By Peter Nyanje
The government should not abandon operations ‘Tokomeza’ aimed at taming poaching and ‘Kimbunga’ for identifying and flushing out illegal immigrants.
The Parliamentary Committee on Peace and Security said in its report yesterday that shortcomings notwithstanding, the two operations, should be maintained as they touch sensitive issues that the nation must address at any cost.
The advice comes just weeks after the government announced suspension of Operation Tokomeza, following widespread criticisms from MPs and human rights activists on reportedly human rights abuses by public officials who were carrying out the exercise. Operation Tokomeza involved units from the army, the police and other security organs and was suspended in October, this year.
When the operation was suspended, 952 suspected poachers had already been arrested and 104 ivory seized. The operation began on September 5, 2013.
The minister for Defence and National Service, Mr Shamsi Vuai Nahodha, said 631 firearms, including 13 military weapons, had been seized during the operation.
He said 1,458 rounds of ammunition had also been seized during the operation which was conducted in game reserves and national parks across the country.
According to latest figures, poachers kill an estimated 30 elephants every day in Tanzania, or about 850 every month.
The number of elephants in the country had dropped from 130,000 in 2002 to 109,000 in 2009, and wildlife experts have warned that the entire population could be wiped out by 2020 if poaching continues. Operation Kimbunga is still on but its pace and intensity has slowed down significantly.
Tabling the Committee report, Mr Vita Kawawa (Namtumbo – CCM) said: “The shortcomings notwithstanding, which have since then been addressed by the government and the Parliament, the Committee still believes that the two operations are crucial if we want to deal with poaching and illegal immigrants.”
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