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The East African : December 30th 2013
The EastAfrican OPINION DECEMBER 28, 2013 - JANUARY 3, 2014 I In the end, it was hard to determine whether the four ministers had resigned or had been sacked.” Jene≥ali Ulimwengu citizen should have been worrying about the muddy substance the water supply company was selling us as water. Water you could hardly flush your toilet with, and for which you paid dearly. J But no, instead we were forced to focus on yet another soap opera in our excuse for a parliament as our devalued MPs struggled to regain relevance around issues of the political responsibility of ministers for infractions committed by their subordinates. This time it was about an op- eration mounted by government agencies to eradicate the scourge of poaching in our national parks, game reserves and forests, a scourge that has reportedly depleted our flora and fauna to frightening levels. The figures given for the dwindling numbers of elephants and rhinos are simply staggering. Though the protection of savan- ust the kind of stuff to wrap up the year with. In the week before Christmas, the ordinary Dar es Salaam How not to end poaching: Sow te≥≥o≥ count≥y wide and then act su≥p≥ised nahs and what wealth they hold lies within the docket of the ministry responsible for natural resources, the operation, obviously, had to be joined by the more muscular agents of government, including the police and wildlife wardens and guards. This time, for good measure, the military was also roped in, no doubt because sometimes the poachers behave like an invading army. It turns out, though, that this motley anti-poaching force went on a rampage across practically the whole country, sowing terror and destruction, including violent assaults, arson, vandalism, rape and extrajudicial killings. These prompted the mandating of a parliamentary committee to investigate the allegations and report back to the House. Many of the allegations were found to be true, and in the debates that ensued in Bunge, irate legislators called for the guillotine. The ruling party caucus gave the prime minister an ultimatum: Either the line ministers (natural resources, police, defence and livestock) are cashiered or we cashier you. In a theatre of the absurd that evening it was not too clear what was going on in parliament. The Speaker looked like she expected the ministers in question to take the floor one after the other to state that they had decided to resign. The first one to be called obliged, citing “political responsibility.” The second stood up, only to say his ministry was not involved; the two others were not seen or heard. It was left to the prime minister to take the floor to say that, indeed, what had been revealed by the investigation was “unacceptable” and people had to be accountable; that the president had agreed that people take responsibility; that it was all about being accountable; that even the minister who said it wasn’t me, well, it was really him…. In the end, it was hard to deter- mine from this meandering statement whether these ministers had resigned or had been sacked. What had the president really done? Accepted the ministers’ resignations before he had received them, or sacked them and then ordered them to resign? Or what? Other questions linger too. Why do you need to mount a paramilitary operation to deal with a problem that you have been living with since forever, and which, you must know, can only be eradicated by kicking out and arresting and charging all those high officials in government aiding and abetting poachers and their clients? Shouldn’t operations really be reserved for sudden, unexpected happenings, such as a tsunami or an earthquake, and not for our own embedded avarice, corruption, and incompetence? And, anyway, was it not the same prime minister who only recently declared that, “They will be clobbered; we are tired; they must be clobbered”? So, why does he appear surprised when what he ordered actually happens? Why a paramilitary operation to deal with a problem that can only be eradicated by arresting and charging all those high officials aiding and abetting poachers? If, as promised, some people will be brought before a court of law to answer charges related to the alleged atrocities, might they not cite the prime minister’s “beat’em up” speech in parliament? Meanwhile, my water is still muddy. Jene≥ali Ulimwengu is chai≥man of the boa≥d of the Raia Mwema newspape≥ and an advocate of the High Cou≥t in Da≥ es Salaam. E-mail: ulimwengu@jene≥ali.com 19 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Electronic correspondence should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Send attached text or Word documents To grow the tourism pie, start with the locals not foreigners A RECENT article by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Tourism and Commerce, (“A single tourist visa is the best way to realise the region’s tourism ambitions,” December 14-20) shows just how senior stakeholders in the sector never seem to quite get it. Tourism is, more than any- thing else, about culture and lifestyle: About the way we dress, our mannerism, sense of public order, recreational activities, food and culinary, entertainment and night life, sports, architecture and urban design, music and performance arts and many more. But whose lifestyle and culture? That’s the locals (host community) and this is where we keep dropping the ball. Instead of finding, developing and creating tourism products and packages that integrating the foreign tourist seamlessly into the local lifestyle and cultural experience, the working of a majority of senior stakeholders in the sector seems to be to isolate the foreign tourist as much as possible from locals (only maintain essential contact) and create an utopian entity or community that blends the foreign tourist culture and lifestyle with that of the host community. In place of the bureaucratic es- capades and pursuits suggested by the Cabinet secretary, let us first attend to the basics, which would make locals enrich their lifestyle, cultural experiences and development. The first objective should be to grow safe, comfortable and habitable neighbourhoods and streets. This is a function of urban planning and built environment, able and committed policing, safe, predictable and efficient public transportation among others. If it is safe and comfortable for the local, it will naturally be so for the tourists. The second objective should be to nurture a vibrant recreational life, which would create and promote a social and entertainment atmosphere. This can be achieved by supporting the creative arts through fashion shows and art exhibitions at county levels and integration of all this into school and college curriculum. In addition, a sporting culture that pursues sports as a recreational activity, which means more sporting facilities in the counties and sub-counties, in which locals are engaged should be considered. So, if we discuss beach sports and water skiing, it must be from a local’s perspective. The tourist will do it the locals’ way! Marathons help a lot in this regard. Cricket championships outside Nairobi should be considered and volleyball matches and other indoor sports played at night, say, from 7pm, to allow those working during the day to attend. Public recreational parks and facilities need to be expanded. These include beach parks (there is none currently in Kenya, where beaches are built up by private developers to the shore line), urban parks and picnic grounds. The lack of public picnic grounds and greened parks for relaxation present a negative image and discourage recreational and social activities. Every county headquarters should have a well maintained public recreational park of good capacity. It is important to engage the county governments in these pursuits as most of what is required at the government level can be developed and implemented by them and to the interests of their constituents. Vincent Kivuva Via e-mail Make travel within EA domestic to win Air travel in East Africa is stifled by our self imposed constraints than can be removed by co-operation and viewing each other in East Africans as one. Travel for East Africans within our countries should be considered domestic travel. The benefits of domestic travel are numerous: Reduced travel time and cost, improved customer satisfaction etc. Domestic travel will stimulate the airline industry and our economies for it eliminates the visit to the immigration office. As it is now, Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is a must-carry when you travel by air. Secondly, with domestic travel airlines will predominantly adopt the cheaper “no frills” model instead of the current flying res- taurant model which unnecessarily add to ticket costs. Lastly, with reduced cost and reduced travel nuisance East Africa domestic tourism and commerce will be greatly improved besides enhancing our integration, cohesion and pride as East Africans. Robert Kimutai Nairobi Stephen Partington email@example.com POLITICS AND VERSE ‘South Sudan’ Salva Kir is back in fatigues: he really must be tired of them: he fought the North and SORT OF won and now he’s fighting his petulant own Gone is the stetson and back is the cap; gone is the peace and back is the crap. Johnny Garang must be furious, for he gave up his life to prevent further war. ‘Merry Christmas’ Christmas is here, and I’d toast you with wine, but I can’t afford drink: VAT is a swine. And so, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year: I’d buy you a Tusker, but can’t afford beer.
December 23rd 2013
January 6th 2014