Tanzania gets new Tourism Minister

TANZANIA (eTN) – In his newly-reshuffled cabinet, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete announced on Sunday morning that he has appointed Mr. Lazaro Nyalandu as the new Tourism Minister, taking over from Khamis Kagasheki who had resigned from the post last month on allegations of human rights abuse during anti-poaching operations.

Mr. Nyalandu who was Deputy Minister to Mr. Kagasheki in the same ministry, was promoted into a full ministerial portfolio on Sunday when President Kikwete made minor changes in his ministerial cabinet.

He will be responsible for daily administration of Tanzanian’s natural resources made up of wildlife and forests, tourism, and the travel trade, while monitoring challenges facing Tanzania’s tourist industry at this time when Tanzania’s tourism marketing campaign is facing budgetary constraints.

The new Tourism Minister will also be responsible for overseeing daily activities affecting his ministry’s departments, including wildlife and forest resources, which members of parliament and the Tanzanian people have complained of being looted by foreign companies.

Poaching of elephants and rhinos is a big problem that this new minister will be dealing with, while corruption in key wildlife conservation departments in Tanzania seems to be a block ahead of his daily performance.

Mr. Nyalandu’s predecessor, the serious and no-nonsense former Minister Mr. Kagasheki, has been a sacrificial lamb during the anti-poaching operation, aimed to stop wanton killings of elephants, rhinos, and other endangered species in this African country, nature conservationists said.

In the process of “Politics versus Conservation,” Mr. Kagasheki was forced to resign by members of the Tanzanian parliament after scandals emerged, involving his lieutenants accused of torture, corruption, and atrocities during the exercise to arrest poachers.

“He was a sacrificial lamb to offenses he never made. This serious former minister fell a victim of corrupt officials in [the] wildlife department and other units under his ministry, and who succeeded to get him out so as to succeed in the motives in squandering Tanzania’s wildlife and forest resources,” said George Pills, nature conservationist in Kenya.

After the resignation of Mr. Kagasheki hardly a month ago, Tanzania had lost 60 elephants in the hands of poachers, and last week, a rhino was killed on the Serengeti plains, just to send a signal to the Tanzanian government that poachers had gained momentum.

The Natural Resources and Tourism Ministry is also responsible for controlling key tourist sites, including the 16 tourist national parks, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where the famous Ngorongoro Crater is located, and the Selous Game Reserve – the biggest and most natural wildlife reserve in Africa.

Tanzania, the largest country in East Africa, is focused on wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism, with approximately 28 percent of the land protected by the government. It boasts 15 national parks and 31 game reserves, all falling under the administration of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.