by James L.Laizer
A new Minister for the Tanzania Tourism Ministry
Announcing her mini-cabinet changes on Thursday 31st March 2022, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan appointed Dr Pindi Chana as the new Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, replacing Dr Damas Ndumbaro who was moved to the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs.
According to the Citizen, the transfer of Dr Chana to the new role was based on the experience that the former has in diplomacy and law: “Dr Chana is a lawyer and has experience in diplomacy. The management of natural resources and tourism it is about diplomacy, I thought she will fits more here compared to the former docket’’, said President Samia.
The appointment of Dr Chana into this influential position represents an additional female in a senior cabinet role, in the challenging tourism ministry, not seen under female leadership since the tenure of Zakia Meghji.
Rhino Rajab dies at the age of 43
One of the oldest rhinos in Tanzania, Faru Rajab, has died at the age 43 in the Serengeti National park. According to the Citizen, the Tanzania National Parks Authority reported that Faru Rajab died from natural causes in what is likely due to old age. Tanapa said in a press statement that Faru Rajab died in March 2022 leaving a line of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The rhino was born in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in 1979 and was transferred to the Serengeti National Park in 1993, said the statement. According to statistics from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Tanzania has about 190 rhinos. Tanzania had 10,000 rhinos in the 1970s and the number declined to 65 in the 1990s and went up again to 161 in 2018 and then to 190 in 2020. The sharp decline in the population of rhinos in recent years is attributed largely to poaching.
Tourism stakeholders rejects cable cars on Mt Kilimanjaro
A proposal to put cable cars on the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro, has been firmly rejected. According to the Citizen, a total of 558 tourism players in northern Tanzania voted resoundingly against a multi-million-dollar cable car project on Mount Kilimanjaro. However, in a clarification statement, Tanapa stated that the planned cable car project was still in its conceptual stage and that actual execution would require government leadership at various stages as well as stakeholder engagement.
The organisations whose members roundly voted against the proposed project included Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), Tanzania Tour Guides Association (TTGA), Tanzania Porters’ Organisation (TPO), Tanzania Local Tour Operators (TLTO) and the Mount Kilimanjaro Porters Society (MKPS). The representatives’ reservations regarding the planned project are on the grounds that it is a sacred place with considerable existing conservation, local and overall economic value. Representatives further stated that the likely ecological damage from the proposed project would outweigh the expected benefits.
During the 2022 Kilimanjaro Marathon on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Tanzania Prime Minister Mr Majaliwa Kassim Majaliwa made it clear that the project campaigners have a daunting task to convince the government to give the contentious plan a green light. He stated: “I’ve heard discussions about the cable cars to be installed on Mount Kilimanjaro. This majestic mountain has its own splendid glory to the adventurers who scale up to the peak on their feet, we want the natural vegetation to remain intact. Once you start digging the mountain to erect pillars of cable cars, you will obviously destroy the natural vegetation on the mountain”.
Uncertain Situation Remains Over Ngorongoro Residence
Growing fears of eviction from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are still the subject of much debate amid a conflict that has lasted for more than two decades. Claims persist that the reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is on the verge of extinction following an increase in human population and livestock, threatening the welfare of wildlife and sense of natural beauty. In 2017, the human population had reached 98,183, compared to 8,000 when the 8,292 square kilometre conservation area was established by the colonial administration in 1959. In the same period, livestock numbers have increased from 161,000 to 805,556.
Despite these rising numbers, opinion is divided over what to do. Some say a permanent solution would be to evict the residents to protect the reserve for the national interests. Other stakeholders propose a roundtable dialogue in an attempt to reach an agreement without hurting anyone, believing that the removal of the Maasai will erode the status of a globally important heritage site that has long provided a sanctuary for people and wildlife alike.
Late in 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan called on officials to diligently handle the conflict so that the rights of the people were not infringed upon. Raising concerns over growing human and livestock populations, yet aware of the cultural importance of the site, she said: “I know we agreed to accommodate some pastoralists and animals in the area, but the growing numbers are not acceptable. Otherwise, we need to agree as a nation whether to preserve Ngorongoro or remove it from the list of heritage areas.”
In the same period, the then minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Damas Ndumbaro, took a harder line, suggesting plans to introduce a Bill in the National Assembly to change the law that established the reserve.
As discussions around the potential relocation of Maasai communities became increasingly heated, the residents of Ngorongoro frequently complained and directed petitions to President Hassan to reconsider the conflict between the Maasai and the conservationists. Many Maasai have sought to emphasis there is a middle way, with Maasai communities having a strong conservation legacy that predates colonial times.
The Citizen reported a resident stating: “We do not refuse to preserve this area, we know its importance for the nation, but the politics that have been clearly visible in this regard are the ones that are destructive and need to be looked at carefully.”
The issue has attracted lawmakers’ attention. Some legislators have been arguing over the removal, reduction of people and livestock within the reserve, while others argue that livestock is owned by a few rich people while leaving a majority poor and without. Subsequently, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has promised that the government will launch a dialogue with the people of Ngorongoro Division as well as those of Loliondo to find a solution based on human rights.