Saturday, 22 July 2017

What does the Government want in Loliondo? – Still Waiting

Parliament 23-24 May
The Kidupo director
The Jamhuri again
The turn of events in the NCA
Summary for newcomers

In memory of Moringe Parkipuny, today missed for four years.
This blog has been silent for too long and it’s partly because Loliondo is waiting for Prime Minister Majaliwa to say something about the 1,500 km2 that the “investor” OBC, some journalists, and parts of the Tanzanian government, notably the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, want alienated for a protected area. On 20th April the report by Arusha RC Mrisho Gambo’s select committee – that had been targeted by the PM to find a “solution” - was finally handed over to PM Majaliwa. Then silence and waiting has apparently been the mood in Loliondo. Strangely, the report hasn’t been made public, but it’s known that it recommends a Wildlife Management Area (WMA, a protected area that still is village land) as the way forward to “solve the conflict”, which is a kind of defeat, that due to the seriousness of the situation has been seen as a victory, when the Maasai of Loliondo have managed to reject a WMA for a decade and a half since it would give more power to “investors” and the Director of Wildlife, while grazing land would have to be vacated for the “investor”.

Bunge (Parliament)
In parliament on 23rd and 24th May, while discussing the budget of the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism, the Loliondo land issue was a matter of concern, with differing views. Atashasta Nditiye, chairman of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Tourism that made the most outrageously co-opted visit to Loliondo in March (described in this blog) presented the usual OBC view that the land had to be “protected”, and kept repeating the lie about “25 NGOs” that are stirring up conflict and should be closed down. Maybe those repeating the lies could name any NGO, other than PWC and Ngonet, that has been heard speaking up for land rights. Even those two are currently very silent, and their directors were in the RC’s committee that came up with the compromise proposal. Esther Matiko, shadow minister for natural resources and tourism presented the opposition view calling into question the whole contract with OBC, but lacking any deeper knowledge about Loliondo. The CCM MP for Geita, Joseph Msukuma, harshly attacked his own minister for natural resources and tourism, Maghembe, for his anti-pastoralist policies, especially in the lake zone, and reminded of the Standing Committee’s visit to Loliondo where Maghembe wants to evict the pastoralists to accommodate OBC.
Cecilia Paresso, special seats MP for Chadema, asked the pertinent questions about where the people the government want to evict in Loliondo are to go, and if a move anywhere wouldn’t lead to increased conflict. She also asked what exactly the government’s interest with OBC is.

The Kidupo Director
In late May, or early June, Gabriel Killel, director of the since some years back “investor friendly” NGO Kidupo, was imprisoned for six (or some say three…) months for insulting no other than the Primary Court Magistrate in connection with the “case of the Ndinoni family” (of which I’ve been unable to obtain details). Killel had appealed this sentence in the District Court where a hearing was scheduled for 13th July. These are not the only cases this NGO director had pending, but there’s another one for physical assault on the Chadema special seats councillor Tina Timan. Killel was in late 2014 by this blog revealed as a participant of a delegation to Dodoma in support of Thomson Safaris and OBC, after which he started threatening those he suspected of having shared the information. Since then, his attacks on those speaking up for land rights have gone from bad to worse, with even appearances in the rabidly anti-Loliondo paper the Jamhuri. On Channel 10 in January Killel took an unprecedented step for a Loliondo pastoralist, and even for the most ardent defenders of land-grabbing “investors”, of explicitly agreeing with the alienation of the 1,500 km2 where he has his own cows. The court cases – some for violence - give further hints of Killel’s mental health, that will hardly improve in prison, but at least he will be kept away from doing harm for a while. On the 12th Gabriel Killel was sentenced to one year in prison for the attack on Tina Timan. Some reported four years, but that was due to confusion. “Nobody” attended the appeal on the 13th, but currently one year in prison is what awaits Killel. He’s expected to appeal this sentence.

The Jamhuri again
On 27th June (online 30th June) another one of Manyerere Jackton´s ridiculously malicious articles appeared in the Jamhuri. This time the “journalist” worked himself into a frenzy about a human rights lawyer and a filmmaker that had “sneaked into Loliondo to dirty the image of Tanzania”. Apparently the two were on a very brief visit to help evaluate the work of Minority Rights Group International that’s assisting with litigation against Thomson Safaris, and hopefully there is also something being prepared about the 1,500 km2. I don’t know and I can’t find out… It seems Manyerere too is getting impatient with PM Majaliwa’s silence and felt an urge to slander the NGOs – accusations of Kenyan citizenship included – in case the PM’s decision won’t be as favourable for the hunters from Dubai as this “journalist” so fervently hopes - and works for - in now over 40 articles.

Another “article” was online on 12th July and in this one Jackton is ranting about Maanda Ngoitiko of Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC) being issued with a new passport when the “journalist” thinks she’s “Kenyan”… I’m sadly not in contact with PWC in any way, but it’s known that Maanda, at the time of illegal mass arrests and malicious prosecution in July last year, was arrested when going to Arusha police station to pick up a new passport. At that time Maanda, and three other people, were charged with the most bizarre “espionage and sabotage” accusations, for allegedly being in contact with this blogger. Manyerere Jackton now worries that Maanda has been issued with a new passport in Dar es Salaam while being investigated in Ngorongoro, and not having proven that she’s Tanzanian. The question is how one proves such a thing when it’s not enough to be born and bred in Tanzania, and having held a Tanzanian passport 2006-2016, the number of which Jackton in his usual style provides us with, and which hardly even wasn’t Maanda’s first passport. Obviously, the only way to prove that you’re “Tanzanian” to the Jamhuri is to sing the praise of foreign companies that endanger pastoralist land rights…
I too am mentioned in the article, as a prohibited immigrant that would have been helped by NGOs to enter Loliondo to do “incitement”. Just like everything else, this is not true. I still need help, and my blog is still very much needed to set the record straight. All help is more than welcome.

The turn of events in the NCA
This blog is about Loliondo, but developments are extremely worrying in Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Freddy Manongi, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority chief conservator, has been planning with frightening secrecy and speed a census of pastoralists and livestock within the area and issuing of IDs to be used as entry permit for “legitimate area residents of Ngorongoro Serengeti prior to the 1959 Serengeti eviction” as well as marking the livestock found in the area. It’s widely feared that such a non-participatory census will be misused by authorities known for regularly expressing wishes for “reducing” humans and cattle. This issue has also been raised in the parliament mid-May by Tundu Lissu (Chadema MP for Singida East Constituency and oppositional chief whip) who described the residents of NCA as extremely poor in contrast to any other part of the country because of the restrictive policies against them.
“Despite a host of guarantees after Serengeti colonial eviction and protective laws, the people of Ngorongoro face a battle for survival they are scarily close to losing”, tells an NCA source, who now is anonymous, just like those from Loliondo before they went silent… Last year, there were reportedly secret directive dispatches to displace the inhabitants of the NCA by the government for the benefit of tourism when several letters to implement the project finally got viral before execution. “The residents of NCA have suffered a long war of attrition to evict them and thereby destroy their way of life. Where would they be relocated? Certainly unknown, but the authorities do suggest it may be Jema or Loliondo all now under threat of land alienation by the same regime”.
The NCA officials have lately been requiring the NCA residents to show identity cards (never issued to them) for entry in the NCA. Due to poverty attributed to the NCA policies and restriction for inhabitants’ development, about 90% of young men from Ngorongoro are said to be roaming along cities inside and outside Tanzania seeking security work, and it’s not known if they will be registered when the census project commences. The rushed project certainly will not include the residents in the census itself as the recruitment of the field personal was confidential and only made public after deadline. Worse is expected by the residents that fear the census will not only be done to get the appropriate NCA indigenous resident but attempt to justify eviction. The newly appointed NCAA Board, that undemocratically governs Ngorongoro Conservation Area (instead of the more or less representative village governments), has only one NCA resident representative. It’s been explained to me that, “the tragedy facing the inhabitants of the NCA is not about the ravages of unpredictable Nature. It is about flawed conservation theories, and irresponsible governance of both the NCAA Board and the Central government while inhabitants do not have any say. The injustice in Ngorongoro must be stopped.”

The dry season is very bad indeed this year, and grazing in Serengeti National Park is fined with 50,000 Tshs per head of cattle…

Again the Summary of the threat against the 1,500 km2
That all land in Loliondo is village land per Village Land Act No.5 of 1999, and more than the whole of Loliondo is also a Game Controlled Area (of the old kind that doesn’t affect human activities and can overlap with village land) where OBC has the hunting block. Stan Katabalo – maybe Tanzania’s last investigative journalist - reported about how this hunting block was acquired in the early 90s.

In 2007-2008 the affected villages were threatened into signing a Memorandum of Understanding with OBC.

In the drought year 2009 the Field Force Unit and OBC extrajudicially evicted people and cattle from some 1,500 km2 of dry season grazing land that serve as the core hunting area next to Serengeti National Park. Hundreds of houses were burned and thousands of cattle were chased into an extreme drought area which did not have enough food or water to sustain them. 7-year old Nashipai Gume was lost in the chaos and has not been found, ever since.

People eventually moved back, and some leaders started participating in reconciliation ceremonies with OBC.

Soon enough, in 2010-2011, OBC totally funded a draft district land use plan that proposed turning the 1,500 km2 into the new kind of Game Controlled Area that’s a “protected” (not from hunting) area and can’t overlap with village land. This plan, that would have allowed a more “legal” repeat of 2009, was strongly rejected by Ngorongoro District Council.

In 2013, then Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Khamis Kagasheki, made bizarre statements as if all village land in Loliondo would have disappeared through magic, and the people of Loliondo would be generously “gifted” with the land outside the 1,500 km2. This was nothing but a horribly twisted way of again trying to evict the Maasai landowners from OBC’s core hunting area. There’s of course no way a Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism would have the mandate for such a trick of magic. After many mass meetings – where there was agreement to never again enter any MoU with OBC - and protest delegations to Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, then Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda in a speech on 23rd September the same year revoked Kagasheki’s threat and told the Maasai to continue their lives as before this threat that through the loss of dry season grazing land would have led to the destruction of livelihoods, environmental degradation and increased conflict with neighbours.

Parts of the press – foremost Manyerere Jackton in the Jamhuri – increased their incitement against the Maasai of Loliondo as “Kenyan” and governed by destructive NGOs. OBC’s “friends” in Loliondo became more active in the harassment of those speaking up against the “investors”, even though they themselves don’t want the GCA 2009, and rely on others, the same people they persecute, to stop it…

Speaking up against OBC (and against Thomson Safaris, the American tour operator claiming ownership of 12,617 acres, and that shares the same friends as OBC) had always been risky, but the witch-hunt intensified with mass arrests in July 2016. Four people were charged with a truly demented “espionage and sabotage” case. Manyerere Jackton has openly boasted about his direct involvement in the illegal arrests of innocent people for the sake of intimidation.

In July 2016, Manyeree Jackton wrote an “article” calling for PM Majaliwa to return the Kagasheki-style threat. In November 2016 OBC sent out a “report” to the press detailing the need for the alienation of the 1,500 km2 of important grazing land. In mid-December 2016, the Arusha RC Mrisho Gambo was tasked by the PM with setting up a committee to “solve the conflict”, and on 25th January 2017 the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, in the middle of the drought stricken Osero, flanked by the most OBC-devoted journalists, and ignoring the ongoing talks, made a declaration that the land had to be taken before the end of March. In March 2017 Minister Maghembe co-opted a Parliamentary Standing Committee, and then the RC’s committee started marking “critical areas” while being met with protest. On 21st March a proposal for a WMA was presented by the RC’s committee, handed over to PM Majaliwa on 20th April, and we are still waiting to hear something from the PM.

Susanna Nordlund

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