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Rudi nyuma hadi Jumatatu, Juni 24, 2002
The East African
Monday, June 24, 2002
Dar Officials Accused of
Abetting Arms Racket
By RICHARD MGAMBA
Top Tanzania security officials have been accused of complicity in an
illicit trade involving arms smuggled in by Russian-made aircraft that fly
fresh Nile perch fish fillet from Mwanza to Europe.
Commenting on the allegation, the Mwanza Regional Commissioner, Stephen
Mashishanga confirmed to The EastAfrican last week in Mwanza that in
October 2001: "We received the information from our security officers at
Mwanza airport about cargo planes being used to bring in arms in the
country and we informed top-level security organs for action."
He said that during the same period, his officers detained a cargo plane
from Ukraine which was loaded with arms, but a day later "we received
instructions from top-level security organs instructing us to release the
He, however, declined to reveal the names of the officials who gave the
instructions to release the aircraft.
On October 2 last year, security officers in Mwanza airport detained a
cargo plane believed to be carrying arms on a flight supposedly
originating from Israel to Angola.
The Antonov 12 plane, belonging to Ukraine Cargo Airways, with a capacity
of 35 tonnes of cargo, was however released the next day.
A government source told The EastAfrican in Mwanza recently that the
weapons enter the country through Mwanza airport, which has been described
as the conduit for arms smuggled into countries affected by civil strife
by arm dealers from Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Government sources told The EastAfrican that security at Mwanza airport
was poor, making it a popular route through which arm dealers smuggle
their wares into the Great Lakes region.
The Member of Parliament for Shinyanga, Leonard Derefa, criticised
Minister for Home Affairs Seif Khatib for not taking measures to control
The MP attributed the increased incidence of arms smuggling to security
laxity at places such as Mwanza airport.
Mr Derefa told parliament in Dodoma last week, "I asked the Minister for
Home Affairs what steps he was taking to curb the situation and he said he
was 'thinking' of taking measures. How can one be still 'thinking' about
something as serious as this instead of stopping the racket?"
He challenged the minister to resign "for being irresponsible on this