Monday, 14 January 2019

Innocent People Have Again been Illegally Arrested in Loliondo

When the situation in Loliondo seemed to have calmed down after soldiers stationed at the camp in Lopolun had the week before Christmas again gone on violent rampage, beating up innocent people, and burning down 13 bomas in the Leken area of Kirtalo, somehow authorities decided that silenced and terrified people still needed more intimidation, and again engaged in illegal arrests. Innocent people were arrested for six days, which is very illegal indeed.

This blog post is unacceptably delayed for the usual reasons. One of them is that people keep telling me that I will get important information “tomorrow” and then such information isn’t delivered… 

Many questions remain unanswered.

In this blog post:
Illegal arrests
Sensationally good, and the same time absurd, statement by RC Gambo
Aborted visit by the King of Morocco
Conservation Watch interviewing Germans that say that Mwakilema lied in March 2017
Summary of osero developments of the past decades
Update 15th January: the president suspends exercise to remove villages in protected areas

Illegal arrests
Late in the evening on 8th January people started commenting in social media that the secondary school teachers Clinton Eng’wes Kairung and Supuk Olemaoi would again have been illegally arrested, and that this would have happened the previous day, without anyone taking action, even to inform those who could help. The following day two people from Mondorosi were added to those arrested: Manyara Karia, former chairwoman of Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC), and Kapolonto ole Nanyoi from Enadooshoke (Mondorosi). PWC used to be active in the land rights struggle, not least against Thomson Safaris, but have now been silenced for years, and the Nanyoi family’s boma is next to the land rabidly claimed by the safari company as their private nature refuge, which has caused the Nanyoi’s many problems through the years, but I'm not updated on the current situation. I was told that someone had reported as incitement a meeting, attended by Manyara, to organize the burial of a recently deceased old man. Authorities wanted to arrest the boma owner, but due to his health problems they instead looked for his eldest son, who wasn’t around, and they settled for Kapolonto. I can’t imagine any connection whatsoever between Clinton and Supuk, and the burial meeting, not only for the fact that they were arrested the day before.
It’s still very unclear to me how and why Manyara and Kapolonto were illegally arrested, but I expect more information, and names of those behind it to emerge (I have my suspicions, but those are just suspicions).

(For newcomers: please note that Thomson’s claim to a 12,617 acres/51 km2 private nature refuge, and OBC’s lobbying for a 1,500 km2 “protected area” are two different issues, even if Thomson and OBC have the same “friends” and slander their critics in the same way).

On 9th January, Onesmo Olengurumwa of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) sent advocate Samson Rumende to process bail, but in Loliondo he was denied access to those arrested. In the evening THRDC published a news alert, without much information, since the accusations had still not been revealed.

On Thursday 10th January, advocate Nicholas ole Senteu suffered an accident when on the way to help with the release. He wasn’t seriously injured, but his mission was interrupted. Authorities kept blocking access to those detained, and denying bail, claiming that the Ngorongoro Security Committee first had to investigate and interrogate, which had been delayed due to the RC’s visit to the district. Per Tanzanian law, after 24 hours a detained person must be either granted bail, or taken to court, but as known, Loliondo is lawless.

Surprisingly, a brief article was published in the Mwananchi newspaper. In this article, the usual “uchochezi” (incitement) is mentioned as the reason for the arrest. An anonymous policeman is quoted as saying that some of the accusations concern associating with activists from outside the country and sharing fake information about Loliondo in social media. I would say that sadly, since terrible abuse took place in November and December, none of those arrested have recently shared any information at all in social media that I have access to, except for one of them timidly lamenting the suffering of innocent people, victims of violence in total violation of the temporary orders by the East African Court of Justice, but this was something that everyone knew about anyway. Manyara and Kapolonto have never even been sighted in social media, and I’ve never had any communication with them. I’ve now been told that Manyara can write her name, but doesn’t know how to use social media, and that she has enemies, since she hates injustice. The anonymous policeman then refers to Arusha Regional Police Commander Ramadhani Ng'azi for information about the arrests, but the journalist was unable to get hold of him for a comment.

Clinton and Supuk are the preferred victims when authorities in Loliondo want to engage in illegal arrests for the sake of intimidation, and this isn’t even for any particularly good reason at all. It started in 2016 when Clinton came to see me, as my friend, when I visited Kenya, since I was a prohibited immigrant and my fingerprints registered in Tanzania. Then I was contacted via threatening one-liners from the worst anti-Loliondo journalist before being told that Clinton had been arrested. He was illegally kept in the disgusting, freezing and mosquito infested cells at Loliondo police station for over ten days while several people were added to the arrests, and Supuk for the longest time of those added (and beaten together with the Ngonet coordinator). After that, followed months of truly bizarre malicious prosecution based on charges of espionage and sabotage for having communicated with me, until this case was dismissed, since the accusation couldn’t come up with anything of substance. These arrests were nearly the worst time of my life, but then the horrors have just kept piling up, with the earlier unimagined silence by some leaders during the mass human rights crimes of 2017, and the silence by everyone during the human rights crimes in violation of court orders in November and December 2018, just to mention the very worst. In September 2018, a Belgian nurse was arrested after attending Clinton’s wedding, since she was “believed” to be me. This shows the under other circumstances farcical stupidity of Loliondo authorities, and the “friends of investors”, that could easily have contacted me, and who were seeing me active in social media. People, in the current manner … waited several days with informing about these arrests, but when they finally did I posted a picture to prove that I was in Sweden, but still the Belgian and Clinton weren’t released before her fingerprints had been checked in Arusha and found not to match with mine… Supuk, years ago, used to be an outspoken activist, who shared information in open social media groups. He was somewhat dampened by the illegal arrests, and even more by the illegal operation in 2017 when he after a while went silent and started working in an inexplicable way with the madly and disappointingly silent MP and the council chairman. He used to be a very visible supporter of the Chadema opposition party, and unlike some councillors that apparently joined the opposition for frivolous reasons and this year all returned to CCM, it seemed to be an important part of Supuk’s identity, but in October 2018 he too joined the CCM ruling party and a picture of him with an ill-fitting CCM cap on his head while standing between the MP and the council chairman was paraded as a trophy in social media. Not even such humiliation saved Supuk from being baselessly targeted again, so maybe it’s time for people in Loliondo to stop accepting humiliation.

Manyara was released in the evening of Friday 11th January but was ordered to return to the police station on Monday 14th. Clinton, Supuk, and Kapolonto stayed locked up. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition engaged a lawyer to file a habeas corpus on Thursday, and it was filed on Friday.

On Saturday 12th January RC Gambo made a statement about the burned bomas, which at the same time was sensationally good news (considering the current climate of fear), and totally absurd for the way in which he did it, and what he was pretending. I didn’t hear about his statement until the following day. See below for more comments on Gambo’s statement.

On Sunday 13th January, Onesmo Olengurumwa of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) – the only person from Loliondo, even if he lives in Dar es Salaam, who still dares to sometimes speak up - issued a statement condemning the illegal arrests, briefly describing the situation in Loliondo, and the fact that illegal arrests are far too common in Tanzania. THRDC called on the Loliondo police to immediately release those arrested, on the Minister of Home Affairs and the Inspector General of Police to take measures against the Ngorongoro Officer Commanding District and against the Arusha Regional Police Commander.

In the evening Clinton, Supuk, and Kapolonto were released on bail, but must keep reporting at Loliondo police station. It was still unclear exactly what they had been accused of, some mentioned being a threat to national security, but there wasn’t any written document specifying anything. Several people had all the time been saying that it was all about me, which of course would be bizarre enough for the Loliondo police.

The right of Clinton, Supuk, Manyara, and Kapolonto to be granted bail or taken to court after 24 hours was ignored, they were denied access to lawyers and relatives, and it wasn’t properly explained to them what they were accused of. The cells at Loliondo police station are freezing cold and frankly disgusting, this was a textbook example of illegal arrest, and besides that, those responsible knew that the four hadn’t committed any crime whatsoever.

I can’t wait any longer to publish this blog post, but many questions remain: like what exactly the victims of illegal arrest were interrogated about – if anything - and why Manyara and Kapolonto were dragged into this insanity. I hope to update the blog post with this information.

Silence isn’t stopping the terror in Loliondo, so just speak up!

Sensationally good, and the same time absurd, statement by RC Gambo
As mentioned, Arusha RC Mrisho Gambo, on his visit to Ngorongoro district, made a statement against the burning of bomas committed by soldiers in November and December. In a way, this is sensationally good news, since nobody, other than myself, has previously spoken up, but in other ways it doesn’t make sense at all.

In a video clip, sitting next to the DC, who doesn’t look happy at all, Gambo starts by embroidering with words that there is a conflict between people and wildlife, that nobody opposes conservation, and that we must live together in Ngorongoro with wisdom and following the law, and so on. Then he tells about something in the district, people’s bomas have been burned, and the process doing this wasn’t very pleasing to see. He warns leaders against being used for private interests by someone controlling things in Ngorongoro via remote control. Measures must be taken through the district and regional security committees, following the law, and showing an element of humanity. Then he praises the MP (and deputy minister) – who in the clip doesn’t say anything, and looks quite flattened, even if he probably said something that isn’t included – for being very diplomatic, wise, and a great lobbyist, and he talks about the government as a just government that exercises due diligence, which obviously isn’t true at all. Neither “soldiers” nor “OBC” are mentioned by name. The attackers appear as “wasiojulikana”, the in Tanzania much feared “unknown people” that aren’t that unknown.

Starting in late June 2018, JWTZ soldiers that since March had a camp set up in Lopolun near Wasso, showed up in a couple of places torturing innocent people, apparently focusing on those with many cattle in Ololosokwan, and those accused of inciting others to graze on the land occupied by Thomson Safaris in Sukenya. Then from 8th November these soldiers began beating up people in wide areas around OBC’s camp and chasing them away with their cattle, and between 14th and 19th November they were burning bomas in several areas of Kirtalo and Ololosokwan, while all leaders stayed silent, including some that had gone to England to talk about their living culture. The soldiers seized cattle on village land, driving them into Serengeti National Park to hand them over to the rangers that refused, and instead the cows in at least one case were released among predators at night. Though later the Serengeti rangers joined in seizing livestock on village land, extracting fines, and beating up herders.

The week before Christmas the soldiers were attacking people again, apparently anyone they came cross on the road, and wasn’t fast enough to run away, like a destitute old man from NCA looking for work in Ololosokwan, who was very badly beaten. Again, the soldiers seized cattle on village land and tried to hand them over to Serengeti rangers that refused. On 21st December the soldiers burned down 12 or 13 bomas in the Leken area of Kirtalo, with all belongings inside, and lambs and goat kids perished in the fire. All leaders stayed silent. 

These attacks happened after the East African Court of Justice on 25th September had issued interim orders restraining the Tanzanian government, and any persons or offices acting on its behalf, from evicting the applicant villagers from the disputed 1,500 km2 osero, destroying their homesteads or confiscating their livestock on that land, until the determination of the main case, and restraining the Inspector General of Police from harassing or intimidating the applicants.

Reportedly, in November the district council chairman, the district CCM chairman, and some village chairmen went to ask the DC why people were being beaten, and the DC denied any knowledge. For Christmas, a message from the DC was shared by both good and bad people in Whatsapp groups. In this message the DC said he was sorry for the abuse suffered by people in Karkamoru (Leken), that he’d been out of the district, was sending a team to establish what had happened, and that there wasn’t any “operation” in the area. What had been happening for months was that soldiers from the national army, fully visible in their uniforms, had been driving around beating up people and burning down homesteads, reportedly telling people that they were being beaten for suing the government, and that the land was a “corridor”…

The only explanation I got for the fact that nobody, absolutely nobody, in Loliondo was speaking up against this brutality was intense fear, and the belief that the attacks were ordered by the highest levels of government, and public protest would not only lead to arrest at Loliondo police station, but anywhere in the country, or something worse than arrests, as soon as being found by authorities.

Aborted visit by the King of Morocco
After the bomas had been burned in Leken on 21st December, I was told that the King of Morocco, “or Comoros” was expected in OBC’s camp for several days. Mohammed VI of Morocco had visited Loliondo once before, but people in Loliondo aren’t always very specific identifying “visitors”, and when preparation of the camp had begun in November, followed by violent attacks by the soldiers from the camp in Lopolun, and then burning of bomas, I thought it was Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai who was expected. Sheikh Mohammed is OBC since 1992, together with the owner, Al Ali, about whom not much is heard these days. There were reports of cargo planes landing as is usual when “the king”, as Sheikh Mohammed also is known as, is coming. Though many times when the camp is being prepared, and cargo planes landing, I never hear about any actual visit. The same happened this time, and I was told that the visit by Mohammed VI of Morocco had been postponed.

Not until after New Year’s Eve, when OBC’s community liaison, Mohammed “Marekani” Bayo sent me a friend request on Facebook did the postponed Moroccan visit seem more or less confirmed. He had recently made the picture of a cargo plane on a rainy airstrip (it hasn't rained for a three weeks) into his profile picture, and this plane very visibly belonged to the Royal Moroccan Air Force (not that I’m a planespotter, but I can google). I didn’t accept the request, but asked some questions without getting a reply. I wondered if Mohammed VI was supposed to be the guest of Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, or of Tanzania, and why there are so many cargo planes when there’s food in Tanzania and OBC have equipment. These are just some of the many old unanswered questions that should have a somewhat easy answer.

Conservation Watch interviewing Germans that say that Mwakilema lied in March 2017

As known, in March 2017, in the work for the alienation of the 1,500 km2 osero, Serengeti chief park warden, William Mwakilema, told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Tourism on a Loliondo tour, co-opted by then Minister Maghembe, that that German development funds for the “Serengeti Ecosystem Development and Conservation Project (SEDCP)” were subject to the approval of the land use plan proposing the alienation of the 1,500 km2 osero. This was while the Arusha RC’s (tasked by PM Majaliwa) select committee was working on a proposal for “solving the conflict” and finally reached the compromise proposal of a WMA that’s land alienation in everything but name, and had been rejected in Loliondo for a decade and a half, but was now supported by leaders (by some suspected of having stopped defending the land) while Mwakilema and Maghembe wanted a Game Controlled Area as in Wildlife Conservation Act 2009, which is a totally alienated protected area that allows hunting, of course. After this, a manifestation of 600 women marched on Wasso, and the District Council decided not to accept the German money. While waiting to hear from PM Majaliwa an “unexpected” illegal operation including mass arson, beatings, seizing of cattle, and rape was initiated on 13th August 2017 and stopped by Minister Kigwangalla on 26th October, after which Kigwangalla also made some splendid promises that he later U-turned upon. This operation was officially funded by TANAPA and implemented by Serengeti National Park rangers assisted by other rangers – and it’s TANAPA that together with Frankfurt Zoological Society implements the SEDCP. Alarmingly, since the District Council had decided to reject the German funds, Kigwangalla on 13th November 2017 received a delegation headed by the German ambassador and announced that the Germans were going to fund community development projects in Loliondo, “in our quest to save the Serengeti”. The fears that District Chairman Siloma had secretly signed the money seemed confirmed. On 6th December 2017 Majaliwa announced his decision that was neither a WMA nor a GCA, but a legal bill to be prepared for a “special authority” to manage the land. It has later been revealed that this means that the whole of Loliondo is supposed to be placed under the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where grazing area after grazing area is alienated, subsistence cultivation is prohibited, and malnutrition a very serious problem among children. Majaliwa’s decision was much celebrated by the anti-Loliondo journalist Manyerere Jackton who for years had campaigned for the Maghembe/Mwakilema/OBC side, and against the Maasai of Loliondo.

I know that this introduction is too long for those who follow this blog, and too short for newcomers… Anyway, the Germans never confirmed nor denied chief park warden Mwakilema’s claim about their requirement. Abuse, fear, and silence are worse than ever in Loliondo, but PM Majaliwa’s special authority has so far been delayed.

On 9th January 2019, almost two years after Mwakilema’s announcements to the standing committee, Chris Lang who runs the website Conservation Watch, which aims to facilitate discussion about the real impacts of protected area policy and practice in the Global South, had interestingly got some replies from Dr Klaus Müller, Director, and Dr Matthias Grüninger, Senior Project Manager (Principal) at KfW, the German government-owned development banks that funds the SEDCP.

Conservation Watch asked KfW, “Could you please confirm whether rangers from the Serengeti National Park have been involved in the evictions of Maasai people, taking the Maasai’s cattle and charging fines in 2017 and 2018.”
KfW’s reply was: “This question should be directed to the responsible authorities. KfW is not in the position to comment on this.”
We do of course not need KfW to confirm the illegal mass arson operation of 2017, since the authorities they refer to have already done so via the written order by the DC, the letter confirming that TANAPA was funding the operation, the statement from the ministry, and TANAPA’s map of bomas to be burned illegally on village land per Village Land Act No.5 of 1999, and the only thing their reply shows is that they don’t want to comment on the lead role that the implementers of the SEDCP have in human rights crimes. A clue about how much the Germans care is that in the middle of the human rights crimes of 2017, a smiling German ambassador, was seen all over media in the framework of the SEDCP handing over office and residential buildings for park staff in Fort Ikoma in Serengeti National Park to an equally smiling Minister Maghembe, while commenting on the long and successful partnership between Germany and Tanzania in protecting the Serengeti.

More interesting is KfW’s reply to Conservation Watch’s question whether German development funds are subject to the alienation of this 1,500 km2. The Germans said:
“German Development Funds implemented through KfW are not subject to such a requirement.”
KfW are with this saying that Serengeti chief park warden Mwakilema was lying to the standing parliamentary committee in March 2017 in his efforts to alienate this important grazing land. It was very threatening times for the Maasai, and Mwakilema’s supposed lie was repeated by several journalists without any correction from the Germans. It should be noted that FZS haven’t said anything about the plans for alienation of the 1,500 km2 osero, or the illegal operations to assist the “investor” lobbying for this alienation, but in all meetings, they are seen firmly at the side of the heads of departments of the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism.

Then Conservation Watch ask KfW to describe how their project is working with the Maasai living in these districts (even if not many people in Serengeti district are Maasai), and what actions KfW’s project is supporting in Serengeti and Ngorongoro districts in order to help to address the land rights conflicts faced by the Maasai. KfW describes for what they are working, with whom, an add examples of what they are doing, showing that “help to address the land rights conflicts faced by the Maasai” isn’t one of their concerns, in case anyone had any doubt.

In short, the Federal Republic of Germany is basically a supporting extension of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, and is silent about human rights and land rights, but will because of the way of handing out funds hardly be seriously dealt with by local leaders.
"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", Wasso 15th March 2017

Summary of osero developments of the past decades
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, that organises hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, has the hunting block. Stan Katabalo – maybe Tanzania’s last investigative journalist - reported about how this hunting block was acquired in the early 90s. By 2019 there does no longer seem to be journalists of any kind.

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, the 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 destructive, “Kenyan” and governed by corrupt NGOs. OBC’s “friends” in Loliondo became more active in the harassment of those speaking up against the “investors”, even though they themselves didn’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 calling for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to intervene against the destructive Maasai. 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, Maghembe, 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 Loliondo leaders’ “only ally”, RC Gambo’s, committee started marking “critical areas” while being met with protests in every village. German development money that the standing committee had been told was subject to the alienation of the 1,500 km2 was – after protests by 600 women – not signed by the district chairman. On 21st March a compromise proposal for a WMA (that had been rejected in Loliondo for a decade and a half) was reached through voting by the RC’s committee, then handed over to PM Majaliwa on 20th April, and a long wait to hear the PM’s decision started.

While still waiting, on 13th August 2017 an unexpected illegal eviction and arson operation was initiated in the Oloosek area of Ololosokwan and then continued all the way to Piyaya. Beatings, arrests of the victims, illegal seizing of cows, and blocking of water sources followed. Women were raped by the rangers. Many, but not all, leaders stayed strangely and disappointingly silent.

The DC and the Ministry of Natural Resources explained the illegal operation with that people and cattle were entering Serengeti National Park too easily, while Minister Maghembe lied that the land was already the “protected area” wanted by OBC and others.

There was an interim stop order by the government organ Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG), but the crimes continued unabated.
A case was filed by four villages in the East African Court of Justice on 21st September 2017.
When in Arusha on 23rd September, President Magufuli collected protest placards against Maghembe, OBC and abuse, to read them later.
On 5th October 2017 the Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga, (who had met with people from Loliondo) told supporters that his friend Magufuli had promised him that all involved in the illegal operation in Loliondo would be fired.

In a cabinet reshuffle on 7th October 2017 Maghembe was removed and Hamisi Kigwangalla appointed as new minister of Natural Resources and Tourism.

Kigwangalla stopped the operation on 26th October 2017, and then made it clear that OBC’s hunting block would not be renewed, which he had already mentioned in Dodoma on the 22nd.  On 5th November, he fired the Director of Wildlife and announced that rangers at Klein’s gate that had been colluding with the investor would be transferred. Kigwangalla emphasized that OBC would have left before January. He talked about the corruption syndicate at their service, reaching into his own ministry, and claimed that OBC’s director, Mollel, wanted to bribe him, and would be investigated for corruption. However, OBC never showed any signs of leaving.

Kigwangalla announced in social media that he on 13th November 2017 received a delegation headed by the German ambassador and that the Germans were going to fund community development projects in Loliondo, “in our quest to save the Serengeti”. Alarm was raised in Loliondo that the district chairman would have signed secretly, which some already had suspected.

On 6th December 2017, PM Majaliwa announced a vague, but terrifying decision to form a “special authority” to manage the 1,500 km2 osero. He also said that OBC would stay. Manyerere Jackton celebrated the decision in the Jamhuri newspaper. Further information and implementation of this “special authority” has fortunately been delayed, even if it was mentioned in Kigwangalla’s budget speech on 21st May 2018. The only additional information that has been shared is that the whole of Loliondo, per Majaliwa’s plan, is to be put under the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Sheikh Mohammed, his crown prince, and other royal guests visited Loliondo in March 2018, and Kigwangalla welcomed them on Twitter. Earlier, in restricted access social media, Kigwangalla had been saying that OBC weren’t a problem, but only the director, Mollel, and that Loliondo, with the “new structure” needed more investors of the kind.

Around 24th March 2018 a military camp was set up in Lopolun, near Wasso town, by the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (JWTZ). Some were from the start worried the aim was to further intimidate those speaking up against the land alienation plans, non-alarmists were saying that it was there for border and for normal soldier issues.

An ambitious report about Loliondo and NCA, with massive media coverage (and some unnecessary mistakes) was released by the Oakland Institute on 10th May 2018, and Kigwangalla responded by denying that any abuse had ever taken place, and threatening anyone involved with the report. He went as far as denying the existence of people in Loliondo GCA.

In May-June 2018 there was an intimidation campaign against the applicants in the case in the East African Court of Justice, and silence became worse than ever.

From late June to late August 2018 there were several incidents of soldiers from the military camp set up in Olopolun attacking and torturing people.

On 25th September 2018 the East African Court of Justice ordered interim measures restraining the government from any evictions, burning of homesteads, or confiscating of cattle, and from harassing or intimidating the applicants.

In November 2018 while OBC were preparing their camp, reports started coming in that soldiers were attacking people in wide areas around the camp, while all leaders stayed silent. Information was piecemeal, and after a couple of days many people were telling that bomas had been burned in areas of Kirtalo and Ololosokwan.

Beatings and seizing of cattle continued in some areas, and on 21st December the soldiers descended upon Leken in Kirtalo and burned 13 bomas to the ground.

In January 2019 innocent people were again illegally arrested for the sole sake of intimidation.

Update 15th January: the president suspends exercise to remove villages in protected areas
On 15th January a press statement was released by the Director for Presidential Information informing about an order by President Magufuli to immediately suspend operations to remove villages and sub-villages claimed to be situated in protected areas. I’m told that this affects Loliondo, and more exactly the 1,500 km2 osero, but for some reasons I’m not so sure, and one reason is that it isn’t a protected area, but under the threat of being converted into one, and has even so been affected by illegal evictions, with and without known official orders. And I’m not sure how it will affect the shadow existence of those living under the yoke of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority.

It was ordered by the president today, 15th January in a meeting with the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Government’s Chief Secretary, the Deputy Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, The TAMISEMI Chief Secretary, and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Humans Settlements Development.

The president orders the concerned ministers to establish which wildlife and forest protected areas do not have any wildlife or forests, and to divide those among pastoralists and cultivators that now have problems finding areas for their livelihoods.

The president orders the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to review the exercise of putting up beacons between protected areas and inhabited areas, and to do this exercise with wisdom, not to evict people from areas where it isn’t necessary.

The president is quoted saying that it doesn’t make him happy to see pastoralists and cultivators being evicted everywhere and if there are areas seen as protected wildlife or forest areas, but that don’t have wildfire or forests, the law can be changed. Then it will be very clear which areas are protected, and which are pastoralist, agricultural, or residential areas. Leaders should look after the interest of people who are cultivators, pastoralists, fishers, and so on, but it’s also important to have wildlife, so he isn’t saying that protected areas should be abolished, but that it’s necessary to conserve wildlife.

The president ordered 366 villages classified as being inside protected areas not to be removed, but instead he set one month for leaders of the concerned ministries to begin a process of making amendments to the law to be announced in a coming parliamentary session.

The president explained that this decision was made necessary by the increase in population and livestock from 9 and 10 million at independence, to the current 55 and 35 million respectively.

The president also wanted an amendment to the law on water catchments, since he wasn’t happy to see farmer’s crops being destroyed when within 60 metres from rivers.

The president congratulated the Ministry of Lands for the suggestions of revoking unused farms and asked them to keep sending him suggestions for farms to be revoked. and divided to be used for crops and livestock.

The president stressed that this order does not mean that people are now free to invade protected areas, and that he wants the boundary exercise to be made quickly and with transparency.

To me the order sounds like good news that can maybe reduce the in Tanzania very brutal land rights, and human rights crimes with the excuse of real or imagined protected areas. Though I do hope that that those whose livelihoods permit more or less peaceful co-existence with wildlife will not be penalized, and that everyone, also in Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, in their daily endeavours will try to be kind to the environment and other species, and not think of such as belonging to areas restricted for tourist consumption.

Susanna Nordlund

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Justice must be all means