Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Loliondo between Silence, Confusion, Fear, and Bad Old Friends

In this blog post:
The East African Court case
Visit by royal hunters
The Minister’s U-turn
Silence about the “chombo/mamlaka maalum” and the German money
Video by PINGO’s Forum
Magufuli in Arusha
Military camp
No justice
Summary for newcomers

The situation in Loliondo is more worrying than ever and at the same time people have never been more silent than now. The threat of losing 1,500 km2 of essential grazing land – the osero (bushland) – has been looming over Loliondo for many years, and the “investor” Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC) that organises hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai has been a main actor pushing for land alienation. In 2009, OBC together with the Field Force Unit committed brutal extrajudicial evictions from the 1,500 km2 that also serves as the core hunting area. In 2010-2011 a draft district land use plan, funded by OBC, proposed a more legal way of repeating the brutality of 2009 by turning the land into a protected area free from livestock and pastoral settlement (not protected from hunting). This plan was rejected by the Ngorongoro District Council, which was a victory for the Loliondo Maasai.

In 2013, the then Minister for Natural Resources, Khamis Kagasheki, had another trick up his sleeve to grab the 1,500 km2 osero and make OBC happy. He shamelessly lied that more than the whole of Loliondo would be a protected area and the Maasai landless people who would be gifted with the land outside the 1,500 km2! After many meetings, protest delegations to Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, and support from both opposition and parts of the ruling party, the PM at the time, Pinda, declared the obvious, that the land was village land and that the Maasai should continue their lives as before Kagasheki’s threats. Another victory.

Then the situation started deteriorating. A dirty game of divide and rule had been played by “investors” in Loliondo – both OBC and Thomson Safaris that aggressively claim ownership of 12,617 acres - for many years, but the “befriending” of select leaders was intensified. District authorities had also for many years behaved lawlessly siding with “investors” against the people, threatening and defaming those who spoke up – much assisted by parts of the press and foremost Manyerere Jackton who in the Jamhuri paper has written over 50 articles inciting against the Loliondo Maasai and engaging in apparently headless defamation. In 2016 this intimidation campaign went into overdrive with multiple illegal arrests and malicious prosecution with charges such as communicating with a “spy” (me), being in possession of “government documents”, and mentioning a “stupid government”. This intimidation campaign was followed by PM Majaliwa “solving the conflict”, in December 2016 tasking the Arusha RC, Gambo, with setting up a select committee that came up with a sad compromise proposal that by that time was seen as a victory. Meanwhile, the then Minister for Natural Resources, Maghembe, accompanied by Manyerere Jackton, kept making statements in favour of the 1,500 km2 “protected area”. While waiting to hear the PM’s decision (he had been handed the proposal in April), on 13th August 2017 rangers from Serengeti National Park - together with NCA rangers, Loliondo police, KDU, and OBC rangers - illegally and brutally invaded village land committing mass arson, illegal arrests, beatings, seizing of cattle, shooting of cattle (in Arash), and rape! Meanwhile, some leaders, notably the formerly much trusted MP, stayed conspicuously silent.

Things started to look better when in a cabinet re-shuffle Maghembe was removed as minister, and his successor, Hamisi Kigwangalla, not only stopped the illegal operation, but declared that OBC would have left Loliondo before January 2018 never to be given another hunting block. However, OBC never left and when PM Majaliwa finally announced his decision on 6th December 2017, there was a big disappointment: not only were OBC staying, but the 1,500 km2 osero would be managed by a “special authority”. After this, details about the “special authority” have been strangely difficult to obtain. Apparently, it’s only dealt with in “closed minister meetings”.

The East African Court Case

On 14th March there was to be a hearing in the case in which the villages of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, Olorien and Arash are suing the Government of Tanzania for contravening and violating the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, Village Land Act 1999 and Wildlife Conservation Act 2009 as well as the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, Articles 6(d) and 7(1) of the Treaty. The state attorney presented objections – obviously with the intent to delay – about the technicality (everyone concerned knows Swahili) that credentials of those that have translated some documents from Swahili to English can’t be certified. An agreement was reached to add such credentials and the case was adjourned until some time in April.

The councillors for Ololosokwan and Soitsambu, together with the chairmen of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, Olorien and Arash should be thanked for their work suing the government, and so should all people on the ground who are active in this court case, while the rest of the leaders should hang their heads in shame.

Visit by royal hunters - with appearance by Kinana

Between 21st and 24th March, Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and some of their friends visited Loliondo for a brief hunting trip. Most information about this trip did not come from the ground in Loliondo, or from any verified social media account belonging to the hunters, but from the carefully selected pictures and short videos on various fan pages. From such I gather that Sheikh Mohammed was photographed together with schoolchildren from Oloipiri Primary School (later a “fan” reported that he also made a big donation, besides substantial tips to OBC staff) and that he left on the 24th, when there was a brief video of the royal hunters walking towards one plane in Loliondo, a cut, and then walking from one plane to another in Arusha in the company of Abdulrahman Kinana, secretary-general of the CCM ruling party. Kinana and OBC have a long history together.

Kigwangalla - who when asked about the pictures in social media finally made his U-turn about OBC public – identified the hunters as OBC’s guests. Though Sheikh Mohammed is more than so. He’s the guest, and part of the Loliondogate scandal that erupted in 1993, after the businessman and at the time deputy minister for defence of the UAE, Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Ali, had on 11th November 1992 been granted a most irregular 10-year contract for the Loliondo hunting blocks North and South where the company (OBC) he was advised to set up by the then Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Mgumia, would start its operation on 1st April 1993. In March 1993 the Mfanyakazi paper reported that on 29th October 1992, the Principal Secretary to the Tanzanian President, Paul Rupia, wrote a letter to Paul Mkanga, the Principal Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Natural Resources and Environment and told his counterpart that President Ali Hassan Mwinyi had allowed Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to capture 10 generuk. Mkanga instructed the Director of Wildlife vide a letter of 6th November 1992 to execute the president’s order.
On 20 January 1993, the Mfanyakazi reported on its front page (as found and translated by Navaya ole Ndaskoi) that, "On January 18, 1993 a huge aircraft from the UAE with registration number A6-HRM landed in KIA [Kilimanjaro International Airport]. It came to Al-Ali and his colleagues together with their kills. They flew with 2 zebras and 4 antelopes. The princes breached Section 11 of the Wildlife Act No.12 of 1974 which prohibits capture of animals. The princes enjoyed an escort from the police officers and state security agents. Abdulrahman Kinana, the Minister for Defense and National Service, represented the Tanzanian Government. Major General G. F. Sayore [Tanzanian Chief of Staff] was at the airport. The officers came to soften the trip. The Arabs were driving the Government cars with registration numbers STH 3752 and STH 3753. A relative of Kinana [Nuru Kinana who is a friend of Said Makoko] was also spotted at the airport driving a car with registration number KXX 266” Minister Mgumia, who shortly after would have to leave the office in connection with the Loliondogate scandal, admitted to the Mfanyakazi, “I must admit that during the expedition there were excesses, including reports that some live animals were picked without the express authority of the Government. The live animals reported to have been picked are two zebras and two gazelles, one of which dropped dead at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA)”

Al Ali had been on several earlier hunting trips to Tanzania before being granted the hunting blocks in Loliondo and in November 1993 news about him even reached the NewYork Times where Caroline Alexander reported, “on a trip to Tanzania last March, I interviewed several witnesses who had accompanied previous safaris from the Emirates. One such safari, in 1991, was reliably reported to have indiscriminately shot cheetah and wild dogs. Another, in October 1992, illegally shot seven lions and two leopards in Loliondo; and just two months before my arrival in Tanzania, yet another party, reportedly some 60 members, swept through the tiny controlled area of Longido and is believed by wildlife officials to have significantly reduced the region's population of gerenuk, a rare antelope”.

Stan Katabalo who reported about Loliondo in the Mfanyakazi passed away under disputed circumstances on 26th September 1993, and the current state of Tanzanian journalism is such as that not a single journalist has even mentioned Kigwangalla’s U-turn about OBC.

If there is current hunting abuse it’s not being reported, and nobody is making any effort to investigate and report. In 2010, four giraffes were illegally flown to Doha from Kilimanjaro International Airport on a Qatari military plane, but it’s unlikely that this would have anything to do with OBC or Loliondo since witnesses testified that the animals were seized in different areas of Monduli district, and as mentioned, flown to Qatar. This didn’t stop some people from making bad photoshop of giraffes at OBC’s airfield during the 2015 election campaign. It’s possible that after all these years attitudes have changed and OBC’s guests are trying to look as responsible hunters engaged in “sustainable utilization”. At least they seem to understand that it’s a bad idea to share pictures of dead mammals with the fan base. Though, since the crown prince enjoys posing with big cats held as pets, it’s unlikely that there’s much seriousness involved.

As reported in the Mfanyakazi, in 1993 Abdulrahman Kinana, then Minister for Defense and National Service, escorted Sheikh Mohammed representing the government, and in 2018 Abdulraham Kinana, secretary-general of CCM, was also seen with Sheikh Mohammed – now ruler of Dubai - at Kilimanjaro International Airport. Nothing changes for those people, but meanwhile the Maasai of Loliondo have suffered two major operations filled with human rights crimes, and the threat against their land keeps increasing.

Minister Kigwangalla's U-turn

The removal of Maghembe as minister of natural resources and tourism was celebrated, not least because President Magufuli’s friend, the Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, had talked to him about Loliondo, and this could possibly have caused the removal.  Sadly, the very brief mention of Loliondo – where human rights crimes were being committed - by Kigwangalla at his inauguration on 9th October 2017 was about a conflict that had to be solved, and directly afterwards he mentioned pastoralists invading protected areas, making it sound like he had already been fed the story of OBC’s friends. At a public meeting in Ololosokwan on 11th October, to which they’d manage to gather some press, the local Maasai pleaded with Kigwangalla to come and visit them to hear their side of the story instead of listening to rumours. Kigwangalla didn’t show up in Loliondo, instead things just kept going downhill, and on 19th October, he issued a letter ordering cattle and tractors from “outside the country” to leave Loliondo Game Controlled Area within seven days, or they would be nationalised. Kigwangalla also claimed to have been informed about 200 Kenyan tractors, which under other circumstances would have been a simply hilarious claim. To make matters worse, on 12th October an article by the spokesperson for the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism was published, in which he argued for a return of the Kagasheki-style land alienation threat.

Hopes were again raised when in a meeting with tourism stakeholders on 22nd October, Kigwangalla revoked all hunting blocks issued during the year saying that permits would be re-applied through auction (instead of this auction permits have since been extended for two more years). More sensationally, Kigwangalla added that hunting blocks with conflict, like Loliondo and Lake Natron, would not be renewed until the conflicts were solved. The same day surfaced a timetable for a visit by Kigwangalla to Loliondo on 26th – 27th  October, but meetings with the victims of the ongoing illegal operation weren’t anywhere in this timetable.

On 26th October, after meeting with the criminal Ngorongoro Security Committee, Kigwangalla did hold a public meeting in which he stopped the illegal operation and ordered the release of cows not involved in any court case. The minister said the problem isn’t solved by one side using guns, but at the same time he mentioned that the other side using harsh words doesn’t solve anything either and must be stopped (when the side with the words was too intimidated to even use them!) whereby he showed an astonishing lack of understanding of power relations, and even of the law. Though those who were present told me that Kigwangalla understood very well, but had to be diplomatic. The following day, 27th October, after a tour of areas of interest, Kigwangalla held a meeting in which he declared that OBC’s hunting block wouldn’t be renewed and that the company would have left by January 2018. By this time, Kigwangalla was a hero in Loliondo.

On 4th November Kigwangalla returned to Loliondo on a surprise visit and the following day surfaced information that he would have fired the Director of Wildlife, Alexander Songorwa, on suspicions that Songorwa would have shared secret government information with the press and made up stories to incite conflict in Loliondo. In the evening of the 4th information would have circulated that Kigwangalla was travelling in two private vehicles and would be staying at Acacia Hotel in Karatu, and next morning he was followed by unknown people who at every step reported on the internet. Kigwangalla accused Songorwa of following the directions of OBC. A couple of days later Ayo TV posted a video of Kigwangalla in Loliondo and then a longer one was posted by the spokesperson of the ministry (the same person who had written a Kagasheki-style article less than a month earlier), and by Kigwangalla himself. In these videos Kigwangalla strongly and clearly declares that he’s going to clean up his house. Rangers from Klein’s gate had worked for the “investor”, invading village land, and they would be transferred. Kigwangalla had witnessed a corruption syndicate at the service of OBC and this reached all the way into his ministry. He had directed the Prevention and Combating Corruption Bureau to investigate OBC for corruption, starting with questioning the director, Isaack Mollel, who had been boasting everywhere about having bribed his predecessor with 200,000 US dollars, while saying that 100,000 would be enough for this little boy Kigwangalla.  "Siwezi kujaribiwa na siwezi kuchezewa, siko hapa kwa bahati mbaya" ("I can't be tested, and I can't be played with, I'm not here by chance") is the title of the video on Youtube.

Time passed and OBC didn’t show any sign of packing. In social media OBC’s assistant director (a local traitor) told me his employer was there to stay and that I would have a heart attack, while OBC’s PR officer (Mollel’s brother) informed me that, "OBC is waiting for you to come and pack them off".

On 6th December, PM Majaliwa announced his decision that a “special authority” (chombo/mamlaka maalum) was to be set up to manage the 1,500 km2, but his information was so vague that nobody was sure what it really meant. What was clearer was that he said that OBC was staying, but Mollel would be investigated for corruption. For a while, some people kept saying that Mollel would be replaced, but now it seems clear that nothing at all has happened to him and he stays put. For months, Kigwangalla stayed silent about what had happened to his big and loud promises.

On 13th December, the CCM secretary general and OBC’s old friend Abdulraham Kinana, visited Kigwangalla’s Nzega Rural constituency. 
Kigwangalla and Kinana handing out motorbikes to CCM workers

On 5th February, Kigwangalla explained the matter in a Whatsapp group, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. He said:
“1. Mollel is history. Taratibu za kuondolewa na kampuni yake zinaendelea.
2. Loliondo kwenye new structure will need OBC, Thomson &Beyond na wawekezaji wengine zaidi! So tumeona ni busare tujipange upya.
Only Mollel ni kwikwi.”
(1. Mollel is history. Procedures by his company to have him removed are ongoing.
2. Loliondo with the new structure will need OBC, Thomson, &Beyond and more other investors! So we saw it wise to arrange ourselves anew.
Only Mollel is troublesome.)
The worst part is of course that this comment makes the “special authority” sound even more destructive since, according to Kigwangalla, it will increase the “need” for companies that are very violent threats to land rights, like OBC and Thomson (and &Beyond aren’t always reliable).

Several people had tried to ask Kigwangalla in social media about his promise that OBC would be gone before January, but they were met with silence. Not until 23rd March, when photos from the hunting trip were being shared on a fan page of the Dubai crown price, was anything heard from Kigwangalla in an open forum. He welcomed the hunters and asked them to be ambassadors for Tanzania. To a question about what the government is doing to protect Loliondo, Kigwangalla said that there isn’t any “sin” in hunting, since the hunters follow the law and bring business and employment to Tanzania, and people in Loliondo aren’t abused. The opposition politician Zitto Kabwe asked, “Hawa sio OBC uliowafukuza? Ama?” (Aren’t those OBC that you drove away? Or?), and Kigwangalla’s reply to him was:
“Hawa ni wateja wa OBC. Tunafanya restructuring ambapo tutaanzisha mamlaka maalum ya eneo la Uhifadhi la Loliondo, wananchi watabaki na ardhi yao na pia watahitaji wawekezaji. Uchunguzi wa kina umebaini shida siyo wawindaji, ni kiburi cha baadhi ya staff wao na presha ya malisho!”
(These are OBC’s clients. We’re doing a restructuring in which we will start a special authority for a protected area of Loliondo, people will keep their land and they will also need investors. Comprehensive investigation has revealed that the problem isn’t the hunters, it’s the arrogance of some of their staff, and the grazing pressure.)

I never had much faith in Kigwangalla, since I observed him behaving in a dangerously irresponsible and even cruel way already as deputy minister for health, but those who met him in Loliondo were impressed and convinced that he was genuine. Now they feel sorry that he has had to bow to the pressure from his superiors.

Update: on 19th April OBC’s assistant director, handed over 15 Toyota Landcruisers, worth over TShs 1,5 billion, to the acting Director of Wildlife, Nebbo Mwina. Mwina said that the government recognised the continued important contributions by OBC, wanted them to continue developing the long-time relationship, and not despair because of “underground talk” (maneno ambayo yanasemwa Chini chini). James Wakibara, director of the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) also wanted to thank OBC, and especially the company’s director who couldn’t attend…

Silence about the chombo maalum and the German money

As mentioned earlier, the “special authority” that PM Majaliwa decided to impose on the Loliondo Maasai and that is to manage the 1,500 km2 of village land per Village Land Act n.5 of 1999 used by OBC as their core hunting area is only being discussed in closed minister meetings and “everyone” claims not the be getting any information at all. Kigwangalla’s sparse comments have worsened the fears that the plan is an exclusive “investor” area for OBC. There was little clear information about Majaliwa’s decision from 6th December, but it was said that a legal bill was to be rushed through so that a final draft would be ready for February/March 2018, to be included in the 2018/2019 budget, and now it’s April. The only leaked additional information is that the chombo maalum, while independent and obviously allowing hunting, will somehow be under the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority.

It’s also very difficult to find out anything about funds from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the state owned German Development Bank (KfW), for a Serengeti Ecosystem Development and Conservation Project that Serengeti Chief Game Warden Mwakilema in March 2017 told the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Land and Natural Resources – that had been thoroughly co-opted by then Minister Mahghembe - were subject to the approval of the land use plan that would alienate the 1,500 km2 of important grazing land next to Serengeti National park. Mwakilema’s words led to big protests against both OBC and the Germans, not least by 600 women marching in Wasso, and the district council decided not to accept the money, which consequently wasn’t signed by district chairman Siloma.

Even so, on 13th November 2017 Kigwangalla announced that he had 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. The chairman denied having signed, but said that he would since he fully supported the idea that wasn’t any threat to the 1,500 km2, in which he was joined by the Ngorongoro MP who on 14th November said he had checked with Kigwangalla that the funds were for the whole 4,000 km2 area, not excluding the 1,500 km2.

Not a word has been heard from the Germans themselves about Mwakilema’s land alienation condition. One person has told me that Mwakilema probably lied to strengthen the government/OBC position, and that the Germans “didn’t get it”, but how hard is it to get something that at least three journalists reported about, and against which there were big protests from which photos were tweeted to both the development bank and the German Embassy?  Another person – who has talked with GIZ (the German development agency, which isn’t the same as the development bank) – has told me that GIZ confirmed that the funds are now with FZS and TANAPA/SENAPA to be spent for the benefit of the people of Loliondo, which makes as much sense as hyenas spending for the benefit of goat kids. This person also added that GIZ Loliondo, unlike GIZ Dar es Salaam, doesn’t have any authority, and actually “advised” to resist the land alienation.

The fear is obviously that the “special authority” announced by the PM will fulfil the land alienation condition well enough.

Almost nobody believes that leaders are as cut off from information as they claim to be. It’s also clear that nobody is making much of an effort to find out now when, while further information about the “special authority” is being delayed, and there’s isn’t any restriction on accessing the land.  

Video by PINGO’s Forum

Pastoralist and Indigenous NGO’s Forum have published a video as part of following up in November 2017 after the illegal invasion of village land and human rights crimes.

Magufuli in Arusha

On 7th April President Magufuli visited Arusha to inaugurate a tourism and diplomatic police office – to provide more service and security to tourists, and not to illegally arrest tourists who dare to blog about injustices in Tanzania, for which, I suppose, the regular police office suffices, and has cells that are considerably more luxurious than those in Loliondo – after the previous day having inaugurated a wall around tanzanite mines in Mererani. The MPs of Arusha region had some words before the president delivered a speech at Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium. The Ngorongoro MP, William Olenasha, after praising the president for development projects, not least the tarmac road that’s being built, said that people had two things they wanted him to tell the president: first, they are asking Magufuli to please visit them, and then they mention the long-running land conflict in Loliondo that the office of the regional commissioner and the PM have already made efforts to solve, and people have faith that the conflict will finally end during Magufuli’s term, so that they can live in peace, benefitting from their natural resources.

I’ve been advised to add that, unlike the MP for Longido, the Ngorongoro MP did not mention a recently introduced tax on cattle sales that amounts to TShs 20,000 per cow, and TShs 5,000 per goat or sheep, and which the on 6th April led to that nobody sold any cattle at Wasso market. The sudden tax raise has reportedly only been imposed on areas near Kenya, and to some it looks like a clumsy attempt at a trade ban.

The Longido MP also asked about re-stocking after the disastrous drought of 2017, as when President Kikwete distributed cattle after the 2009 disaster. He shouldn’t have mentioned that. Magufuli went on and on in a nasty, mocking tone saying that he’s Magufuli, and he doesn’t distribute cattle, he thinks there should be less cattle. The request to visit Ngorongoro, presented by the Ngorongoro MP, wasn’t touched upon by the president. Very briefly, in a sentence listing things he would take care of, Magufuli mentioned the “conflict in Lo… liondo.”

Military camp
Since around 24th March there’s a military camp in Lopolun near Wasso. Nobody seems to know why the soldiers are there. Some think it’s for boundary issues with Kenya and some think the purpose is to further intimidate people in Loliondo.

No justice
Sadly, I have to repeat what I said in the previous (now old) blog post: other than the case in the East African Court of Justice, there isn’t any legal – or other - action 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 (and even shooting) of cattle, blocking of water sources, and rape.

At least there is plenty of grass after good rains.

Susanna Nordlund

Summary for newcomers
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.

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