Thursday, 21 March 2019

Outrageous Perjury about Loliondo in the East African Court of Justice

In this blog post:
Outrageous perjury in the EACJ
The cases against OBC’s director
The question
Summary of osero developments of the past decades

People who know what’s going on in Loliondo continue completely mute, and even some who are on the ground ask me if I know anything... Far too late I’ve got hold of some affidavits with the most deplorable perjury in the East African Court of Justice case. A court hearing has been held in the case – or one of the cases – against OBC’s director. The important questions remain unanswered.

Outrageous perjury
A court hearing in the case filed in the East African Court of Justice was to be held on 5th March 2019 but was adjourned until June. I had only got vague information about this from someone in Arusha, and was more or less told that it wasn’t important, or suitable enough to write about. OBC’s director was read his charges in court the day before, on 5th March, there were several articles about this, and I completely missed that there was also an article about the postponement of this hearing in the East African case in the Mwananchi paper. Had I seen it before publishing the latest blog post, I would definitely have written about it even if the delayed blog post was already too long…

The case
The case, Refence No. 10 of 2017, was filed by the villages of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, Oloirien, and Arash against the Attorney General of the United Republic of Tanzania on 21st September 2017, during the illegal and extremely brutal mass arson operation, officially ordered by DC Rashid Mfaume Taka on village land per Village Land Act No. 5 of 1999. The same kind of illegal operation had taken place in 2009 in the important dry season grazing area that is the 1,500 km2 osero (bushland) that Otterlo Business Corporation use as their core hunting area and that they for years have lobbied to have converted into a protected area. OBC then funded the draft 2010-2030 district land use plan that proposed this alienation of the 1,500 km2 osero, and in early 2011 the plan was strongly rejected by the Ngorongoro District Council, since it would have meant that the illegal operation of 2009 could have been repeated in a more legal way. Thereafter OBC have continued lobbying for this land alienation and gained the support of successive ministers for natural resources and tourism that have tried lies, legal, and illegal ways of taking the land away from the Maasai.

On 9th November 2017, the government side (Attorney General) filed affidavits lying that the area affected by the 2017 operation would already be the kind of protected area that was proposed in the rejected 2010-2030 land use plan, and that OBC (and others) have continued lobbying for, one that’s described as a new Game Controlled Area as in Wildlife Conservation Act 2009, a kind of protected areas that’s basically  identical to a “Game Reserve” and that, as far as I know, has not yet been established anywhere in Tanzania. The only Loliondo Game Controlled Area that may nominally exist is the old 4,000 km2 one that’s bigger than the whole division, totally overlaps with registered village land, and doesn’t affect the livelihood, social, or cultural activities of the Maasai. The DC himself during the illegal evictions said that these evictions didn’t have anything to do with the plans for the 1,500 km2 (even it was in this area that the arson and human rights crimes took place…), since PM Majaliwa was yet to announce a decision about this land, but that the reason was to prevent people from too easily entering Serengeti National Park. This first lie by the attorney general seem based on what the former Minister Maghembe was saying during the evictions. Now the defendants have switched to a completely different lie…

The first attempt to stop the case was via a preliminary objection that the villages couldn’t sue the government, since they were part of the same government. This objection was dismissed by the court on 25th January 2018.

In May 2018, the efforts to derail the case moved on to an intimidation campaign against leaders and common villagers in the villages that had sued the government. There were multiple arrests and summons to the police station, and these illegal efforts terrified and silenced basically everyone. The village chairmen were prevented from attending a court hearing on 7th June 2018, since they had to attend Loliondo police station.

A new lie and the court asking for the boundary
Then, in the affidavits filed by the government on 20th June 2018, especially one sworn by a park warden called Julius Francis Musei the lie was totally changed to saying that the 2017 operation would have taken place inside Serengeti National Park. Therefore, it seems, in November 2018 the court ordered both sides to file expert evidence relating to the boundary between Serengeti National Park and Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District.

The interim orders and the brutal violations against them
On 25th September 2018, the East African Court of Justice issued interim orders restraining the Tanzanian government from further evictions, destruction of homesteads, or confiscation of cattle while the case is ongoing, and against harassing or intimidating the villagers in relation to the case. These orders were brutally violated by soldiers from the Tanzanian army (JWTZ), that already at least since late June had been attacking different groups of people, when they in November 2018 started to chase away people and cattle from wide areas around OBC’s camp that was being prepared for the guest and then they went on to burning down bomas in several areas of Kirtalo and Ololosokwan. The DC denied having any knowledge about what was going on, the terror was complete, and not one single leader of any kind dared to speak up, reportedly thinking that the attacks were ordered by the highest level of government. The week before Christmas the soldiers were back attacking people, and on 21st December 2018 they burned down twelve or thirteen bomas in the Leken area of Kirtalo, while leaders continued their silence… This time a message from the DC was shared in Whatsapp, in which he said that he had been out of the district, but had been informed about the atrocities, that he was very sorry, that there wasn’t any operation going on, and people should just continue their lives as normal …, and that he had commissioned a team to establish what had happened.

Nobody, except this blog, spoke up publicly until the Arusha RC, Mrisho Gambo, on 12th January 2019 visited Ngorongoro and in front of TV cameras condemned the burning of bomas in a strangely vague way, not mentioning the soldiers, nor who had ordered the attacks, but implying that the order didn’t go through the district or regional security committee. This remains a very unsettling “mystery”.

The hearing on 5th March and the affidavits containing outrageous perjury
Having an expert in court present the boundary between Serengeti National Park and Loliondo division (or Loliondo GCA that’s more than the whole division) should have been the easiest thing to do. This boundary is very well documented, but the villages, much due to the increased fear of testifying against the government, failed to in time find such an expert, and had to ask for an adjournment. To add to the confusion, the applicants thought that the defendants would ask for an adjournment as well, since they hadn’t filed anything – but in court it was discovered that the government side had filed affidavits in time, but that these hadn’t been shared with the applicants – which is very strange indeed and against all procedures.

I didn’t until 15th March 2019 get hold of the government affidavits that had been sworn on 17th December 2018 and were known by the village side only from 5th March. They are public documents (should be easier to get hold of than they are) and in them DC Rashid Mfaume Taka commits the outrageous perjury of under oath swearing that the 2017 evictions took place in Serengeti National Park, that people were grazing their animals and building bomas in the park despite having sufficient grazing in the villages, that the operation did not (!) involve eviction from registered village, and that all persons were treated with respect and dignity, and no personal effects destroyed in the “illegal” bomas”.

The truth
Thousands of directs victims, and other witnesses, know that - during a catastrophic drought known by everyone in East Africa - starting on 13th August 2017 in Oloosek in Ololosokwan and then continuing all the way south to Piyaya, hundreds of bomas were burned to the ground by Serengeti rangers, local police and other rangers (OBC, anti-poaching etc.) on village land per Village Land Act No.5 of 1999, victims were illegally arrested, cattle were illegally seized, people were brutally beaten, rangers blocked access to water sources, and several women were raped by the Serengeti rangers.

This illegal operation was ordered by the DC himself. Leaders first pretended to have been unaware, but when this order from 5th August 2017 soon surfaced they said that they hadn’t got enough time to act. In black on white, the DC ordered evictions from closely bordering areas inside Loliondo Game Controlled Area (village land), and this is a very clear confession of the human rights crime. The fact that everyone was waiting to hear from the PM explains why the attacks were “unexpected” in Loliondo.  Maybe even those who had seen the order didn’t believe it could happen at that point.

“those who are still found to have built and reside closely bordering Serengeti National Park (in Loliondo Game Controlled Area) will be removed by force and returned to their villages where residential areas are set apart.”
In a press statement by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism on 17th August 2018, the DC is quoted saying that the operation in Loliondo GCA would take place on a 90 km stretch from north to south and with a width of 5 km. Neither the DC nor the Ministry tried to hide the fact that the operation was taking place on village land, and the DC also stressed to the OBC-friendly press that the aim was to protect Serengeti, and that it didn’t have anything to do with the 1,500 km2 that PM Majaliwa was to make a decision about. Though at the same time Minister Maghembe was lying to media saying that the protected area lobbied for by OBC would already exist and that this was the reason for the evictions…
The confession of crime couldn’t be clearer, but still the DC just went on to commit perjury in the East African Court of Justice.

Further, TANAPA’s own map from the illegal operation named, “Livestock and Bomas Evacuation Exercise 2017” clearly shows that the overwhelming majority of bomas were burned illegally outside the park, on village land. Those inside the park are in a disputed area where there’s also another boundary marked by stone piles. However, for these latest affidavits a geographical information system officer working for Serengeti National Park, Alli Kassim Shakha, committed the same perjury as the DC, and provided another map, not showing the majority of bomas that were on village land... I wouldn’t be surprised if this shameless individual is the same who prepared the map used during the illegal operation.

TANAPA's own map from the illegal evictions 2017.

Who are the perjurers?
The perjurers are DC Rashid Mfaume Taka, which isn’t surprising since DCs must have “being a psychopath” in their job description, District Executive Director, Raphael Siumbu who’s in a somewhat similar position, and park warden Julius Francis Musei and geographical information system officer Alli Kassim Shakha who apparently are selfish individuals without any loyalty to the Loliondo Maasai, or to truth and common decency. I’ve found that Kassim Shakha in social media on 5th March boasted about “making decisions” in the EACJ and wrote “maslahi mapana ya nchi” (broader interests of the country). Is that how those people justify committing perjury to get away with human rights crimes? Much more frightening and painful is the fact there was another perjurer. Another identical affidavit was sworn by the wildlife officer, Nganana Mothi, who’s a Maasai from NCA with many friends in Loliondo, and with whom I used to be in contact years ago. While some told me to always be careful with a government employee, he seemed somewhat loyal to the land struggle and even helpful. I was shocked when I saw Nganana’s affidavit, but now several people have told me that he’s always been a dangerous person close to OBC. I’ve asked him how he could do this, but haven’t got any reply. Nganana is sadly not at all the most unexpected or shocking traitor I’ve come across.

Winning a case against defendants that are such obvious human rights criminals and shameless perjurers should be very easy indeed. The villages under too cowardly or corrupt leadership are still welcome to join, I suppose. Experts from Tanzania and elsewhere are very welcome to assist in speeding this up, and so are any brave witnesses from Loliondo.

The cases against OBC’s director
As mentioned in the previous blog post, OBC’s director, Isack Mollel is no longer untouchable. In February ten Pakistani nationals were arrested for having done temporary manual work for OBC without permits. RC Gambo wanted Mollel arrested as well, but the police were reluctant. Then Gambo complained to Minister of Home Affairs Lugola, who was touring Arusha region, and Mollel was arrested, charged, and released on bail only to then get caught by the Preventing and Combatting Corruption Bureau, TAKUKURU/PCCB, and on 4th March charged on ten counts of economic crimes, mostly concerning importation of vehicles from Dubai, forging documents to evade taxation. Mollel was locked up in Kisongo remand prison. On 18th March there was a court hearing with much less media coverage than the one on the 4th. The ten charges about employing foreign nationals were dismissed and then Mollel instead got 37 new charges concerning this case. Apparently, there were 27 other workers that have left the country, while the original 10 must stay at a hotel because of the court case, which may seem too harsh. The TAKUKURU/PCCB case was adjourned, since it’s still being investigated. Next hearing is on 1st April.

The Pakistani workers were employed by OBC during the period (from November 2018) of worst violence committed by the JWTZ soldiers that have been stationed at Lopolun for almost a year now. As mentioned many times in this blog, but can’t be mentioned too often, the soldiers chased away people from wide areas around OBC’s camp, tried to seize cattle, and set ablaze an unknown number of bomas, but twelve or thirteen just in the Leken area of Kirtalo on 21st December, while all leaders in Loliondo kept quiet due to a fear that the attacks were ordered by the highest level of government. King Mohammed VI of Morocco was expected to visit Loliondo the days before Christmas 2018, but his visit was postponed. It’s still unknown who ordered the soldier attacks, and in January RC Gambo condemned them in a strangely vague way.

Some are now claiming that these court cases are about Mollel personally, and not OBC, but at least regarding the tax evasion in the PCCB case – in the bureau’s press statement that was copied in several articles – “Mollel and OBC” are mentioned in the charges.

Will OBC have to answer for the more serious crimes concerning the many years of inciting land alienation and terror in Loliondo? I’ve got some indications that PCCB could be investigating this as well, but I’m not sure. Some of the known and suspected crimes are:
OBC’s involvement in several illegal arson and other human rights crimes operations on village land. The fact that they paid for the rejected land use plan that proposed alienating their core hunting area from the villages to turn it into a protected area. The too enthusiastic support they’ve got from several ministers for natural resources and tourism. The too rabid hate campaigns conducted against the Loliondo Maasai in some media. The too crazed slander, harassment, and illegal arrests against anyone speaking up (or just thought to be able to speak up…) against them (and against Thomson Safaris) by Loliondo authorities.
The problem is that the main responsible in these crimes is the government itself (the word “state” is never used in Tanzania). Though some say that if there were agreement inside the government, the land would already be long gone. Maybe there’s some truth to the talk that OBC’s apparent change in fortunes is due to the former CCM general secretary Abdulraham Kinana’s decades long friendship with Sheikh Mohammed and OBC, and to his alleged support for Bernard Membe who’s “suspected” of wanting to challenge Magufuli in 2020.

I haven’t got any further information at all about the information from a somewhat credible source that PM Majaliwa would early on have written a letter saying that Mollel must not be disturbed. If it was sent it seems like it was disregarded anyway.

The question
After President Magufuli’s statement on 15th January (in this blog on 7th March and 15th January) that he’s so sad to see pastoralists and cultivators being chased away all-over the country that he’s even considering the removal of some protected areas, when will it be announced that village land in Loliondo is safe? This doesn’t even require the removal of any protected areas, but just calling off destructive plans. All past and potential plans to alienate the 1,500 km2 osero must be declared stopped, and so must PM Majaliwa’s decision to place Loliondo under Ngorongoro Conservation Area via a legal bill, and Thomson Safaris illegal right of occupancy must be revoked. Otherwise the president’s words are useless.

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… With Lazaro Nyalandu as minister the focus was on holding closed meeting trying to buy off local leaders, and there was sadly some success in this.

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 and Tourism 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 that the aim was to further intimidate those speaking up against the land alienation plans, non-alarmists were saying that it was there for the Kenya 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, while the silence continued.

It was later revealed that a visit by Mohammed VI of Morocco had been planned for the days before Christmas 2018, but that it was postponed.

In January 2019 innocent people were again illegally arrested for the sole sake of intimidation.
Then RC Gambo on a Ngorongoro visit spoke up about the burning of bomas, but in a very vague way.
On 15th January the president issued a somewhat promising statement against evictions of pastoralists and cultivators.

In February 2019 OBC’s director Isaack Mollel was surprisingly, on the initiative of the RC, reluctance by the police, and order by Minister Lugola, arrested for employing foreign workers without permits, released on bail, and then caught by the Preventing and Combatting Corruption Bureau, and on 4th March charged with economic crimes.

Those who know what's going on are more than welcome to contact me.

Susanna Nordlund


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