Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Human Rights Criminal Maghembe is Out! Good Riddance for Loliondo! What’s Next? There are Very Worrying signs…

Maghembe and the two committees
The arson attack and human rights crime
The MNRT spokesperson
Press meeting in Ololosokwan
OBC’s report
Where’s Kigwangalla?
Kigwangalla's letter...
The Jamhuri again.
In a cabinet reshuffle on 7th October Jumanne Maghembe was removed as Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, and not given another ministry. This is cause for celebration, even though the reason for his removal isn’t clear, and the views of the new minister aren’t (weren’t?) known, while the spokesperson for the ministry continues in the worst Maghembe-like way. As usual this blog post is delayed, and the previous one has updates. Today, on 19th October, Kigwangalla sadly issued a letter with the “investor’s” own favourite diversionary tactic…

Updated under "Kigwangalla's letter". There is some good news. 

As mentioned earlier in this blog, many Tanzanian ministers for natural resources and tourism have been very accommodating to the wishes of Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC) that organises hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai – but Maghembe takes the prize, even bypassing Kagasheki, as OBC’s most fervent friend.

In November 2016 OBC sent out a press release about a report (for almost a year impossible to get hold of, but now there’s at least a draft version that’s available) that they had prepared detailing the environmental threat posed by the Maasai against the core hunting area next to Serengeti National Park, which is land that OBC for a long time have lobbied to turn into a “protected area”. PM Majaliwa tasked Arusha RC Gambo with “solving the conflict” (more than a “conflict” it’s intimidation and abuse of the legitimate landowners) and Gambo set up a select committee including representatives of government organs, not least the various parastatals within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, “investors”, conservation organisations, NGOs, women and youths, and some local political, traditional and religious leaders. OBC’s report was presented to the committee on 16th January 2017 and the director of TANAPA, Allan Kijazi, regional security officer, Fratela Mapunda, and the Director of Wildlife, Alexander Songorwa aggressively supported the hunters’ idea of alienating 1,500 km2 of village land for a “protected area”. Leaders in Loliondo started to think that, to keep the land, they would have to agree to a Wildlife Management Area that, while still village land, would give more power to the Director of Wildlife, and to the “investor”, for whom grazing areas would also have to be set aside. While this committee was at work, on 25th January Maghembe showed up in the osero (bushland) under threat to – flanked by the “journalist” who has written over 40 articles full of hate speech and incitement against the Loliondo Maasai (and severe defamation of many individuals) Manyerere Jackton, and a journalist who occasionally joins him in this dirty work, Masyaga Matinyi – announce that the 1,500 km2 had to be taken from the Maasai for a “protected area” before the end of March. A few days later Maghembe met the press not only to “defend conservation and tourism”, but also to parrot OBC’s (and Manyerere Jackton’s) “arguments” about “Kenyans”, NGOs and about tour companies that have contracts with the villages. RC Gambo told the press that the work of the committee would go on, regardless of the statements by Minister Maghembe, and by that time leaders in Loliondo saw him as their only ally.

Manyerere, Maghembe and Matinyi in Loliondo.

5th –7th March, Maghembe took the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Tourism – chaired by Atashasta Nditiye – on a Loliondo trip, trying to keep the standing committee members away from talking with local people and co-opting the whole trip in such a way that several members protested about being used to rubber stamp Maghembe’s plan to give the land to OBC. On 8th March, the standing committee was met with protestors blocking the road in Mbuken, Arash and then with a bigger protest on the road leading up to the NCA headquarters. The Serengeti chief game warden Mwakilema told Maghembe’s co-opted standing committee that funds from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the state owned German Development Bank (KfW), for a Serengeti Ecosystem Development and Conservation Project, were subject to the approval of the land use plan that would alienate the 1,500 km2 for a protected area. This has still not been denied nor confirmed by the Germans.

On 15th March, some 600 women held a manifestation in Wasso town, with the message, “Ardhi yetu, maisha yetu” (Our land, our life). The RC with his committee were in town to finalize their work and the women demanded a real solution to the land conflict with placards against losing more land, against OBC, and against the District Council accepting money from Germany, and the Council Chairman, Matthew Siloma, refused to sign accepting the German pieces of silver (though some claim that he later secretly signed). On 17th-19th March the RC’s committee toured the area under threat from Ololosokwan southwards all the way to Piyaya and Malambo to mark “critical areas”, and at every place they were met with protests. Women were crying and screaming for the government to abandon the plans to take the land, some car mirrors were broken and some protesters were detained by the police. The RC ordered the Regional Police Commander to arrest anyone interfering with the process, and irrationally accused the protestors of being “bribed”. The protests were most awkward for local leaders who saw the RC as their only ally, but maybe the protestors knew something that I didn’t know.
Wasso 15th March. "Conservation is our tradition, OBC leave us our land" and ""District Council, don't receive money from the Germans, since it's death to us"
On of 21st March, after long deliberation, the RC’s select committee announced a proposal reached through voting – a Wildlife Management Area (WMA), and the proposal that had been successfully rejected by the Maasai for a decade and a half was now presented as a victory.  On 20th April, in Dodoma, the committee’s final report (still not made public) was handed to PM Majaliwa who was to “make a decision”, for which everyone is still waiting.

The arson attack and human rights crime
While everyone was still waiting to hear from PM Majaliwa, from 13th to 26th August 2017 hundreds of bomas (241 according to the perpetrators, and later some more were added) were burned to the ground by rangers from Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area assisted by local Loliondo police – and others, namely OBC and KDU (anti-poaching, close to OBC. I’ve observed how KDU rangers aren’t sure if they work for KDU or OBC) rangers - and thousands of people were left without food or shelter. Cows were dispersed during this extreme drought, and there was terror and panic everywhere. The arson started in the Oloosek area of Ololosokwan village where a Serengeti ranger had shot the herder Parmoson Ololoso in both legs and one arm on 8th August, and then the arson continued all the way to Piyaya 90 km further south. Village centres became congested with people and animals. Those returning after the illegal evictions were brutally beaten by the rangers and some arrested and sent to Mugumu at the other side of Serengeti National Park. Cattle were seized and big fines demanded. All this did not happen in any protected area, but on village land that per Village Land Act No.5 of 1999 should be managed by the local villages. The affected villages are Ololosokwan, Kirtalo (Soitsambu ward), Oloipiri, Olorien, Oloosoitok (Maaloni ward), Maaloni, Arash, Ormanie (Arash ward), and Piyaya. The human rights crimes continued until the end of September and into October, including the burning of more bomas in areas of Oloipiri and Olorien on 25th September.

Local leaders claimed to have been caught by surprise, that they had only heard about an operation to remove livestock from inside the National Park, but there is a letter from the DC, dated 5th August (not that long before the criminal operation started and I don’t know when it was received and by who), ordering the removal of livestock and housing from Serengeti National Park, and bordering areas, and this letter should have been taken to a court of law as soon as being received, whenever that was. The letter goes on about “Kenyans”, and then says that all herders that haven’t moved from the park and “very near the boundary” (mpakani kabisa) “back to the villages” by 10th August will be removed by force. “Mpakani kabisa” is clearly a criminal threat, and then we have seen how it has also included bomas 9 kilometres from Serengeti National Park. The DC, Rashid Mfaume Taka, was before becoming involved in human rights crimes considered a new friendlier kind of DC, and was viciously attacked by OBC’s journalist who after the operation started changed to reporting his words as if were they the truth.

A press statement from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism didn’t deny that the operation was taking place on village land – for which there isn’t any legal ground whatsoever - but presents the removal of bomas 5 km (houses have been burned even further away than that) from the boundary of Serengeti National Park as something legitimate to protect the environment and the tourism business.

Minister Maghembe had a somewhat different message to that of his own ministry. He started pretending that the 1,500 km2 would already be a protected area - first telling the press that it was a “game reserve”, and then appearing on tv with a map from a land use plan funded by OBC that had been strongly rejected by Ngorongoro District Council in 2011, since it proposed turning the 1,500 km2 into a Game Controlled Area per Wildlife Conservation Act 2009, which is the same as a game reserve and would have meant eviction and led to destruction of livelihoods, environmental degradation and increased conflict with neighbours. The same shameless lies at the service of OBC were pronounced by Minister Kagasheki in 2013 until he was stopped by then PM Pinda who declared the obvious: that the land was village land and the Maasai should continue their lives as before Kagasheki’s threats. Maghembe wasn’t stopped at threats but could continue with human rights crimes.

Too many leaders in Loliondo have been shockingly slow and inactive in reacting to the arson attack and human rights crimes, and most shocking, painfully so, is the silence by the MP who was trusted (not least by me) to always stand up for land rights. This can of course partly be explained by the intense fear that’s reigning in Loliondo after a long campaign to intimidate everyone into silence, and which has included both illegal mass arrests and malicious prosecution. Though all kinds of theories about selfishness also flourish. Onesmo Olengurumwa of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition sent out a call to immediate intervention already on 13th  August, and on 30th August together with four representatives from Loliondo he met with the government organ Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) to hand in a formal complaint, which had effect since CHRAGG on 4th September issued an interim stop order demanding that the government explain the operation – but brutal beatings, arrests and seizing of cattle continued unabated. Some leaders, like the Ololosokwan ward councillor and others, have spoken up strongly in media. IWGIA issued an urgent alert on 25th August, Survival International sent a letter to President Magufuli and others on 7th September, and reportedly the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has also written, but international reactions are so much more tepid than at a time when the current atrocities were just a vociferous threat, and even than at a time when nothing was happening.

On Thursday 21st September 2017, a court case was finally filed in the East African Court of Justice: the villages of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, Olorien and Arash versus the Attorney General.

On 7th October Magufuli announced a cabinet reshuffle that was expected, even if it wasn’t known that it would happen on that day, or what the changes would be. The good, very good, news was that Maghembe was removed as Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism and not given another ministry. His deputy, Ramo Makani, was removed as well. The new minister is the former Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Hamisi Kigwangalla, who sadly in his former capacity showed ignorance and total disregard for human rights. Other than a short, not too promising, mention of Loliondo during his inauguration, which was also tweeted by Kigwangalla, he didn’t say a word about Loliondo until today, 19th October.

Some think it was the Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga, who influenced Maghembe (maybe I can write about this at some later point), while others have mentioned the protest placards that President Magufuli collected on 23rd September, after heading the commissioning ceremony of officer cadets in Arusha. Though it’s also true that Maghembe was extremely unpopular in the tourism industry for having supported VAT on tourism services.

In the reshuffle Atashasta Nditiye, the chairman of the co-opted standing committee that visited Loliondo in March, was appointed as Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communication. The Ngorongoro MP, the inexplicably silent William Olenasha, was moved from Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology.

The MNRT spokesperson
On 12th October the Mwananchi newspaper published an article by the spokesperson for the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism, Hamza Temba, arguing that “Loliondo Game Controlled Area” (supposedly the 1,500 km2 since he writes that people can stay in 2,500 km2) must be protected for the environment and tourism business. Kenyans are of course mentioned, as is the recent destruction of bomas. Astonishingly, Temba claims that many leaders and other people in Loliondo would have “agreed” to the “operation”, without mentioning any names. When asked in social media, an anonymous representative adds more reasons for the ministry’s proposal from 2013 of taking the 1,500 km2 away from the Maasai, but seems totally unable to understand that it isn’t right to illegally on village land burn people’s houses and belongings, brutally beat them up, and take their livestock just because you (or your favourite “investor”) want to turn an area into a protected area. The request for names of leaders that would have agreed to this crime is just ignored by Temba.

Meeting with the press in Ololosokwan
The same day, the Mwananchi also reported about a public meeting in Ololosokwan on 11 October, in which the local Maasai expressed their happiness over the sacking of Maghembe and pleaded with Kigwangalla to come and visit them to hear their side of the story instead of listening to rumours. Ayo Media and ITV also reported from this meeting. Ololosokwan ward councillor (CCM), Yannick Ndoinyo, thanked the president for firing Maghembe, but said there was more to do. He stressed that the village land was registered in every way, but the was still invaded, and he asked the president to explain the situation to all ministers for natural resources and tourism, so that they leave village land in peace.
Soitsambu ward councillor (Chadema), Boniface Kanjwel, thanked the president for having read the protest placards in Arusha, and wanted him to tell Minister Kigwangalla that the Maasai are good conservationists. He said cows had been sold and people beaten on village land, and called for the Ministry for Lands, and TAMISEMI to speak up against the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism. Special seats councillor (Chadema), Tina Timan, spoke up against the human rights abuse, and the propaganda claiming that the Maasai of Loliondo would be “Kenyan” and asked the new minister to come and meet with them.
Saibulu Letema, CCM secretary of Ololosokwan ward, spoke about the serious loss of cows that people depend on, and of OBC’s habit of bribing every minister for natural resources and tourism. The chairman of Olorien village, Nekitio Ledidi, asked the government to recognise that the Maasai are Tanzanian who deserve housing and not abuse. Naponu Rakatia from Oloipiri told about beatings of children and women, loss of livestock, and of all belongings, even clothes and shoes when the rangers burned the bomas.

OBC’s report
A report written by OBC and that was sent to newspapers in early November 2016 and presented to the RC’s committee in January this year has been inexplicably hard to get hold of. Now, almost a year later, a draft version has emerged (or is it the final?) named “Challenges encountered by OBC in Loliondo” (the name mentioned in the newspapers almost a year ago was “LGCA is diminishing”). The purpose of the report is to inform the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism of the current state of Loliondo Game Controlled Area, and this state is described as alarming destruction caused by the Maasai, which has also affected hunting activities, the quality of trophies, and their availability. The 1,500 km2 protected area that was proposed in the rejected draft District Lan Use Plan funded by OBC (as the general manager boasted about to the press in November 2009) isn’t explicitly mentioned, but there are complaints that Wildlife Conservation Act 2009 can’t be enforced due to a “loophole”, and that basing hunting block fees on the whole 4,000 km2 LGCA isn’t realistic since it includes, “Thomson area, all small towns, district headquarters and many other human settlement areas”. The report raises alarm about expanding subsistence agriculture, bomas intentionally placed to block hunting fields, and influx of livestock during the hunting season, not least from Kenya. OBC lists the company’s goodwill contribution to the district council for community development that’s been “badly wasted”. There’s a proposal to revaluate the hunting block and downgrade from “grade A”. The report ends, “Both conservation and trophy hunting will come to an end if no deliberate and immediate actions are taken by the ministry of natural resources and tourism to safeguard flora and fauna.”

OBC have since long ago disqualified themselves through constant incitement against the Maasai landowners that has led to illegal “operations" and human rights abuse. The hunters must be chased away to allow the villages to plan sustainable land use in peace.

Where’s Kigwangalla?
He’s invited to Loliondo to learn what’s going on, but hasn’t responded.

Kigwangalla’s letter
The new minister didn’t take up the invitation to come and see for himself, and listen to the victims of the illegal “operation”. Instead, without having been to Loliondo, today, on 19th October, he issued a letter ordering cattle and tractors from “outside the country” to leave Loliondo Game Controlled Area within seven days, or they would be nationalised. In social media Kigwangalla claimed to have been informed about over 6,000 cattle and over 200 (sic!) tractors from the “neighbouring country”. Nobody in Loliondo has any doubt about who the “informant” is. Nobody has escaped the fact that “Kenyans” is the favourite diversionary tactic of OBC and friends. Have they acquired yet another minister?

Everyone who can do something, please help stop this nightmare.

Update: in a meeting with tourism stakeholders on 22nd October, Kigwangalla revoked all hunting blocks issued this year saying that permits will be re-applied through auction in 60 days. Hunting blocks with conflict, like Loliondo and Lake Natron, will not be renewed until the conflicts are solved. I do hope this is an opportunity to get rid of OBC.

The same day surfaced a timetable for a visit by Kigwangalla to Loliondo on the 26th – 27th. Meetings with the victims of the illegal “operation” aren’t anywhere in the timetable.

On 26th October there was a public meeting and Kigwangalla put stop to the criminal “operation”. He described the fundamental problem as the increase of people and cattle, not mentioning the immense value of the land for outside interests, like investors and conservation organisations. The minister said the problem isn’t solved by using guns, but at the same time talking about people, NGOSs and others using harsh words that don’t solve anything (as if they would dare to) and thereby he showed an astonishing lack of understanding of power relations. He declared the way forward as participatory conservation, but also saying that the conflict was now on the table of the PM, which he couldn’t say anything about here today. So, we’re back at waiting for Majaliwa.

Naponu Rakatia
At least there have been some good rains.

Susanna Nordlund

By the way…
The newspeak of the Jamhuri again
It’s well-known that for the rabidly anti-Loliondo journalist, Manyerere Jackton, the word “Mkenya” (Kenyan) means a Loliondo Maasai who dares to speak up against “investors” that threaten land rights. It should also be known that in the Jamhuri “mtetezi wa hifadhi” (environmentalist) means someone who has sided with these “investors” against his or her own people. Since I don’t have any psychiatric training whatsoever, I would have wished not to have to write about Gabriel Killel again, but Manyerere Jackton has written another article full of insane and malicious lies, in which he presents Killel as an unjustly jailed “environmentalist”. It does of course not matter to the “journalist” that Killel has never protected the environment, or even shown any interest in flora and fauna, and that his background is as a Catholic priest who was fired for insulting/attacking the bishop about money issues. What matters is that he’s an NGO director who in 2014 went to Dodoma with a delegation to support Thomson Safaris and OBC, and has then fallen deeper and deeper into the cesspit of treason to in January this year visibly deranged on Channel 10, express support for the 1,500 km2 land alienation plan, which not even his partner in treason Oloipiri/OBC/TS councillor William Alais has ever done. Killel has responded to three court cases, one filed by his own “wife”, another for insulting the magistrate for this case, and a third for physically assaulting Chadema special seats councillor Tina Timan - all due to his violent character that many people could witness after he started showing up screaming everywhere he came looking for those he suspected of having informed his Norwegian Sami donor about his sudden “friendship” with land grabbing investors. As mentioned in earlier blog posts, it was I who informed the donor that works from indigenous people to indigenous people with a focus on education, doesn’t want to be involved in any politics, and obviously not to be associated with such “investors” that Killel had previously always pretended to oppose. Killel thought he deserved to have his cake and eat it. After his “friendship” with the “investors”, Killel quickly became Manyerere Jackton’s “source” and together with the “journalist” took active part in the campaign to silence everyone in Loliondo via illegal arrests and malicious prosecution in 2016. In this latest article (online 26/9), Manyerere Jackton’s lies about me (that he very well knows are lies) are of the kind that I wish were true. He writes that I’m close to Maanda Ngoitiko and Tina Timan, and that I would be paying for court cases against those that oppose the incitement of NGOs! Such friendships and such money is exactly what I need, but don’t have… Manyerere Jackton also writes that I would have said that I’m happy about Killel’s imprisonment, which is partly true, since (maybe) he will be prevented from doing too much harm for a while, but prison isn’t the right place to deal with Killel’s problems.

At last someone has taken legal action against the indescribable malice of the false, misleading and defamatory “information” published in the Jamhuri. Maanda Ngoitiko – to whom the lies have caused considerable personal and professional damage - has sued Alais, Killel and Jackton. I don’t know if it can lead anywhere, but at least someone has put down a foot. 70 % of the Loliondo Maasai would have a case against the Jamhuri, and so would I. More about this in next blog post.

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