Tanzanian anger as aircraft seized in Canada

An aeroplane being delivered to Tanzania's national airline has been impounded in Canada over a Namibian-born farmer's $33-million compensation claim, Tanzania's foreign minister said Saturday.

The DHC Dash 8-400 aircraft, a turboprop also known as the Bombardier Q400 which seats up to 90 people, is the second to be seized in connection with case.

In August, an Airbus 220-300 aircraft was seized in South Africa's Johannesburg airport, after it landed on a flight from Tanzania, but was released in September.

"The same person who went to court in South Africa, and caused the impounding of Airbus in August, went to a Canadian court," Tanzania's Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi.

The plane, built by Canada's De Havilland company, was due for delivery as part of a fleet expansion of the government-run Air Tanzania.

"We won in a case with this man in South Africa," Kabudi added, speaking at a government function broadcast on state-media in Tanzania's capital Dodoma.

"I wonder why this person has emerged in Canada - but our lawyers are getting ready."

- 'Angry' -

He did not give details of how or where the plane was seized.

"I summoned the Canadian ambassador to Tanzania and clearly told him that Tanzania is not happy - and we are actually angry," Kabudi said.

There was no immediate response to calls to the Canadian High Commission.

In 2017, in a separate case, another Q400 turbo-prop plane was impounded by a Canadian construction firm over a $38 million lawsuit.

That plane was later released, reportedly after a financial settlement.

"Canada should also know that it is not the only manufacturer of planes in the world," Kabudi added.

This seizure related to a case dating back to the 1980s, when Tanzania's government nationalised a massive, privately-owned bean and seed farm, seizing everything including equipment, 250 cars and 12 small planes.

The owner, who is now 86, was awarded $33 million (almost 30 million euros) in compensation in the 1990s -- but the government only paid $20 million.

The outstanding balance of $16 million has accrued interest over the decades and now stands at $33 million, according to his lawyer.

The farmer has been fighting for decades to get the outstanding amount.

strs-pjm/ach