By Wolfgang H. Thome
Tanzania's Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Amb. Khamis Kagesheki was sacked yesterday evening by Tanzania’s president Kikwete alongside three other cabinet colleagues, allegedly over the mishandling of anti poaching operations. Reactions were swift and united in calling this the ultimate act of a coverup, as Kagesheki was known as a minister full of integrity and backbone and had made a name for himself since replacing his hapless predecessor Ezekiek Maige.
‘Kagesheki wielded the axe in his ministry without fear or favour. He sacked those who were lazy and worked in cohoots with poachers and timber vandals. It is now clear to all of us that his remaining in office would have been a very big threat to those who organize poaching and profit from it and some are in the highest levels of government. He was as usual the first to react when reports filtered in that some of the operations in the field targeted herdsmen and pastoralists instead of poachers. He was right to then call for a temporary halt of such operations until new orders could be established.
He also stood up against very powerful interests over the Serengeti highway, the Lake Natron issue and other projects which endangered the principles of conservation in Tanzania. You wrote a lot about those issues and from what I read you always were very fair to our minister. He was an excellent minister and Kikwete surely must have succumbed to pressure to remove him because he was an obstacle to the evil schemes to keep poaching our wildlife and ransack our forests’ wrote a regular contributor from Dar es Salaam overnight, after the news broke that Kagesheki and his colleagues Mathayo (Lifestock and Fisheries), Nchimbi (Home Affairs) and Nahodha (Defence) had been sacked unceremoniously.
Another source wrote: ‘This makes Kagesheki the scapegoat. He is the one who reacted first when it became clear how the commanders in the field behaved. Some settled scores, others enriched themselves by stealing cattle. It was Kagesheki who stepped in and now he is being sacked? It shows that you were right that the entire operation Tokomeza was mishandled to make sure it had to be stopped. There are a lot of ulterior motives around and a lot of people who benefit from poaching are celebrating today that they brought him down. But for tourism and conservation it is a big blow. Some of the others may have been responsible but not Kagesheki’.
It is unprecedented that in one term of office a president in Tanzania sacks two of his ministers for natural resources and tourism in subsequent years, the first entirely justified of course but the second clearly done to please pressure groups with deep pockets bound to further benefit from this development.
Fare well and all the best to Ambassador Khamis Kagesheki, now immediate former Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism.