12 August 2012

Tanzania: Kagasheki Targets Game Frontier Hunting Licence

Dodom — A HUNTING licence given to Game Frontier of Tanzania Limited to operate in Mbalang'andu village of Namtumbo will likely be withdrawn following violations of regulations after the company did sublet Western Metals and Uranium Resources to undertake mining activities in the block.

Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Khamis Kagasheki told parliament while winding up his 2012/13 budget speech that evidence availed to his ministry so far shows that Game Frontier has violated regulations and hence eligible for cancellation of the hunting licence.

"We have demanded for an explanation from this company after which we will take the necessary action because obviously regulations have been violated here," said Ambassador Kagasheki.

The company which is owned by Muhsin and Nargis Abdallah, has allegedly sublet the hunting blocks earning a handsome six million US dollars (approx. 9.42bn/-) while the village gets a mere 10,000 US dollars (approx. 15.7m/-) per annum.

Kagasheki said according to the 2009 Wildlife Act, Game Frontiers have violated regulations because it did not inform the ministry about the decision to sublet the block and change its original land use plan.

"After getting the company's side of the story, we may revoke the hunting licence," said Kagasheki who earned an avalanche of praises from lawmakers for putting up an impressive performance since taking over from former Minister, Ezekiel Maige over two months.

Kawe lawmaker, Halima Mdee (Chadema), told journalists earlier this week that the company is heavily exploiting residents of Namtumbo and violating Selous Game Reserve regulations by encroaching conservation area.

"Let us wait for recommendations from the commission, but our main concern is to see that those villagers benefit from the contract which was signed," Ms Mdee argued while pointing out that the company's actions violate Wildlife Conservation Act No. 5 of 2009.

But in a statement of defence published by the media yesterday, Managing Director of Game Frontiers, Mr Abdallah argued that Mbarang'andu village is an open area which is not part of Selous Game Reserve as alleged by Mdee.

Abdallah said his company signed agreements with Western Metals Limited and Uranium Resources Plc in 2007 who were seeking for uranium prospecting licence in the area, which included part of Mbarang'andu open area under his company.

"Furthermore, the agreement provides that once the prospecting companies have applied for and obtained the uranium mining licence, the companies shall pay us a compensation of six million US dollars because we shall have to close all our operations therein and cede the ground to the mining companies," Abdallah argued.

Abdallah further noted that his company has invested heavily in communities since acquiring Mbarang'andu open area in 1994 by building infrastructure, offering sponsorship to 250 orphans, tractors, trailers and a motor vehicle to support Wildlife Management Area in Namtumbo.

As part of the deal, local communities were also entitled to a 10,000 US dollars payment annually as compensation for loss of access to resources in the area.

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