Thursday, 10 October 2019

After 60 Years of the NCAA The Ngorongoro Chief Conservator Announces a Plan to Evict the Maasai Again

While fear and silence continued in Loliondo where government officials will break any law to intimidate anyone who could speak up against so-called “investors” that threaten land rights, things were calming down since there hadn’t been any illegal arrests since January, there weren’t any rangers harassing herders, OBC’s director had for unknown reasons been charged with economic crimes, the president had made a statement on not being happy about evictions of pastoralists and cultivators all over the country, and nothing more was being heard about a threat of Loliondo being placed under the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA). Then, towards the later part of September, news broke that the Ngorongoro chief conservator, Freddy Manongi, and the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Hamisi Kigwangalla, had presented a plan to not only alienate from the villages the 1,500 km2 Osero (bushland) of important dry season land, but to at the same time evict people and cattle from almost the whole of Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), from the Lake Natron basin and escarpment, and elsewhere, and to restrict land use in other areas. If implemented, such a plan would mean the end of pastoralism in Ngorongoro district, and the end of Maasai culture and lives. The news was met with sadness, confusion, and despair over useless leaders that didn’t immediately act against such an announced atrocity.

As usual, this blog post has many unanswered questions.

In this blog post:
A terrible announcement, an article, and Manongi’s report
Core Conservation Zone –
Core Conservation Sub-Zone
Transition Zone
Community Development Zone-
Confusion about game controlled areas
Kigwangalla at the NCAA HQ
Who’s responsible? UNESCO and others?
Slow reactions and a not that strong statement by the Pastoral Council
Mzee telling it as it is

A terrible announcement, an article, and Manongi’s report
As mentioned in the latest blog post, to mark the occasion of World Tourism Day on 27th September, and 60 years of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (at least that’s how it was presented in the press) on 22nd September 2019, what can’t be described in any other way than as a plan to kill pastoralism and Maasai culture and life in the whole of Ngorongoro district was presented at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) headquarters. Attending were the Ngorongoro Chief Conservator, Freddy Manongi, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Hamisi Kigwangalla, the Ngorongoro MP William Olenasha, NCAA staff, the District Chairman, the District Executive Director, the district CCM leadership, and members of the Pastoral Council that represent the indigenous residents in the NCAA. It first seemed like many ward and village leaders weren’t informed about the meeting until the 26th, some through media, or even the 27th, and were reportedly not even suspecting what was going on – but some say that it’s highly unlikely, at least for Ngorongoro division. I didn’t hear anything at all until the 27th, when I was to publish a blog post, and was only sent the conclusions of the report - The Multiple Land Use Model of Ngorongoro Conservation Area: Achievements and Lessons Learnt, Challenges and Options for the Future - on 5th October. If someone has the full report, please send it to me.

As reported by the RAI newspaper quoting Manongi on 26th September the plan is to divide the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) into four zones, annex parts of Loliondo GCA (the Osero) and Lake Natron GCA, and to evict people from wide areas of the district. Reading the actual report, or its conclusions, it’s observed that the aim isn’t (if anyone would have thought so) to give those evicted new land - that is only found in Serengeti National Park, and even that isn’t new since it was lost in 1959 - but to squeeze them into existing populated areas, which would lead to social and ecological collapse.

Core Conservation Zone –
This zone is to be exclusively for conservation, research, and tourism, and a no-go zone for herders and cattle. The RAI article didn’t detail the areas under this eviction threat, but the report tells that it’s most of Ngorongoro Conservation Area! The Ngorongoro Highland Forest Reserve with the three craters Ngorongoro, Olmoti and Empakai where grazing these past few years has already been banned, not through law, but through order - which is what can happen to those living under the yoke of the NCAA, while having weak (or worse) leaders - will also be no-go zones, as will Oldupai Gorge and Laitoli footprints, and so will the Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek basin.

This blog is about Loliondo, that by itself is almost impossibly hard work, but sometimes when people have shared confirmed information on their own accord, I’ve mentioned different NCA issues. The Maasai of NCA are worse off than those of Loliondo – who between illegal operations with massive human rights crimes - manage their own land, and it’s not uncommon for people from NCA to look for work as herders in Loliondo.

When the Maasai were evicted from Serengeti in 1959 by the colonial government, as a compromise deal, they were guaranteed the right to continue occupying Ngorongoro Conservation Area as a multiple land-use area administered by the government, in which natural resources would be conserved primarily for their interest, but with due regard for wildlife. This promise was not kept, and tourism revenue has turned into the paramount interest, while the human rights situation has deteriorated, which was worsened by the designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1975, the Maasai living inside Ngorongoro Crater were violently evicted, and the same year cultivation was prohibited in NCA. This ban was lifted in 1992, but re-introduced in 2009 after threats from the UNESCO. The people of NCA are living under the colonial-style rule of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), are not allowed to grow crops or build modern houses, have the past years been losing access to one grazing area after the other, and are suffering from high levels of child malnutrition. They have regularly through the years been shaken by rumours of eviction.

Some areas outside NCA, of village land per the Village Land Act No.5 of 1999, are planned to not only be annexed to the NCA, but be turned into no-go zones for herders and cattle. This is planned for the Lake Natron basin and escarpment, including Oldoinyo Lengai. This area has repeatedly the past decade, or longer, at least since the volcanic eruption in 2006, received threats of being placed under the NCAA, or sometimes, also earlier this year, of total eviction, and now the threat has worsened. Other areas in Lake Natron GCA that the architects of the destructive plan want annexed and emptied of people and cattle are the Engaruka historical site, and the Selela Village Forest.

Core Conservation Sub-Zone

This proposed area, over which this blog keeps watch, consists of the 1,500 km2 Osero of very important dry season grazing in Loliondo and Sale divisions of Ngorongoro district where OBC, that organizes hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai - have their core hunting area, and from where they, as known, want the Maasai landowners to be evicted, which fortunately has been stopped, even if there have been acute threats, and extremely violent illegal operations. Loliondo is since December 2017 under threat of being placed under the NCAA, which - besides the risk of sharing the fate of the Maasai of Ngorongoro division, would mean trophy hunting in a world heritage site and man and biosphere reserve. According to the RAI article the whole 1,500 km2 is to be set aside for tourism hunting and to be a no-go zone for herders and cattle, while the report divides the Osero into 1,038 km2 in Loliondo division where only research, training and limited tourism, “for example” tourism hunting is to be allowed, and the 462 km2 in Sale division where settlements apparently will not be razed, and tourism hunting will “reduce human-wildlife conflict”. Though the report conclusions aren’t totally clear in this regard.

The loss of the Osero would not only kill pastoralist lives and livelihoods in Loliondo, but have serious knock-on effects in other areas – and now this atrocious plan suggests at the same time alienating land in both NCA and in Lake Natron GCA …

It should be remembered that there’s an ongoing case in the East African Court of Justice about this 1,500 km2 Osero, and the court has issued injunction orders preventing any evictions, intimidation or harassment of the applicant villagers (the orders were brutally violated last year by soldiers). This plan is a case of contempt of court, if any kind of implementation is initiated. In Loliondo, land is under the control and management of village governments on behalf of the villagers, and decisions about the land must be made by the village assembly (all adult villagers) per the Village Land Act No.5 of 1999.

Transition Zone

The report proposes this zone to be of mixed use, allowing grazing, but with a total ban on settlements or cultivation, and the areas of NCA where it would be implemented are described as the Gol Mountains and west of Kakesio.

Community Development Zone-
This is the zone, a smaller part of the huge NCA, where settlements, grazing, pasture development, even crop production, and community-based tourism will be allowed, with a remark that it’s necessary to “control” human development, whatever that means.

The plan is to increase the size of NCA from the current 8,100 km2 to 12,083 km2, and this is supposed to be done via the annexation of neighbouring village land. Of this 4,547 km2 (or more according to the RAI article) will be a no-go zone for people and livestock, which means destroying settlements, and the no-go zone can only be upheld by rangers using violence against “trespassers”. In 5,396 km2 settlements will be razed and cultivation banned, but grazing will still be allowed. People will be allowed to reside and grow crops in 2,140 km2, not even 18% of the total area.

Manongi was quoted in the RAI saying that people will get a small compensation for resettling outside NCA and that Tanzania is a big country with enough land outside protected areas! The areas proposed for resettlement are however already populated (small areas in Kakesio, Endulen, Meshili, and a semi-desert on the way to Malambo) – as said, the only available compensatory land is in Serengeti National Park - so the plan is to squeeze in large numbers of additional people and cattle, that the proponents of such atrocity are already saying are too many. This at the same time as dry season grazing areas will be alienated. Obviously, a planned collapse. The planned compensation is said by various people (not confirmed) to be 300,000 TShs, which is 120 euros, or 130 US dollars … Needless to say, the plan details that “non-indigenous residents” - in NCA those whose parents or grandparents weren’t part of the NCA society in 1959 - should just be asked to return to their original homelands.

To the RAI, Manongi further said that he expected a lot of noise from human rights defenders, but that people would be educated about the benefits of conservation for all Tanzanians, and he thought that they would understand. Noise from human rights defenders is what one would expect when planning to commit a human rights crime (I hope that expectation can be fulfilled in the silent Tanzania of today …) and there is of course not one single pastoralist in Ngorongoro who could consent to this atrocity. Even most non-pastoralists must understand that they will be badly hit as well, but still a couple of those in Loliondo with ties (or aspiring to have ties) to OBC seem very happy about the plan.

Manongi explained to the RAI the necessity of this plan with the environmental damage caused by increased numbers of people and cattle, in combination with climate change. Otherwise he saw the now 60 years of NCA as a success story, mentioning the revenue collected from tourists the past fiscal year as 143 billion TShs.

The report details that if the Klein’s – Mto wa Mbu road (under upgrading, and part of the years ago much talked about “Serengeti highway”) that traverses Loliondo and Lake Natron GCAs is not annexed to NCA there will be a 30% loss of expected revenue by 2038 (I would have to get hold of the full report to find out what’s meant by this), and if the status quo is maintained or NCA is left to the indigenous pastoralists (which would be far from the status quo), the government will lose 50% of expected revenue by 2038.

Paul Fissoo, NCAA’s manager for tourism issues, in the RAI article raves about Ngorongoro’s many attractions, and about recent improvements made to the tourism product. Neither he nor Manongi seem to see any connection between the so desirable tourists and climate change that’s only used as an argument for eviction of indigenous people.
Chief Conservator Freddy Manongi,on another occasion. Photo: the Mtanzania

Confusion about game controlled areas
There are many claims that are hard to check in the pages I’ve got of the report, but there’s also total misunderstanding (or lies) about some basic concepts that I’m very well acquainted with, which may indicate that much of it is - at the best - based on guessing. The old and very false claim that according to the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 (WCA 2009) human activities would not be allowed in current Game Controlled Areas (GCAs) is repeated, and there’s the most headless claim that the annexation of parts of Loliondo and Lake Natron GCA to NCA would “legalize” settlements and human activities and “avoid inconveniences to residents”. The fact that the report proposes turning most of these areas into no-go zones for people (other than researchers and tourists), and for cattle, makes the claim even stranger. “Legalize” to then raze to the ground?

The fact is that Game Controlled Areas in Tanzania don’t restrict any human activities (other than regulating hunting) and most (or all) of them totally overlap with village land per the Village Land Act No.5 of 1999. In WCA 2009, GCAs are protected areas, but that can of course not override the Village Land Act, and the WCA 2009 itself states that the list of GCAs must be reviewed within one year of it coming into effect, and still not one single new GCA has been gazetted.

What happened in Loliondo was that the “investor” OBC funded a 2010-2030 draft district land use plan that then was revealed to propose that the 1,500 km2 Osero – OBC’s core hunting area - of the 4,000 km2 old Loliondo GCA should be converted into the new kind protected area that’s the same as a game reserve. Ngorongoro District Council strongly rejected this plan, since the loss of grazing land would have very serious consequences indeed. A couple of years later, Minister Kagasheki made another attempt at alienating the land, this time lying that the whole 4,000 km2 would be a protected area, and the Maasai “landless” people that would be gifted with their own land outside the 1,500 km2 wanted by OBC. After many protests, PM Pinda put stop to Kagasheki’s threats and lies, and he reminded everyone that the land is village land.

Lately the friends of land alienation have been using other dirty tricks than to lie about GCAs. In 2016-2017, when PM Majaliwa had tasked Arusha RC Gambo with setting up a select committee to “solve the conflict”, Minister Maghembe (and others) were working for turning the 1,500km2 Osero into the new kind of GCA, but the committee finally reached a sad compromise proposal of a WMA that would maintain the land as village land, but handing more power to “investors” and central government. While waiting for months to hear Majaliwa’s decision, in an illegal operation ordered by the DC, mass arson and other kinds of violent crime were committed by Serengeti rangers on village land. Majaliwa’s decision, announced on 6th December 2017 was to, via a legal bill, place Loliondo under a “special authority”, and this authority was later explained as the NCAA. Fortunately, the implementation has been delayed, and would otherwise constitute contempt of court, since there’s an ongoing case in the East African Court of Justice.

Kigwangalla at the NCAA HQ
At this meeting on 22nd September, Minister Kigwangalla - as can be seen in a video shared by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism - had the audacity to lecture those present telling them that the eviction plans were for their own good. The minister even used the word love, and talked about how the land would otherwise become a desert. I’m sure that everyone present knew very well that Kigwangalla isn’t qualified to lecture them, that his home-district Nzega can nowhere compete with the world heritage that is Ngorongoro, and that he is all gestures, not much brain, and no substance at all. Things became creepy indeed when Kigwangalla said that there would not be any use of force, but agreement would be sought from those to be evicted. Absolutely everyone, not least Kigwangalla himself, knew perfectly well what kind of government they have, that threats and violence are the order of the day, and that no government can drive people off their land into a total collapse of lives and livelihoods, without using violence. Kigwangalla said that the plan is a start, and not the final word, and that everyone should sit down like Tanzanians to find the best way of reducing people and livestock in NCA, where people should go, and what areas should have which restrictions. The creepiness then only got worse when Kigwangalla added that meetings would be filmed so that nobody can later say that they weren’t involved. Apparently, as told in a statement by the Pastoral Council on 7th October, this lecture came after Kigwangalla had been informed that the plan that was being presented was in no way including the views of NCA residents, and the minister ordered the Multiple Land-Use Model Team to return for another visit to all the ward in Ngorongoro division, and that community representatives would be added.

Kigwangalla mentioned Ethiopia as a warning example, supposedly meaning the 1984 famine that wasn’t a natural disaster, but manmade by a military dictatorship that then tried to further worsen the situation with forced resettlements. “The same thing that's going on in Tanzania now”, I’m told by an Ethiopian PhD student whose father resisted resettlement in the 1980s, and who happened to be in Loliondo to witness the shocking brutality of the 2017 illegal operation.

At one time – when stopping the 2017 illegal operation, promising that OBC would have left before January 2018, and declaring that he was to clean up his ministry into which the “investor’s” syndicate was reaching - Kigwangalla was an instant hero in Loliondo. I thought the U-turn on his forgotten promises was completed long ago, but he only gets worse. However, some say that in this case Kigwangalla isn’t the problem at all, but Manongi. Though a problem he obviously is.

On 2nd October, basically the same article as the one published in the RAI (written by Abraham Gwandu) was published in the Mtanzania newspaper, but with an even heavier emphasis on World Tourism Day.

Who’s responsible? UNESCO and others

I’m having some problems understanding who the individuals behind the terrifying four zones plan are, the members of the Multiple Land-Use Model Team, and those advising this team about the need for evictions. Some seem to think that Manongi single-handedly prepared and handed over the report to the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism. Others think that very many people – including some that would not be expected to - are involved. A table in the report lists many different stakeholders with one - or more - of four proposed options for a land use model. It’s not very clear, but an UNESCO commission is mentioned together with the option of abandoning the multiple land-use model and relocating all resident to outside the NCA that’s to be turned into a “nature reserve”, where “historical bomas” will be retained. A joint monitoring mission from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) did again visit NCA in March this year, and produced a report with recommendations - Report on the Joint WHC/ICOMOS/IUCN Mission to Ngorongoro Conservation Area, United Republic of Tanzania, 4-8 March 2019. The UNESCO - among other issues - like concern about the upgrading of roads and its impact – recommends finalizing the draft General Management Plan, shows concern about intents at settling communities in protected areas (Magufuli’s January statement), talks about alternative livelihoods, wants the Multiple Land Use Model review completed to see the results and offer advice, complains about the visual impact of settlements with modern houses, and so on. Recommendations and concerns from the UNESCO have in the past led to a worsened human rights situation, and without doubt inspired Manongi this time too. And we seem to have the added problem with Manongi’s personal obsession with moving the Maasai, as can be observed in his many meetings with journalists, like when he talked about that the 1,500 km2 Osero in Loliondo must be made into a protected area, or when he in the Jamhuri (anti-Maasai newspaper) wrote about his vision for NCA.

A serious problem when different land use options are being discussed is that the status quo is seen as one extreme, and that it’s only wanted by the indigenous residents, who are viewed as minor stakeholders and a problem to be dealt with, when in fact the status quo isn’t particularly good at all. This makes some genocidal atrocity seem like the “middle ground”. Several people have mentioned that it’s necessary that the Maasai move forward with something like a reclaim of Serengeti, to change the middle ground.

Slow reactions and a not that strong statement by the Pastoral Council

Not long after the news about the frightening plan were shared, multiple meetings were being held in NCA, but the despair only increased when leaders showed passivity, discouraging people and telling them to wait. I heard from several very angry people from Ngorongoro division. Those people were however reluctant to make statements and protest on their own, since they feared government repression, and some asked me about how to instead make international organisations protest on their behalf, which I thought would look awkward with silent or anonymous victims, and with very predictable reactions from the Tanzanian government. Though on 7th October there was finally at least a statement, even if not very strong, by the Pastoral Council, and I hope that several organisations – of all kinds - will soon speak up. The Oakland Institute already made a statement today 10th October.

Others suspected that they would be driven to the brink of despair, only for the government to announce that the plan wasn’t the government position, and then everyone would voice tearful praise for the president, and go on to again vote for the same useless leaders.

On Saturday 5th October, the Pastoral Council finally held a meeting in Karatu for leaders and educated people, but once there, people from outside NCA, like those from Loliondo who would be very much affected by Manongi’s plan, were not allowed to attend. Allegedly they were stopped by the chairman of the Pastoral Council, Edward Maura, who saw them as a political threat. Some of those who attended reported that, for security reasons, not much could be said, and there wouldn’t be a press statement until after Kigwangalla’s committee had met with people on the ground.

Reportedly, Kigwangalla’s committee - I’m not sure if it actually is the same people as the Multiple Land-Use Model Team, but it seems like it’s them with some added community representatives - started their 6-day NCA tour in Endulen ward on 6th October. The Pastoral Council didn’t wait until after the tour as had been said, but released their press statement in Arusha town on 7th October. The written statement starts by congratulating the president for his good work building the nation, which may be necessary for safety reasons in today’s Tanzania, but then it moves on to congratulating Kigwangalla for never before seen progress after he was appointed, which may seem exaggerated, not least since he actually was defending Manongi’s eviction plans. I won’t speculate about this now.

The statement moves on to the “misleading” information published by the RAI newspaper on 26th September reporting about the chief conservator’s description of the four zones plan. The Pastoral Council’s message is that the plan doesn’t represent the views of the NCA residents, since it would finish NCA’s status as a celebrated multiple land-use area, leading to loss of revenue for the government since the Maasai are a tourist attraction, and moving the residents would violate the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Ordinance.

The PC in their statements say that allowing trophy hunting in the NCA would open a gap for people with bad intentions towards the wildlife that the NCA residents have been protecting, and this too would go against the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Ordinance. The only thing the statement has to say about the plan to annex Loliondo to NCA is that it would worsen conflict between residents and investors, and that it could lead to loss of revenue for Ngorongoro District Council. At least this strange part of the statement would have looked much different indeed if people from Loliondo had been allowed to participate.

About the proposed resettlement areas, the statement says that they are very unsuitable, since they are full of invasive weeds, and malignant catarrhal fever transmitted by wildebeest calves. The Multiple Land-Use Model Team recommends that people from eight villages in Endulen, Ngorongoro, Misigiyo, and Alaitole wards – that’s 24,199 people, 73,508 cows, 66,459 sheep, and 54,081 goats (2017 census) – should be resettled in one zone A that already has 17,546 people, 67,418 cows, 50,116 sheep, and 50,444 goats. Another recommendation is that nine villages in the wards of Naiyobi, Alaililai, and Nainokanoka – 37,865 people, 68,117 cows, 91,655 sheep, and 71,022 goats - should be resettled in one zone B that now (or 2017) has 13,526 people, 29,783 cows, 136,152 sheep, and 46,810 goats. The unsustainability speaks for itself, but the Pastoral Council in their statement also detailed what would happen.

The Pastoral Council mention that the conservationists talk a lot about the increase in the numbers of people and cattle, but that it isn’t anything exclusive for Ngorongoro, but for the whole of Tanzania, and that the “5th phase government” handles destocking together with providing services like cattle markets, fattening ranches, and factories for cattle products. The increase in people should be met with education sponsored by the NCAA, and the Pastoral Council recommends that too many cattle in the conservation area should be handled by removing “invaders”.

The Pastoral Council adds that the government has sent three teams – the General Management Plan Team, the Multiple Land-Use Model Team, and the Law Reform Commission for the NCAA – and that this has confused people who don’t know which team has recommended what. The Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism has sent these teams, and the Multiple Land-Use Model Team has collected the views of residents and other stakeholders regarding land use. The team informed the Pastoral Council and various groups of people from all wards in Ngorongoro division about its findings, and it seemed like the views of NCA residents would have been taken into consideration. However, at the meeting on 22nd September, the representatives of NCA residents had to inform Minister Kigwangalla that the recommendations in the draft that was presented didn’t correspond with the views of Ngorongoro residents, and this prompted Kigwangalla to order the Multiple Land-Use Model Team to within 21 days return to NCA, meet with residents of all wards, and then inform him about their findings.

The weakness the Pastoral Council has found with the Multiple Land-Use Model Team, is that they are in too much of a hurry to send their report to the government for a decision … Ngorongoro division has 11 wards and 25 villages, and the team has six days to collect everyone’s views. The Pastoral Council reminds of that there were 18 years of negotiations before the Maasai were moved from Serengeti and at that time the population was much smaller … So, they understand what the aim of the talks is, but continue sitting at the table.

The Pastoral Council, on behalf of NCA residents, wanted to inform the government that they are ready to sit down at the table to talk about how to solve the challenges of land management in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, but not to move people from their land. The statement ends with congratulating the president once more, and welcoming him to Ngorongoro.

I remember a time when statements could be worded as, “the government must immediately stop …” It’s a more adequate use of words when a cultural genocide is on the table. People were afraid already then, but now everyone is paralyzed with fear. Many are happy that the Pastoral Council finally issued a press statement, while others are very frustrated by the weak message, and some say that it sounds quite compromised indeed. Manongi is said to have the resources to befriend anyone. Everyone knows what must be said, but it doesn’t seem like anyone will say it:
Enough is enough! If you try to take one square inch more, we will reclaim Moru kopjes in every court!

A clip of a mzee (I’m searching for the name) in Endulen on 6th October is being shared, since he’s telling it as it is. In short, he said that he was part of the people evicted from Moru, the land they were promised was NCA and he can’t understand why the government is planning for further relocation. His message is, “don't lie to these people - the government - just tell them we aren’t going anywhere, they are not giving us any basic need any citizen is entitled to, and are now wishing to take what they gave us for Moru. Tell them we are not going to reduce livestock nor number of children, let them come and kill us because we are not going anywhere.”

Susanna Nordlund

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