Hunting industry must benefit the nation Tanzania
Hunting industry must benefit the nation Tanzania
by Bilham Kimati
OF the African hunting countries, Tanzania has long been considered a prime hunting destination in Africa. Tourists fulfilling the dream of a traditional big game hunting safari visit the country every year.
Nevertheless, the sector has in the recent past been surrounded by controversy regarding allocation of hunting blocks. At the moment there are 156 blocks divided into five different categories based on various factors including the population of game.
Some of the stakeholders started criticizing the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 providing that the foreign-owned companies allocated hunting blocks should not exceed 15 per cent of the total hunting companies at any particular time. The recent legislative changes further compelled all foreign hunting firms operating in Tanzania to cede 25 per cent of their shareholdings to locals.
Responding to claims that the Act sanctioned by the parliamentarians in 2008 turned out to be the worst enemy of the lucrative hunting industry, direct foreign investments, and to the country economy, the veteran politicians and long serving legislator, Dr Chrisant Mzindakaya, totally disagree with the outlook. "The legislation which is not discriminatory is absolutely relevant.
It defends the interests of the nation. It does not imply that we (Tanzanians) hate foreign investments but the essence here is sustainability in harvesting the wildlife first for the benefit of the nation," Mzindakaya insisted. He cited Botswana among other countries with more stringent regulations in the hunting industry generating sound income compared to the minimal USD 20 million received in Tanzania annually.
"The law provides equal opportunity to both local and foreign firms to ensure win-win situation. There is no limitation in partnership but some seem to be reluctant. Majority of foreign firms want to acquire as many hunting blocks as possible and work in isolation. This is unacceptable," he said.
He suspected fishy operations within the industry with questionable level of revenue compared with the flower production industry in Arusha yielding more than USD 40 million annually. After assuming the office, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ezekiel Maige, noticed some irregularities in the industry and declared his position to put things straight.
For example, cheating was discovered in the allocation of hunting blocks such that ownership was illegally transferred to relatives. Also hunting fees were extremely low prompting the need for review. For example, Categorization of the hunting blocks focused on the type and number of animals to be hunted.
The minister said category I has 24 blocks with a hunting permit fee of USD 60,000 each, while group II has 98 blocks and a hunting fee of US$30,000 a piece. Category III, with 18 blocks, has a hunting licence fee of USD18,000 each; while class IV and V with 8 hunting blocks each will have a permit fee of USD10,000 and US$5,000, respectively.
The classification was also done according to the animals to be hunted, block size, and availability of wildlife resources to ensure sustainable tourist hunting and diversity of animal species. "Other factors include hunting block accessibility in terms of terrain and infrastructure from Dar es Salaam or the safari capital of Arusha, reliable water supply, and scope of human activities within the block," Maige explained.
He also spoke about near future increase of the number of hunting blocks as the boundaries of the proposed blocks are demarcated by Global Positioning System (GPS) according to their potential for wildlife recovery in a given time frame and investment. Referring to questionable arrangement that Dr Mzindakaya was talking about, the trophy fee for hunting a lion for example is USD2,500.
It will rise to USD12,000. Hunters will also be required to pay USD15,000 to kill an elephant, from the previous fee of USD5,000. Experts say new regulations would boost the sector to bring home USD53 million, up from an annual USD20 million, bringing it closer to being one of Tanzania's largest foreign exchange earners. Mr Maige said the aim was to help the industry make a bigger contribution to the economy due to its huge potential.
Meanwhile, Dr Mzindakaya had a word of advice to public leaders when it comes to protection of national resources in stead of dwelling in feeling of resentment. The veteran politician who also doubles as the National Development Corporation (NDC) Board Chairman cited examples of developed democracy like India, USA and UK where leaders put aside ideological differences and join hands to address issues affecting national issues.
"Legislators, ministers, district or regional commissioners and many others are all public leaders who are expected to live by example. Accusations and counteraccusations have no room in a country struggling to use the available resource for the benefit of the people," Dr Mzindakaya observed.
There is no one in particular holding keys to development, he added, but unity, shared responsibility, commitment and patriotism are the pillars and avenues leading to strong national economy. He gave an example of ongoing heated debates in the parliament trying to address various problems like energy and fuel crises, need for better education and better health services indicating that collective responsibility is the key to success.
However, the retired leader who once served as a cabinet minister, regional commissioner and legislator for 44 years cautioned on chaotic behaviour seen in the House nowadays likely to erode integrity of the famous organ. "It is disgraceful to see that even constructive ideas or presentations are unnecessarily interfered by the shout 僧wongozo wa spika' as if that was the only parliamentary regulation that existed," he queried.
He had more: "Leadership has its sacrifices. You cannot be a respectful and responsible leader and use abusive language at the same time. You cannot be a reliable leader but attached to corruption allegations. Self control and dignity are self-built and maintained," he elaborated.
He suspected that the motive for aspiration for leadership positions at different levels has changed from being the desire to serve the people to individual gains. "Let legislators fight for common solutions to challenges facing the nation," he insisted.
Giving an example of Tanzania ranked second after the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in terms of resource endowment, Mzindakaya warned against possible slip-up to a country of complainers always accusing each other of wrong doing instead of devising concrete strategies to ensure effective and sustainable utilization of the available resources.
As for those aspiring for presidency in 2015, here is a piece of advice from Dr Mzindakaya: "Serve the people diligently and help President Jakaya Kikwete on implementation of the election manifesto to guarantee legitimacy among the voters," He added, there is no friendship in public leadership but work.
Of course the president would appoint people he doesn't trust but it is the responsibility therefore of the entrusted leaders to prove their ability. Commenting on in-door cabinet deliberations, the veteran politician said it was unethical for a member to boast around telling unconcerned people about all that transpired in a meeting. "If you differ, the best way is to resign in dignity," he concluded.