It is no an exaggeration to say that corruption jeopardizes the very future of Tanzania. It grows and eats deeper and deeper into our psyche, morality and fabric and become even more and more difficult to exorcise. It does not give hope to Tanzanians because every day we wake up with corruption while we have the Prevention of Corruption and Combating Bureau (PCCB). It continues to dismantle our country and still there is no appropriately measures have taken to stop it especially at rural areas. Corruption is not particularly unique to Tanzanians or any other developing countries. We understand it happens in every country in the world, yet other countries have found away to deal with it or limit it and it has not stopped their progress.
I am in the village called Mbuga (about 127Km from Mpwapwa town), situated in the shadow and bases of Rubeho Mountains (part of Eastern Arc Mountains) covered with the thick forests of Mafemera, Mang’alisa and Ukwiva forests. Despite of having many biodiversity and some important endemic species like Rubeho partridge (Xenoperdis obscuratta), these forests are important sources of water in two main rivers of Wami and Great Ruaha. Such a village is has got its uniqueness features, as it comprise three main places which are very popular. One of them is including the alcoholic club where almost 98% of the villagers gathered daily and drink local brew known as “dimbura” from morning until the midnight. Other places are the offices of VEO and WEO. I mentioned the aforementioned offices primarily because of corruption escalating with an alarming rate at those offices.
Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) has a project of conserving environment of Rubeho Mountains through Participatory Forest Management (PFM) with the headquarter at Mbuga village. At first when I arrived at this area, I got a friend who is the field assistant within our project. We shared alot of information together especially on conservation; he informed me how illegal logging was taking place in their area before arrival of the project. However the project of TFCG has reduced such calamity, though still there is a challenge of corruption which is mainly facilitated with government leaders. It has been learnt from the field that one of the reason that is accelerating illegal timber harvesting in most of the area is poor understanding of procedures and regulations that are guiding timber and log harvesting in most of the grassroots communities. Previous months ago, I and the village environmental committee, we conducted a patrol within the forest searching pilfers conducted illegal logging. We caught eight people with the chain saw machine who had already cut down more than 20 trees with a DBH of net less than 45cm. We follow the procedure and send them to the village government for further procedures including fines. Legally all books responsible for collection of any revenues within the village government should be collected from District Executive Director (DED) office. You can’t imagine the village Executive Officer (VEO) has got his own book of collecting revenues and fines and at the end he provides normal receipt to the people. It is sad, sad and sad; village leaders are frauding government revenues. I asked them why are they doing so? They had no clear answer to me, and they have been doing that over a decade up to now. To what extent our government losses?
Myself I take it as a challenge and starting to educate the Village Environmental Committee (VEC), what procedures should be followed on collecting revenues of the forest products. I distribute by-laws and management plan guiding management of forests to them. This has changed the situation, and the rate of corruption has been reduced. What I am trying to do here is highlighting and probably impress on my fellows, what that monster called corruption is doing Tanzanians especially at rural areas. The fact remains that what we need people and leaders with strong political will and commitment to, and unafraid to avail such calamity. God bless Tanzania and we should devote much our self to save for our country. Thanks hail the idren.
Stephen J Nyagonde
Young Earth Scientist Network- Tanzania,
Internship WWF Tanzania Office,
Rubeho Environmental Action Project-REAP,
Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG),
Rubeho, Mpwapwa, Dodoma,
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