illegal export of live animals to Qatar on November 26, 2010. Six people have already been arrested and charged over the saga.
But despite his ministry’s achievements, Ambassador Kagasheki said, there were still challenges to be tackled, including shortage of funds, equipment and manpower and low awareness among Tanzanians of the importance of tourism.
Nevertheless, the ministry has come up with strategic planning for the period 2013-2016, which will see employment of enough personnel and improvement of stakeholder participation.
The ministry intends to improve patrols in national parks and game reserves in 2013/14 to safeguard the tourism sector.

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