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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

A lot to applaud Brazil President Rousseff for

29th May 2012
Editorial cartoon

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has vetoed part of her country’s new Forest Code, which seeks to open up expansive chunks of conserved forests to large-scale agriculture.

The president shot down 12 controversial articles forming part of the bill, the aim being to protect 80 per cent of the forest in rural areas of the mighty Amazon and 35 per cent of the arid hinterland in the northern part of the country.

Just like would obtain with respect to the enacting of any law, there are merits and demerits of vetoing a bill, particularly when it is no lesser an authority than the president of country doing so.

The Brazilian Environment minister was quoted as saying that President Rousseff’s gesture effectively meant that the government was determined to secure the world’s second longest river and by far the largest by water flow and its protected sensitive ecosystems.

The veto shows that Brazil is a country determined to protect the environment while at the same time continuing to produce food, stated the minister.

Brazil’s constitution is formulated in such a way that the legislative assembly (Congress) can override even presidential vetoes – so practically anything can happen.

However, it remains noteworthy that the president has shown demonstrable commitment to the need to protect one of the world’s rivers targeted by wealthy, prominent and influential interests all out to plunder it for its rich tropical forests and fertile soils.

Her rare intervention deserves special mention because it has come at a most appropriate time and is proof that the Rousseff government really cares when it comes to issues pertaining to the environment.

Lest we forget, Brazil is expected to serve as the proud host of the Rio+20 conference next month. With the presidential gesture, it has stood out as an emerging economy able to take the modern development path by harnessing natural resources such as forests, water and land from a big river like the Amazon and at the same time ensure that those resources are not misused.

Considering that powerful agribusiness interests are dying to see to it that they carry the day by outwitting the government and therefore perpetrating the Amazon plunder, the bold position taken by President Rousseff is cause form genuine applause from environmentalists and non-environmentalists alike.

Critics may argue that the president’s decision has been influenced by the upcoming Rio+20. But records show that Brazil’s Workers’ Party, which is the one currently in power, has always rooted for and subscribed to policies determined to safeguard nature.

Very few leaders would have beat President Rousseff in summoning the courage one needs to protect the environment by saying NO to greedy and filthy rich business interests out to amass ever more weather without the slightest regard for the consequences.

Tanzanians ought to salute her for having added immense value to Brazil’s experience in safeguarding nature. If for no other reason, this should be because Tanzania too is having it very rough trying to safeguard and responsibly exploit its natural resources and has a lot to learn from Brazil – also with powerful business and other interests from near and far eagerly waiting to move in.

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