TOURIST HUNTING INDUSTRY: Revealed: Mzindakaya`s `hidden` business interests THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam MORE details have emerged about the concealed business interests of the Kwela Member of Parliament on the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) ticket, Dr Chrisant Mzindakaya, in the country's tourist hunting industry, which suggest that the lawmaker may have a direct conflict of interest in tabling a private members motion in Parliament on the allocation of hunting blocks. According to latest THISDAY findings, the MP has been linked to a controversial tourist hunting company Tanzania Hunting Safaris Ltd-- whose South African director, David van der Meulen, fled the country in December 1996 without paying a $372,980 (approx. 500m/-) debt to the government. In 1996, the Wildlife Department stopped issuing hunting licences and other services to Tanzania Hunting Safaris due to an accumulated debt that the company had failed to settle, but Dr Mzindakaya on behalf of Tanzania Hunting Safaris negotiated with the Wildlife Department and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, and gave verbal and written assurances that he will follow up and make sure that the company paid the debts provided the Wildlife Department continued issuing hunting permits and services to the company. Dr Mzidakaya failed to honour his assurances and this resulted in the debt of Tanzania Hunting Safari to the Wildlife Division to increase, reaching $372,980. This company failed to settle its liabilities to the Division of Wildlife and Dr Mzindakaya in his letter with reference number ECG.4/WL.8/7 dated December 18, 1996 guaranteed the settlement of the liability which he never did, say government sources. Thus far, government officials say the lawmaker has not been able to assist the government to recover the estimated 500m/- from Tanzania Hunting Safaris. The Wildlife Division wrote a letter to Mzindakaya on February 3, 1998 with reference NO: GD/T.80/53/63 asking the MP to facilitate payment of the company's debt, but he has since been unable to secure recovery of the funds. ''I have been directed to inform you that the Division (of Wildlife) is requesting settlement of more than $372,980 owed by Tanzania Hunting Safaris whose whereabouts is not known,'' said the letter signed by one senior wildlife officer on behalf of the Director of Wildlife. The letter seen by THISDAY added: ''As the consultant (Mzindakaya) of the company we advise you to let the Wildlife Division know procedures of payment of the money, including availing us information on the whereabouts of the company.'' ''The Department (of Wildlife) is banking on your co-operation in making sure that the money is recovered as other legal measures against the company are being taken,'' said the letter. In 1996, Mzindakaya and a South African national, David van der Meulen, took over Tanzania Hunting Safaris Limited. A year later (1997), Mzindakaya and van der Meulen attended the Safari Club International Convention in Nevada, USA, where they are reported to have sold safaris to American clients. Later, David van der Meulen went into hiding taking away all trophy fees for 1996 and clients� deposits for 1997 causing hundreds of thousands of dollars loss to the government and clients. The government was forced to release trophies to clients without being paid a single cent in order to safeguard its reputation in the international hunting market. A Tanzanian professional hunter who had worked with David van der Meulen confirmed in Arusha over the weekend that Mzindakaya had worked closely with this South African. The hunter who preferred to remain anonymous said David van der Meulen and Mzindakaya used to charter planes flying to Rukwa and Kigoma Regions where ''they were reportedly intending to establish joint ventures in mining.'' The professional hunter, now doing his hunting business in Mozambique, said the South African and Mzindakaya were reported to have joint business interests with Malaysian investors in Kigoma and Rukwa Regions. ''Reports indicate that the hiring of the aircraft left David van der Meulen bankrupt and insolvent, something that forced him to wind up his tourist hunting company without settling the firm's liabilities,'' said the local professional hunter. He said when Tanzania Hunting Safaris Ltd wound up its business Mzindakaya and himself took motor vehicles belonging to the firm, adding that the Kwela legislator helped himself with a Toyota Landcruiser with registration number ARP 17. Political observers say Mzindakaya's decision to move a private member's motion in Parliament on January 30, this year, on the country's hunting industry was a direct conflict of interest due to his personal financial interests in the area. Investigations have revealed that apart from the MP's links to the dubious Tanzania Hunting Safaris company, his own children -- Lucas M. Mzindakaya and Paul C.M. Mzindakaya -- also have controlling shareholding in a company known as Milanzi Wild Animals Zoo and Tours Limited, which was registered in May 1994. An industry source says Milanzi Wild Animals Zoo and Tours Limited was allocated the Swagaswaga Hunting Block in Rukwa Region. ''As a father of those shareholders, Mzindakaya ought to have complied with Rule 49 (7) of the august House rules by declaring his interests which he did not do,'' say political observers. The analysts add that the Kwela legislator has been personally lobbying to get the Milanzi company allocated with hunting blocks which already belong to other hunting companies. ''The Division of Wildlife in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism could not do that because it could have amounted to breach of contractual obligations. That has been the cause of the outbursts of Hon. Mzindakaya,'' said one industry source. During the 2008/09 marathon parliamentary budget session, the MP controversially opposed a motion by opposition lawmakers against the misappropriation of funds from the Bank of Tanzania's external payment arrears (EPA) corruption scandal, who also called for the resignation of former BoT governor, the late Dr Daudi Ballali. He made the remarks in defence of the central bank without publicly declaring that he was among businessmen who were beneficiaries of billions of shillings from financial institutions under the BoT�s guarantee. These include Sumbawanga Agricultural and Animal Food Industries Limited (SAAFI) that got a loan of 9.7bn/- from Standard Chartered Bank in 2004, thanks to a guarantee from the BoT, whose primary function is to safeguard the country's economy. Mzindakaya criticized corruption allegations on the EPA scandal presented by the Secretary-General of the opposition CHADEMA party, Dr Wilbrod Slaa, without mentioning that he was actually the beneficiary of a hefty BoT-guaranteed loan. It is possible that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism failed to institute legal and criminal actions against David Van der Meulen over 10 years ago due to Dr Mzindakaya's involvement with him, but it is still possible to institute legal action against van der Meulen as there is no time frame on the case.