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The devil that was `Operation Tokomeza`

22nd December 2013
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It was an emotionally charged session in Parliament in Dodoma last Friday, when the MPs and the general public witnessed not only a unique parliamentary session but also one that was united across ideological divide.  

 
The legislators cut the bond of party characteristics that are commonly noted in this law making state organ.  It was “what we have not commonly seen since the birth of multiparty democracy in this country in 1992.”
 
From the begin to finish, contributing MPs called on the resignation of Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda and four ministers whose ministries implemented the now infamous ‘Operation Tokomeza.’
 
As they all vicariously evoked the principle of ‘collective responsibility,’- governance order that could be wrapped up in a woolen wear covering the devil that created the pitfalls of Operation Tokomeza.”
 
Without mincing words the lawmakers accused the PM of failure to take action against the four ministers whose subordinates were involved in the operation that has proved detrimental to the society in areas it was conducted, including causing deaths of innocent people.
 
A special investigative report revealed horrible incidents of human rights violations during the implementation of the operation.  
 
The violations included rape, sodomy, seizure of property, framed up court cases as well as other abuses that resulted to deaths and trauma, especially among pastoralists.
 
James Lembeli (CCM-Kahama), the chairman of the Standing Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Environment tabled the report on the nationwide operation that President Jakaya Kikwete had ordered.
 
In his report Lembeli revealed that people were tortured and made to suffer unspeakable humiliations.
 
Some of the victims were forced to hang upside down, others were ordered to play sex with animals or ‘even sex with trees’ resulting to great psychological trauma.
 
The reports on these atrocities compelled the Deputy Speaker Job Ndugai to suspend the parliament’s normal session by half an hour.
 
Zitto Kabwe (Kigoma North-Chadema) had asked for the Speaker’s ‘guidance,’ so as to let the MPs obtain copies of the report so they could have time to peruse through its contents.
 
With the re-start of the session, several cabinet ministers along with Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda found themselves on the firing line as massive incompetence and gross victimization surfaced from Operation Tokomeza.
 
The principal objective of the operation was to eliminate poachers.  But perhaps that term ‘poach’ is insufficient at present as they don’t ‘poach’ but grab - with automatic weapons - any elephant or rhino in view, with absolute impunity. 
 
But regrettably the operation targeted innocent citizens, with nobody clearly knowing the reason.  The public is now sending condolences to the victims.  
 
The target was more or less left aside, with some gestures, it must be said, like suspecting a regional crime officer with the crime, and predictably, quickly retracting the suspocopn.
 
The Guardian on Sunday reported: “That means a non-starter to an official campaign against ‘ujangili,’ translated here as ‘jungle law,’ where the life of one animal is dependent on its ability to defend itself, and few of them have answers about automatic weapons, so hunters pick them with impunity.’ 
 
‘Call it the devil that created the pitfalls of Operation Tokomeza.”
The global ivory trade is thriving, partly thanks to the blanket CITES rule about not trading in ‘body parts’ of elephants or rhinos, such that countries are getting fed up with declining aid and removal of sector management, donor participation and inability to make proper culling and formal sale of the proceeds.
 
It is a breakdown of international law where governments are participating, whether they say it or not. “While there are local dimensions for the operation, there are also some international parameters which either coincide with local exigencies or can get the better of ministerial efforts.”
 
 Whether it is Far East appetites and the cash levels involved that makes the difference is a story for another day, as pricing in that field is like the pricing of narcotic drugs, where everyone can make a guess and no viable statistics can be quoted. The Far East moneybags sent to work individuals, institutions.
 
Take note, as for the world’s trend: “The wholesale massacre of elephants has everything to compare with the Atlantic Slave Trade that ravaged the continent for 300 years or so, from the first landing of slaves at the Florida coast in 1519 to formal abolition in 1807, while the French only acceded to British abolition efforts in 1848, making the median year somewhere near 1819.’’ 
 
Recent researchers say that in that trade, Europeans and Arabs on a much smaller scale, this side of the continent did not take arms to hunt for black skins.
 
Today no Chinese carry weapons to hunt elephants and rhinos; it is the black chiefs who do it, this time around wardens and police superintendents, who act as the go-betweens. It is globalization, stupid!
 
Cynics will point out that the government is aware it cannot put up another twin towers hyperbole, another EPA or Kagoda for dire coffers for an upcoming contest that is likely to be fiercer than ever, so no one should be surprised that we break the ceiling for the savings we have since time immemorial, ivory tusks.
 
Mwalimu Nyerere once said that the Kariakoo high rise buildings were constructed from bleeding and dying elephants, and true enough in the last decade of his rule the rate of elephant decimation was tremendous, as statistical records illustrate.
 
It was, to an extent, the late Edward Sokoine as premier who started tackling the problem in earnest, in 1980.
 
For those interested in ‘political economy,’ this is primitive accumulation; pure and simple, and its second aspect is an even better illustration of how primitive accumulation goes, namely the fact that Operation Tokomeza was more about hounding out nearly all livestock keepers from ten kilometres of any national park or game reserve, while PINGOS, representatives and lobbyists for herders, say they blend well with environment.
 
That is entirely possible but they don’t blend well with mining licenses or biofuel plantations, and between the herds of cattle and these others ventures, the government is not in a shred of doubt what it prefers.
 
In that case Operation Tokomeza is perhaps a sad case, but a viable illustration of Big Results Now (BRN), to clear out the field for deepening globalization, The Guardian had reported.
 
Now the devil has doomed the house of the legislators, the lengthy contributions of  Lekule Laizer (Longido-CCM), Kangi Lugola (Mwibara-CCM), Said Mkumba (CCM), Abdul Karim (CCM), Kabwe Zuberi Zitto (Chadema), to mention but a few.  It was their concern over the demands for the PM’s resignation.
 
Others are James Mbatia (Nominatged NCCR-Mageuzi) and Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban-Chadema) who urged political responsibility of the four ministers, as well as the Prime Minister.
 
The move ended uncovering the devil that created all these pitfalls of operation Tokomeza “as President Jakaya Kikwete sacked four ministers namely Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi (Home Affairs), Shamsi Vuai Nahodha (Defense), Ambassador Khamis Kaghasheki (Tourism and Natural Resources) and Dr David Mathayo (Livestock Development and Fisheries).
SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY