Tuesday 30 January 2018

Fear and Silence in Loliondo

In this very brief blog post:
Confusion about the “special authority”
Few meetings
Dismissed preliminary objection
Livestock census
Background summary

Confusion about the “special authority”
After PM Majaliwa’s much delayed announcement of his decision how to “solve the conflict” over 1,500 km2 of important grazing land in Loliondo that the “investor” from Dubai, Otterlo Business Corporation, for years has lobbied to have converted into a protected area, silence has ruled Loliondo.

The PM’s decision, rushing through a legal bill before February/March to create a “special authority” (chombo maalum) that will manage the land, was a huge disappointment and caused great fear in those I heard from, and this makes the silence hard to explain. There had been hope that the village land would be left in the hands of villagers, with the condition that they form a WMA, which was the compromise proposal reached by the Arusha RC’s select (non-participatory) committee. A WMA carries considerable dangers in itself and had therefore been rejected for a decade and a half.

As mentioned in the previous (now old) blog post, village and ward leaders held a press conference two days after Majaliwa’s announcement, and after that nobody seems to have got more information about the “chombo maalum”, except that – apparently – there aren’t enough funds, and this “special authority” will now be placed under the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority. It’s unclear how this will be combined with hunting, but OBC aren’t going anywhere. Minister Kigwangalla had very loudly and clearly declared that, due to their misconduct, the hunters would be gone before January 2018, never to be given another hunting block in Tanzania, but OBC never showed any signs of leaving. Then PM Majaliwa said that OBC would stay, but the director, Isaack Mollel be replaced, but so far, he continues as the director, and nobody has heard of any plans for anything else. It’s also been mentioned that the villages will get 8 billion Tshs for projects outside the 1,500 km2. Nobody seems to know exactly from where and what kind of funds those are. The general feeling is that the stupid leaders have basically given the land away, that the government has the 1,500 km2 alienation in the pipeline, and the train has left. All serious resistance is apparently in the East African Court of Justice.

Few meetings
Many meetings would have been expected in Loliondo at the end of the year after the almost unspeakable horrors of 2017, and the PM’s announcement, but I have only heard about a few, and I hardly have enough information for a new blog post. On 14th December the district chairman, Matthew Siloma, who also is the councillor of Arash, held a meeting in Arash that, as far as I’ve heard, mostly consisted of celebrating German funds for developments projects. The chairman’s own brother was forced to remind people of the very high stakes of accepting such money. As written in earlier blog posts, in March 2017 the Serengeti chief park warden Mwakilema, as reported by several journalists, said that the German funds were subject to the approval of the land use plan that would alienate the 1,500 km2 osero. This was the reason that, after protests by 600 women and a decision by the district council, chairman Siloma refused to sign the German pieces of silver. There were people in Loliondo who suspected that Siloma had signed anyway. Though some councillors seemed genuinely shocked when Minister Kigwangalla on 13th November 2017 announced in social media that he had received a delegation headed by the German ambassador and the Germans were going to fund community development projects in Loliondo, “in our quest to save the Serengeti”. The chairman did however deny having signed anything, but said that he would soon, since it was such a wonderful project. The following day the MP announced that the project was safe since Kigwangalla had said it was meant for the whole 4,000 km2 Loliondo GCA, not excluding the 1,500 km2. Though, as we have seen, Kigwangalla has said some wonderful things that later have come to absolutely nothing at all. The Serengeti Ecosystem Development and Conservation Project is implemented by none others than TANAPA (main actors in the massive 2017 human rights abuse in Loliondo) and Frankfurt Zoological Society (have lobbied against Maasai land rights since the 1950s)

On 29th December meetings were held in Mairowa (Ololosokwan) for participants from the wards of Ololosokwan and Soitsambu. Reportedly there was one meeting for everyone and another one for “elites”. On the agenda was the PM’s “special authority”, and fundraising for the case in the East African Court of Justice. Unsurprisingly, there was much confusion about the “special authority”, but nobody wanted it.

Dismissed preliminary objection

On 25th January 2018 the East African Court of Justice delivered a ruling on a preliminary objection presented by the Tanzanian government. The government had tried to argue that the villages (Ololoskwan, Kirtalo, Olorien and Arash) themselves were part and parcel of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and therefore couldn’t sue the Attorney General. The court found that the villages do have legal capacity to sue the government and dismissed the objection. Now the case will go to full trial.

Other than the case in the East African Court of Justice, there isn’t any legal action at all against any of the participants in the over two months long invasion of village land initiated on 13th August 2017, ordered by DC Rashid Mfaume Taka, officially funded by TANAPA, and implemented by rangers from Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, assisted by local police, KDU (anti-poaching) and OBC rangers that committed mass arson, beatings, illegal arrests, seizing of cattle, rape, and blocking of water sources. A friend of mine went to see Naisenge Lilash who in the morning of 22nd October 2017 was raped by Serengeti rangers. Naisenge asked if Minister Kigwangalla had fired the rangers, but nobody has any information about that. She also asked if the government, or any leaders would take her to hospital for check-up, to which there wasn’t any answer.

Livestock census
A livestock census is taking place in Loliondo (and in the whole of Tanzania). The exercise was tabled in parliament by Magufuli when he was Minister of Livestock and Fisheries, and the Livestock Identification, Registration and Traceability Act 2010 was established. The census was at that time rejected by lawmakers and not implemented.  Nothing stops it now. The village executive officers (VEO) are registering everyone’s name, ID and phone numbers, age, and number of cattle, wanting to establish the number of cattle in each village and household. The cows are branded with T for Tanzania, NGR for Ngorongoro, and a number for the village. Due to the demonstrated ill-will by the regime, this census worries some (not all) people very much. The fear is that the aim of the census is to reduce mobility and kill off pastoralism.

There are several other potentially important developments to report about, but information is too vague.

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

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

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

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

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

In 2013, then Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Khamis Kagasheki, made bizarre statements as if all village land in Loliondo would have disappeared through magic, and the people of Loliondo would be generously “gifted” with the land outside the 1,500 km2. This was nothing but a horribly twisted way of again trying to evict the Maasai landowners from OBC’s core hunting area. There’s of course no way a Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism would have the mandate for such a trick of magic. After many mass meetings – where there was agreement to never again enter any MoU with OBC - and protest delegations to Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, 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 don’t want the GCA 2009, and rely on others, the same people they persecute, to stop it…

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

In July 2016, Manyeree Jackton wrote an “article” calling for PM Majaliwa to return the Kagasheki-style threat. In November 2016 OBC sent out a “report” to the press 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, 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’s”, 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 a very 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 leaders stayed strangely and disappointingly silent.

The DC and the Ministry of Natural Resources explained the operation with that people and cattle were entering Serengeti National Park too easily, while minster 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.
When in Arusha on 23rd September, President Magufuli collected protest placards against Maghembe, OBC and abuse, to read them later.
On 5th October 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 Maghembe was removed and Hamisi Kigwangalla appointed as new minister of Natural Resources and Tourism.

Kigwangalla stopped the operation on 26th October, 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 OBC’s managing director would be investigated for corruption.

Kigwangalla announced in social media that he on 13th November received a delegation headed by the German ambassador and that the Germans are 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, PM Majaliwa announced a vague, but terrifying decision to form a special authority to manage the 1,500 km2 osero. Manyerere Jackton celebrated the decision in the Jamhuri newspaper.

Susanna Nordlund



The Land Act No. 5 of 1999 in which Certificates of the Customary Right of Occupancy have been issued on some 162,000 ha to the clans of the Masai, Barbaig and Hadzabe, with more in the offing with the aid of an NGO, the Ujamaa Community Resource Team, is the track to follow. But then the big money comes along and all laws and principles fly out of the window. Yet another landgrab of the rangelands. I thought Magafuli was wrenching Tanzania away from the destructive neoliberal path?

Susanna said...

The land undeniably belongs to the villages according to Village Land Act No5 of 1999. The “argument” by too many Tanzanians is that all land belongs to the government and the president can do whatever he seems fit with it. They don’t answer the question about why Tanzania then has relatively progressive land laws, or why there are any laws at all… The current government is the worst ever when it comes to Loliondo.

I.P.A. Manning said...

In 2015 a Parliamentary Select Committee reported the following:

1. Tanzania has no comprehensive mechanism to deal with land.
2. Weak law enforcement, contradictory legal regimes and ineffective and incompetent leaders were the major factors driving land conflicts.
3. There were several guiding principles that contradicted each other: the 1997 Land Policy contradicts the 2006 Livestock Policy - the former outlawing pastoralism, the latter allowing it.
4. Investors who need land are told they should enter into business ventures through the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), but the Land Act also allows the Land Ministry to sign up investors.
5. Only 1,200 villages out of more than 10,000 had been surveyed, and only a handful have land use plans, and there are no competent institutions able to supervise their implementation.
7. Conflicts involving farmers, pastoralists, investors and other land users are not only widespread, but they have persisted for a long time.
8. The land problems continue unabated despite the 1997 National Land Policy, which points to problems with implementation.
9. There are major shortcomings in the implementation of the 2006 Livestock Policy, including the failure to recognise livestock as wealth and therefore have land set aside for pastoralism.
10. There was no guidance on stocking rates.
11. Water policies are ineffectual due to water users and other stakeholders not being consulted.
12. There were serious flaws in the implementation of the Investment Policy, with landgrabbing taking place without consultation or compensation.
13. President Jakaya Kikwete’s directive to stop the movement of livestock from one district to another was ignored and Parliament should direct the government to make sure that livestock is transported using cars and trains.
14. The government should take immediate steps to control pastoralists from neighbouring countries.
15. The National Land Use Commission should assume responsibilities for landuse management

While comments were made on the 1997 Land Policy, no mention was made of the Land Act No. 5 of 1999 in which Certificates of the Customary Right of Occupancy have been issued

Ian Manning said...

We all much appreciate what you are doing, Susanna.

Susanna said...

Thank you, Ian.