MINISTER for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamis Kigwangala, has directed Mlele District Police Commander (OCD) in Katavi Region, Mr Gaudence Kamugisha, to arrest and arraign Rukwa Game Reserve Manager Emanuel Barabara with immediate effect.
Dr Kigwangala said that Barabara is allegedly accused of being corrupt and engaging in criminal activities, including poaching inside the Rukwa Game Reserve by involving his fellow officers from Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) based at the reserve.
Equally, Minister Kigwangala has suspended from their duties four Tanzania Forest Serves (TFS) officials, including Mlele District TFS Manager, Ezekiel Mbilinyi for incompetency and failing to protect the Inyonga Forest Reserve whose environment is badly damaged, putting it on the brink of disappearance.
Dr Kigwangala also ordered all 34 TAWA officials from a Special Unit based in Rukwa Game Reserve to be transferred to TAWA headquarters pending the allocation of their new working posts while investigations against them progress.
The minister issued the directives while in his four days working tour in Katavi region which ended last night, where vowed to clean the ministry of natural resources and tourism where officials entrusted to protect natural resources have become greedy and dishonest by amassing wealth through poaching and allowing business people to harvest timber and logs illegally.
“There are impeccable reports accusing Rukwa Game Reserve Manager (Barabara) of allegedly allowing poachers and business people to collect timber and logs illegally in the reserve by involving his fellow TAWA officials based there,” said the minister.
He added that after the timber has been illegally harvested, Barabara and his officials stamp them to show that they are authentic forest products harvested legally while it is not true.
“In February 10 this year I wrote an official letter to Mlele OCD (Mr. Kamugisha), instructing him to arrest the Rukwa Game Reserve Manager (Barabara) and arraign him in court to face charges of economic sabotage.
I also directed the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) to investigate him and his amassed wealth,” said the minister.
In her welcoming note, Mlele District Commissioner (DC), Ms Rachel Kasanda told the minister that the biggest challenge they face includes the invasion of a large number of cattle searching for pasture inside the forest and Rukwa Game reserve as well as poaching activities.
The minister was further told that about 6,000 pieces of timber which was harvested illegally inside the forest reserve has so far been seized following successful operations conducted by members of Mlele District defense and security committee.