Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - Tanzania’s battles against wildlife poaching on the one hand and against cervical cancer on the other, while the government and local traders wrangled over the use of newly-introduced electronic fiscal devices (EFDs) made headlines in the country’s newspapers this week.
Addressing an international conference on illegal wildlife trade in London, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete appealed to the international community to help in stopping the trade of ivory and rhino horn in order to protect elephants and rhinos from extinction, the Daily News reported.
At independence from colonial rule in 1961, Tanzania Mainland (then Tanganyika) had an elephant herd of 350,000 but by 1987 the figure had been reduced to 55,000 at the hands of poachers.
Thanks to the 1989 global ban on ivory trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Tanzania’s elephants increased to 110,000 in 2009.
According to the government-owned daily, Kikwete regretted that poaching of the jumbos has resurfaced due to the re-emergence of illegal trade in ivory.
Meanwhile, The Citizen reported that the Tanzanian parliament was divided over a report by a British newspaper that accused Kikwete’s government of poaching.
The UK’s Mail on Sunday wrote that Kikwete’s government had done nothing to address poaching and had presided over the unprecedented slaughter of elephants in Tanzania’s history.
According to The Citizen, the British paper appeared to accuse Kikwete’s administration of complicity in poaching and the illegal ivory trade which has an annual global value of around six billion sterling pounds.
The President’s Office here reacted to the report, saying “the story was a deliberate distortion of the truth.”
Some MPs in the Parliamentary Group on Sustainable Natural Resources Conservation and Utilisation defended the president, but an opposition lawmaker backed the British newspaper’s report.
Rev. Peter Msigwa of Chadema party, said the report reflected the truth. “The official Opposition camp in parliament had on several occasions named poaching suspects but the government took no action,” he said.
On the war against poaching, The Guardian commented: “As long acknowledged, there is every reason to involve local communities in efforts meant to ensure that our national parks, game reserves and other wildlife sanctuaries are truly and permanently out of bounds for poachers and other criminal elements. This should be encouraged.
“As a matter of fact, these people should be given as many incentives as resources allow for every poacher they intercept or arrest. Leaving everything to game wardens and the ‘relevant authorities’ alone will never tame, much less end, the wanton slaughter of our elephants.”
Regarding the battle against cervical cancer, Daily News reported that the malign has become a serious threat to women in Tanzania.
According to the daily, over 6,200 women are diagnosed with the cancer in the country’s hospitals annually and over 4,300 of them die of the disease yearly.
The growing number of cervical cancer cases has prompted the government to introduce human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine as a preventive measure, the paper reported.
Noting a symbiotic relationship between the government and the local business community, The Citizen commented: “Unfortunately, a misunderstanding on the EFD appears to have driven a wedge between the government and a section of the business community.”
The paper’s observation followed a strike by shopkeepers to resist tax payment, aiming that the device, introduced by the Tanzania Revenue Authority, is very costly when compared to their earnings.
“The move to introduce the device, which is designed for efficient management of sales and stock control systems, was well intentioned,” said The Citizen. “One wonders why a proposal made in good faith should abuptly turn sour at the implementation stage.”
Urging the business community and the government to clear their misunderstanding, the daily said that “both parties should keep an open mind and come to the table if they truly want a lasting solution.”
Several Tanzanian papers this week also carried reports on the government’s decision to facilitate rapid movement of goods through Tanzania’s chief seaport.
The government has announced round-the-clock cargo clearing operations at the Port of Dar es Salaam and committed the port’s main users to abide by new procedures.
“Strict implementation of the new operating system will not only improve competence but also speed up clearance of goods and attract more business,” Daily News reported, quoting Shaaban Mwinjaka, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport, as saying.
But The Citizen reported that some stakeholders under the Tanzania Shipping Agencts Association, not happy with the way the issue was being handled, raised a number of issues, including how much work should be done within 24 hours.
Some of them claimed that there was no system in place to make the new arrangement productive.
Daily News, however, welcomed the move noting, that it would reduce the cost of doing buisness at the port, which also provides six land-locked neighbouring countries access to the sea. These are DR Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
In order to support the new operating system, the paper suggested strengthened security to allow safe movement of container-laden trucks at night.