By Aikande Kwayu
Out of my work with the NCAA (Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority), I was graced to attend the announcement event of the Tanzania Elephant Census 2014 Results. It was a good experience. The Ministry (MNRT) and it agencies were there together with the conservation partners, Ambassadors from great powers, and representatives from the EU, UNDP, and other key partners in development.
Immediately after he was appointed, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism in February 2014, Mr. Lazaro Nyalandu commissioned TAWIRI (Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute) to conduct a countrywide census of the elephants. TAWIRI did so together with Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS). I think making such a decision is a sign of boldness – as the goal was to be transparent into the situation that is considered very political.
Well, the census result can be found in the Minister’s speech, BUT what shocked me is how open the Minister came out with the results. He did not hide anything and he said the numbers as they were. Impressively, the Minister, who has listed himself as CCM presidential nominee candidate talked about the poaching problem in the most transparent way. He could have tried to play with words as a way of gaining political points. But he rose above that and he, for example, painfully explained the worsening situation in Rungwa and how it has become the epicenter of poaching. He then called for support both locally and internationally in rescuing Rungwa from poachers. He also talked about the massive decline in Ruaha despite the fact that other places like Serengeti have seen significant increasing of elephant population. Even the participants including the USA Ambassador and others acknowledged the Minister’s boldness given the ongoing politics.
Let’s give credit where it’s due. I personally think that Hon. Nyalandu has boldness that we often fail to see. This is not the first time he managed to come out very bold. Here I will recall some of the things that he has done during his leadership that highlights his boldness:
When he went to Kariokoo (while at the Ministry of Trade and Industry) to address the issue of illegal immigrants who trade at Kariokoo including the Chinese. (Remember how powerful a partner China is to Tanzania)
The firing and replacement he did at some of the MNRT key position after he became the Minister in 2014.
The establishment of TAWA (Tanzania Wildlife Authority).
Cancelling of license to an Arab Hunting Company that did not follow procedures
There are many such examples, that may have gone unnoticed but a close look at Hansard might probably give us more hint.
So as not to sideline my International Relations instinct, I need to mention that today, Mr. Nyalandu’s leadership ability was further underscored by his diplomatic aptitude. He brought China and USA on the same table in the Census event. That should not be taken lightly. Ambassadors from both countries attended and gave their remarks. He also had the Germany Ambassador present. One can then say, all major powers from across the world were represented today ….the USA for North America; Germany for Europe; and China for Asia. Not very many politicians can do that in Tanzania- do you have an example???
I think it’s high time we give credit for all potential leaders as a starting point. Let’s not concentrate on the negative side only. Healthy criticism acknowledges strengths and gives credit.