Dodoma — THE government refuted claims that soldiers from neighbouring countries have entered the country and are terrorizing residents in Ukerewe.
The Minister for Defence and National Service, Mr Shamsi Vuai Nahodha, told the House yesterday that the said acts by alleged foreign soldiers are in fact a special joint operation against illegal fishermen on Lake Victoria conducted by fisheries officers from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
Mr Nahodha was clarifying on allegations brought in Parliament by Ukerewe Member of Parliament, Mr Salvatory Machemli (Chadema) who said on Tuesday that soldiers from Kenya and Uganda were terrorizing people in his constituency. The minister cautioned Mr Machemli against such serious allegations that may harm neighbourly relations and even lead to confrontation between states.
"These are serious allegations and I advise that as human beings we should let wisdom prevail before we make such comments. Careless talk could be detrimental to the country's peace and security," he said. That prompted reaction from Mr Machemli who stood his ground and said that his allegations were true and that there are several people who have been injured following acts of violence by foreign soldiers.
Mr Nahodha told Parliament that Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda which share borders on Lake Victoria have agreed to conduct joint operations to combat environmental degradation including illegal fishing on the lake. The agreement was reached through the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization and members are currently conducting joint operations in Mwanza Region which was preceded by training for officers.
"On January 31 fisheries officers launched an operation on Ukerewe Island that lasted for seven days. The operation was aimed at netting illegal fishermen and the officers used the assistance of the police force," he said.
He said that on February 4 this year a group of people in Buzegwe in the island wanted to block the operation which resulted in police officers using teargas to disperse people and the operation went on smoothly without affecting residents.