Five Years of Disappointment and Terror - Not Only in Loliondo
Posted on Oct 09, 2020
Five years of the fifth phase government in Tanzania are nearing their end.
I should write a summary of what has happened concerning the land threats in Loliondo and Ngorongoro district as a whole. This isn’t easy. Even with more fearful silence than ever, much has happened, and apparently insignificant events turn out significant with hindsight. The summary is too long, but I hope it will be read anyway and that those reading it will try to do something to stop the police state and the land alienation plans.
Sadly, I must warn anyone looking for something inspirational about brave indigenous resistance. Don’t read this blog post. These ugly five years have been filled with fearfulness, corruption, and treason. Though maybe, maybe a change is on the way.
In the future I will post an improved version, including 1992–2015. If anything in this blog post needs to be corrected or updated, I will mark the edit in a visible way, and I may continue adding links after publishing.
In this long blog post:
Brief introduction to what had happened before 2015; OBC and the Osero; Thomson Safaris; .NCA
2015 - with further divide and rule, intimidation, and elections
Divide and rule continued; Jerry Muro doing anti-Loliondo propaganda; Brutal evictions and confusion; Anti-Kenyan operation; Unbelievable treason; DC Mgandilwa and his dangerous follies; DC/OBC/Oloipiri against Kirtalo; Protest in Sukenya; Illegally arrested; Never-ending lies about giraffes; 2015 elections.
2016 - when everything got so much worse
Manyerere Jackton continued and increased his old anti-Loliondo incitement in the Jamhuri; Charity as a weapon again; Multiple illegal arrests with the aim to silence everyone; Further incitement and OBC’s report; Majaliwa “solving the conflict” via Gambo’s committee.
2017 - with massive human rights crimes
Drought and further weakened leaders while the RC’s committee continued its work; What’s a GCA 2009?; Maghembe and his co-opted committee; Spontaneous protests; Meanwhile grazing areas were lost in Ngorongoro Conservation Area; Proposal by the RC’s committee and unused parliament seat; Brutal, illegal, and unexpected invasion of village land and silent MP; Kigwangalla becomes a hero and then makes an ugly U-turn; Majaliwa’s decision.
2018 - with silence and extreme brutality committed by soldiers
Kigwangalla’s U-turn; Military camp; Daylight corruption when OBC again brought gifts to the MNRT; Secret meeting for a “friendlier” version of Majaliwa’s decision; Oakland report and Kigwangalla goes totally insane; Exterminating the opposition; Kigwangalla’s budget; Intimidation drive to derail the case in the EACJ; Soldiers attacking herders; The bizarre case of mistaken identity; The East African Court of Justice finally issued interim measures; Soldier brutality, burning bomas in violation of court orders.
2019 - with death, a faint glimmer of hope, and then a genocidal proposal
More illegal arrests ordered by DC Rashid Mfaume Taka; The RC condemning the burning of bomas in a strange and vague way; The president’s surprising statement; Perjury in the EACJ; OBC’s Mollel gets caught by PCCB and is locked up to rot in remand prison while all his accomplices remain untouched; Science magazine article deeply embedded with human rights criminals; JWTZ soldiers killing Babuche in Wasso town; Threats in the press; The genocidal proposal, Reports about the strangest study tour to OBC’s camp.
2020 - that will hopefully not just be a sad, long funeral for democracy
Mwananchi interview with Kigwangalla; Renewed negotiations with those who keep insisting on the genocidal proposal; MOU about the Pastoral Council; Visit to Kigwangalla and feedback meeting; Councillor reports about abuse and sabotage committed by NCA rangers and then the criminal DC receives much praise for intervening; Information about NCAA funds at councillors’ meeting; Kigwangalla threatens Lake Natron; Statement from Ngorongoro ward; Elections …
Introduction: OBC and the Osero
In 2015, the Maasai of Loliondo had endured Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC), that organize hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai for over two decades and witnessed how the hunters had become increasingly arrogant in their demands to manage land and their work to befriend every single government official, which in the drought year 2009 had led to a brutal invasion of village land committed by the Field Force Unit together with OBC’s rangers, and ordered by the DC’s office after a decision at regional level.
To exercise the same brutality in a more legal way, OBC funded a draft district land use plan proposing to turn their huge 1,500 km2 core hunting area next to Serengeti National Park into a protected area. This proposal – that would have had dangerous knock-on effects destroying livelihoods far beyond the directly affected villages - was strongly rejected by Ngorongoro District Council.
After this, some leaders found it convenient to reconcile with OBC, but in 2013 the same proposal was brought up in an aggressive way by Minister Kagasheki who shamelessly lied that it would have been implemented, not only on the 1,500 km2 Osero (bushland) but on the whole of the 4,000 km2 Loliondo Game Controlled Area (Loliondo division and part of Sale). Kagasheki was stopped by a previously (and later …) unseen unity, with delegations, mass protests, promises to never again enter any kind of agreement with OBC, and support from both the opposition and the ruling party for the Loliondo Maasai.
After this, divide and rule again worsened and the local police state at the service of the “investors” OBC and the American Thomson Safaris took a turn for the worse.
Still, when worried about developments in 2015 I was told not to worry, since the Maasai of today aren’t like the illiterate leaders who in 1958 lost Serengeti. That’s not being said anymore … Everything has turned into a nightmare. At least OBC have been “weakened” after their director was locked up in remand prison in March 2019 (could have been released on 2nd October 2020), but still so, all what they’ve been lobbying for is contained in a current terrifying proposal, and this horror is only a small part of massive eviction plans for the whole of Ngorongoro district and beyond. The “weakened” OBC has also had three of their employees elected as CCM candidates for ward councillors, including the ward that used to be at the forefront of the land rights struggle.
|Oloipiri, 25th March 2013|
These past five year I haven’t been able to write much about Thomson Safaris. The owners of this Boston-based tour operator continue claiming 12,617 acres of Maasai grazing land as their own private “Enashiva Nature Refuge”, but those who used to speak up about this abuse were fewer than those affected by the Osero threat, maybe even more viciously persecuted, and information is now very difficult to come by.
Thomson base their claim on that 10,000 acres in Soitsambu village (after the village was split up around 2010 the land came to lay in the villages of Sukenya and Mondorosi) were in 1984-85 allocated to the then parastatal Tanzania Breweries Ltd (TBL) for barley cultivation, using obviously forged documents. After a few years in the 1980s, TBL left due to condition that were too dry, and due to opposition. In 2003-04, TBL managed to secure a 99-year “certificate of occupancy” for 12,617 acres, which they then put up for sale in 2006. This is how Thomson Safaris, through its sister company created for this purpose, Tanzania Conservation Ltd, came to buy Maasai land.
Since Thomson's intention was to create their own private nature refuge, they started restricting grazing on land that the Maasai depended on. Needless to say, this required use of force, and herders risked beatings and arrests by Thomson’s guards reinforced by the local police, when accessing grazing or the nearest watering point in the “nature refuge”. Two herders have been shot and several journalists (one was murdered in Nairobi) and one future blogger (I) have got into trouble when asking questions about Thomson Safaris. Meanwhile, Thomson have aggressively pushed a story that they are developing a model for community-based tourism and conservation initiatives, with the goal of fostering a symbiotic relationship made possible by ecotourism.
Thomson copied OBC’s way of using the local police state, OBC’s divide and rule (made easier by the fact that three Maasai sections surround the land), and charity as a weapon, becoming friends with the same people as OBC, and using much the same slander against their opponents.
Despite the divide and rule, the villages of Sukenya, Mondorosi, and Soitsambu managed to join in a court case based on adverse possession, but in 2015 there was a most disappointing ruling showing ignorance of pastoralism. An appeal was sought, and I think that it’s still ongoing. I wish the silence could be broken and the case moved to a regional or international court.
Here’s a blog post with a longer summary about Thomson Safaris.
Since it’s how it started, and my day only has 24 hours, I blog about Loliondo, but when I’ve got important and confirmed information about what´s happening in Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), I’ve written about some of the issues. NCA has often served as a mirror image of what Loliondo do not want to be turned into. Currently the threat against the Osero in contained in a bigger and terrifying plan that includes annexation to the NCA.
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 Ordinance was changed in 1974), the Maasai living inside Ngorongoro Crater were violently evicted, and the same year cultivation was prohibited in NCA. This cultivation 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, are suffering from high levels of child malnutrition, and in 2017 they lost important grazing areas. They have regularly through the years been shaken by rumours and threats of eviction, and in September 2019 a basically genocidal plan was presented by chief conservator Freddy Manongi.
2015 with further divide and rule, intimidation, and elections
Divide and rule continued
The elections were held in October 2015. Before that, 2014 had ended badly with the leaders of three wards insisting on working with OBC and not according to the 2013 agreements that had defeated Kagasheki. This movement of traitors (there is no more exact word) that put their faith in that others would defend the land while they reaped benefits from the enemy of the Loliondo pastoralists was led by the councillor of Oloipiri, William Alais, and the director of the NGO Kidupu, Gabriel Killel. Both priests that had been fired from the Catholic church, and members of the Laitayok sections that’s often (but far from exclusively) targeted by “investors” for divide and rule.
Though on 28th January 2015, there was another meeting at the District Council between village chairmen, councillors and traditional leaders. The outcome was a loose agreement to move forward together, and that nobody should sign any kind of contract with OBC before Kagasheki’s statements from 2013 had been reversed in writing by the government. Still, the “investor-friendly” group kept holding their own meetings throughout 2015. After Kagasheki’s open threats and lies, his successor Nyalandu had focused on closed meetings with local leaders, in which there reportedly were always offers of money.
On 20th January 2015, Minister Nyalandu welcomed Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and his crown prince on their arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, before continuing to Loliondo for a “private visit”, but due to the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the royal hunters left already on the 24th.
Jerry Muro doing anti-Loliondo propaganda
In January 2015, Channel Ten showed the most vicious anti-Loliondo and pro-OBC “documentary”, hosted by Jerry Muro, current DC for Arumeru, and featuring prominently OBC’s director Isaack Mollel. To set the record straight and protest seriously misleading and biased “journalism” concerning Loliondo some NGO representatives held a press conference in Arusha on 22nd January 2015. (Ufafanuzi wa Upotoshwajikwa Kupitia Vyombo vya Habari kuhusu Mgogoro wa Ardhi ya Vijiji vya Tarafa zaSale na Loliondo, 2015). In March the same year Channel Ten showed a second part of this OBC propaganda.
Brutal evictions and confusion
From 10th-14th February 2015 Serengeti National Park rangers together with Loliondo administrative police set fire to over a hundred permanent bomas in areas of Arash and Loosoito-Maaloni that technically were inside Serengeti National Park, and also some in an unclear area, but where people had been living for years under an unofficial agreement with the rangers. Many people, children included, were left without food, shelter, or medical services. Some allies of Loliondo pastoralists confused this with an attack against village land for the benefit of OBC. Those evicted soon moved back and were evicted again over two years later, at the same time as village land was brutally invaded.
In March 2015, the EU parliament adopted a resolution condemning land grabbing in Tanzania. Unfortunately, the mentions of events in Loliondo were based on articles that had misreported content. The Tanzanian government never responded to this.
The first half of April 2015, an “anti-Kenyan” team made up of police, anti-poaching squads, Immigration, Usalama wa Taifa (intelligence and security service), Wildlife Department from Dar es Salaam, Field Force Unit and Magereza (prisons) toured Loliondo villages arresting those suspected of being Kenyan or of hosting Kenyan citizens. In Kirtalo the team was joined by OBC rangers and ten Laitayok from Oloipiri councillor William Alais’ investor-friendly group whose – Tanzanian - victims were seriously beaten. Five actual Kenyans (citizens of the Republic of Kenya) were jailed for six months and fined TShs. 100,000. Even though most victims of the team were Tanzanian, several meetings were held across the border in Kenya and decisions were made to close the border in response to the mistreatment. The vicious anti-Loliondo journalist Manyerere Jackton in the Jamhuri magazine contributed by publishing a list of 280 private individuals that he – or his sources -considered to be “Kenyan”, including Kundai Parmwat who was councillor for Soitsambu 2000-2010 (Wakenya wavamia Tanzania, 22.4.2015). After many meetings, the actual cross border issues cooled down, but not the already established habit of accusing non-compliant Tanzanians of being “Kenyan”.
In early April 2015, I was told that Moloimet Saing’eu, son of the late and legendary long-time chairman of Ololosokwan, and whom I’d almost seen as an activist, had been employed by OBC. Moloimet quickly confirmed this horrible news with, “if you can’t fight them, join them”, adding that I’m not perfect myself (without specifying, which he however has done later), and instructing me to lodge my complaints in the formal anti-corruption system. There’s a collective responsibility for this kind of treason, since too many young educated people in Ololosowan who’d have a lot to say about an outsider, or someone from the Laitayok section being employed by the company that for so many years has lobbied for violence and land alienation, just refuse to see anything wrong with one of their own doing the same. There’s a terrible tendency to actually admire selfish and immoral behaviour. Then there’s the fear factor when someone who knows everyone’s secrets joins the enemy. Sadly, even serious people have been tiptoeing around this individual, and now this has had damaging consequences indeed, when Moloimet is CCM’s candidate for Ololosokwan ward councillor, without any opposition candidate.
DC Mgandilwa and his dangerous follies
On 3rd May 2015, two corrupt policemen who were extorting people at the market in Ololosokwan were beaten up by warriors, and the crazy new DC, Hashim Mgandilwa, chose to go after leaders assumed to stand up for land rights. The following day the ward councillor, Yannick Ndoinyo, and village chairman, Kerry Dokonyo, were arrested accused of having planned and incited the attack. On the 6th more villagers from Ololosokwan were arrested, together with the councillor for Soitsambu, Daniel Ngoitiko, who had been nowhere near the market, but had been at a meeting earlier in the week in Ololosokwan. Those detained were forced to walk barefoot some 7 kilometres from Wasso to Loliondo in front of police vehicles, on the order of DC Mgandilwa. Then former MP Matthew Timan was both arrested and released on bail the same day. His “crime” was that those released had met journalists at his guest house. Not being popular with Gabriel Killel could also have influenced. The DC and the police claimed that leaders had planned the attacks on policemen because of the anti-Kenyan operation, and said that they had “illegally” attended a meeting in Kenya.
DC/OBC/Oloipiri against Kirtalo
Then the DC tried to stir up further conflict between Kirtalo, the village where OBC’s camp is situated, and Oloipiri where OBC have “befriended” all leaders. On 15th May 2015, councillor of Oloipiri, William Alais, together with the chairman of Oloipiri village and the Officer Commanding District (OCD) came to Kirtalo market telling people not to graze their animals in the Indashat area claiming that it is in Oloipiri. Those addressed refused since the area is disputed. Indashat, like Karkamoru market that OBC wanted to close down (and eventually succeeded), was inside Kirtalo sub-village of Soitsambu and should therefore be in the new Kirtalo village. But Alais wanted the area with the hunters inside his Oloipiri ward. The following day three men, Oleketuyuo Ngume, Ndalii Seret and Ngingir Naing'isa together with his 7-year-old son, were caught in Indashat while they were grazing their cattle and taken to Loliondo where they had to spend the night in a cell. In the evening, the police with the OCD fired shots at three bomas in Kirtalo making some people run away in panic. Around 30 children were lost, but later found that night.
After several crisis meetings and the DC – together with District Security Officer Issa Ng’itu (who would briefly again feature in the news in 2019 as involved in corrupt practices with OBC’s director), lying to the press that he had ordered a “state of emergency” due to infiltration of dangerous arms (State of emergency declared as arms infiltrate Loliondo, Habari Leo, 18.5.2015), it was agreed that one Laitayok and one Purko boma should be removed from Indashat.
Protest in Sukenya
On 9th May 2015 Telele, the by this time totally investor befriended MP for Ngorongoro, inaugurated a dispensary in Sukenya that Thomson Safaris’ former guests had fundraised for, assisting the in Loliondo, and elsewhere, too common use of charity as a weapon. The minister for health had been flown in. There was a demonstration with people carrying protests placards against Thomson and the MP. The minister for health was reported to have left early.
In June 2015, I visited Loliondo. I had already in 2010 experienced the Loliondo police state first-hand when asking questions about Thomson Safaris (initially I had thought that OBC was beyond the scope of a tourist) since nobody else would keep it up, which led to then DC Elias Wawa Lali confiscating my passport and sending it to Arusha where I was declared a prohibited immigrant. It was after this that I became a blogger, as my experiences were no longer welcome in online forums for travellers. I returned mostly without problems in 2011 and 2013, but in 2015 I was illegally arrested for two nights at Loliondo police station (where DC Mgandilwa was hovering around apparently fearful of me) and one night at Arusha police station, without being allowed to contact anyone. Fortunately, someone contacted Onesmo Olengurumwa of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition about my “arrest” and he sent two lawyers from Legal and Human Rights Centre to Arusha.
Though I was never charged with anything at all, but instead again declared a prohibited immigrant and driven to the border with Kenya where my fingerprints were thoroughly registered so that I would never again be able to enter Tanzania. When I got my laptop back, it was discovered that the hard drive had been stolen while in custody with Immigration. After this arrest, OBC’s “journalist” Manyerere Jackton started fabricating delirious and defamatory stories about me.
Never-ending lies about giraffes
Nobody thought it would happen during the election campaign, but Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai did come for a visit to Loliondo with an entourage of 137 people between 24th -29th September 2015. Photos of two planes of considerable size at OBC's airstrip appeared in social media, shared by supporters of the opposition party Chadema, and soon baseless accusations that Sheikh Mohammed would have been allowed to leave with some giraffes were directed at the CCM ruling party.
There hasn’t been any evidence of OBC shipping out live animals since the 1990s and nobody in Loliondo had seen such a thing this time – maybe because nobody is monitoring OBC’s activities … - but this didn't prevent some supporters of Chadema in social media from trying to pass off photos of captured giraffes in South Africa and a runaway giraffe in Italy, both of the wrong subspecies, as were they from Loliondo. Someone also used bad photoshop to put a captured giraffe next to Sheikh Mohammed's plane. Some live animals, giraffes included, were taken to Qatar - not Dubai - in 2010 - not 2015 - from Kilimanjaro International Airport - not Loliondo (Citizen, 20 July 2013). Sadly, since Nyalandu defected to Chadema in 2017 and - unlike almost everyone else - hasn’t returned to the ruling party … there are now CCM supporters of the worst kind accusing him of having sold giraffes when he was Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism …
There is plenty of information about the Loliondo police state and massive human rights crimes, I’ve spent thousands of hours on checking details, and tried to share my work with everyone. I have plenty of information that could be used both against Nyalandu and against CCM, if one is so inclined, but the Tanzanian commentariat just don’t seem to care.
The election results were cause for celebration in Ngorongoro. The new MP was the lawyer William Olenasha who for years had been part of the land rights struggle, and focused much on land in his campaign. The outgoing MP, Kaika Saning’o Telele, had during and after the illegal operation in 2009, made a great job speaking up in parliament, but at the time of Kagasheki’s horrible threats in 2013 Telele had radically changed and become very silent, and then in parliament he thanked Kagasheki and the government for finding a “solution” … A year later he was telling a journalist such things as that DCs should have a military background, and parroting some of the most vulgar anti-Loliondo rhetoric (RAI, 18.12.2014).
Unfortunately, Olenasha was appointed as deputy minister, first of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, and then in 2017 of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training. Maybe not everything would have gone so horribly wrong if he hadn’t.
2016 when everything got so much worse
On 23rd February 2016 Manyerere Jackton continued in the Jamhuri newspaper his hate rhetoric against the Maasai of Loliondo as “Kenyans”, and he had become a big fan of DC Hashim Mgandilwa whom he praised (Wakenya wanavyoziua Serengeti, Loliondo, 23.2.2016).
I sent requests for the revocation of my prohibited immigrant status to the Minister of Home Affairs Charles Kitwanga, whose assistant asked for more information, which I sent, and after Kitwanga was fired for being drunk in parliament, to his successor, Mwigulo Nchemba, who had actually shown some support for the Loliondo Maasai in 2013. My hope (I had to try even if I weren’t quite that naïve) was that a government with such a focus on anti-corruption would not tolerate what was going on in Loliondo. I never got a reply, Nchemba became loud against human rights, and then everything took a sharp turn for the worse.
Charity as a weapon again
In March 2016, appeared photos in social media of OBC’s Isaack Mollel and DC Mgandilwa. OBC was donating beds and bedding to Wasso hospital, and some days later there were pictures of food donated to the hospital. This was followed in May by the donation of 200 school desks for different schools in Loliondo, and the former “almost-activist” Moloimet Saing’eu who found it convenient to join the hunters that for so many years have lobbied for violence and land alienation reported with enthusiasm, and was only timidly questioned.
Multiple illegal arrests with the aim to silence everyone
In June – July 2016, I visited Kenya. The Jamhuri published several anti-Loliondo articles, including another one about me (Mzungu mchochezi afanya mbinu arudi Loliondo, 7.6.2016), upon the occasion of Manyerere Jackton and by then still DC Mgandilwa having got hold of my request for revocation – which they also boasted about via email and in social media. In one email Manyerere Jackton informed me that, “Finally you will know who’s the worst journalist and who’s the worst mzungu”, and then he sent me my own photo together with a friend from Loliondo in Kenya, which he must have got from some of my Facebook “friends”.
Then I go the shocking news that Clinton Kairung had been arrested on 13th Jul, and that the reason would be that he had met me in Kenya, a country that we both were very free to visit. The following day another secondary school teacher, Supuk Olemaoi, who unlike Clinton had been somewhat visible as an activist and also an opposition supporter, was arrested as well. Clinton was released, but then re-arrested and Samwel Nangiria, coordinator of the NGO NGONET – one of the two (not “37”) NGOs that used to speak up about land rights - was added to those arrested. These three were illegally detained for up to eleven days, while the law stipulates that those arrested should be granted bail, or taken to court, within 24 hours. A special task force from Dar es Salaam came to Loliondo for the interrogations, and it later transpired that Samwel and Supuk were badly beaten (tortured) during these interrogations and that Gabriel Killel of Kidupo had been meeting with the task force before its arrival in Loliondo.
The councillor of Ololosokwan, Yannick Ndoinyo, chairmen of Mondorosi and Kirtalo, Joshua Makko and Yohana Toroge, Chadema special seats councillor, Tina Timan, and her husband ex-MP Matthew Timan were arrested more briefly and then released.
Bail wasn’t granted for Clinton, Supuk, and Samwel until advocate Shilinde Ngalula from Legal and Human Rights Centre was himself arrested in full court attire, Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition filed a habeas corpus application, lawyers in Arusha held a manifestation and the Tanganyika Law Society issued a statement. The manifestation by lawyers gave hope that the worm would turn, and that there would be some proper reaction from outside Loliondo, but this sadly didn’t happen.
Later, in August 2016, was Maanda Ngoitiko of Pastoral Women’s Council, when summoned to Arusha Police Station to collect her passport, arrested illegally for three nights, taken to Loliondo, and added to Clinton, Supuk and Samwel’s rather bizarre espionage and sabotage charges based on the accusation of having been in contact with me. Samwel and Supuk were also charged with being in possession of “government documents” (not classified, but “government” … ), and Clinton was charged with having talked about a “stupid government”! On 22nd December 2016, 60 days had passed since the last extension, and the plan was to file for dismissal, but as the magistrate chamber was full of police with handcuffs ready for re-arrest upon dismissal, the defence agreed to postpone until 19th January 2017 so that the prosecution could get more time for “investigation”. On 22nd February 2017, the judge dismissed the case since it couldn’t go on forever and the prosecution had now had more than enough time to prepare something coherent. Then followed a very swift re-arrest and the victims of malicious prosecution had to report at Loliondo police station every Friday for several months, while the Office of the Public Prosecutor continued its “investigation”, the result of which is yet to be revealed. Many people in Loliondo were silenced, but this was just the beginning and it would become much worse.
Further incitement and OBC’s report
In November 2016, started a new media campaign for eviction of the Maasai from the 1,500 km2 Osero. Manyerere Jackton had in July 2016, in the Jamhuri newspaper, besides boasting about direct involvement in illegal arrests, called for Prime Minister Majaliwa to return the threat revoked by his predecessor Pinda in 2013. (Waziri mkuu iokoe Loliondo, Jamhuri, 20-7-2016) This time he was joined by Masyaga Matinyi, the editor of the RAI and the Mtanzania, and several newspapers wrote about a report by OBC themselves, on environmental destruction caused by the Maasai. (Majaliwa, huu ndiyo ukweli wa Loliondo, Mtanzania, 3-12-2016) (Study: Loliondo game area under threat, Citizen, 28-12-2016). OBC’s report (Challenges encountered by OBC in Loliondo (the version I’ve got)/Loliondo GCA is diminishing (in the presss), 2016) – that I finally got hold of after someone took it from the laptop of OBC’s assistant director who now is the unopposed CCM candidate for Ololosokwan councillor … - is directed to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, describes the current state of Loliondo Game Controlled Area as alarming destruction caused by the Maasai, which has also affected hunting activities, the quality of trophies, and their availability. There are complaints that Wildlife Conservation Act 2009 can’t be enforced due to a “loophole”, and that basing hunting block fees on the whole 4,000 km2 LGCA isn’t “realistic” since it includes, “Thomson area, all small towns, district headquarters and many other human settlement areas”. The report raises alarm about expanding subsistence agriculture, bomas intentionally placed to block hunting fields, and influx of livestock during the hunting season, not least from Kenya. OBC lists the company’s goodwill contribution to the district council for community development that’s been “badly wasted”. There’s a proposal to revaluate the hunting block and downgrade from “grade A”. The report ends, “Both conservation and trophy hunting will come to an end if no deliberate and immediate actions are taken by the ministry of natural resources and tourism to safeguard flora and fauna.”
Majaliwa “solving the conflict” via Gambo’s committee
The Prime Minister did however not announce any eviction but ordered on 15th December 2016 the Arusha RC Mrisho Gambo to “solve the conflict” via talks between villages and OBC, which sounded like a return to 2008 ... The PM also used the occasion to threaten the Loliondo NGOs with deregistration, giving them six months to show that they were operating as per national laws, and warning people against collaborating with NGOs that were tarnishing the image of the country.
RC Gambo set up a select 27-member committee consisting of representatives of government organs, not least the various parastatals within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, “investors”, conservation organisations, NGOs, women and youths, and a few local political, traditional and religious leaders - to “find a solution” to the conflict. It was soon found that, among government people, the “only ally” of the Loliondo Maasai, or of their leaders, was the RC himself who was viciously attacked by the usual OBC supporting "journalist", Manyerere Jackton (Waziri Mkuu alivyopotoshwa Loliondo, Jamhuri, 28.12.2016).
2017 with massive human rights crimes
Drought and further weakened leaders while the RC’s committee continued its work
OBC’s report was presented on 16th January 2017, and the RC’s committee went on a field trip to the drought struck contested areas on 17th - 18th January. The rains of November and December had failed leading to catastrophic cattle death, maybe worse than in 2009, and the presence of cattle in Serengeti National Park wasn’t making the task easier. The director of TANAPA, Allan Kijazi, regional security officer, Fratela Mapunda, and the Director of Wildlife, Alexander Songorwa aggressively supported the GCA 2009 land alienation of the old rejected land use plan that was funded by OBC, refusing to listen to anything else. By this time, all leaders had reached the conclusion that the only counter proposal that could work was the Wildlife Management Area that the Loliondo Maasai had successfully rejected for a decade and a half of pressure for the Government and Frankfurt Zoological Society. As everywhere else where this kind of “community based” protected area has been accepted, the Loliondo Maasai were under extreme coercion and existential threat. Accepting a WMA, besides handing more power to the investor and the director of wildlife, means the final death of the promise from 25th March 2013 in Oloipiri, of never again entering any agreement with OBC. Sensitive areas could be protected via regular village land use plans, but setting aside grazing areas for a protected area, WMA or other, is obviously not sustainable without legal grazing in the National Park, which will never be granted. On 21st January, the RC declared that there were two options: GCA 2009 or WMA, and on 2nd March the committee met PM Majaliwa in Dodoma.
What’s a GCA 2009?
More than the whole of Loliondo division is since the 1950s a Game Controlled Area (GCA) covering some 4,000 km2 in Loliondo and parts of Sale division of Ngorongoro District.
The whole 4,000 km2 is OBC’s hunting block, from the early 1990s, which they complain about, since it comprises semi township and agricultural areas. OBC want it reduced to the core hunting area of 1,500 km2 and convert it to the protected area through which all other human activities including pastoralism are restricted.
The targeted area serves as an important dry season grazing area. Under the law when it was established back in 1950’s, the GCA doesn’t restrict human activities to be undertaken parallel with hunting, and in compliance with the governing laws in the 1970s the villages therein were registered under the Village and Ujamaa Villages Act, then in 1982 under the Local Government (District Authorities) Act, and then got further protection as village land belonging to the village assembly (all adult villagers) managed by the village council under Village Land Act No.5 of 1999.
With Wildlife Conservation Act 2009 that came into effect in June 2010, village land and GCA are no longer allowed to overlap. The law stipulates that the minister shall within 12 months of the law coming into operation, and after consultation with relevant authorities, review the list of GCAs for ascertaining potentially justifying continuation of control of any such area. At the same time, in the new act, “Game Controlled Area”, became a protected area that restricts all activities by villagers, grazing included, like a national park, but allowing hunting, which is the exact description of an already existing kind of protected area – a Game Reserve.
So, retaining the name GCA, instead of saying that GCAs are to be abolished and either remain as village land, or be converted into Game Reserves seems like a deliberate attempt at creating confusion, which has been successful, since confusion has been very widespread indeed.
Already in a statement after the illegal invasion of village land in 2009, Minister Mwangunga warned that with the incoming Wildlife Conservation Act village land and GCA would be separated, which was the same as warning that the human rights crime would be repeated, but in a “legal” way.
OBC funded a draft district land use plan that proposed turning their 1,500 km2 core hunting area into the new protected area.
Fortunately, this proposal was after big protests rejected by the district council in 2011.
Though in 2013 Minister Kagasheki made another attempt at imposing the proposal and he did it via vociferous lies claiming that the whole 4,000 km2 would somehow be a protected area and the Maasai landless invaders, while shamelessly presenting alienating the 1,500 km2 as generously gifting the people of Loliondo with the remains of their own land. Through unity, big protests, and support from both ruling party and opposition, Kagasheki was defeated as well, and PM Pinda declared that the Maasai were safe in their land. After that, the focus by OBC and the ministry was on bribing local leaders in closed meetings, and the anti-Loliondo propaganda intensified in media.
After worsened repression in 2016, PM Majaliwa was, following committee work that he finally ignored, to decide if the 1,500 km2 would become the new kind of GCA, or remain as village land, but only if the villagers would convert it into a Wildlife Management Area.
During the long wait to hear Majaliwa’s decision there was another unexpected invasion of village land with massive human rights crimes, and then the PM’s decision in December 2017 was a vague “something else and something worse” that fortunately was delayed.
Since September 2019, the current proposal that must be defeated is something worse indeed as not only turning 1,500 km2 in Loliondo, most of it in the Osero, into a protected area, but also annexing it as part of the NCA, while doing the same with wide areas around Lake Natron, and evicting people from most of NCA …
Though lately when threats have been issued against Lake Natron Game Controlled Area, the word Game Reserve has been used instead of GCA, so maybe the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism now finds its own rhetoric too confusing.
Maghembe and his co-opted committee
Despite of the ongoing talks by the RC’s committee, on 25th January 2017, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Jumanne Maghembe, made an appearance in the 1,500 km2 Osero, and flanked by the “journalists” Manyerere Jackton, and Masyaga Matiny declared that the land had to be alienated before the end of March.
|Manyerere, Maghembe, and Matinyi.|
On 27th January, the ward councillors of Ngorongoro District issued a statement protesting Minister Maghembe’s declaration calling for him to immediately stop his plan for the alienation of the 1,500 km2 and to stop stirring up conflict, interfering in the process initiated byhe PM to find a lasting solution that will benefit people, conservation and “investors” … On 29th January, Minister Maghembe met the press in Dodoma and didn’t limit himself to defending “conservation and tourism” but repeated all OBC’s/Manyerere’s arguments about “Kenyans”, NGOs and about tour companies that have contracts with the villages. Manyerere Jackton followed up with two of his typical articles, then another one, and one more online on 2 February (Jamhuri, February and March, 2017).
On 31st January, RC Mrisho Gambo told the press in Arusha that the work of the committee tasked by the PM to find a solution to the land conflict would go on, regardless of the statements by Minister Maghembe. Similarly, the same day, four councillors from Loliondo together with some community representatives held a press conference at Lush Garden in Arusha, which did not receive much attention from the media.
In January 2017 parts of the press in a misleading way reported that the people of Loliondo would “differ” over the idea that the basis for their livelihood should be taken away for the benefit of OBC. Views favouring the land grab by OBC were aired on Channel 10 (that, as mentioned, already had a nasty history of being at the service of OBC) by the chairman of Wasso village/”town”, Revocatus Parapara William, the deranged director of the NGO Kidupo, Gabriel Killel who this time took his treason one step further expressing support for the land alienation plan. A few days later the long-time “investor-friendly” Oloipiri councillor William Alais and Tipap, councillor of Olorien-Magaiduru – who had replaced the previous OBC-employed councillor, but soon showed the same tendencies himself - appeared on Channel 10 distancing themselves from the other councillors, even if not expressly agreeing with Minister Maghembe about having the livelihoods of their people crushed into oblivion.
On 5th–7th March 2017 the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Tourism – chaired by Atashata Nditiye - made a most anomalous visit to Loliondo. The standing committee refused to meet with community members and the only representative allowed to follow them on the trip was the chairman of Ngorongoro District Council. However, he was not given a chance to speak. The Standing Committee was joined by such already outspoken supporters of the alienation of 1,500 km2 as the Director of Wildlife, the directors of TAWIRI and TAWA, the director of TANAPA, of NCAA, and several employees of OBC. Minister Maghembe kept giving his version of events and talking all the time. The committee was, according to the timetable, funded by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism when it should be funded by Parliament. Vehicles from TANAPA and OBC were used. The one-sidedness couldn’t have been more flagrant. Onesmo Olengurumwa of Ngorongoro Professionals Association (and Tanzania Human Rights Defenders’ Coalition) wrote an open letter to the Speaker of Parliament.
On 8th March councillors and village chairmen managed to hold a meeting at Dommel guesthouse with some of the Standing Committee members. Though the chairman of the Standing Committee didn’t allow the press to attend. The Standing Committee continued to Ngorongoro Conservation Area, but was stopped in Mbuken in Arash by some Loliondo residents blocking the road, wanting the Standing Committee members to listen to them, since contrary to the normal work of a Standing Committee, public hearings had been completely avoided. Then at Ngorongoro, over one thousand people stopped the Standing Committee by blocking the main access road to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority’s headquarters. The protesters demanded to have their concerns about several issues listened to, like the restriction of access to grazing, water and salt licks in more and more areas, not least Ngorongoro Crater, as announced by PM Majaliwa in December 2016, about which they demanded clarification.
The Standing Committee was divided, with some of the members supporting the land rights of the Maasai of Loliondo, and these members had been side-lined during the Loliondo tour. Several members – contrary to the instructions by the chairman – stopped to talk to the people in Arash that blocked the road and demanded to be listened to. Godwin Mollel complained to the RaiaMwema newspaper (Loliondo pasua kichwa kwa Kamati ya Bunge ya Ardhi, Maliasili, Mazingira, 16.3.2017) about the biased chairman who didn’t listen to some members, and only wanted to use them as a rubber stamp to push through a special agenda, and he described being told about an invasion of Kenyan livestock and tractors, and then only seeing normal amounts of cattle. Paulina Gekul added that the Standing Committee members were misled by Minister Maghembe to assist him with his interest in having the land divided, and who the day they were starting their Loliondo tour said that cattle and tractors had been removed during the night. She added that the chairman of the Standing Committee had shown open hatred towards the members who had wanted to defend the interests of Loliondo pastoralists. Joseph Musukuma said that he as a ruling party MP would wait for the appropriate occasion to express his views and would then see if the chairman continued with his authoritarianism. Unsurprisingly, the committee members had been accused of being “bribed” by NGOs and investors. The Standing Committee chairman told the newspaper that those are very serious accusations, and Paulina Gekul said, getting to the core of the issue, “Vyombo vya ulinzi na usalama vifanye kazi ya kutuchunguza basi, hapo tutawajua waliowekewa fedha kwenye akaunti zao za benki na kama ni sisi basi pia itafahamika,” (Let security organs investigate us then, and we will know who have had money put into their bank accounts, and if it’s us it will also be known).
The RaiaMwema also asked for the comments of the MP for Ngorongoro, William Olenasha, who told the reporter that Loliondo with its 14 villages would lose 90% of its land with the proposed 1,500 km2 “Game Reserve”, said that nobody opposes “solving the conflict”, but that it has to been done with a diplomatic approach taking into account the broad interests of the country, that 54,000 people from the 14 villages will lose water sources and tourism income with the idea, and that it would increase conflict with cultivators in Sale, and put pressure on Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to where cattle could be moved, and then added that we should wait for the RC’s committee and use wisdom. If the issue is to save the Serengeti ecosystem, there are many ways to do this using experts. Olenasha would have been expected to speak up more strongly, but was said to do so in closed meetings, and most young educated people at that time still seemed convinced that without him inside the government as deputy minister for agriculture, livestock and fisheries, things would have got much worse. I still thought so myself.
Some insight into what the Standing Committee was told can be found in the reporting of the Daily News of 9th March 2017, the RaiaMwema (Sarwatt, 8.3.2017) and the Mtanzania (Mbonea, 8.3.2017) newspapers, that had reporters present. The RaiaMwema reported that the Chief Conservator at Serengeti National Park, William Mwakilema, told the Standing Committee that German funds of 4.5 million euros will not be released to Ngorongoro District until the 1,500 km2 is alienated as a protected area, that Dr. Kohi of TAWIRI talked about how the funds will be used for drilling wells outside of the protected area, that the committee chairman Nditiye complained about how the investor, OBC, had seen the hunting block sabotaged by lots of livestock in the area OBC legally pays for, and that Minister Maghembe said that the government has planned to turn the 1,500 km2 into a protected area.
The Daily News reported that, “The Frankfurt Zoological Society in conjunction with the Tanzania National Parks and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) plans to implement an ambitious project to protect the country’s top destinations to the tune of 20 billion/.” and that Mwakilema told the Standing Committee, “Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area will each get 3.5 million Euros for initial conservation and development programs, and again each park will get an addition 1 million Euros to develop their respective road networks; the grant will add up to 8 million euros,” and the reporter added that, “Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) plans to finance the Serengeti Ecosystem Development Programme through the state owned German Development Bank (KfW) based in Frankfurt.” and that, “But the funds are subject to the confirmation of the proposed land use plan in Loliondo Game Controlled Area, where 1500 square kilometres in Loliondo need to be annexed from the 4000 square Kilometres of the Game Controlled Area.” while Minister Maghembe and chairman Nditiye talked about “shocking environmental destruction” and “misunderstanding” between residents and investors. Mbonea in the Mtanzania quoted Mwakilema saying, “Fedha hizo zitatoka endapo tu eneo hilo litakuwa limekubalika kutengwa,”
Nothing at all was heard from the Germans denying or confirming anything, and neither the Embassy nor the Development Bank reacted when addressed in social media. Apparently, Frankfurt Zoological Society when their long-time aim of imposing a WMA on the Loliondo Maasai seemed within reach, decided that they wanted more. However, almost two years later in an interview with the website Conservation Watch, Dr Klaus Müller, Director, and Dr Matthias Grüninger, Senior Project Manager at KfW replied, “German Development Funds implemented through KfW are not subject to such a requirement”. This means that either the heads of KfW or chief park warden Mwakilema and Minister Maghembe were lying.
On 15th March 2017, some 600 women held a manifestation in Wasso town, with the message, “Ardhi yetu, maisha yetu” (Our land, our life). The RC with his committee were in town to finalize their work and the women demanded a real solution to the land conflict with placards against losing more land, against OBC, and against the District Council accepting money from Germany, and after a decision by the District Council, the Council Chairman, Matthew Siloma, at least officially … refused to sign accepting the German pieces of silver.
"Conservation is our tradition, OBC leave us our land" and "District Council, don't receive money from the Germans, since it's death to us"
On 17th -19th March the RC’s committee – not to be confused with the standing parliamentary committee - toured the area under threat from Ololosokwan southwards all the way to Piyaya and Malambo to mark “critical areas”, and at every place they were met with protests. Women were crying and screaming for the government to abandon the plans to take the land, some car mirrors were broken, and some protesters were detained by the police, the Regional Police Commander was ordered to arrest anyone interfering with the process, and the RC irrationally accused the protestors of being “bribed” by NGOs (the NGOs were in his own committee ..) and the tour operator &Beyond, as if that could possibly make any sense, using exactly the same insults as the OBC-friendly press had used against him. This was most awkward for Loliondo leaders, since the committee was led by their “only ally”, RC Gambo, but information was lacking, the committee that’s supposed to work for a solution benefitting all sides (everyone knows that’s not possible) had a heavy presence of the worst enemies of Loliondo land rights (besides the weakened community representatives), and while the RC’s committee was working, Minister Maghembe announced that the land would be taken. Then Maghembe co-opted a Parliamentary Standing Committee, and the RC’s committee started marking “critical areas”, while media said they were marking the boundary of the GCA. Even educated people from Loliondo were confused asking how they could do that while “looking for a solution”. The committee was guarded by the Field Force Unit that in 2009 – extrajudicially and very illegally – assisted OBC in burning people’s houses, and then the protesters are accused of being “bribed”. I was told that the reason for the RC’s crazy outburst was that he was angry, and since he was still the “only ally” I was asked by the MP to tone down my criticism, which I did.
|Meeting the RC's committe in Ololosokwan, 17th March 2017|
Meanwhile grazing areas were lost in Ngorongoro Conservation Area
After a visit to NCA by PM Majaliwa, in December 2016, pastoralists were in 2017 – much due to complaints by the UNESCO - blocked from several grazing, water and saltlick areas, most notably Ngorongoro Crater, but chief conservator Manongi stretched this to include the Northern Highland Forest, Embakaai and Olmoti craters as well as the Lake Ndutu basin, through order and without a change to the NCA Ordinance, and without the MP/deputy minister speaking up, but instead apparently being most accommodating.
Proposal by the RC’s committee and unused parliament seat
In Wasso, the RC’s committee kept talking at Dommel late into the night of 20th -21st March without coming up with a proposal. On the 21st, the Jamhuri published another 4 pages of demented ramblings by Manyerere Jackton lashing out against those that he, not always correctly, believes aren’t on friendly terms with OBC.
In the afternoon of 21st March the proposal reached through voting was announced – a Wildlife Management Area (WMA), and the proposal that had been successfully rejected for a decade and a half was now presented as a victory … On 20th April, in Dodoma, the committee’s final report was handed to PM Majaliwa who was to decide.
Meanwhile, on 23rd May 2017, Loliondo was an issue of the parliamentary session that day when Chadema’s shadow minister of natural resources and tourism, Esther Matiko, denounced everything going on, including the legality of OBC’s contract and the CCM member of parliament for Geita, Joseph Musukuma, attacked Minister Maghembe for his anti-pastoralist stance in Geita and elsewhere mentioning the Standing Committee, that Musukuma himself was a member of, and which was co-opted to suit OBC’s wishes. The old Kagsheki-style rhetoric was repeated by the standing committee chairman Nditiye, and by Maghembe himself. Tundu Lissu, MP for Singida East, spoke up about Ngorongoro, while the MP for Ngorongoro and deputy minister didn’t say anything at all.
Brutal, illegal, and unexpected invasion of village land and silent MP
After the RC’s committee had presented their proposal to PM Majaliwa on 20th April 2017, there was a long silence in Loliondo while waiting to hear the PM’s decision. During the wait, the drought became worse than in 2009, and unexpected illegal evictions from village land were ordered by DC Rashid Mfaume Taka, officially funded by TANAPA (they approved the funding) and implemented by Serengeti National Park rangers, assisted by local police, NCA rangers, and others, while MP Olenasha refused to speak up publicly in any way. I just don’t know how this could happen, but maybe the weakness shown by Loliondo leaders made committing massive human rights crimes irresistible to the friends of OBC, and those with converging interests.
On 8th August 2017, in the Oloosek area of Ololosokwan, at a good distance from the national park, a Serengeti ranger opened fire and shot the herder Parmoson Ololoso, hitting him with three bullets, in both thighs and his left arm. Allegedly this came after a verbal disagreement. Parmoson had earlier grazed his animals in the park and had to pay a fine. Now the rangers extorted him for more money, which Parmoson refused. Parmoson was taken to Wasso hospital where he just lost time and was discharged without proper treatment, until later his Kenyan brother in law found him with a leg “like an engine” and took him for surgery in Nairobi.
On 13th August 2017, completely unexpectedly according to some people, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area rangers, assisted by local Loliondo police, set fire to five bomas in Oloosek, on village land and far from the national park. The rangers said they had orders to remove livestock, housing and people from the 1,500 km2 that OBC, Minister Maghembe, and others wanted to alienate from the villages. Leaders claimed to have been caught by surprise, and that they had only heard about an operation to remove people and livestock from Serengeti National Park. The DC was reportedly saying that the reason was that people and cattle were entering the national park “too easily”. Already the same day, the 13th, Onesmo Olengurumwa of Tanzania Human rights Defenders Coalition sent out an urgent alert, and I wrote a blog post.
The Ngorongoro MP, William Olenasha, on 14th August in social media, said that he was very sorry, that the he and other leaders were only aware of an operation to remove livestock from the National Park, hadn’t been involved in anything else, that residing near the boundary isn’t against the law, and that they were doing all they can to stop the operation. Then the MP kept quiet in public for the rest of the operation, while bomas in one area after the other were burned to the ground! This kind of outrageous behaviour had been unimaginable, since Olenasha was elected mostly for his seriousness in land issues. He had for years been involved in defending the land and the crystal-clear legal arguments against plans to alienate the Osero had in large part been in his work. I think I’d even have campaigned for him if it had been appropriate, and his silence is one of the worst disappointments of my life.
The unexpected illegal operation would go on for over two months and hundreds of bomas were burned from Ololosokwan to Piyaya 90 km further south – most intensely between 13th and 26th August, but with scattered arson attacks well into October - there were beatings, illegal seizing and auctioning of cattle, herders were illegally arrested and taken to Mugumu at the other side of the national park. Village centres became congested with people and animals. Those returning after the arson were brutally beaten by the rangers who also destroyed makeshift shelters and blocked access to water sources. Women were raped by the rangers. The last day of the illegal operation some rangers shot 80 cows in Arash. There was terror and panic everywhere, and painful disappointment with the inaction of some leaders.
Soon enough, on 15th August, the third day of the illegal operation, appeared publicly a letter from DC Rashid Mfaume Taka, dated 5th August. In this letter the DC orders the removal of livestock and housing from Serengeti National Park, and bordering areas. The second order does of course not have any legal ground at all and should have been taken to a court of law as soon as being received. The letter goes on about “illegal invaders from Kenya”, and then says that herders that haven’t moved from the park and “very near the boundary” (mpakani kabisa) “back to the villages” (closer to the village centres, supposedly) by 10th August will be removed by force. “Mpakani kabisa” is clearly a criminal threat, and it eventually included bomas as far as 9 kilometres from Serengeti National Park. The letter is directed to the ward councillors and Village Executive Officers of Piyaya, Arash, Maaloni, Oloipiri, Soitsambu, Olorien and Ololosokwan wards, and is copied to the RC, MP, TANAPA Director General, Serengeti Chief Park Warden, District Executive Officer, National Security Officer, and Police Commander.
The letter wasn’t the only warning, as early as 1st August 2017, I had heard from a person from Ngorongoro Conservation Area who had spoken to an NCA ranger who claimed that there would be an operation with evictions from the Osero in Loliondo, but all those I asked said that it was absolutely not possible when everyone was waiting to hear the PM’s decision, and to avoid appearing as a crazy alarmist, I didn’t insist on asking more widely …
Another letter, written by one Ismail O. Ismail on behalf of the Chief Park Warden of Serengeti National Park Mwakilema to DC Rashid Mfaume Taka on 4th August, was also shared in social media, and revealed that the Ngorongoro Security Committee, headed by the DC, on 23rd June 2017 ordered Serengeti National Park to plan the operation to remove livestock from the park, and “from the boundary”. The letter also informs the DC that funds for the implementation have been obtained and that the leadership of Tanzania National Parks Authority has approved the operation. It’s not known who originally got hold of and decided to publish this letter, but OBC’s assistant director shared it in some social media.
On 17th August 2017, the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism issued a press statement explaining the “removal of cattle and housing from Serengeti National Park and the boundary of Loliondo Game Controlled Area”. This statement explained that the operation involved the Ngorongoro Security Committee led by DC Rashid Mfaume Taka, the District Council (I don’t understand this), the police force, National Security, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority. The aim was to protect conservation in the park, Loliondo GCA and the Serengeti Ecosystem, and to protect the tourism business. The statement added that removing housing and cattle from the boundary area of Loliondo would increase grazing possibilities for the dry season, but the dry season was ongoing and that in the worst drought in many years… Other aims were to reduce the ease with which cattle enter the park, combat invaders from the neighbouring country and protect water sources. In the words of the DC it’s explained 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 – which means village land and is a confession of crime in black on white. There’s also “information” from the ministry that nobody is being beaten during the exercise, and a complaint that those that want to “incite hatred against the government” had mentioned the shooting of Parmoson Ololoso in connection with the operation when it happened five days before it began. Though there isn’t any explanation to why a Serengeti ranger far inside village land shot an innocent herder in both legs and one arm.
Around 20th August, at the launch of connecting villages in Sale to the electricity grid, MP and deputy minister Olenasha made the most tone-deaf and frivolous comments imaginable. The Daily News (Loliondo "cure centre" gets electricity supply, 21.8.2017) quoted him, “The country is tired of hearing about burnt bomas, chaos and conflicts in Loliondo; we want people to hear about homes being connected to electricity and how the people of Ngorongoro will use the amenity to accelerate development.” He said this while bomas were burning and people were being tortured, and I realized that never had I misjudged a person so completely.
On 21st August the OBC-friendly journalist Masyaga Matinyi in a Mtanzania newspaper article (Operesheni Loliondo yapotoshwa) meant to respond to “lies about Loliondo” quoted the DC saying that the operation isn’t about removing people from the 1,500 km2, since the PM has not yet made his decision about that issue. Though in the same article Matinyi quotes Maghembe talking about the 1,500 km2 Loliondo “Game Reserve”. Maghembe also says that NGOs are burning the bomas … In an article (NGO ya Uingereza yamjaribu Magufuli) by Manyerere Jackton published in the Jamhuri on 12th September the DC, who when believed to be of another kind than his predecessors had been badly defamed by the journalist, was now, after having ordered the illegal operation, quoted as a someone just stating the truth. The DC plainly states – as is also shown by a map prepared by TANAPA for the illegal operation - that 89 bomas had been burned inside Serengeti National Park and 241 bomas or ronjos in the 5 km “border area”! The confession of crime couldn’t be more clearly documented, and the operation was still ongoing.
The same day as the press statement on 17th August, Minister Maghembe told the press a radically different story to that of his own ministry. He said that people and cattle had to leave the 1,500 km2 “Loliondo Game Reserve” and go to the remaining 2,500 km2 of Loliondo GCA, which means that he pretended that OBC’s wishes would already have come true without any decision or proper gazettement. He complained about NGOs, some from the neighbouring country, that say there is a conflict so that they get money from “England”, which was said when the Loliondo NGOs had already been intimidated into silence. On 4th September, Azam TV allowed Maghembe to go on for thirty undisturbed minutes, using the map from the OBC-funded draft district land use plan that had been rejected by the District Council in 2011, blatantly lying that this would show that the disputed land was a protected area. The journalist just smiled without questioning where the map was from, why the ministry and the DC were telling different stories, or what evidence the minster had for making defamatory claims about those who have spoken up for land rights in Loliondo. Maghembe’s source was obviously Manyerere Jackton, even if the minister couldn’t properly remember whom he should accuse of what. Azam TV had already invited Maghembe on 31st August to let him tell his lies without interruption and apparently thought it appropriate to get more of the same.
Maghembe could go on with his version of events on Ayo tv as well, but there the villagers were also heard.
The Ololosokwan ward councillor Yannick Ndoinyo and village chairman Kerry Dokonyo early on spoke up strongly to media, but not a word was heard from the famous, or infamous, two NGOs that so often are described as “over thirty, foreign, and with hidden interests” by those friendly to the “investors”. It’s however supposed that the NGOs – or one of them - were in contact with the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) that sent out an urgent alert about the evictions on 25th August, and that they were otherwise working hard behind the scenes.
On 22nd August, a smiling German ambassador was seen all over media, in the framework of the Serengeti Ecosystem Development and Conservation Project, handing over office and residential buildings for park staff in Fort Ikoma, in Serengeti National Park, to an equally smiling Minister Maghembe, while commenting on the long and successful partnership between Germany and Tanzania in protecting the Serengeti.
On 30 August. Onesmo Olengurumwa – who had suffered harassment and threats, including illegal arrests and questioning of his nationality - together with some human rights defenders and community leaders (Kipilangat Kaura and Mushao Naing'isa from Ololosokwan, Pirius Maingo, special seats councillor from Oloipiri, and the village chairman of Arash, Molongo Sikoyo) submitted official complaints to the government organ Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG). The performance of CHRAGG had been a big disappointment in 2009, but there was new leadership and apparently significant changes since on 4th September CHRAGG issued an interim order to stop the evictions and demanded that the government explain the operation - but the crimes continued unabated despite the order.Other people contacted Survival International that on 7th September sent a letter to President Magufuli, various Tanzanian authorities and international organisations. Reportedly the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples also wrote to Magufuli, but sadly did not speak up openly like James Anaya had done in 2009.
On Monday 18th September, the rangers went further into lawlessness and depravity starting to auction off cows illegally seized on village land and impounded at Klein’s gate. Many cows impounded by the rangers had already died. This was a purposeful and totally illegal destruction of the livelihoods of the affected people. The beatings by rangers continued during this illegal sale, and Parketuyan Toroge had to be admitted to hospital in Mugumu in critical condition. The Nipashe paper quoted Ololosokwan village chairman Kerry Dokonyo (translated): “We ask President Magufuli to help us intervening in this issue, because we are subject to extreme abuse. Leaders don’t want to help us. What they want is to remove us from this village without following the law. They use force. After burning our bomas and houses they have begun seizing cattle in the village driving them to the national park area and locking them up while claiming that they entered, when it’s not true.” Some of those affected were interviewed by Deutsche Welle Swahili and Ayo TV, and mentioned – besides the illegal seizing of cows on village land following the arson attack - being given incorrect receipts when “buying” their own cows.
On Thursday 21st September 2017, a court case was finally filed in the East African Court of Justice: the villages of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, Oloirien and Arash versus the Attorney General.
On 23rd September, after heading the commissioning ceremony of officer cadets President Magufuli addressed the nation at Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha. Among the many placards held by the audience, those against Maghembe, OBC and the abuse and attacks against land rights in Loliondo stood out. Instead of addressing the concerns of the protestors, the President ordered the placards to be collected so that he could read them later. Some see this as significant, but I seriously doubt that the president read the placards.
Bomas were again razed to the ground by the rangers on 25th September. This time in areas of Oloipiri and Oloirien. The same day in Oloosek where the illegal operation had started, Simanga Parmwat was badly beaten by OBC Rangers while herding sheep and goats.
The de-humanization spirit spread south to NCA where rangers on 26th September shot two pregnant donkeys and subjected six people to beatings at Oldupai. Serengeti and KDU (anti-poaching) rangers kept illegally seizing cattle and detaining them at Klein’s gate.
On 5th October the senator of Narok County in Kenya, Ledama Olekina, took the ward councillor, the village chairman and a couple of other representatives from Ololosokwan to see the Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga and seek his support defending their land, asking him to speak with President Magufuli. Raila agreed to do so and is said to have reported back that his friend Magufuli had told him that everyone involved in the operation would be fired.
Just like in 2009, there were reports about rapes during the illegal evictions of 2017. It would hardly be surprising in the general state of de-humanization of the Maasai by the rangers, but since none of the victims, or anyone with details, came forward I couldn’t write anything. However, in November 2017 two women from Arash broke with deeply held taboos and spoke out to a group of journalists visiting Loliondo. Nondomoli Saile told Nasra Abdallah of the Mwanahalisi newspaper that on 19th September, in the morning Serengeti rangers arrived and ordered everyone out of the boma so that they could set it on fire. When Nondomoli still returned to try to save some belongings, she was raped and injured by a ranger. Nondomoli explained (my translation),
“You know that per Maasai customs and traditions it’s a shame for a woman to tell someone how she was raped, so many of us, me included, have decided to stay quiet, and we don’t even know what diseases those who committed those acts may have, and maybe some have even got pregnant”
“what we are asking for here, is for the government, and especially through the current Minister of Natural Resources who showed good intentions of finding a solution to the Loliondo conflict, to also discipline the rangers who committed these acts against women and made them suffer mental discomfort until today, as what happen to them will last long in their mind”.
Naisenge Lilash reported how rangers involved in the illegal operation came to her house in the morning of 22nd October while she was sleeping and forced her out into the bush where they raped her, and caused her injuries that still haven’t healed. Naisenge said that she would recognise the rapists if she sees them again. Due to beliefs that it would be harmful in case she’s pregnant, Naisenge stopped breastfeeding her one-and-a-half-year-old baby, which she otherwise would have done for three years. Naisenge told the Mwanahalisi reporter that she’s asking the government to make sure measures are taken against all rangers involved in rape since the victims are affected both physically and psychologically for living with shame in front of the community.
A friend of mine met Naisenge in December 2017. Naisenge asked if Minister Kigwangalla had fired the rangers, but nobody had 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. It seems like the rape victims didn’t get any help at all other than getting access to a reporter.
The “only ally” RC Mrisho Gambo never spoke up with one word against this massive horror.
Kigwangalla becomes a hero and then makes an ugly U-turn
On 7th October 2017, Magufuli announced a cabinet reshuffle that was expected, even if it wasn’t known that it would happen on that day, or what the changes would be. The good news was that Maghembe was removed as Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism and not given another ministry. The new minister was the former Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Hamisi Kigwangalla, who sadly in his former capacity had shown ignorance and total disregard for human rights. During his inauguration, Kigwangalla mentioned Loliondo in a not too promising way.
On 11th October 2017, a public meeting to which the press had been invited was held in Ololosokwan. The local Maasai expressed their happiness over the sacking of Maghembe and pleaded with Kigwangalla to come and visit them to hear their side of the story instead of listening to rumours. Ololosokwan ward councillor, Yannick Ndoinyo, thanked the president for firing Maghembe, but said there was more to do. He stressed that the village land was registered in every way, but was still invaded, and he asked the president to explain the situation to all ministers for natural resources and tourism, so that they leave village land in peace.
Soitsambu ward councillor, Boniface Kanjwel, thanked the president for having read the protest placards in Arusha, and wanted him to tell Minister Kigwangalla that the Maasai are good conservationists. He said cows had been sold and people beaten on village land, and called for the Ministry for Lands, and TAMISEMI to speak up against the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism. Special seats councillor Tina Timan spoke up against the human rights abuse, and the propaganda claiming that the Maasai of Loliondo would be “Kenyan” and asked the new minister to come and meet with them.
Saibulu Letema, CCM secretary of Ololosokwan ward, spoke about the serious loss of cows that people depend on, and of OBC’s habit of bribing every minister for natural resources and tourism. The chairman of Oloirien village, Nekitio Ledidi, asked the government to recognise that the Maasai are Tanzanian who deserve housing and not abuse. Naponu Rakatia from Oloipiri told about beatings of children and women, loss of livestock, and of all belongings, even clothes and shoes when the rangers burned the bomas.
Things looked even less promising when on 12th October 2017 the Mwananchi newspaper published an article by the spokesperson for the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism arguing in favour of the OBC/Kagasheki/Maghembe style alienation of the 1,500 km2 Osero, saying that many leaders and other people in Loliondo would have “agreed” to the “operation”, but of course not mentioning any names, since people practising that extreme level of betrayal aren’t (or weren’t) that many at all.
Things went further downhill when Kigwangalla, without having been to Loliondo, on 19th October, issued a letter in the well-known crazy style ordering cattle and tractors from “outside the country” to leave Loliondo Game Controlled Area within seven days, or they would be nationalised. In social media Kigwangalla claimed to have been informed about over 6,000 cattle and over 200 (sic!) tractors from the “neighbouring country”. Nobody in Loliondo has any doubt about who the “informant” was.
Hopes were again raised when in a meeting with tourism stakeholders in Dodoma on 22nd October 2017, Kigwangalla revoked all hunting blocks issued in 2017 saying that permits would be re-applied through auction. Though 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 the 26th – 27th.
On 26th October 2017 there was a public meeting in Wasso and Kigwangalla put stop to the criminal “operation”, and ordered cows not involved in any court case to be released, not only in Loliondo, but all over Tanzania where someone under his ministry is holding cows instead of doing conservation work. He described the fundamental problem as the increase of people and cattle (which those who want to take their land have been telling the Maasai for a century or so), not mentioning the immense value of the land for outside interests, like investors and conservation organisations. The minister said the problem isn’t solved by using guns, but at the same time talking about people, NGOSs and others using harsh words that don’t solve anything (as if they would dare to) and thereby he showed an astonishing lack of understanding of power relations. He declared the way forward as participatory conservation, but also saying that the conflict was now on the table of the PM, which he couldn’t say anything about. Kigwangalla was an instant hero in Loliondo.
On the 27th Kigwangalla was taken on a tour of areas of interest and shown animals reported to only have appeared after the arson attack, as if that would justify it if true. In the evening there was a stop in Ololosokwan. People not from Loliondo started reporting in social media that Kigwangalla would have said that OBC’s hunting block would not be renewed.
The frontpage of the 31st October issue of the anti-Loliondo paper Jamhuri didn’t carry any surprises. In big letters Manyerere Jackton proclaimed that Kigwangalla messed up (alikoroga) that he issued an order contradicting the one of the president, that he ordered a stop to the operation removing livestock from protected areas, that workers say they won’t implement it unless given written instructions, and that he’s revoked the hunting blocks granted by Maghembe. Manyerere pretended that Kigwangalla had stopped an operation in a protected area, when what’s stopped was an illegal attack on village land. The “journalist” also expressed how sorry he felt for the “conservationists” (human rights criminals) that had been stopped by a new minister who didn’t understand anything. Even though Manyerere’s attack on Kigwangalla was rather mild compared to the insane defamatory stories the “journalist” has fabricated about other people, the minister expressed his dismay, and in social media demanded an apology, which he would of course not get. Manyerere eventually started praising Kigwangalla after the minister’s U-turn, and then again started attacking him with fabricated stories after another favourite of this “journalist” – Golden Mile Safari – was removed from Lake Natron Game Controlled Area.
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 – sadly lost in car accident in which Kigwangalla broke his arm - 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 PCCB 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.
On 11th November, the Citizen newspaper reported that the Ngoronogoro Chief Conservator Freddy Manongi had told a group of journalists touring Ngorongoro that Loliondo Game Controlled Area should be “upgraded” to protect wildlife and especially the migration of wildebeest. Then the journalist went on to quoting the report released by OBC in November 2016 ...
The happiness didn’t last long. On 14th November 2017 Kigwangalla reported in social media that, “I, yesterday, received our development partners from @GermanyTanzania. The delegation was headed by H.E. Dr. Detlef Wachter, Ambassador of Germany in Tanzania.
They are going to fund community development projects in Loliondo, in our quest to save the Serengeti. The Loliondo project is worth more than TZS 10 billion and will include pasture development, infrastructure development, land use plan, water supply for domestic as well as cattle use, building a cattle market as well as education in de-stocking and livestock modernization.”
Even some councillors seemed surprised by Kigwangalla’s news, made phone calls to the District Executive Director and the Serengeti liaison officer that confirmed that the chairman had indeed signed the German money - that 600 women had protested in March, and the district council decided not to sign. The chairman himself said he hadn’t signed, but was going to very soon, since it was such a wonderful project, and didn’t have anything to do with the threat against the 1,500 km2. Reportedly, a day later MP Olenasha asked Kigwangalla who said that the development projects were meant for the whole 4,000 km2 area, and shared this information in closed groups.
Time passed and OBC didn’t show any sign of packing. In social media OBC’s assistant director, Moloimet Saingn’eu, 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 21st November, the MP and the District Council Chairman, who both had been shockingly silent during the illegal operation, held a meeting in Ololosokwan to tell people about the ongoing efforts to solve the land conflict of many years, to explain and remove people’s fears about the German funds for development projects, since those will be implemented in the whole 4,000 km2, and to emphasize the importance of building relations and good neighbourhood with Serengeti National Park. I know that the MP knew better than almost anyone that the Germans aren’t less dangerous than OBC.
In the afternoon of 6th December 2017, PM Majaliwa finally delivered his long awaited, and much feared, decision about the 1,500 km2. I was informed that the decision had been a big and terrifying disappointment. The PM hadn’t chosen between a WMA or a GCA, but decided something else. Many people had been present, but nobody seemed to have understood very well, since Majaliwa first had said many nice and promising words. The only thing that everyone had heard clearly was that OBC would stay, but that the director, Mollel, would be investigated (which didn’t happen until 2019, and it’s unclear if there has been any real investigation or he has just been locked up to rot in remand prison). A brief press statement the following day made things somewhat, but not much, clearer. The PM had ordered the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to prepare a legal bill with the aim of forming a “special authority” to manage Loliondo Game Controlled Area, to protect the ecosystem of Serengeti National Park, wildlife paths, breeding grounds and water sources, while benefitting all sides. The PM said it would be ensured that the interest of local people, their customs, traditions, and land use are considered in the legal bill that was to be rushed through so that a final draft is ready for February/March 2018, to be included in the 2018/2019 budget. A team of specialists, after going through various options, had recommended this “special authority” for the broad interests of all sides, and with the aim of bringing peace and sustainable conservation to Loliondo. It sounded like an all-out land grab.
On 8th December ward councillors and village chairmen from Loliondo and Sale (Malambo ward) held a press conference. The statement read by the council chairman Mathew Siloma, was timid considering the circumstances. It starts with five points expressing contentment that the government acknowledge that the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism has invaded legally registered village land, that the operation violated the law, that the PM recognised the Maasai as natural conservationists, that interests of each stakeholder will be considered, and villagers will be involved at the highest levels of that organ that’s to administer the land. Then the statement addressed the unanswered questions saying that village and ward leaders will be ready to participate in the process if:
- any decision made doesn’t affect the legitimate ownership of village land, and land use by local people will continue and be protected by land laws and village land use plans.
- village land use plans, surveying and certification take place as a first step, before any other process.
- people are fully involved in determining the boundary between the villages and Serengeti National Park, and beacons put up in a participatory way, agreed by both sides.
- when setting up any system of land management and legislative development it starts with local people at village level and not with the government introducing a system that people don’t understand and don’t see as a solution for bringing peace to this area.
- the discussion period is extended from the two months wanted by the PM to two years, to facilitate community participation.
- investors are put under community control so that the community can benefit from tourism resources.
- the whole program is initiated at village level, not by specialists from the concerned ministries.
- a written version of the PM’s speech is made available to avoid different interpretations that can be used by specialists.
- legal measures are taken against everyone involved in human rights violations, including the former Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Jumanne Maghembe, who ordered the burning of bomas on village land, hurting people, and dragging the government into unnecessary conflict, soiling its image.
- the government looks at the possibility of compensation for those affected by serious violations of their rights, including loss of property.
In the Jamhuri newspaper, Manyerere Jackton unsurprisingly celebrated Majaliwa’s decision (Asante Sana Waziri Mkuu, Uhifadhi Umeshinda, 12.12.2017).
On 13th December 2017, the CCM secretary general (retired in May 2018) and OBC’s old friend Abdulraham Kinana, visited Kigwangalla’s Nzega Rural constituency, and together they handed out motorbikes to CCM workers.
2018 with silence and extreme brutality committed by soldiers
Some people started mentioning that the legal bill to form the “special authority” was needed, since the 1,500 km2 would be placed under the NCA where hunting is otherwise not allowed.
Kigwangalla responded to questions about the fact that OBC were staying. In a Whatsapp group on 5th February 2018, he wrote:
(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.)
That more “investors” of the kind that don’t respect land rights were “needed” didn’t make the “new structure” sound less threatening…
Not until 23rd March 2018, when photos from a 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. The opposition politician Zitto Kabwe asked on Twitter, “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!)
Around 24th March 2018, a military camp for the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (JWTZ) was set up in Lopolun near Wasso “town”. Nobody seemed to know why the soldiers were there. While some feared that the reason was further intimidation concerning land issues, others thought the it was the border with Kenya, and normal soldier issues. I didn’t know how much damage these soldiers would do, and I still can’t understand the terror they created.
Secret meeting for a “friendlier” version of Majaliwa’s decision
On 14th April 2018, a secret meeting was held at the Golden Rose Hotel in Arusha with the attendance of some village and ward leaders from Loliondo, and some NGO people, with the aim of preparing their own proposal for a “special authority” to be called “Loliondo Area Management Authority”, instead of the government’s “Loliondo Special Conservation Area”. Someone who attended confirmed to me that preparing a “friendlier” proposal than the government’s “chombo maalum” - one that will consider the needs of conservation, investors and pastoralism - was indeed a decision that was taken at the meeting.
The meeting was chaired by district chairman Siloma who praised the shockingly silent MP and deputy minister Olenasha saying that he after PM Majaliwa’s terrible announcement had been doing a good job defending the people of Ngorongoro, causing a delay in implementing the “special authority”. This was somewhat surprising, in a positive way, since people had been telling me (and sharing Whatsapp comments) that Olenasha was defending the “special authority” saying that it was basically the same as a WMA but the reason for this could be that he actually knows how damaging even a WMA is … While it was good to hear that the MP and others were doing something, they were again involved in a non-participatory, top-down initiative (like the RC’s committee …) when focus should be on stopping any kind of land alienation, not least via the case in the East African Court of Justice.
Unsurprisingly, some of the attendants at the meeting informed the “journalist” Manyerere Jackton who wrote an article (Ukimya wa serikali – Loliondo wajipanga kumpiku PM, 17.4.2018) in which he was very upset that some people from Loliondo were “tricking” Majaliwa, and expressed his worry about the delay of the PM’s decision. He did of course also make up a story about an “English donor”. The work for a “friendlier special authority” was apparently not kept up.
Daylight corruption when OBC again brought gifts to the MNRT
On 19th April 2018, OBC’s assistant director – now unopposed CCM candidate for Ololosokwan councillor, Moloimet Saing’eu - 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 Mollel who was unable to attend.
This was obviously a case of daylight corruption and in no way less damaging than money into the deep pockets of some individuals. Though it was far from the first time OBC gifted the Ministry with more than two handfuls of vehicles. Among other “good deeds” in their 2017 calendar OBC had a photo of vehicles donated to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Neither is it possible to separate “development projects” for villages from the fact that you’re lobbying for alienating the village land, or in the case of Thomson Safaris, claiming to be a landowner. Some people used to understand this, but not anymore, it seems.
Oakland report and Kigwangalla goes totally insane
On 10th May 2018, the Oakland Institute of California released a report, Losing the Serengeti: The Maasai Land that was to RunForever, about Loliondo and NCA, with quite extensive media coverage. Everyone I was in contact with claimed to have been totally unaware, and I didn’t notice anything before I on the 9th was seeing some activity by journalists on Twitter, which was quite stressful knowing that I would have to defend the report regardless of quality. Though this report was good, even if it had some outdated information a couple of big mistakes that could easily have been avoided, like mixing up the villages of Ololosokwan and Oloipiri, and in one sentence claim that LGCA would have been reduced after community pressure. The latter mistake was however straightened out when reading further. Finally, there was an international organization that would do research, reach out to more than a few “partners” in Ngorongoro, be loud, and respond to attacks. Though sadly it came a couple of years too late, when everyone had decided that hiding under the nearest stone, or worse, was the only way to stay safe. One NGO even issued a letter saying that they didn’t have anything to do with the report.
Already on 10th May there was a statement from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, signed by Minister Kigwangalla. The minister denied the illegal operation that he himself stopped, and that’s well documented by the perpetrators themselves! The statement said that the accusations that the Tanzanian government have burnt down Maasai houses, removed livestock from pasture and water resources, and suppressed freedom of expression against these acts, are “untrue”. According to the statement the truth is that, because of the strategic location of the place for conservation, water sources, wildlife migration, and the livelihoods of the people, the government through the PM’s office took steps to resolve the dispute that included all stakeholders such as NGOs, investors and the local people, and that these measures are underway, and the government will issue an official statement to that effect. I have still, over two years later, not seen that statement …
Further, the Ministry requested the Tanzanian and international community to disregard these misleading reports that intent to tarnish the name of the government and create dispute between government, the local community and investors with intent to cause breach of peace. And the statement adds that the Tanzanian government will continue to cooperate with stakeholders of good will for conservation and development of its people in controlling and utilizing resources available in Loliondo and elsewhere in the country for broad objective of the nation.
On BBC Swahili Kigwangalla said much the same, but also added that Thomson Safaris are the legal owners of the land they occupy, and when asked about the corruption investigations that were to include even his predecessors, Kigwangalla quickly brushed it off and said that he didn’t know if anyone is conducting such investigations, and then continued talking about the committee that the PM ordered the Arusha RC to set up (before the illegal operation with massive human rights crimes) and how very “participatory” it was.
The U-turn was complete and would get even worse.
Kigwangalla’s message to the authors of the report on Twitter was beyond nasty: “Fake report! Most of the information in the report is not true and you can’t teach us how to handle our internal affairs. The land is ours, the Maasai people are ours, the wildlife is ours and everything...why should it concern you? Is it your means of ‘survival’ or?”. And this wasn’t even the worst. He tweeted as an enraged clone of Maghembe or Kagasheki, but in an even more embarrassing way, since he’s so very well documented as knowing the truth. He spewed out one lie more insane than the other claiming that Loliondo GCA would not have been inhabited, and he threatened those who sponsored and participated in producing the report that they will face the “law”. “Who is misplaced? Really? That has been a game controlled area since 1952! There has been no one living there before and even after that to date“ and “Let’s be honest, the land used for hunting has never been inhabited by humans before...don’t lie like the report says!”, were some of the many insane tweets. It was as if denying the very existence of the victims of the illegal operation was punishment for the report. Kigwangalla tweeted, “We make our laws for our own use. We could amend any as we please! You go get a life! Forget Tanzania. You don’t belong here, and whatever we do is non of your concern!” when I called him into line about Village Land Act No.5 of 1999, and then he started accusing me of getting “donor funding”, which he said wouldn’t be possible with him as minister. Maybe it could be a weird belief that bloggers get “donor funding” that made the government come up with the idea of charging Tanzanian bloggers a fee of $930 … but I doubt it. Then Kigwangalla started saying that “We have a very good solution for the issues in Loliondo, and the solution is acceptable unanimously by all parties; the people, investors, ‘most’ NGOs, the council etc”. I still don’t know what that solution is, and can only assume that he referred to the sad proposal by the RC committee that was ignored by PM Majailwa who decided something even worse.
People in Loliondo who at one time had a lot of faith in Kigwangalla were just shocked, and said that they didn’t know what to say. Though most don’t seem to have noticed, or find it normal and acceptable behaviour for leaders to, when they get a little upset, go berserk and deny the existence of people that they have met. On the other hand, Kigwangalla had already as deputy minister of health shown a juvenile, uninformed and aggressive behaviour online, and he has kept it up (I’ve noticed even if he has since blocked me), with hardly any consequences at all.
Exterminating the opposition
In late 2017 District Council chairman Siloma had issued a document on readjustments in the 2018 budget for development projects in Ngorongoro district. Villages in all wards under leadership from opposition parties suffered significant cuts, while those under CCM leadership had no cuts at all. Meanwhile, in the rest of the country, opposition politicians were being illegally arrested, maliciously prosecuted, mysteriously “disappeared”, or as in the case of opposition chief whip Tundu Lissu, hit by 16 bullets inside a heavily guarded government housing compound on 7th September 2017. A stream of opposition MPs and councillors were returning to CCM.
In early November 2018, MP Olenasha posted a cover photo in Facebook with the sports score 28 – 0. All ward councillors in Ngorongoro district had returned to the ruling party. The special seats councillor Tina Timan remained with Chadema, while Maanda Ngoitiko left politics altogether. It’s impossible to know exactly how this was done. If asked privately those who returned to CCM will say that they had to do it for their personal safety. Those talking about them will say that they were filling their stomachs with bribes. From CCM people officially the talk would be about infrastructure projects, and the wonders of John Pombe Magufuli blah, blah, blah. Most of the returning councillors had in 2015 joined Chadema after losing the CCM nomination, but even a more dedicated opposition activist, who had been the victim of illegal arrests to intimidate and silence everybody, had his photo with a CCM cap slammed on his head posted in social media.
On 21st May, Minister Kigwangalla tabled in parliament the budget for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism for the 2018/2019 financial year. In his budget speech, he mentioned that his ministry, per the decision by PM Majaliwa on 6th December 2017, had prepared a draft for a “Mkakati wa Usimamizi wa Pori Tengefu Loliondo/Management Strategy for Loliondo Game Controlled Area” (for the vague, disappointing and hugely threatening “special authority” announced by the PM) presented it to the concerned ministers in a meeting, and the PM was to be presented with what was said in that meeting. Absolutely nobody in Loliondo ever saw this draft, unless it’s another secret that’s being kept by some, but in 2019 a genocidal plan for NCA, including the annexation of the Osero, was presented. The German funds that were rejected by the District Council in March 2017, since the Serengeti Chief Game Warden had announced that they were to be released under the condition of the alienation of the 1,500 km2. but then secretly accepted by the district chairman, can be seen in the print version of the speech.
Not only the Ngorongoro MP, but all parliamentarians were deeply disappointing and totally failed to address the abuse committed in Loliondo. The MP for Iringa Urban, Peter Msigwa, wanted Kigwangalla to explain what conclusion had been reached by the corruption investigation against himself and former minister Nyalandu, the one that Kigwangalla talked about the previous year, and he also wanted to know how much Kigwangalla himself had been given by the investor. James ole Milya of Simanjiro made an impassioned intervention in defence of pastoralists, but only mentioned Loliondo in passing. Kigwangalla’s U-turn about OBC had been spectacular, and his meltdown on Twitter lying, insulting and threatening people when the Oakland report was released seemed truly insane, but the parliamentarians just let him get away with it.
Intimidation drive to derail the case in the EACJ
The Tanzanian government side had initially tried to stop the case in the East African Court of Justice 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.
The last week of 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 everyone. The most frightening part was the almost complete silence about this intimidation drive that, as far as I know, didn’t involve the soldiers stationed at Lopolun, but was led by the acting Officer Commanding Criminal Investigation Division Ngorongoro District (OCCID), Marwa W. Mwita. Nobody dared to speak up about this abuse, except Donald Deya, the lead counsel of the applicant villages who wrote a letter to the principal judge seeking interim orders to stop the intimidation campaign, including requesting that the OCCID be summoned to court to explain the measures and actions he was taking in regard of the leaders and members of the suing villages.
The village chairmen were summoned to the police station, and questioned on why they sued the government, on who gave them the authority to do so, and on whether they had the unequivocal support of the villagers to sue. When they presented evidence in the form of meeting minutes from the respective villages, they were accused of having forged these. The chairmen of the villages of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, and Arash were arrested and released on the condition that they present themselves at Loliondo police station every Friday, which effectively prevented them from attending a hearing in Arusha on 7th June. They were reportedly charged with: instituting a case against the central government without permission; holding a community meeting without permission from the government; contributing financial resources to pay the lawyers without government approval; and, being involved in the production of a report by the Oakland Institute, which according to the Oakland Institute is an unfounded and false allegation (which I believe, even if being involved in producing a report isn’t a crime in any way, and neither are the other charges).
The chairman of Oloirien, Nekitio Ledidi, together with another man from Oloirien, Salau Makoi, were instead arrested for almost a month accused of being in possession of illegal arms, then released on bail, re-arrested and taken to Bariadi, and when a habeas corpus was filed they were taken to Mugumu and accused of between 2011 and 2014 having sold six elephant tusks in Kenya. Whether guilty or not it seems clear that legal action against them was taken because of the case in the EACJ. The case against them was eventually dismissed.
On 9th November 2017, the government side (Attorney General) had responded 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, but this didn’t prevent them from at the hearing on 7th June 2018 change their lie to claiming that the 2017 operation would only have taken place inside Serengeti National Park! Not even the fact that the DC’s order, the statement from the ministry, and TANAPA’s map all clearly showed that village land was invaded could stop them from making up this lie – and it would get worse…
After the intimidation campaign to derail the case in the East African court of Justice, on 20th June 2018 several people swore affidavits for the government side. A park warden called Julius Francis Musei, was used to swear the new lie. He said that villagers had repeatedly invaded and lived in the national park, which had a devastating impact on flora and fauna. The DC gave them a notice to vacate, which they did not heed. In “September” 2017 an operation was launched to evict them and “return them to their respective villages”. The government built the Nyabogati Ranger Post (far from Loliondo) and now there are no trespassers or evictions.
The village executive officers (VEO) of Oloirien and Kirtalo (Leni Emil Saingo and Kayamba Burhani Luena) and the acting VEO of Ololosokwan (Godfrey K. Augustino) were also used by the government side for affidavits. These government employees say that they were in their villages the respective days in August 2017 when there were village assembly meetings authorizing suing the government, but that they didn’t know anything about the meetings, and didn’t assist. They also claim forgery of stamps and signatures. The VEOs say that they were informed about the meetings - which they hadn’t convened or organized – by the District Executive Director (DED) – and that they in November 2017 wrote letters to this DED complaining about forgery. A VEO is not required for a village meeting, and such a government employee – as confirmed by these three - can constitute a serious security risk.
The acting Officer Commanding Criminal Investigation Division (OCCID) of Ngorongroro District who was heading the intimidation drive Marwa W. Mwita swore an affidavit saying that he on 22nd May 2018 at 13:00 hrs received complaints from legal officer Charles Marik Maganga about forgery committed in the village assembly meeting minutes nine months earlier, and that he immediately began investigations by opening a file for preliminary inquiry. The same day, he questioned the VEOs of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo and Oloirien, which seems very speedy indeed for a place with the geographic conditions of Loliondo. Mwita adds that he on 25th May 2018 summoned villagers that participated in the “purported” village assembly meetings that in August 2017 authorized suing the government. He says that some “confessed” – which is a very revealing choice of words - and others denied having participated.
Mwita suspected forgery, impersonation, and unlawful assembly, and he claimed that all suspects were granted bail pending investigation, and that none was detained. He then submitted the file to the Regional Crimes Officer in Arusha, forwarded samples to the forensic bureau, and to the Director of Public Prosecutions for his consent to prosecute.
When writing to the Regional Crimes Officer in Arusha, Mwita describes the illegal operation as carried out to evict some residents in the Game Controlled Area “within” Loliondo Division, which means that he had not yet learned the new lie.
Soldiers attacking herders
On Friday 29th June 2018 some Tanzania People’s Defence Force soldiers (those stationed at Lopolun) together with four anti-poaching rangers from the district – villagers said that they recognised one as an OBC ranger - physically assaulted several people – two men, two boys, and one woman - at Orkirkai in Ololosokwan village. The soldiers told people not to cross the road leading to Klein’s and OBC, while beating them senselessly so that some had to be taken to Wasso hospital with injuries all over their bodies. The attackers claimed to be “protecting the Serengeti” – the park boundary is some 2-3 km away from Orkirkai that’s on registered village land – and said that they would be back. Per other reports, the soldiers were talking about poaching, economic sabotage, and cattle in the park, which is unlikely, since there was still grass elsewhere. Not one single leader spoke up about this attack …
I wasn’t told until later, but on 19th July soldiers came to the home of a man in Embaash sub-village of Sukenya and tortured him badly. He was handed the required PF3 form (needed by victims of crimes so that they can get hospital treatment) by the police. The police then phoned Thomson local manager, Daniel Yamat. Shortly afterwards, on 20th July, the soldiers detained and tortured three more men – from Embaash and Sukenya Juu sub-villages. All victims were people that Thomson Safaris accuse of inciting others to graze their animals on the land occupied by this American tour operator.
There were also various unconfirmed reports about violent and criminal behaviour by the soldiers, and it seems like OBC rangers joined up. Sometime in mid-July 2018 OBC rangers allegedly committed armed robbery against businessmen from Mondorosi. Sensationally, the rangers were arrested by the local police, and then their case was transferred to regional level in Arusha. This led Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalitions to on 12th August 2018 issue a statement in which the Loliondo police were mentioned as an example of positive police work … Though this case was dismissed, and the rangers released.
Another attack by JWTZ Soldiers took place on 27th August 2018 at Kilamben, near Enalubo in Ololosokwan village, far from Serengeti National Park. Six men, among them the former councillor Kundai, were at a meat-eating camp in the bush (orpul) when some fifteen soldiers arrived to torture them and interrogate them about guns, Kenyans, and cattle encroaching on protected areas, while their comrades were beaten. Kundai was so badly injured that he had to attend hospital, and so were others. This attack was reportedly not a coincidence, but it was said that the soldiers came looking for John Parmwat who was living part time in the USA, is very rich, with many cows, and who would have been at the orpul if it weren’t for the passing of the former chairman of Ololosokwan Yohana Saing’eu. Then surfaced information that leading up to the attack at the orpul, on 24th August two herders, Oloiborr Kiok Shungurr and Oitosi Ngaiserri, were beaten by OBC rangers in the same Kilamben area, and on the 25th the OBC rangers burned grass around the orpul camp allegedly to intimidate the attendants.
The bizarre case of mistaken identity
A Belgian nurse attended the wedding of secondary school teacher Clinton “Eng’wes” Kairung (who’s my friend, or ex-friend since I haven’t heard from him since May 2018) in Kirtalo on Tuesday 11th September 2018, accompanied by two Tanzanian friends according to some accounts, and reportedly left for Ngaresero the following day where she was arrested and returned to Loliondo.
On Friday 14th, the other teacher who used to be habitually harassed about me, Supuk Olemaoi, was called to be questioned by the Officer Commanding Criminal Investigation Division of Ngorongoro District (OCCID). According to his own account (shared openly in social media on the 15th), Supuk had received the Belgian wedding guest upon her arrival in Wasso on Tuesday 11th and took her to the Immigration office so that her visit would run smoothly. On Tuesday evening when leaving the wedding, Supuk got a text message saying that I would have been sighted in Wasso and the police was looking for me, which he of course had to disregard for its absurdity, since I was very far away, but on Wednesday night he got a phone call saying that I would have been arrested at Ngaresero, and Supuk knew that the Belgian wedding guest had left for Ngaresero in the morning.
While waiting to be questioned on Friday 14th, Supuk was told to phone Clinton and direct him to come as well. After three hours Supuk was questioned by the Ngorongoro Security Committee, and told them what he knew about the Belgian wedding guest under arrest. Clinton arrived and was questioned around 6pm. Thereafter, Clinton was arrested, and on Saturday morning, 15th September, taken to Arusha, together with his wedding guest, and probably the two people accompanying her.
I started suspecting that something wasn’t right when I on Friday morning (14th) got an email from the “journalist”, Manyerere Jackton, who for years had specialized in defamation and incitement against the Maasai of Loliondo – but nobody I asked had heard anything at all. The “journalist” was greeting me and asking if I was in Loliondo, before getting into the usual one-liner insults. Later the same day I was contacted by people saying that some individuals close to OBC were commenting that I had been arrested after crossing the border in Ngaresero, in the vehicle of an NGO! And I was sitting at home in Sweden … In the evening Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition had just been informed and sent out a news brief saying that the three wedding guests would have been arrested at the ceremony and Clinton later in the evening. THRDC said that they were making close follow up to know the truth of the incident, the reasons for the arrest, and the police station in which the guests and Clinton were currently detained. I shared THRDC’s news alert looking for more exact information, but nobody knew anything. The only thing I heard was that the grapevine indeed was saying that the arrested Belgian wedding guest was I …
On Saturday 15th some people knew that those illegally arrested had been taken to Arusha, but that nothing would happen until Monday. It seemed like the only reason for the arrests was that the Belgian wedding guest was accused of being me, but nobody gave me any direction as to what I could do about that. I contacted the Embassy of Belgium, and I took a photo under an apple tree, with my passport, and my laptop showing the date, to prove that I was in Sweden, sent it to some people, and posted it where I was certain that those behind the arrest would see it. As mentioned, on Saturday night a first-hand witness, Supuk who had received the Belgian wedding guest in Wasso, and who was questioned by the security committee, finally wrote a brief report, and I spent the night writing a blog post.
Lawyers sent by THRDC were at the police station on Monday 17th, and in the evening those illegally arrested were released without charges. Reportedly, fingerprints would have proven the wedding guest to be innocent of the “crime” of being me. If the law had been of any consideration, they would instead have been granted bail, or taken to court after 24 hours.
On Tuesday 18th, the Jamhuri newspaper published the usual kind of delirious and defamatory article in which Manyerere Jackton fabricated a story that the Belgian wedding guest had been arrested for “espionage” since she would have collected information for the international press to stir up conflict in Loliondo. She would have been arrested in Ngaresero while fleeing from the police (Akamatwa kwa ujasusi Loliondo 18.9.2018). Though most of the article consisted of the “journalist’s” usual fantasies about me. All I’ve heard about the wedding guest is that she’s a nurse working or volunteering at an orphanage in Arusha. I had hardly heard her name, and we’ve never had any communication.
On Thursday 20th there was a soberer article in the Guardian (Tanzanian English language newspaper). Arusha regional police commander, Ramadhani Ng'anzi, admitted that it was a case of mistaken identity, but claimed that the police and Immigration when they received a “tip-off” had a duty to act swiftly and decisively (Arusha police admit case of mistaken identity in arrest of Belgian, 20.9.2018). Though they do obviously NOT have a duty to uphold the Loliondo police state for the “investors”. Quite the contrary! And, they know very well that the “investor friends” with their tip-offs don’t have any credibility whatsoever. Ng’anzi also claimed that there was a “striking similarity” between the wedding guest and me, which I didn’t see when googling.
The Belgian wedding guest was too terrified to have any communication at all with me after being released. It’s a fact that the police and Immigration have my phone number, or can easily get hold of it if they’ve lost it, and many of the very unpleasant “investor friends” see me almost daily in social media … It would seem like this was just another attempt at creating chaos and fear, but there is also a lot of genuine stupidity going on among “investor friends”.
The East African Court of Justice finally issued interim measures
On Tuesday 25th September 2018, the East African Court of Justice, via the Justices Monica K. Mugenyi, Faustin Ntezilyayo, and Fakihi A. Jundu, delivered its ruling on Application No.15 of 2017, and issued interim orders. When the villages of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, Oloirien, and Arash on 21st September 2017 filed the main case, Reference No.10 of 2017, during the illegal invasion of village land – in which beatings, illegal arrests, blocking of water sources, and rape were committed by mostly rangers from Serengeti National Park, together with other rangers and local police - they also filed this application to restrain the government from evicting them, destroying their homesteads, and confiscating their cattle.
The ruling includes the urgent letter written by the villages’ main counsel Donald Deya on 31st May 2018, then made into an application, in which he informed about numerous complaints by leaders and community member of the villages suing the government that had been severely harassed and intimidated by police officers led by the OCCID. The second part of the court order restrains the office of the Inspector General of Police from harassing or intimidating the Applicants in relation to the Case pending the determination thereof.
After a long word jungle, the judges explain their ruling as that the court “carefully considered the totality of the circumstances of this case and it took the view that, in the short term, the important duty to avert environmental and other ecological concerns pales in the face of the social disruption and human suffering that would inevitably flow from the continued eviction of the Applicants’ residents.” And their conclusion is:
“In the result, having held as we have in this Ruling above, we do hereby allow the subsisting Application with the following Orders:
- a. An interim order doth issue restraining the Respondent, and any persons or offices acting on his behalf, from evicting the Applicants’ residents from the disputed land, being the land comprised in the 1,500 sq km of land in the Wildlife Conservation Area bordering Serengeti National Park; destroying their homesteads or confiscating their livestock on that land, until the determination of Reference No. 10 of 2017.
- b. An interim order doth issue against the Respondent, restraining the office of the Inspector General of Police from harassing or intimidating the Applicants in relation to Reference No. 10 of 2017 pending the determination thereof.
- c. The costs hereof shall abide the outcome of the Reference. We direct that it be fixed for hearing forthwith.”
Unfortunately, the judges seemed to have believed the first lie by the government side, that the 1,500 km2 would be some kind of protected area, since they mentioned, “Wildlife Conservation Area” when the government side had already moved on to another lie claiming that the operation took place only in the national park. The interim measures were good news indeed even if they came a year late and would in less than two months be brutally violated …
Interview with Kigwangalla
On 31st October 2018, Kwanza TV aired an interview (Chukua Hatua Episode 5: Mahojiano na Waziri wa Maliasili na Utalii Dk. Hamisi Kigwangalla) with the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Hamisi Kigwangalla, and in this interview he talked about Loliondo for a couple of minutes. Kigwangalla correctly stated that Loliondo Game Controlled Area includes towns and the district headquarter, and that it’s registered village land, but he adds that his ministry also considers it a protected area, and that the cause of conflict would be conflicting laws. He said that former Minister Kagasheki decided to turn 1,500 km2 into Game Controlled Area and 2,500 km2 into village land, but that the Maasai refused, and since then there has been a conflict back and forth – when the truth is that it was proposed in an OBC-funded draft land use plan in 2010, rejected by the Maasai, and then in 2013 Kagasheki lied that they were “landless” and would be “given” the 2,500 km2. Kigwangalla briefly mentioned that OBC hunt on the 1,500 km2, and that the company is owned by people said to be princes from Dubai …
Kigwangalla incorrectly added (or lied, since he knows this very well) that people don’t live in the 1,500 km2 and he pretended to be unaware of the importance of the area for pastoralism. Kigwangalla continued, index finger moving in the air, describing the 1,500 km2 as place where over 600,000 wildebeest calves are born each year. That's not correct and sounds like one of the estimates for calves born in the whole Serengeti migration each year, and while there’s some calving in the Osero, most are born in the short grass plains of the Ndutu area of Ngorongoro Conservation Area and southern Serengeti. The minister made no effort to explain the critical importance that the 1,500 km2 Osero has for the Maasai, but seemed to imply that they simply are stubborn. He explained that the government’s plan is that the whole of the old Loliondo GCA (4,000 km2, more than the whole of Loliondo division, including Sale division) is to be turned into a “Loliondo Special Conservation Area”, under the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), and that the people will be involved, and so will photographic and hunting investors.
When the interview moved on to another issue, away from the Osero, and east to Enguserosambu, Kigwangalla showed more of his rude side. A member of the public had tweeted to question, “Loliondo Forest One is a forest under the Ngorongoro District Council. For years destruction has been bad. The community has mobilized to conserve it as community forest. Isn’t it time to hand over it to the community?” This made Kigwangalla and the “reporter” giggle, the minister said, “Pole, ole”, and explained that the current movement is away from the community and to central government.
Soldier brutality, burning bomas in violation of court orders
On 10th November 2018, I was informed that soldiers from the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (JWTZ) stationed at Lopolun, were beating people and chasing them and their cattle away from Mambarashani in Kirtalo where OBC were preparing their camp. I was only getting piecemeal information, and nobody was speaking up publicly, but those who should know confirmed the information – that meant a very serious violation of the interim orders – and I kept getting incomplete messages from people I hadn’t heard from before. The beatings had apparently been going on since 8th November.
At Kishoshoro, Ngari Potot was so badly beaten that the soldiers broke his arm and his leg. On 14th November, the attackers started burning down bomas in the areas from where they were chasing away people and livestock, while the silence continued. Motorcycles were confiscated, and the soldiers stole goats.
I was told that in the morning of 15th November, Yohana Toroge, chairman of Kirtalo, and the former Soitsambu councillor, Daniel Ngoitiko, were threatened by the soldiers, so that they wouldn’t have the courage to intervene. Apparently, other leaders didn’t need direct threats to stay silent.
Absolutely nobody at all was speaking up, not ward or village leaders, not traditional leaders, not the NGOs, not any women’s groups, and certainly not the MP who didn’t even say anything during the illegal operation of 2017. Even some activists who’d gone to England to decolonise museum artefacts refused to mention the ongoing crimes in flagrant violation of court orders. I wanted to scream that all leaders had to resign, but I couldn’t when there wasn’t anyone at all who could replace them. Everyone, also all young, educated people were silent. People seemed convinced that the arson attacks were ordered by the highest level of government, which is the president, and that I was far away while they had their families in Tanzania, and bad things could happen to them.
Besides Kirtalo, areas of Ololosokwan, like Oloirien, Endashata, and Mederi were attacked by the so-called People’s Defence Force that had been set upon the people. The soldiers were telling their victims that they were beaten for having sued the government, and that the land was a “corridor”.
On 16th November, cows belonging to some people from Ololosokwan were caught in Oloirien (area between Ololosokwan and Kirtalo, not the village with the same name) and driven to Lobo in Serengeti National Park where the soldiers wanted to hand them over to the park rangers that refused, maybe remembering having been told off by Minister Kigwangalla when they had been driving cattle into the park in 2017. Instead the cows were released among predators at night! Some of the bomas burned were those of Shungur and of Cosmas Leitura in the Oloirien area, and a couple of days later, on 19th November the Kuyo, Lukeine, and Masago bomas were burned in Orkimbai in Kirtalo. These were just some of the cases of arson.
Reportedly, in the morning of 21st November, the council chairman, the district CCM chairman, and some village chairmen went to ask DC Rashid MfaumeTaka why people were being beaten. The highest presidential appointee and central government enforcer in the district, the criminal who officially ordered the illegal operation of 2017, denied any knowledge about what was taking place. Still no formal or informal document ordering these attacks has been revealed, but since January 2019 the explanation is no longer that the order came from the president, but from OBC’s director who contracted the soldiers himself …
The Serengeti rangers, maybe feeling encouraged that Kigwangalla’s U-turn was complete, then joined the attacks. On 22nd November, some people from Arash were savagely beaten for hours by the rangers at Lobo when they were to pay so-called “fines” for their sheep and goats that had been caught illegally outside the national park. At 10,000 Tanzanian shillings per head for the approximately 900 goats and sheep the financial pain was no less than the physical for the victims, some of whom required hospital treatment. Meanwhile, the soldiers had apparently moved on to Soitsambu where they were beating up people accused of carrying Kenyan sugar. On 26th November the Serengeti rangers caught several herds of cattle at Mambarashani, and drove them to Lobo inside the national park to claim that they were found there. They demanded 100,000 Tanzanian shillings per head of cattle for the release, which would have been extortionate even if the “fines” had been legal, but now it was pure gangster extortion. The “fines” were paid, I don’t know if after negotiation, and the cows were released.
At the same time, over 150 cows from Neromboi ole Lindi’s boma were caught - inside the park in this case - and detained for three weeks while the rangers wanted to auction them off. Neromboi's cows were sold at a cost of 24 million given the delay in the payment of a 16 million fine. The Serengeti National Park Authority refused to let Neromboi bid for his own cows at 146,000 per head, as he was interested in doing, or let other Maasai buyers do it. They seem to have their own buyers in Mara region. There was a total of 163 heads of cattle confiscated but at the time of auctioning 5 big bulls had gone missing. Arash people sought out the alternative of bribing Senapa’s cow buyers with 2 million so that they would lower the bid, The reason for this was the fact that it was a disgrace to let the family lose their cows and it could damage the image of the Loita for other subtribes, it could be seen as kind of weakness, the family could live in total abject poverty . After the mission succeeded people from Arash raised money among themselves and the cash was submitted to the CCM chair and the Council Chairman, who is also Arash ward councillor, to go to Serengeti to buy the cows.
The soldier brutality was renewed for Christmas. On 19thDecember mzee ole Shura was badly beaten by soldiers in Kirtalo, and on 20th December the same crime was committed in Ololosokwan against mzee ole Masiaya. These old men were just out walking. There had been several other beatings in Ololoskwan since the November attacks, to the extent that it’s seen as almost “normal”, but some people in Kirtalo said that nothing was happening there after November, and that some bomas had been rebuilt. Others said that Kirtalo wasn’t peaceful at all, and neither was Arash. Mzee ole Masiaya, who was from Ngorongoro looking for work in Ololoskwan, was too weak to get on a motorbike to the dispensary, but was brought medicine, and reportedly recovered. He was beaten for no reason, even when he’s the kind of person that the plan is to turn everyone in Loliondo into: destitute and under the yoke of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Later I was informed that before attacking ole Masiaya the soldiers had beaten 15-year old Ngoiser Sumare, and 25-year old and pregnant Ntajiri Sirmange who was in the company of children. The soldiers claimed to be searching for Kenyan cows, but the only victim who was herding any kind of cows was Ngoiser.
Also on 20th December, the army soldiers drove cattle from village land in Oloosek to Klein’s gate. Empirpiri, Enalubo, Oldonyio Keri were mentioned as well as areas from where cattle were taken. Apparently, the park warden didn’t want the cows, and they were released without charge.
In the morning of 21st December, the soldiers descended upon the Leken area in Karkamoru sub-village of Kirtalo burning to the ground 12 or 13 bomas with all belongings inside. The cows were out, but young lambs and goat kids died in the fire. The names of whom the bomas belonged to that have been reported to me are Toroge, Moniko, Salaash, Shura, Kimeriay, Parmwat, Sepere, and Nguya. A 65-year old man and two pregnant women were beaten. Then, around 2 pm it started raining heavily. At the Saturday market in Soitsambu on 22nd December people from Leken were buying big polyethylene sheets. The victims of arson in Leken stayed in place in makeshift tents, and started rebuilding.
The day after the mass arson of 12 bomas the strangest message from DC Rashid Mfaume Taka was shared in Whatsapp groups. “Nimepata taarifa (nikiwa nje ya WILAYA kikazi) juu ya madhila yaliyowakuta baadhi ya wananchi wa Karkamoo. Nawapa pole na nimeagiza timu (advanced party) ya wajumbe wa KUU waende kukutana na viongozi wa kijiji na wakawaangalie wananchi wale na hali ilivyo. Niwatoe hofu wananchi kuwa hakuna operesheni yeyote na watu ni lazima wabaki kwenye maeneo yao na waendelee na shughuli zao za kujutafutia maisha bora.”
(“I’ve got information (while out of the district for work reasons) about the atrocities that befell the residents of Karkarmoru. I want to say sorry and I have commissioned a team (advanced party) of high official members to go to the village to meet the village leaders and check those villagers and their state of affairs. I want to assure people that, there is not any operation in the area and they should stay in their areas with their economic activities for betterment of their livelihoods”.)
In November the DC had denied any knowledge about the attacks committed by soldiers from the national army obviously assisting OBC, and in December he pretended that people were being attacked by unknown assailants …
Later it was revealed that Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, had been expected in Loliondo the days before Christmas, but postponed his trip. One or more cargo planes from the Royal Moroccan Air Force had already landed in Loliondo as could be seen in a photo shared by OBC’s community liaison, former councillor Mohammed “Marekani” Bayo, who is currently the CCM councillor candidate for Orgosorok. Mohammed VI had visited Loliondo at least once before.
2019 with death, a faint glimmer of hope, and then a genocidal proposal
More illegal arrests ordered by DC Rashid Mfaume Taka
2019 didn’t have a promising start. On 8th January 2019 I was informed that the secondary school teachers Clinton Kairung and Supuk Olemaoi (who wasn’t saved by having crossed over to CCM) had been arrested on the 7th (and then they weren’t released until the 13th), so again illegal arrests had been ordered by DC Rashid Mfaume Taka. The “reason” for these arrests was only confirmed later when I was told that the only thing that they had been questioned about was having met with me at Olpusimoru market in Kenya on 6th January 2019! Besides that I’m free to meet anyone I feel like in Kenya, and that sadly Clinton and Supuk, even if meeting me in Kenya isn’t a crime in any way, would probably have run off in a panic if they’d seen me - the fact was that I found myself far away in Sweden, and not even Clinton and Supuk themselves were at the market …
On 8th January 2019, two people from Mondorosi were added to those arrested: Manyara Karia, former chairwoman of Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC), and Kapolonto ole Nanyoi from Enadooshoke. Manyara had attended a meeting at the Nanyoi boma for traditional and practical preparations after the death of an old man, but “someone” had reported that it was an uchochezi (sedition) meeting with white people present. It seems like Kapolonto was arrested for being the closest relative of the boma owner who was fit enough and available to be arrested. The Nanyoi boma is near the land occupied by Thomson Safaris, which has caused the Nanyoi’s many problems through the years.
On 9th January, Onesmo Olengurumwa of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) sent advocate Samson Rumende to process bail, but in Loliondo he was denied access to those arrested. In the evening THRDC published a news alert, without much information, since the accusations had still not been revealed. On Thursday 10th January, advocate Nicholas ole Senteu suffered an accident when on the way to help with the release. He wasn’t seriously injured, but his mission was interrupted. Authorities kept blocking access to those detained, and denying bail, claiming that the Ngorongoro Security Committee first had to investigate and interrogate, which had been delayed due to the RC’s visit to the district. Per Tanzanian law, after 24 hours a detained person must be either granted bail, or taken to court, but as known, Loliondo is lawless.
Surprisingly, a brief article was published in the Mwananchi newspaper. In this article, the usual “uchochezi” is mentioned as the reason for the arrest (Wanne wakamatwa kwa tuhuma za uchochezi Loliondo, 10.1.2019). An anonymous policeman is quoted as saying that some of the accusations concern associating with activists from outside the country and sharing false information about Loliondo in social media. Sadly, neither Clinton nor Supuk had shared any information about the soldier brutality in violation of court orders. Manyara can’t share things in social media, since she can only write her name, according to a relative. The anonymous policeman then refers to Arusha Regional Police Commander Ramadhani Ng'azi for information about the arrests, but the journalist was unable to get hold of him for a comment.
Manyara was released for health reasons on the 11th but ordered to return to the police station on Monday 14th. On Saturday 12th January, RC Gambo made a statement condemning the burning of bomas, which at the same time was sensationally good news (considering the climate of fear and complete silence by all leaders), and totally absurd for the way in which he did it, and what he was pretending.
On Sunday 13th January, Onesmo Olengurumwa of THRDC – the only person from Loliondo, even if he lives in Dar es Salaam, who still dared to sometimes speak up (but not about the soldier violence …) - issued a statement condemning the illegal arrests, briefly describing the situation in Loliondo, and the fact that illegal arrests are far too common in Tanzania. THRDC called on the Loliondo police to immediately release those arrested, on the Minister of Home Affairs and the Inspector General of Police to take measures against the Ngorongoro Officer Commanding District and against the Arusha Regional Police Commander. In the evening Clinton, Supuk, and Kapolonto were released without charges.
At some time later the same year 2019, Supuk and Clinton were promoted to school inspectors.
The RC condemning the burning of bomas in a strange and vague way
As mentioned, Arusha RC Mrisho Gambo, on his visit to Ngorongoro district in January 2019, made a statement against the burning of bomas committed by soldiers in November and December. This was sensationally good news, since nobody, other than myself, had previously spoken up, but in other ways it didn’t make sense at all.
In a video clip by Ayo TV, sitting next to the DC, who doesn’t look happy at all, Gambo starts by embroidering with words that there is a conflict between people and wildlife, that nobody opposes conservation, and that we must live together in Ngorongoro with wisdom and following the law, and so on. Then he tells about something in the district, people’s bomas have been burned, and the process doing this wasn’t very pleasing to see. He warns leaders – without specifying which leaders - against being used for private interests by someone controlling things in Ngorongoro via remote control. Measures must be taken through the district and regional security committees, following the law, and showing an element of humanity. Then he praises the MP (and deputy minister) – who in the clip doesn’t say anything, – for being very diplomatic, wise, and a great lobbyist, and he talks about the government as a just government that exercises due diligence, which obviously isn’t true at all. Neither “soldiers” nor “OBC” are mentioned. The attackers appear as “wasiojulikana”, the in Tanzania much feared “unknown people” that aren’t unknown at all. I was later informed that on ITV the MP had also spoken and condemned the burning, also he without mentioning the soldiers.
Things didn’t add up and are still not adding up. Since they were terrified and believed that the beatings and arson committed by soldiers in wide areas around OBC’s camp in November and December 2018 were ordered by the president, not one single leader – or anyone else - from Loliondo made any statement. The DC in November just denied any knowledge about what was going on, and in December said that he’d commissioned a team to investigate, while assuring people that there wasn’t any operation. Then in January the RC visits and very publicly condemns the arson, but without mentioning the soldiers, or who would had ordered them. Those who were convinced that the attacks were ordered by the president, now say that the soldiers were working for OBC’s director, Isaack Mollel.
The president’s surprising statement
On 15th January 2019, a press statement was released by the Director for Presidential Information informing about an order by President Magufuli. The statement said that the president wasn’t happy seeing pastoralists and cultivators evicted all over the country, and therefore he had ordered the immediate suspension of operations to remove villages claimed to be situated in protected areas, and set one month for the concerned ministers to make amendments to the law and establish which wildlife and forest protected areas do not have any wildlife or forests, and to divide those among pastoralists and cultivators that now have problems finding land for their livelihoods. The president stressed that the order didn’t mean that people are free to invade protected areas, and that it’s important to conserve wildlife. He said that this order had been made necessary by the increase in people and livestock since independence. The president also asked the Ministry of Lands to keep sending him suggestions for farms to be revoked and divided to be used for crops and livestock.
While I saw some problems with such a statement after terror against pastoralists, and just about everyone else, had been worse than ever during Magufuli presidency, and it seemed to advocate for a strict separation between areas for people without wildlife and areas for wildlife (and paying tourists, I assume) without people, which sounds quite dangerous indeed for those who haven’t finished off all wildlife on their lands, the thought of removing some protected areas to avoid brutality against rural people did sound new and very promising, and should have meant that areas that aren’t protected, but under threat of being alienated (like the Osero) should be left in peace automatically. By now it seems like that wasn’t the intention at all …
There were some hard to understand and frankly embarrassing acts of praise for the president by pastoralist organisations. Though they may have found it strategically necessary. People in Babati, where there in September 2018 had been brutal evictions from Vilima Vitatu in a long-running conflict with Burunge WMA and an “investor”, marched to hail the president.
On 20th (or maybe 19th) January 2019, Ngorongoro district council chairman Siloma, whose performance the past years has been a disappointment, to put it mildly, read a press statement on behalf of the residents of Loliondo division in praise of the president’s statement of 15th January. I’ve only got the video version of this statement that I hope I’ve understood correctly, and it isn’t bad at all since it describes the importance of the 1,500 km2 Osero under threat and also mentions the land occupied by Thomson Safaris – as if expecting that the president’s statement means that these issues will be dealt with favourably for the Loliondo Maasai, since the land that would remain after the threatened alienation of the Osero includes towns and agricultural land, which would lead to an unsustainably conflictive situation. The chairman mentions that people have been victims of much torture and abuse, including the burning of bomas, even if he doesn’t specify the most recent attacks committed by soldiers.
Special seats councillor Kiyoolo Kakiya then appears in the video thanking the president and reminding of the terror that started with the illegal operation in 2009, that especially has affected women, and leads people to run away in fear upon seeing a government vehicle. She now has peace and faith in the government.
Joseph Kungu from Loosoito reminds of how government organs have been used in different operations against the truth and against the law to chase away, terrorise and torture Loliondo residents, and to seize their cattle, and he now sees how these operations were conducted against proper procedures and he thanks the president.
Justine Nekoren, speaking on behalf of traditional leaders, almost crying, traces the abuse back to the creation of Serengeti National Park in 1959, mentions how they were very near losing all hope about the land, but now thank the president for having opened hearts and prison doors.
Some people have expressed their irritation with this statement by which leaders whose fear, or worse, has brought the problems were now pretending to be the ones solving them, so that they will again get votes.
Loliondo was not at all declared safe, and on 17th February 2019 a team of seven cabinet secretaries from different ministries came – in the usual interminable snake of big fossil fuel guzzling vehicles - to inspect the Osero and report back to the ministers. The DC celebrated the victory of terror expressing how pleased he was that this time there weren’t any manifestations. Local leaders that were present didn’t share much information. The only thing I heard was that the president’s statement could mean everything or nothing at all, if the team of cabinet secretaries is listened to, which didn’t sound good.
On 23rd September 2019, the Tanzanian government issued a statement about the implementation of the president’s statement of 15th January, and it was read by PM Majaliwa. The message was that 12 game controlled areas and 7 forest reserves would be revoked and given to villagers for residence, agriculture, and livestock. Maybe some of the forest reserves have some relevance (I don’t know), but as is very well known, not only Loliondo GCA, but most, if not all, GCAs are already village land per the Village Land Act No. 5 of 1999, and have never been protected areas regulating anything else than hunting. This means that the statement contains an enormous portion of nonsense, and revoking old GCAs, redrawing boundaries, and so on, is more of a risk than an opportunity. Loliondo GCA wasn’t even on the list.
If there was any seriousness at all in the president’s statement any land alienation plans should have been called off, but they kept getting worse, and worse.
Perjury in the EACJ
In the EACJ on 5th March 2019, the applicants (the villages) had to ask for an adjournment, since they hadn’t been able to find an expert cartographer in time. They had also thought that the defendants would ask for an adjournment, since they hadn’t filed affidavits themselves, but strangely it was found that they had indeed done so in December 2018. In these affidavits DC Rashid Mfaume Taka, DED Raphael Siumbu, park warden Julius Francis Musei, geographical information system officer Alli Kassim Shakha, and wildlife officer Nganana Mothi (Maasai from NCA whom I had somewhat trusted a decade earlier, even if I was warned that he was a government employee) commit the outrageous perjury of saying that the 2017 operation did not take place on village land, but only in the national park!
They did this despite the fact that it was the DC himself who ordered the illegal operation and was quoted in the statement by the MNRT, and despite the map by TANAPA that showed that the overwhelming majority of bomas were burned on village land. The DC had also told OBC’s “journalist” that 241 bomas or ronjos were burned on village land. Alli Kassim Shakha just faked a new map for the hearing … The Attorney General had even used a completely different lie in the initial response to being sued, not hiding an invasion of village land, but pretending that this land would already have been converted into some kind of protected area.
The case moves on at snail pace, but the applicants’ witnesses, who were victims of the illegal operation in 2017, and their expert witness have been cross examined, and now in October 2020 the perjurers are “soon” to be cross examined.
Mollel gets caught by PCCB and is locked up to rot in remand prison while all his accomplices remain untouched
The first week of February 2019 ten Pakistani nationals who had been doing temporary work for OBC from November 2018 were arrested for not having obtained the required work permits as drivers, mechanics, painters and cooks. They were charged, released on bail, and the case was to be heard on 22nd February. Arusha RC Gambo wanted the employer, OBC’s director, Isaack (or officially “Isaya Lesion”) Mollel, to be arrested as well, but the police were reluctant to do this. When Minister of Home Affairs Kangi Lugola came to Arusha for a tour of the region, Gambo complained to him that some police were barring criminals from being arrested, and on 13th February the minister ordered the arrest of Mollel, who then showed up, was charged, and released on bail.
A credible source – who had heard Mollel’s lawyers talking – informed me that PM Majaliwa had written a letter saying that Mollel must not be disturbed. I have failed to get hold of that letter. Majaliwa has been a menace since he in 2016 set out to “solve the conflict”. Though, judging from what followed, such a letter - if sent - didn’t have any effect and later someone else said that there had been two letters: one from Majaliwa and one from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, both saying that that the temporary OBC workers should be released. Not even that happened though.
One theory about why Mollel was no longer untouchable was that OBC’s long-term friend Kinana was close to Bernard Membe who at that time was “suspected” (later confirmed) of wanting to challenge Magufuli in the 2020 elections.
On 19th February Minister Lugola visited Wasso town. There was a meeting with the public – full of theatrics ordering about local officials - and the venue seemed dominated by non-pastoralist townspeople that to a far lesser extent had been affected by the terror of the past years, except for the soldiers stationed at Lopolun, near Wasso, that were causing serious problems in town as well. Secondary Education Officer Emmanuel Sukumsi, at the time serving as acting District Executive Director (allegedly because DED Siumbu, another friend of OBC and a perjurer, didn’t want any problems with RC Gambo) was called up to the podium to describe the generosity of OBC and their great help to the district council and to the villages. One of the most destructive wannabe corruptees, a young Sonjo man called Paul Dudui went even more overboard praising OBC. To illustrate what this kind of people are like, this individual, Dudui, has in social media claimed that I’m a spy, a poacher, a prostitute and a thief, that I enter Tanzania through forbidden routes and bring weapons of war, that I’m a donor (I wish), that I’ve written the Oakland report, that I have an NGO that’s opposing the Mto wa Mbu-Loliondo road, to mention just a few obviously malicious and insane lies. Unfortunately, this is not just the products of one troubled and greedy mind, but as mentioned, people have repeatedly been illegally arrested, accused of communicating with me.
In a case of extreme police brutality not related to the Osero, Lugola had the previous day in Longido met one of five men, workers at a campsite in Ngorongoro, who in December 2018 were arrested on suspicion of theft, taken to Loliondo, tortured, and raped by the police, for almost two weeks without anyone informing their relatives of their whereabouts.
Anyway, Mollel failed to show up at a court hearing on 22nd February, since he was being questioned by TAKUKURU/PCCB (the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau) – well over a year after Kigwangalla said that he had ordered this - and the hearing was postponed until 1st March. Then on 1st March Mollel was still being held by TAKUKURU/PCCB. Reportedly, his home and OBC’s office in Arusha had been searched, as had OBC’s camp in Loliondo.
On 4th March 2019 Mollel and OBC (this is what PCCB’s statement said) were charged on ten counts of economic crimes between 2010 and 2018, most concerning the importation of a considerable number of vehicles for OBC from Dubai, and the accusations were about economic sabotage and money laundering. TAKUKURU/PCCB had found Mollel to several times have forged documents, lied to the Tanzania Revenue Authority with the aim of tax evasion, and registered his own vehicle as belonging to OBC. Mollel didn’t have to answer these charges, since the court wasn’t able to hear the case, and it was adjourned until 18th March. Mollel was locked up in Kisongo remand prison.
Next hearing was on 18th March. The ten charges about employing foreign nationals were dismissed and then Mollel instead got 37 new charges concerning this same case. There were 27 other workers, but those had left the country, while the original 10 had to stay at a hotel because of the court case, which to me seems overly harsh. (Not until October 2019 could the ten workers’ pay a fine and end a long and costly stay in Tanzania.)
The TAKUKURU/PCCB case was adjourned, since it was still being investigated.
Some who’d talked with OBC employees said that those were claiming that the court cases were about Mollel personally, not OBC, and that the company continued its operations, while others said that only watchmen remained at the camp.
On 29th March 2019 PCCB moved closer the serious issue of OBC’s many years of lobbying for terror and land alienation when who’d until recently (February 2019) been Ngorongoro District Security Officer – basically the district spy chief - Issa Ng’itu was charged on fifteen counts of corruption, submitting false documents, and forgery between 2017 and 2019. The charges concerned Ng’itu several times receiving money – in total over 10 million Tanzanian shillings - from Mollel while knowing that this is against the law, having bought (or otherwise obtained) a Landcruiser Prado from Mollel, and together with Mollel having forged different documents relating to this vehicle. According to Ayo TV, the money transactions were found on Ng’itu’s SIM-card. Three more charges were added to Mollel’s case. Though then nothing more was heard about Ng’itu, and eventually it was revealed that his case was dismissed, and he was promoted to Regional Security Officer in Rukwa.
The damage done by Mollel is so great that it’s hard to describe. He has several times exposed his “theory” about land in Loliondo in media - that OBC are innocent victims of destructive Maasai, “Kenyans”, NGOs, and other tour operators “invading” the hunting block - and his “journalist”, Manyerere Jackton, has done it even more frequently with amazing hate rhetoric and unhinged slander (but is lying low since the arrest). During his time as director there have been two major illegal operations on village land, with massive human rights crimes, in 2009 and 2017, and OBC have funded a rejected draft land use plan proposing turning the 1,500 km2 Osero of important grazing land that’s OBC’s core hunting area into a “protected area”. The Loliondo police state - with every government official at the service of the “investors”, and where anyone who could speak up will be threatened, called to the security committee, or illegally arrested, has worsened considerably during Mollel’s time, with further acceleration since 2016.
I’ve lost count of how many times Mollel’s case has been postponed, and the past months there hasn’t been anything at all in media. Mollel has written to the Director of Public Prosecution declaring his will to confess economic crimes and repay the money. This came after President Magufuli in September 2019 issued a directive announcing this apparently perverse American practise called plea bargaining, which basically means that innocent people can confess and be extorted, while those guilty can confess and bribe themselves away from justice. Though it seems like it has only led to further postponements. I would think that Mollel has silently been released, if it weren’t because everyone assures me that he's still rotting away in remand prison, and will continue there at least until after the elections.
Though in the evening of 5th October 2020, when working on publishing this blog post, I was told that Mollel had been released on Friday 2nd October. I'm trying to confirm this information.
While Mollel is a truly evil person, he should not be imprisoned without a ruling in a court of law, especially since in today´s Tanzania so many innocent people are being treated in the same way to silence them and install fear everywhere. Though the worst injustice is that all his accomplices are getting away untouched, except for the brief arrest of former DSO Ng’itu.
Maybe every single government official in Loliondo has worked for OBC (and Thomson) against the people, and definitely every single DC. So has some elected representatives, also beyond the local area, not least the ministers for Natural Resources and Tourism, in the case of Kagasheki and Maghembe very loudly and rabidly. Gifts have been brought to the ministry, and elsewhere in broad daylight. Maybe this is one reason that proper court hearings won’t start.
Still, the arrest and locking up of Mollel has had beneficial effects on the ground. There hasn’t been any abuse committed against herders, and most people say that the OBC employees are just driving around in a vehicle doing “anti-poaching”. Many people seem to think that OBC are so weakened that they no longer count. On the other hand, some “friends” of the hunters claim that the arrest only concerns Mollel personally, and that Sheikh Mohammed will “soon” visit. The saddest part is that what OBC have been lobbying for is contained in the current genocidal proposal by the Ngorongoro MLUM review team, and that in three wards CCM have nominated OBC employees as their councillor candidates, with Ololosokwan as the worst case by far, since the ward that has been in the front of the land rights struggle, will now have none other than OBC’s assistant director as its councillor.
Science article deeply embedded with human rights criminals
On 29th March 2019 ,Science Magazine published an article “Cross-boundaryhuman impacts compromise the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem” by 13 scientist arguing that human population growth is “squeezing” wildlife into the cores of the protected areas, and advocating for “soft edges” to extend the influence of conservationists and central government onto areas surrounding protected areas, while presenting hard edges with strict border control against people living in the surrounding areas as most beneficial and desirable. The media coverage of this article spread like wildfire not only in specialist media, or the websites of all kinds of conservation organisations, but also in mainstream media all over the world.
In a sinister way, considering what had happened just in the past few year, and now knowing what kind of nasty proposal would soon be presented, most media outlets quoted the Director of the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), Simon Mduma, who said,
“These results come at the right time, as the Tanzanian government is now taking important steps to address these protected areas boundary issues on a national level. This paper provides important scientific evidence of the far-ranging consequences of the increased human pressures around the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, information that is now urgently needed by policymakers and politicians.”
In Tanzania, one of the co-authors, Han Olff, held a press conference at the headquarters of TAWIRI, and together with the spokespersons of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and of TAWIRI.
The Frankfurt Zoological Society, one of the organisations supporting the article, and that for over half a century has worked against Maasai land rights, in their press release stated,
“The publication provides the scientific basis for the far-reaching consequences of population pressure in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, information that political leaders urgently need.”
One of the co-authors of the article was none less than William Mwakilema who was chief park warden in Serengeti in 2017 when his rangers were tasked with invading village land in Loliondo, and committed mass arson, beatings, illegal arrests, seizing of cattle, blocking of water sources, shooting of cattle, and rape.
I published a blog post on 6th April 2019. https://termitemoundview.blogspot.com/2019/04/science-magazine-article-with-huge.html
On 18th April 2019, the Oakland Institute issued a statement about the article, The Dangerous Legacy of Fortress Conservation. https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/dangerous-legacy-fortress-conservation
And on 12th July 2019 Science published a brief (not more than 300 words are allowed) response letter by Teklehaymanot Weldemichel, Tor. A. Benjaminsen, Connor Joseph Cavanagh, Haakon Lein. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6449/133.1
Teklehaymanot Weldemichel, who happened to be in Loliondo for field research on 13th August 2017, in May 2020 published the article, Othering Pastoralists, State Violence, and the Remaking of Boundaries in Tanzania’s Militarised Wildlife Conservation Sector. In this article Teklehaymanot examines why Tanzanian authorities use violence for conservation, and how they justify it. The article mentions biodiversity extinction narratives, and how those are used to create a sense of urgency about the serious threats faced by Serengeti from a growing population, and how this serves to effectively legitimize violence and displacement that ruin the lives of thousands of people.
JWTZ soldiers killing Yohana "Babuche" Saidea in Wasso town
The soldiers that since March 2018 had been camping at Lopolun, near Wasso town, also became a problem for non-pastoralist townspeople, acting violent and bullying people.
On 7th March 2019, 26-year old Yohana “Babuche” Saidea, together with his friend Boniface Jackson were abducted by more than ten soldiers who took them to the camp where they were tortured. The soldiers had been bullying Yohana for a long time and at the camp they whipped him with their belts, and put bricks on his chest, which more than one soldiers then moved on top of.
When released Boniface had a broken arm, and Babuche started fainting frequently, and complained about headaches. On 2nd April 2019, Babuche passed away.
When reached by the tragic news, youths of Wasso town organised a peaceful manifestation to the DC’s office. No leaders made any statements, except for a post in social media by the district CCM chairman Ndirango Laizer expressing his condolences and saying that CCM was to follow up and make sure those responsible are dealt with.
The District Administrative Secretary advised Babuche’s parents to see the Officer Commanding District (OCD), instead of the DC, and the OCD in his turn advised them to sit down and “negotiate” with the soldiers!
I was told that on 3 April 2019 Babuche’s parents opened a murder case, which the OCD had advised against, but then I haven’t been able to get any updates at all. All soldiers at the camp (maybe some forty, nobody knows exactly) were transferred somewhere else and new ones arrived – instead of the criminals being arrested and taken to court … Babuche was one of Loliondo’s best football players. At least Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition mentioned this crime and tragedy in social media.
Threats in the press
In June 2019, NCA chief conservator Freddy Manongi was lecturing Tanzanian and Thai journalist under the Journalists Environmental Association of Tanzania (Jet), in partnership with USAID. Manongi stressed the importance of turning wildlife corridors into protected areas, and used Loliondo and Lake Natron as examples (Ashauri shoroba ziwe hifadhi za taifa, Nipashe, 13.6.2019).
On 5th July, the director of wildlife, Maurus Msuha, in TANAPA´s yearly meeting with editors and senior journalist revealed that the fate of Loliondo GCA is soon to be known, when the government will issue guidelines about how to protect this important part of the Serengeti ecosystem (Hatma ya pori tengefu la Loliondo kujulikana karibuni Mwananchi, 5.7.2019).
The genocidal proposal
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. A couple of days later Manongi was boasting about this plan in the press - where it was also presented as marking the occasion of World Tourism Day and of 60 years of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority – and some leaders, especially in Loliondo, claimed that only then did they hear about it.
The report - The Multiple Land Use Model of Ngorongoro Conservation Area: Achievements and Lessons Learnt, Challenges and Options for the Future – was finalized after 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) once again visited Ngorongoro in March 2019, and in their report reminded that they wanted the Multiple Land Use Model review completed to see the results and offer advice, while again complaining about the visual impact of settlements with “modern” houses, and so on. Recommendations and concerns from the UNESCO have in the past repeatedly led to a worsened human rights situation.
The proposal of the MLUM report is to divide Ngorongoro into zones, with an extensive “core conservation zone” that’s to be a no-go zone for livestock and herders, and this includes the Ngorongoro Highland Forest 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. This has led to a loss of 90% of grazing and water for Nainokanoka, Ngorongoro, Misigiyo wards, and a 100% loss of natural salt licks for livestock in these wards. The proposal is to do the same with Oldupai Gorge, Laitoli footprints, and the Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek basin. Further, the proposal is to annex to the NCAA 1,500 km2 in Loliondo, mostly in the Osero - important dry season grazing, the loss of which would have disastrous knock-on effects, but that for years have been lobbied for by OBC that organizes hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, and successfully resisted by the Maasai - and turn most of it into a no-go-zone, but allowing hunting, and to do the same with the Lake Natron area. The reason for including Loliondo and Lake Natron is in the report explained as an estimated 25% loss of tourism revenue when the upgrading of the Mto-wa-Mbu - Loliondo road has been finished and tourists will use that route to Serengeti.
The proposal for the 1,500 km2 Osero in Loliondo to a large extent fulfil what OBC have been lobbying for since before funding the land use plan proposing it. In the Osero in Loliondo division 1,038 km2 are to be for tourism (hunting unlike in the rest of NCA, “core conservation sub-zone”), conservation, and research while all other human activities will be banned. It will be a no-go zone for herders and livestock, while 462 km2 of Loliondo GCA in Malambo in Sale division is proposed to be same, except that some grazing will be “allowed” (“transistional zone”). Though any move to annex the 1,500 km2 Osero to NCA and implement this plan would be contempt of court, since there’s an ongoing case in the East African Court of Justice, where the Tanzanian government finds itself sued for its violent attempts at alienating this land.
The proposed resettlement areas are small and already populated, and the areas in Ngoile and Olbalbal are semi-deserts lacking water or grazing. People are to be removed from the wards of Nainokanoka, Nayobi, Ngorongoro, and Misigyo, while the wards with “human settlement zones” will have their grazing and water areas turned into no-go-zones (“core conservation zone”, like Endulen where 80 % of grazing and water is found in Ndutu.
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, and mentioning the supposed destructiveness of the Maasai pastoralist together with climate change as the reason for the plans. I’m still waiting for that much needed noise, but which can’t really be expected if Maasai leaders themselves don’t speak up (they have to some extent but not loudly enough). As usual, Manongi also boasted about the Ngorongoro success story with its huge revenue from tourism, apparently without seeing any link between climate change and this world order in which some consume both fossil fuel and the lands of those with much smaller carbon footprints.
Soon after the news about the dangerous plan, many meetings were being held in NCA, but leaders showed passivity, discouraging people and telling them to wait, which led some to despair. Fearing state repression, some saw it as preferable that international organizations should speak up, but this was only done by the Oakland Institute. On 5th October 2019, the Pastoral Council, PC, that’s viewed as corrupt and compromised, held a meeting in Karatu for leaders and educated “elites”, but not allowing anyone from Loliondo to attend. Then, on 7th October the PC issued a press statement against evictions, but that otherwise was strangely weak and compromised, and misrepresenting Loliondo. On 29th October district chairman Siloma read a statement by the ward councillors of Ngorongoro district, and it was even weaker. There was nothing more than a request that, to avoid conflict in the district, the MLUM team must consult with the Ngorongoro councillors before making such a proposal.
Already at the presentation of the report on 22nd September 2019, there were complaints that the view of the Ngorongoro residents weren’t represented in any way in the report, and this prompted Kigwangalla – who otherwise was lecturing people in his deeply ignorant manner, defending the report - to order the Multiple Land-Use Model review team to within 21 days return to NCA, meet with residents of all wards, and then inform him about their findings. This was done, three “community representatives” were added to the MLUM team, the NCA wards were again toured, and the villagers’ unsurprisingly vehement rejection of any evictions could again be observed. Though the team did not collect the views of people in the areas of Loliondo and Lake Natron that are wanted for annexation. The new version of the report was finished on 30th or 31st October 2019, and was supposed to be shared, which didn’t happen. Apparently the “community representatives” panicked when they were sidelined, and the report, that was sent to Kigwangalla, was said to be just as bad as the old one, and when it was eventually shared it was confirmed that the same genocidal proposal just kept being repeated.
Around 21st November the chairman of the Pastoral Council, Edward Maura, was touring Olbalbal ward together with NCA chief conservator Manongi, the main promoter of the genocidal proposal, promising development projects. Thereafter Manongi has been touring development projects funded by NCAA all over the district. NCAA’s charitable projects include permanent structures for the JWTZ military camp that caused so much terror and silence in 2018 …
Apparently at a regional CCM meeting there were assurances that there was no way that the ruling party would support the proposal for evictions. Some suspected that the intention was to bring people to despair and then present the president and other leaders as saviours when declaring that the plan had been stopped, but there still haven’t been any public statements of any kind. The proposal just keeps being insisted upon by people in and around the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
Reports about the strangest study tour to OBC’s camp
On 21st November 2019, a long line of vehicles was observed driving to OBC’s camp. Then it was said that some MPs (though not the Ngorongoro MP) together with people with disabilities had made a tourism study visit to the camp. This sounds far from OBC’s core activities that are organising hunting for a ruthless, and PR conscious, dictator who has kidnapped his own daughters, and to lobby for alienating land from indigenous people. I tried to find out what was going on, but was (still am) unable to obtain more information …
2020 that will hopefully not just be a sad, long funeral for democracy
Mwananchi interview with Kigwangalla
In an interview to the Mwananchi newspaper on 3rd February 2020 (Kigwangalla: Natumia mitandao kutema nyongo 3.2.2020) Kigwangalla again talked about having “solved the conflict” in Loliondo - complaining about not getting enough credit for it - and that there is peace between people, investors and government, while the NGOs are packing up. The truth is that the NGOs were intimidated into silence already in 2016, before Kigwangalla was put at the head of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, and he had been talking about a “solution” that everybody agrees with since 2018 (when a military camp was set up, and fear and silence became worse than ever) but absolutely nobody in Loliondo can tell what that “solution” is. Did he this time mean the genocidal proposal by the MLUM review team?
Renewed negotiations with those who keep insisting on the genocidal proposal
In March 2020 I started hearing about a letter “from the government” announcing that the genocidal MLUM proposal is to be implemented, but I haven’t heard from anyone who has actually seen this letter, and it may not even exist. Anyway, the new “participatory” version had only led to the MLUM review team insisting on the same genocidal proposal.
The Pastoral Council, traditional leaders, and village and ward leaders from Ngorongoro Conservation Area went to Arusha to hold a press conference on 14th April 2020. They called upon the president and the prime minister to intervene against the abuse committed by the MLUM team, together with chief conservator Manongi, that have proposed measures to remove over 15 villages and turn the Maasai into refugees in their own country. Their recommendations were:
-To dissolve the MLUM team as soon as possible, and if further evaluation is needed, form a participatory committee, including the local residents from start to finish.
-The committee should be funded by the central government and not by the chief conservator who uses money to impose his views.
-Information from six ministers who have visited Ngorongoro should be taken into account, together with recommendations submitted to Minister Kigwangalla by Ngorongoro residents, as well as recommendations presented to CCM secretary-general Bashiru Ally by traditional leaders late last year.
-To throw away views and recommendations by the MNRT’s team, since they went way too far catering to the wishes of conservationists, even including areas that weren’t in the terms of reference, like Loliondo and Lake Natron.
To ITV the chairman of the NCAA board, Kaswamila, said that the report had been sent to the Ministry and is to be further discussed, and that no decisions have been taken, while chief conservator Manongi said that every process was carried out in a participatory way, that there isn’t anything new, and if they have inquiries, they should direct them to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
MOU about the Pastoral Council
Meanwhile, a MOU was signed between the Ngorongoro Pastoral Council (PC), the Ngorongoro District Council, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), after pressure by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and others, for funds to bypass the PC to instead go to the District Council, and for PC employees to be directly employed by the Ngorongoro Conservation Areas Authority. The reason for this was the widespread mismanagement of funds and corruption among the PC representatives, but at the same time it will increase the power of the person who’s corrupting them and others, left, right, and centre – chief conservator Manongi … Nobody knows why the PC members signed this MOU.
An open letter was written by some concerned people of NCA – Thadeus Clamian, Joseph Oleshangay, Tubulu Nebasi, Denis Shangay, and Nengai Peter – to President Magufuli. The letter alerts the president about:
1. The mismanagement of the PC funds and protection of the real criminals
2. The Multiple Land Use Model threat based on biased and false evidence, and its possible human rights violations consequences
3. The NCAA pressure on private tourism investors not to employ Maasai residing in Ngorongoro Conservation Area and for existing employees to be relocated outside the NCAA. An act of blatant ethnic discrimination with the constant aim of linking all tourism revenue to depopulation.
4. Non-participatory policy and laws promulgation.
Visit to Kigwangalla and feedback meeting
On 23rd April 2020 Kigwangalla summoned a collection of leaders from Ngorongoro to Dodoma, ranging from the dangerous, like the DC, DED, and chief conservator Manongi, to the MP, some councilllors and the more or less questionable “community representatives” in the MLUM commission. The minister was informed that the commission was extremely biased against the indigenous pastoralists. There were complaints of lack of transparency and that the “community representatives” had been side-lined.
Kigwangalla’s decision was to give the pastoralists a chance to appoint four new representatives, and that the Ngorongoro residents should compose their own ideal proposal, submit it to the committee, and send him a copy, even though their proposal had already been made clear and is documented in the second version of the report, that despite this repeated the same genocidal proposal.
On 26th April 2020, a feedback meeting was held in Mokilal in Ngorongoro, attended by various leaders from the 11 wards in NCA. At this meeting MP Olenasha was booed, while former MP Telele – who used to speak up before he was corrupted in 2013 … - was cheered, and so was the MP candidate Nagol. Many attendants wanted to cut all engagement with the MLUM team but finally the MP side managed to impose their view that the offer of appointing four community representatives should be taken, but that it this time should be accompanied by public pressure. Though there was strong disagreement on who should be appointed and how. Sadly, some may have switched loyalties after having received government letters of appointment.
Other demands by the community – represented by three spokespersons from each ward – if the MLUM talks are to continue, was that Manongi must be dismissed as Ngorongoro chief conservator, Kigwangalla must appoint other commission members from the government side, and that there can’t be annexation of areas outside NCA. Then the only thing that was later heard is that the not yet official appointment of MLUM representatives is very “political” and that the MP and PC chairman have presented the MP’s own choice directly to the NCAA and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
So apparently there was to be another round of negotiation with those who very literally want to wipe the Maasai, and ethnic minorities, off the map of Ngorongoro, and off extensive neighbouring areas. There hasn’t been any response from Kigwangalla. Instead he went on to threaten Lake Natron.
Councillor reports about abuse and sabotage committed by NCA rangers and then the criminal DC receives much praise for intervening
Nothing much was being heard, but on 16th May 2020 the councillor of Endulen ward in Ngorongoro division/NCA, Emmanuel Oleshangai, reported in social media that NCA rangers had for the past three days been involved in an operation invading villages to find information about houses that had been built, looking for: the owner of the house, the building permit, and for who had brought the building materials, and related issues.
The rangers had also been doing reconnaissance of the areas under threat in the controversial Multiple Land Use Model report that proposes mass evictions, and that keeps being pushed by the Ngorongoro chief conservator Manongi and various people inside the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
They had been visiting Misigiyo ward and all its villages, especially Kaitakiteng, looking at the forest there for three days, and the small pencil cedar forest of Misigiyo, the preservation of which serves as the excuse for the plan to evict the residents of Misigiyo ward. Further, these rangers visited the wards and all the villages of Ngorongoro, Olbalbal and Ngoile wards. In the areas of Ndutu and Oldupai plains in Endulen ward a low-flying plane was used for three days to do reconnaissance. The rangers also used a plane to count sheep, and visited other areas from where not enough has been reported about their activities.
After the reconnaissance, the rangers went to the market at Naiborsoit and arrested three women small-scale traders that were taken to Loliondo and illegally detained for 48 hours. The councillor praised the DC and the CCM district chairman for having intervened to have the traders released. This was the same DC who has ordered more than a few illegal arrest in Loliondo, for the sole sake of intimidation, and even worse than that, ordered the illegal mass arson and human rights crimes operation in Loliondo 2017, and later committed perjury about it in the East African Court of Justice. Surprisingly, the councillor said that the DC ordered the arrest of the rangers.
Further, councillor Oleshangai wrote that the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority had decided to suspend all building permits for organizations and individuals, since they will be evicted anyway, and that they were saying that the Multiple Land Use Model review report has the blessing of the president. They would also have decided to conduct operations in all wards, night and day, to threaten the residents, and to extract fines from anyone carrying firewood, bushes or sticks. All this without the approval of the proposals of the basically genocidal report.
The councillor wonders why everyone continue silent during all this abuse and reminds about the promises obtained from Minister Kigwangalla on 24th April when visited by a delegation from Ngorongoro, and says that the ministry and the chief conservator just keep undermining the efforts by Kigwangalla to find a lasting solution.
The councillor reminds that the agreement with the minister included:
- -To increase the number of “community representatives” in the Multiple Land Use team so that they are four like the other side.
- -That the team should return to each ward and village to listen to the views of the villagers, and that these later should be returned in writing to the same villages, and to the leaders.
- -That the team should be managed by the DC’s office, and not by chief conservator Manongi.
- -That the minister and his assistants should do report auditing in each ward after the completion of the report.
Though, according to the councillor, when the new team members got their letters of appointment, the following terms of reference were included:
- -To visit Olbalbal, Misigiyo and Ngorongoro wards to turn those into “transitional zones”, not allowing settlements.
- -To obtain the views of stakeholders through writing only, and not to return to the wards as agreed.
- -To visit areas to where Ngorongoro residents will be encouraged to move.
- -To recommend incentives for residents that are to be evicted, and to in case of agreement move the residents of the following wards as soon as possible: Nayobi, Nainokanoka, Alaililai, Ngorongoro, Misigiyo, half of Olbalbal and Ngoile, half of Endulen so that the ward is left without grazing or water, and half of Kakesio and Esere.
The councillor identifies the goals of the ministry and the NCAA as to increase conflict in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to further oppress and impoverish the residents, to remove the rights that were granted to them in the Ngorongoro Conservation Ordinance of 1959, and to suppress human rights.
The councillor’s advice to minister Kigwangalla, after recognizing his good intention of resolving land conflicts in Ngorongoro districts since his appointment, is to say that he doesn’t seem to have a good team of advisors, but one of people more full of pride and arrogance over degrees than of patriotism and humanity. Therefore, the exercise should be stopped until chief conservator Manongi is retired, or otherwise removed, together with the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (Adolf Mkenda who was replaced in July, because he wanted to contest for the Rombo parliamentary seat), since they are behind all sabotage, and, according to the councillor, associating with the poachers and hunters that have been a thorn to the minister.
On 23rd May the same councillor for Endulen posted a message from DC Rashid Mfaume Taka – the very well-documented human rights criminal. The DC said he’s received information and complaints from several residents of Ngorongoro division. He said that development projects by the fifth phase government in Ngorongoro Conservation Area aren’t going well because of some corrupt rangers. Further, the DC said that some rangers – even accompanied by soldiers - have been severely harassing people, not least illegally arresting women small-scale traders, and that he had ordered the arrest of these rangers. He insisted that the rangers have not been ordered by chief conservator Manongi, but are acting on their own behalf, and in his profound hypocrisy “explained” that the government would of course never harm its citizens. Then he went into the delirious blaming “imperialists” (mabeberu) and the opposition for being the pimps (makuwadi) of these hooligan rangers, and that their aim is to create hostility between citizens and their government, which can’t be allowed to succeed. This is normally the kind of language that the DC, or any DC, would have used not against those committing abuse, but against those speaking up against abuse.
On 5th June, the councillor shared yet another message from the DC, while continuing praising him in an over-the-top manner for having acted against “terrorists” who are betraying the government of Dr. John Pombe Magufuli, adding that we now live in peace. The DC, in his message, writes about all the praise he’s receiving for his work to protect the public from some hooligans employed by the NCAA. He says that the NCAA Board of Directors has set up a commission of members of the board to conduct a full investigation into the complaints of citizens, party and government, and that this commission will start its work between 8th and 22nd June. I haven’t been able to find any information about what, if anything, was done by this commission.
It’s election year and the DC seemed to be doing damage control. More of that is needed after these five years of horror, during which he has represented the central government, while – just like all his predecessors - working for unethical “investors”. Kigwangalla is a not entirely accepted outsider in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, and even if somewhat crazy and dangerous, he can if his ego is properly caressed, maybe work against evictions and human rights crimes that otherwise are much wanted, since always, by the insiders.
Information about NCAA funds at councillors’ meeting
At the meeting of all councillors of Ngorongoro District Council that ended up on 3rd June 2020, the information was that the NCAA had approved funding of 5 billion TZShs for the task of expanding its boundaries – according to the proposal in the MLUM report - to become 12,000 km2 and to include the Osero in Loliondo and Lake Natron. This includes the cost of “relocations”. Obviously, this is in sharp contrast with the talk about a few hooligan rangers working on their own behalf, and it totally ignores the promises by Minister Kigwangalla of again amending the MLUM work in a more “participatory” manner. Reportedly, the councillors resolved to work against the plan regardless of the consequences, and were discussing the way forward ... Though, after this, they went into election mood instead.
Kigwangalla threatens Lake Natron
I’ve lost count over how many times since I got acquainted with this part of the world, I’ve heard about plans for evicting the Maasai from areas around Lake Natron and often to annex these areas to NCA. This is usually announced in media as something necessary and imminent to protect the only breeding ground for lesser flamingos in East Africa, and tourists attractions like the active volcano Oldoinyo Lengai (its eruption in 2007 was used as another argument for eviction, under the cover of “safety”).
The genocidal proposal in the MLUM report is – besides very extensive no-go zones in NCA and squeezing people and livestock into areas without water or grazing - to annex Lake Natron areas of Longido, Ngorongoro and Monduli districts to NCA. The areas in Monduli are the Engaruka archaeological irrigation site, Selala forest, Mount Kerimasi, and the Monduli side of Mount Lengai. In the MLUM report an important argument for annexing land in Lake Natron and Loliondo is that when the Klein’s-Mto wa Mbu road has been upgraded to tarmac tourists will chose that exit route where they will also find other tourist attractions, and that this will lead to a 25% loss of revenue to NCA, and another 25% loss through a “significant decline in wildlife”. The plan for annexation is to keep that revenue, and to add new sources.
On 11th June, after the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, then still Adolph Mkenda, and director of wildlife, Maurus Msuha, once again announced in media that there is to be a Game Reserve in the Lake Natron basin. A few days later, the councillor of Engaresero, Ibrahim Olesakai, and village chairman, Yohana Meeli Laizer, in a meeting in Engaresero reminded President Magufuli of his statement from January 2019 against evicting rural people for conservation, that there already are land use plans, that they don’t have anywhere else to go, have lived in the area for a very long time after being evicted from other areas, and asked him to reject the game reserve plan.
Mkenda’s response was to say that he hadn’t declared any game reserve, since only the president can do that, and that the ministry had a map which showed areas for Game Reserve and for Wildlife Management Area (WMA), but that it was to be used in “participatory” talks. The Ngorongoro DC and the even the district council chairman confirmed what Mkenda was saying.
Then on 26th June, Minister Kigwangalla threw barrels of fuel on the flames of fear, when he after a meeting with district leaders from Longido, traditional leaders, and Arusha Region declared in social media to have embarked on a most important trip to ensure the sustainable conservation of Lake Natron. Kigwangalla’s message was that Lake Natron Game Controlled Area (all of it village land) was to be divided into a Game Reserve and a WMA, and that he had received technical advice about how to implement this. The decision to establish a Game Reserve was based on a cabinet decision following the recommendation of the committee of ministers sent by the president to address land use disputes. A committee was set up to do “ground truthing” and advice the government about the conflict resulting from the change of land use, and this committee reportedly consists of experts from the ministry, members from the Arusha RC’s office, the DCs of Longido, Ngorongoro and Monduli, and representatives from the concerned villages.
Kigwangalla, probably the most ignorant person in the room, in his usual way lectured the attendants representing people from Longido, explaining that “conservation” (mass evictions and the destruction of pastoralism) isn’t for wildlife, but for ourselves so that we don’t end up without rain and with floods … As said, this is the kind of talk that’s been used for over a century by those who want to alienate pastoralist land and end pastoralism. This made some wonder (in social media) if people in Kigwangalla’s home district Nzega - where hardly one hare can be seen - don’t want rain as well. Kigwangalla talked about a WMA as some wish that would be granted to local people, but a WMA is a loss of land use as well, even if the land nominally stays as village land. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, and others, are quite open with that the plan is to end pastoralism.
Statement from Ngorongoro ward
On 1st July, a statement addressed to President Magufuli from the traditional leaders of Ngorongoro ward - the villages of Mokilal, Kayapus and Oloirobi - in Ngorongoro district (and Ngorongoro Conservation Area) was read by Njamama Medukenya and Sembeta Ngoidiko on Global tv. These leaders want the president to hear their longstanding cry about their land that keep being stolen for conservation and tourism, and ask him to stop the current proposal, while reminding of that since they were evicted from Serengeti in 1959, there have been multiple violations of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Ordinance, which already has led to the loss of many grazing areas, and to current harassment by rangers, not least against women collecting firewood. They added that they were friends of both wildlife and tourism, showed the terrifying map of the proposal, and asked the president to come to Ngorongoro to listen to their plight. Munde Saitoti from Kayapus, who was born in Ngorongoro crater and was among those evicted in 1975, complained about the lack of food and firewood, and of the bad quality salt that’s provided for livestock after access to saltlicks in the crater was lost in 2017 (following a visit by PM Majaliwa in December 2016), and which is making them sick.
On 21st July 2020, the CCM delegates (wajumbe) again elected William Olenasha as the party’s candidate to contest for the Ngorongoro MP seat. While I had been happy when this happened in 2015, the MP has been a huge disappointment (not only to me). I’d tried to find excuses for him until (and some time after) rangers invaded village land in the Osero on 13th August 2017, and he not only wouldn’t resign as deputy minister, but kept totally silent, working “inside the government” while the human rights crimes went on for months. And so he has stayed silent during all kinds of abuse and threats. Or worse than silent since he has made some frivolous comments about the suffering, and apparently happily participated in the war against the opposition. Some say that he bought the delegates, and that at least in NCA he hardly has any supporters at all. We will never know, but to me it looks like he has quite a few followers among young people in social media, even if some of these are both two- and three-tongued. The reasons for this support vary.
- -Some just think that you should praise your leaders because they are your leaders
- -Most common is to list the in Tanzania very much personalized “miradi ya maendeleo” (development projects), like the ongoing upgrading of the Mto-wa-Mbu – Loliondo road, district hospital under construction, schools, dispensaries, etc. This kind of personalizing, that is also very much done to the president on national level, reminds of how television in Spain during the dictatorship of Franco is described as restricted to reports about the dictator inaugurating water reservoir dams.
- -There are people who get personal help from the MP, which may be described as friendship.
- -Or maybe the MP and deputy minister is more afraid than anyone, since he knows the government from the inside, and still keeps doing his best to reduce the horror. I used to think that this could be the case.
- -It’s been said that the MP, together with the CCM district chairman, are responsible for getting rid of both Maghembe, and of OBC’s Mollel. At least, it’s what the CCM chairman says.
- -The MP has never been praised by OBC’s “journalist” Manyerere Jackton.
Though in the CCM nomination campaign the MP went as far as saying that the genocidal MLUM review proposal is just “propaganda” by his opponents. He said this even though he was present when the proposal was presented, is able to read the report issued by the MNRT, has been present at meetings about it, and some of his supporters have said that he’s very much concerned and working hard to stop it … Though other government supporters say that even if the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism is relentlessly insisting on the plan, it’s nothing to be worried about since the party and the president are against it. However, nothing has been heard publicly from neither party nor president.
There were 14 contestants in the CCM nominations, and none of them had spoken up publicly against the land threats and extreme abuse of the past five years before the election campaign when some of them were quite vocal, except for the councillor of Ololosokwan, Yannick Ndoinyo, who has often, but not always (2018 …), spoken up very clearly, and who would have been the best candidate.
For a long time, Olenasha was seen as unopposed, since it was hard to find opposition candidates. The best ones all work for organisations that can’t risk being associated with opposition parties, and would therefore be fired if contesting. Others who have shown interest have been stopped by their spouses or parents. None of the ward councillors who joined the opposition in 2015, and returned to CCM in 2018, have been nominated as CCM candidates. Several opposition candidates were disqualified and had to appeal, while others are said to have stepped down due to intimidation. Chadema has a candidate called Jacqueline Swai, who not only isn’t from Ngorongoro, but nobody had heard anything about her existence, and there wasn’t any information to be found anywhere, and there still isn’t. ACT Wazalendo got a serious even if inexperienced candidate, Supeet Olepurko, the last minute, and he had his paperwork to contest finished literally in the last seconds on 25th August, but then he was disqualified by DED Siumbu after objections by MP Olenasha. The decision was appealed, but the start of his campaign was delayed by several weeks. Finally, he was allowed back by the National Electoral Commission in a letter from 15th September, but DED Siumbu kept sitting on this letter for another week.
The fact that presidential appointees like DEDs are the local overseers of the elections is just one of the many problems. The NEC is in the hands of CCM and has most recently suspended Tundu Lissu from campaigning for seven days, the government has for years cracked down on the media, arrested opposition politicians, blocked rights groups from observing the elections and restricted freedom of expression online. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition has had to temporarily suspend its operations after the police ordered the bank to freeze the organisations account.
Most terrible is the fact that the “weakened” OBC have had three of their employees nominated as CCM candidates. In Oloipiri, that’s been targeted by divide and rule, and where leaders have been close to the “investors” for years, the very dangerous William Alais has been replaced by the not less dangerous former village chairman Lucas Kursas. There was an opposition candidate who stepped down, reportedly due to intimidation. In Orgosorok, that comprises the “towns” of Wasso and Loliondo with a heavy presence of non-pastoralists, OBC’s community liaison Mohammed “Marekani” Bayo has been chosen by the CCM delegates. There is also a Chadema candidate called Msukuma. Those two cases could sadly be expected, but the real nightmare lies in the fact that OBC’s assistant director, Moloimet Saing’eu – as mentioned earlier in this long blog post - is CCM’s unopposed candidate in Ololosokwan. His brother – who has earlier to some extent spoken up about the land threats and against his brother’s work with OBC – also contested for the CCM nomination, but was defeated. There was a Chadema candidate who apparently was serious about land rights and human rights, but was from a minority group. However, this candidate stepped down just after having got all his paperwork in order, due to lack of funds, and lack of support from the party at ward level, which was explained as ethnic discrimination. Some young educated men in Ololosokwan have developed a kind of cultish following of OBC’s assistant director, and get extremely verbally aggressive – often using the well-known insults that the more traditional “friends of investors” have been using for years, and are often also joined by such people - when someone (this blogger) expresses concern about the situation. The only explanation I can get from them goes something like: “yes, the new councillor is a traitor and OBC assistant director, but what does that have to do with anything? He’s our chosen leader (chosen by CCM) and he’s brilliant”.
I’ve for many years tried to keep away from party politics in Tanzania. The best, or least horrible, local politicians, in the land rights struggle have been from the ruling party, and in 2015 the opposition’s presidential candidate was simply a joke. Now things have changed and the choice is between the bully and petty dictator Magufuli under whose presidency the whole of Tanzania has turned into a police state of similar calibre as that in Loliondo, and the fear and abuse has sharply increased in Loliondo itself. While on the other side we have Tundu Lissu as the candidate of the largest opposition party. Lissu has not only returned from when he on 7th September 2017 – after being illegally arrested and maliciously prosecuted so many times - was hit by 16 bullet fired by unknown people while in his car inside the heavily guarded parliamentary housing compound, and underwent over 20 surgeries in Nairobi and in Belgium. He has a background as a lawyer and activist defending the human rights of rural Tanzanians, not least against mining companies, and he has spoken up for the Maasai of Ngorongoro. Still, many people in Loliondo and NCA seem to have a blind faith in that the president is on their side, that it’s the people under him who are torturing them, and he has just not been informed about what’s going on.
On 13th September, the councillor of Endulen posted in social media, apparently in a panic, about a visit to NCA by the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, adding that while other Tanzanians are busy finding leaders that will bring them development the coming five years, people in Ngorongoro live in fear and doubt due to various ongoing committees working to undermine the rights of the people. “We are alive and watching from a distance”, he wrote. Though preceding and following this post the councillor has written uncountable posts with over the top praise for the government of John Pombe Magufuli. I’ve asked some experts what causes this kind of split personality, but the only explanation I get it that it’s caused by “stupidity”.
Whatever is the outcome of the elections, the struggle must continue and the silence must be broken. There’s a genocidal proposal for eviction, which people in and around the MNRT keep insisting on. Even if Mollel is locked up - which he reportedly no longer is since 2nd October (this requires confirmation ...) - OBC are still around and the insane proposal caters to their wishes. Thomson Safaris are still occupying their own private nature refuge on Maasai grazing land. Grazing areas in NCA have been lost these past years. And, every human rights criminal, except one (?), is still walking around free.