Loliondo Report by the Oakland Institute and Kigwangalla Makes his U-turn Even More Extreme
Posted on May 14, 2018
In this blog post:
Report by the Oakland Institute;
Kigwangalla becomes like his shamelessly lying predecessors;
Livestock detained at Wasso market;
Secret meeting for a “friendlier special authority”;
OBC’s gift to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism;
Summary for newcomers.
There may be developments on the ground in Loliondo - or in Arusha - that I will write more about later when I’ve got information.
Nothing has happened with PM Majaliwa’s threatening decision to form a “special authority” to manage the 1,500 km2 of important grazing land that OBC (that organises hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai) for years have lobbied to have turned into a “protected area”, and it’s now fortunately too late to be included in the 2018-2019 budget. The Maasai of Loliondo had, despite severe harassment of those speaking up, managed to fight off several threats against this land. In 2016 repression worsened, OBC sent out a press release about the “destructiveness” of the Maasai pleading with the Ministry of Natural Resources to do something, and the PM tasked the Arusha RC with settting up a select committee that came up with a compromise proposal. While everyone was waiting to hear from the PM, in August 2017, the DC ordered an illegal invasion of village land in which Serengeti rangers assisted by NCA rangers, police, KDU and OBC rangers, committed mass arson and other human rights crimes. The illegal operation went on for over two months while some leaders who should have spoken up went horribly silent. The crimes were finally stopped by the new minister, Kigwangalla, who also said that OBC would have left before January never to be given another hunting block. OBC didn’t go anywhere, and on 6th December the PM announced his decision that was a vague and threatening “special authority” to manage the land, and he said that OBC were staying.
My previous blog post
, about a visit by Sheikh Mohammed, his old friend Kinana, and about Kigwangalla’s U-turn, is still worth reading.
May, the Oakland Institute, unexpectedly to everyone I’ve heard from, released an ambitious report – Losingthe Serengeti, the Maasai Land that was to Run Forever
– authored by Anuradha Mittal and Elisabeth Fraser. Initially, some mistakes and unclarities made me jump. Those could easily have been avoided. The report is however among the better written about Loliondo – also dealing with Ngorongoro Conservation Area that unfortunately rarely is reported about in this blog, and were the situation is even worse than in Loliondo, at the “fewer calories person” level – and it includes hard-hitting quotes, detailed references back in history, while reminding that the plight of the Maasai of Northern Tanzania is a reality that is all too familiar to indigenous communities around the world. Most interestingly, the report includes Thomson Safaris
and their rabid, and for many years also violent, claim to 12,617 acres of Maasai grazing land. After harshly increased repression in Loliondo, the lid had been tightly put on any information about that conflict, which is a big problem for me when I can no longer even enter Tanzania, since my fingerprints are registered at border crossing. There isn’t much new information in the report, but there is some most generous sharing of communication reminding me of Thomson/Wineland’s pompous insincerity and ruthless hypocrisy that will make sure that the blog post after this one will be about Thomson Safaris. They are sadly getting away with almost everything, but the appeal is still ongoing, and, as far as I know, they have for a couple of years now, since Olunjai Timan was shot in 2014 - and Thomson’s friend the DC had to ask them to allow grazing while the case is ongoing - fortunately been frustrated in their violent efforts to keep herders and cattle off the land they have taken.
The media coverage on the report is massive. I just wish the interest would have been the same when human rights crimes went on for over two months.
I must focus on straightening out some confusion:
The name of OBC
Otterlo Business Corporation is repeatedly referred to as “Ortello”. This misspelling can be seen in other reports and articles as well.
Game Controlled Area/Village Land
This is a very common confusion. At first, the report says that “community resistance” has led the government to reduce OBC’s hunting block from 400,000 ha (4,000 km2) to 150,000 ha (1,500 km2), when this has not happened, and it’s OBC - not the community - that want it to happen. Later in the report it’s obvious that it’s OBC that are after 1,500 km2, but the damage is already done. To add to the confusion, it’s stated that in Wildlife Conservation Act 2009 human activities are not allowed in Game Controlled Areas, and that this should be changed. Loliondo Game Controlled Area consists of 4,000 km2, which is more than the whole of Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District. This whole area is OBC’s hunting block, but they don’t hunt in the towns of Wasso and Loliondo, or in the DC’s office. OBC’s core hunting area is some, enormous enough, 1,500 km2 next to Serengeti National Park. At the same time, the whole area is village land per Village Land Act No.5 of 1999 under which land is managed by the village council of registered villages, elected by and accountable to the village assembly (all residents over 18). WCA 2009 says that GCAs are protected areas, but it also says that GCAs and village land are not allowed to overlap, and that the list of GCAs is to be reviewed within one year of the Act coming into operation, which didn’t happen. There isn’t any land that has been turned into the new kind of GCA, but OBC funded in its totality a draft district land use plan that proposed turning their 1,500 km2 core hunting area into this kind of protected area. This plan was rejected by Ngorongoro District Council in early 2011.
In 2013, the then Minister for Natural Resources, Khamis Kagasheki, lied that more than the whole of Loliondo would be a protected area and the Maasai landless people who would be gifted with their own land outside the 1,500 km2. After many meetings, protest delegations to Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, and support from both opposition and parts of the ruling party, the PM at the time, Pinda, declared the obvious, that the land was village land and that the Maasai should continue their lives as before Kagasheki’s threats. Then the situation started deteriorating considerably in 2016 with increased repression.
Reading the report, it seems like OBC would have had a 25-year contract and that it was cancelled in November 2017. In 1992, OBC first got a very irregular 10-year hunting block that was revoked and has then been renewed with the normal 5-year periods. No “contract” was terminated last year, but Minister Kigwangalla said that OBC’s hunting block wouldn’t be renewed and that they would have left before January, never to be given another hunting block in Tanzania. OBC never showed any signs whatsoever of leaving and on 6th December the PM declared that they were staying.
The report also says that an investigation was launched by the Tanzanian government’s anti-corruption bureau. That’s what Kigwangalla said he wanted to happen – but it seems unlikely that there has been any investigation.
2015 was not the same thing
In the drought year 2009, starting on 4th July, the Field Force Unit and OBC extrajudicially evicted people and cattle from many areas of village land inside the 1,500 km2. Hundreds of houses were burned, and thousands of cattle were chased into an extreme drought area which did not have enough food or water to sustain them. 7-year old Nashipai Gume was lost in the chaos and has not been found, ever since.
While waiting to hear a decision by the PM, on 13th August in the drought year 2017 village land inside the 1,500 km2 was invaded by Serengeti and NCA rangers assisted by local police and OBC and KDU (anti-poaching) rangers, and the illegal operation went on for over two months. At least 250 bomas were burned from Ololosokwan to Piyaya 90 km further south. People were badly beaten, some arrested and taken to Mugumu, the rangers illegally seized cattle, and blocked access to water sources – and raped women. The illegal operation continued even after an interim stop order by the government organ Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance. The crimes were finally stopped by the new Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Kigwangalla, on 26th October.
As mentioned in the report, over a hundred bomas were also burned on 10th -14th February 2015 in areas of Arash and Loosoito/Maaloni by Serengeti rangers leaving over two thousand people, including children, without shelter, food, or medical supplies. The claim was that these bomas were inside the national park, and most were inside the established boundary, while others were in a disputed area were people had been living for around 5 years. There were certainly human rights crimes, but I was told that when you have zero tolerance for rangers invading village land, you can’t react in the same way to this kind crime. This didn’t stop an international publication from saying that the Maasai had been evicted so that OBC could hunt lions, and an organisation that likes to issue press statements about Loliondo to say that bomas had been burned in Ololosokwan.
Oloipiri is the name of the village
The report says that the residents of “Ololosokwan” refuse to acknowledge Kirtalo as a village with any rights over river Pololet. Here it should have said Oloipiri, which is a village and ward under the highly destructive and “investor-friendly” leadership of councillor William Alais. Alais is a close friend of both OBC and Thomson Safaris, and of great importance for their divide and rule games. This is just one of the many things the two companies have in common. Alais works together with the “investor-befriended” NGO coordinator Gabriel Killel. Ololosokwan can also be problematic, but is a different kind village, one of those that have sued the Tanzanian government in the East African Court of Justice.
Today, on 13th May, it’s reported that a team from Oloipiri, led by Gabriel Killel, is in Arusha to “hold a press conference against the Oakland report”, “ask OBC to build classrooms in Orkuyane”, “support Kigwangalla”, or whatever. We will see, but these people can deny their own existence to please the "investors”. In 2014, Killel was befriended by Thomson Safaris and OBC, and went to Dodoma with a delegation to support these “investors”, and has then behaved in an increasingly violent and deranged way, starting with threatening everyone he suspected of having informed his Norwegian Sami donor – that’s for and not against indigenous people’s rights - that he had begun working for “investors” against his own land rights. Killel spent some time in prison after multiple court cases, like insulting a district magistrate, physically assaulting special seats councillor Tina Timan, and another case filed against him by his wife. He got out very soon though.
The report says that the community would be pushing to have the 1,500 km2 gazetted as a Wildlife Management Area
(WMA), as opposed to a Game Controlled Area (2009-style) and of course that’s the choice between a rock and a hard place. A GCA 2009 is a protected area, a complete land alienation, and the kind of threat that coerce rural people to accept WMAs all over Tanzania. A WMA was rejected for a decade and a half in Loliondo, since, while still village land, it means handing over power to investors and the director of wildlife. It was a select, non-participatory, committee that was met with widespread protests when marking “critical areas” in Loliondo that finally reached the WMA proposal, which by that time was seen as a victory. After the proposal was handed to the PM, there was the unexpected (?) illegal operation full of human rights crime that went on for over two months. The PM decision was neither a GCA nor the preferred WMA, but a “special authority”, under Ngorongoro Conservation Area, but obviously allowing hunting, to manage the land, which fortunately seems to have been delayed.
The report several times mentions the old “constitutional case”, filed after the illegal evictions in 2009. This case never got anywhere, reportedly since it was impossible to gather the required quorum of three judges in Arusha. I’ve been told that at some time it was dismissed, but haven’t been able to find out exactly how or when. Anyway, since it seemed like international litigation was the only way, now there’s an ongoing case in the East African Court of Justice, which was also mentioned towards the end. Maybe - or obviously in some cases - parts of the report have not been written very recently.
This is a problem of all reports and articles. At least in this report “the royal family of Dubai” is mentioned, and not “Middle Eastern kings and princes”, but Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, celebrity, and in some circles, not least on social media, popular for his “wisdom” and “spirituality” is getting away far too easily here, and so is his photogenic, big cat petting, horse racing, poetry writing, skydiving crown prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. As mentioned in the previous blog post, Sheikh Mohammed was hunting with the owner of OBC already from the start in the infamous hunts that Stan Katabalo wrote about in the Mfanyakazi in 1993. He’s not a guest, but the guest. These are very “big” people in the East African sense of the word.
Besides legal recourse, the report mentions CCROs (Certificates of Customary Right of Occupancy) as part of a solution, but the law already protects the land right of the Maasai of Loliondo, and I’m not sure how another abbreviation will help when authorities behave in a lawless way. I haven’t studied the issue, which I definitely should, but it seems like CCROs could be useful for pastoralists minorities in a mostly agricultural area, or hunter gatherers in a mostly pastoralist area, but the Loliondo Maasai are majority in the area under threat. The main problem is extreme state repression and authorities siding aggressively with foreign “investors”.
Since years back, anyone speaking up against the “investors” in Loliondo, has been harassed by local authorities and labelled as an environmentally destructive, peace-disturbing “Kenyan”, sponsored by dangerous foreign interests. OBC’s most devoted “journalist” has gone as far as claiming that 70 percent
of the Loliondo Maasai would not be Tanzanian. The first I ever heard from anyone related to Thomson Safaris, long before I knew anything about Loliondo, was a business associate who said that the origin of any conflict was a “Kenyan Maasai woman”. Some have tried to explain this phenomenon as local employees, and government officials acting as de facto employees, stirring up conflict to keep the money flowing from the very wealthy foreign investors that have been attracted to what is Maasai land. The investors own interest in being the ones to manage the land instead of the Maasai cause conflict by itself, but the “employees” keep stirring up a sense of urgency leading to lawlessness and violence. The parastatals of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, together with basically all past ministers, has also been very actively, and violently, supportive to the idea of transferring land management from Maasai to “investors” and government. In 2016 the Loliondo police state worsened considerably with multiple illegal arrests, and malicious prosecution
. Many people have been effectively silenced. Personally, I’ve experienced how one organisation has prohibited anyone associated with them from communicating with me, and many people are even afraid of chatting in social media for fear of being “hacked”. To add to the problem, in recent time the whole country is turning into the same police state as Loliondo has been for years. Many people explain this sad development with the governments fear of strengthened opposition parties.
With this insane repression, what other recourse is there besides international litigation and delaying government initiatives until there’s a political change? I hope the report has turned the eyes of the world to Loliondo though.
Statement by the Ministry on the Oakland report
Already on 10th
May there was a statement
from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, signed by Minister Kigwangalla. In an unfortunately not too uncommon surreal way, the minister denies the illegal operation that he himself stopped, and that’s well documented by the perpetrators themselves. The statement says 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. (Something like that was going on – in a very coerced way – when village land was viciously attacked by rangers, ordered by the DC...)
Further, the Ministry request the Tanzanian and international community to disregard these misleading reports that intent to throw mud at the government and create dispute between the 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 and how very participatory it was.
Kigwangalla turns into Maghembe
Kigwangalla tweeted about the report in the typical way of the very worst kind of Tanzanian leader, “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 some kind of punishment for the report. Maybe someone with psychiatric knowledge can analyse this behaviour, but I just feel sorry for anyone living in the same house as such a person. 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 bloggers a fee of $930, but I doubt it. Though among many Tanzanians there seems to be a deeply held belief that nobody does anything if it’s not for money. 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”.
Apparently, Kigwangalla regrets having taken the anti-corruption rhetoric of the Magufuli government at face value, when he loudly declared that he was dealing with the syndicate at the service OBC reaching into his own ministry. Tweets denying any human rights crime are also totally contradicting what he has earlier said, and what’s for anyone to see on Youtube
. I heard from people already at the time of Kigwangalla’s inauguration who told me that he was terrified that he was made Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism to finish him off politically. After some months Kigwangalla seems to have learned how things are done in this rotten ministry. He could have started working as a medical doctor instead of joining the hall of shame of Tanzanian ministers of natural resources and tourism.
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.
The same day, 12th May, was it announced the Ngorongoro District Council was one of six districts that has received a Landcruiser from Minister Kigwangalla, all out of the 15 vehicles donated by OBC to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism in April (see below). The MPs from these six districts attended the ceremony at the offices of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, except the MP for Ngorongoro/Deputy Minister of Education who was busy with his many government obligations.
On Friday 11th May, livestock were detained at Wasso market after the owners rejected to pay a recently skyrocketed tax at TShs 7,000 per sheep or goat and TShs 25,000 per cow. I haven’t been able to get much information, but it seems like the owners finally paid these taxes that appear to be one part of an ugly war on pastoralism.
Secret meeting for a “friendlier special authority”
Manyerere Jackton - the ”journalist” who has written over 50 articles of hate speech against the Maasai of Loliondo, made up demented defamation of anyone suspected of being able to speak up, and boasted about his involvement in illegal arrests for the sake of intimidation - had been quiet after in December celebrating PM Majaliwa’s terrible decision to rush through a legal bill for forming a “special authority” to manage the 1,500 km2 of important grazing land that OBC use as their core hunting area. Though by 17th April he had become worried about the government’s silence on Loliondo, and the delay in implementing the “special authority” that’s by now too late to be included in the 2018-2019 budget, and the Jamhuri newspaper published his article about a secret meeting between some NGOs and village and wards leaders from Loliondo that he accused of trying to trick the PM. This journalist is completely boundaryless and can make up anything that he thinks benefits him and OBC, or anything that he just feels like making up for no reason at all. This secret meeting did however take place, and was secret, since it doesn’t seem like anyone who wasn’t there knew about it. The article in the Jamhuri with the headline, Ukimya wa serikali – Loliondo wajipanga kumpiku PM (The government’s silence – Loliondo prepare themselves to trick the PM) it’s claimed that on 14th April some NGOs (that he named) held a meeting at the Golden Rose in Arusha together with some village and ward leaders from Loliondo and came up with 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 has indeed 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 a decision that was taken at the meeting.
Manyerere Jackton writes that due to tension between ministries various officials are saying that it’s unlikely that the “special authority” will be implemented under the current government, and in a more toned-down version of his usual style between greedy, gossipy stupidity and conspiracy theory on speed he says that the Jamhuri has revealed that the strategies are sponsored by several international organisations and NGOs from outside the country.
There is somewhat promising news in the article, and this too has been confirmed by someone who attended the secret meeting. The meeting was chaired by the district council chairman, who together with an NGO coordinator communicated that the Ngorongoro MP and deputy minister of education, William Olenasha, has after PM Majaliwa’s terrible announcement been doing a good job defending the people of Ngorongoro, confusing government officials, and that the resulting differences between leaders has led to the delay in implementing the “special authority”. This is good to hear after the shockingly disappointing behaviour by the MP during the illegal invasion of village land, mass arson, beatings, seizing of cattle and rape that went on for over two months last year. Other than a brief comment in social media the first day of the operation this MP, known and elected because of his seriousness about land rights, stayed silent, and worse than silent... which was one of the worst experiences of my years following Loliondo land threats. In December, reportedly, the MP initially even defended the PM’s decision in Whatsapp, and before that, in November, together with the council chairman, he had defended German development funds that the Serengeti chief park warden in March 2017 had presented as being subject to the approval of the land use plan alienating the 1,500 km2, and therefore, after protests, had been rejected by the district council, only to be announced by Kigwangalla in November 2017, which strengthened the widespread suspicions that the chairman, on his own, had signed these fund that are to be managed by such enemies of Maasai land rights as Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and the official funder and implementor of the human rights crimes in 2017, TANAPA/SENAPA (Tanzania/Serengeti National Parks Authority). Manyerere Jackton will of course try to paint it as something devious and destructive that the MP may – hopefully - now finally be doing his job working for the people of Ngorongoro.
According to the article, heated disagreement was expressed by some attendants, but this is denied by those who were there. Anyway, some of the questions made up by Manyerere Jackton, or his source, as if asked by one unnamed chairman, make sense and I would have liked to ask them myself, like what the implications are for the ongoing case in the East African Court of Justice when you come up with your own alternative “special authority”. I did ask one attendant and it was explained to me that the proposal would be striving for the same ends as the case – to keep the land under the villages. Less interesting are questions about bypassing the DC, who’s a confessed human rights criminal since he signed the order for last year’s illegal operation. Though I do hope and expect that any “friendlier proposal” will be prepared, or at least approved or rejected, by the village assemblies, even if it to me sounds too much like a top-down initiative.
In the usual style, Manyerere Jackton writes that it was important to collect the signatures of all attendants to apply for funds from an “English donor”, but this wasn’t noticed by my source who doesn’t know if the NGOs have any “English donor” for this initiative. Neither could the “journalist” abstain from saying that Loliondo was “full of Kenyan cows”, this time supposedly because of the rainy season!
The date for next hearing in the East African court case has, as far as I know, not yet been communicated.
OBC’s gift to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism
In the blog post published on 11th April, I detailed Minister Kigwangalla’s spectacular U-turn about OBC, going from saying that the hunters would have to leave before January, never to be given another hunting block, and complaining about the corruption syndicate at their service, including the director’s interest in bribing Kigwangalla himself - to saying that OBC, if not the director (but this too has changed) stay, and more such “investors” are needed.
Next development in the relationship between OBC and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism came on 19th April when OBC’s assistant director, local traitor Moloimet Saing’eu, handed over 15 Toyota Landcruisers, worth over TShs 1,5 billion, to the acting Director of Wildlife, Nebbo Mwina, to be used in the fight against poaching. It wasn’t the first time OBC have presented such gifts.
Nebbo 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). I would have said that the words by Nebbo’s boss Kigwangalla in November were quite loud, clear and open - and they are still on Youtube
James Wakibara, director of the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) also wanted to thank OBC, and especially the company’s director who couldn’t attend!
All land in Loliondo is village land per Village Land Act No.5 of 1999, and more than the whole of Loliondo is also a Game Controlled Area (of the old kind that doesn’t affect human activities and can overlap with village land) where OBC has the hunting block. Stan Katabalo – maybe Tanzania’s last investigative journalist - reported about how this hunting block was acquired in the early 90s. By 2018 there does no longer seem to be journalists of any kind.
In 2007-2008 the affected villages were threatened into signing a Memorandum of Understanding with OBC.
In the drought year 2009 the Field Force Unit and OBC extrajudicially evicted people and cattle from some 1,500 km2 of dry season grazing land that serve as the core hunting area next to Serengeti National Park. Hundreds of houses were burned, and thousands of cattle were chased into an extreme drought area which did not have enough food or water to sustain them. 7-year old Nashipai Gume was lost in the chaos and has not been found, ever since.
People eventually moved back, and some leaders started participating in reconciliation ceremonies with OBC.
Soon enough, in 2010-2011, OBC totally funded a draft district land use plan that proposed turning the 1,500 km2 into the new kind of Game Controlled Area that’s a “protected” (not from hunting) area and can’t overlap with village land. This plan, that would have allowed a more “legal” repeat of 2009, was strongly rejected by Ngorongoro District Council.
In 2013, then Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Khamis Kagasheki, made bizarre statements as if all village land in Loliondo would have disappeared through magic, and the people of Loliondo would be generously “gifted” with the land outside the 1,500 km2. This was nothing but a horribly twisted way of again trying to evict the Maasai landowners from OBC’s core hunting area. There’s of course no way a Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism would have the mandate for such a trick of magic. After many mass meetings – where there was agreement to never again enter any MoU with OBC - and protest delegations to Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, the then Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda in a speech on 23rd September the same year revoked Kagasheki’s threat and told the Maasai to continue their lives as before this threat that through the loss of dry season grazing land would have led to the destruction of livelihoods, environmental degradation and increased conflict with neighbours.
Parts of the press – foremost Manyerere Jackton in the Jamhuri – increased their incitement against the Maasai of Loliondo as destructive, “Kenyan” and governed by corrupt NGOs. OBC’s “friends” in Loliondo became more active in the harassment of those speaking up against the “investors”, even though they themselves don’t want the GCA 2009, and rely on others, the same people they persecute, to stop it…
Speaking up against OBC (and against Thomson Safaris, the American tour operator claiming ownership of 12,617 acres, and that shares the same friends as OBC) had always been risky, but the witch-hunt intensified with mass arrests in July 2016. Four people were charged with a truly demented “espionage and sabotage” case. Manyerere Jackton has openly boasted about his direct involvement in the illegal arrests of innocent people for the sake of intimidation.
In July 2016, Manyeree Jackton wrote an “article” calling for PM Majaliwa to return the Kagasheki-style threat. In November 2016 OBC sent out a “report” to the press calling for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to intervene against the destructive Maasai. In mid-December 2016, the Arusha RC Mrisho Gambo was tasked by the PM with setting up a committee to “solve the conflict”, and on 25th January 2017 the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, in the middle of the drought stricken Osero, flanked by the most OBC-devoted journalists, and ignoring the ongoing talks, made a declaration that the land had to be taken before the end of March. In March 2017 Minister Maghembe co-opted a Parliamentary Standing Committee, and then Loliondo leaders’ “only ally’s”, RC Gambo’s, committee started marking “critical areas” while being met with protests in every village. German development money that the standing committee had been told was subject to the alienation of the 1,500 km2 was – after protests by 600 women – not signed by the district chairman. On 21st March a compromise proposal for a WMA (that had been rejected in Loliondo for a decade and a half) was reached through voting by the RC’s committee, then handed over to PM Majaliwa on 20th April, and a long wait to hear the PM’s decision started.
While still waiting, on 13th August 2017 a very unexpected illegal eviction and arson operation was initiated in the Oloosek area of Ololosokwan and then continued all the way to Piyaya. Beatings, arrests of the victims, illegal seizing of cows, and blocking of water sources followed. Women were raped by the rangers. Many leaders stayed strangely and disappointingly silent.
The DC and the Ministry of Natural Resources explained the illegal operation with that people and cattle were entering Serengeti National Park too easily, while Minister Maghembe lied that the land was already the “protected area” wanted by OBC and others. There was an interim stop order by the government organ Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG), but the crimes continued unabated. Case was filed by four villages in the East African Court of Justice on 21st September. When in Arusha on 23rd September, President Magufuli collected protest placards against Maghembe, OBC and abuse, to read them later. On 5th October the Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga, (who had met with people from Loliondo) told supporters that his friend Magufuli had promised him that all involved in the illegal operation in Loliondo would be fired.
In a cabinet reshuffle on 7th October Maghembe was removed and Hamisi Kigwangalla appointed as new minister of Natural Resources and Tourism.
Kigwangalla stopped the operation on 26th October, and then made it clear that OBC’s hunting block would not be renewed, which he had already mentioned in Dodoma on the 22nd. On 5th November, he fired the director of wildlife and announced that rangers at Klein’s gate that had been colluding with the investor would be transferred. Kigwangalla emphasized that OBC would have left before January. He talked about the corruption syndicate at their service, reaching into his own ministry, and claimed that Mollel wanted to bribe him, and would be investigated for corruption.
Kigwangalla announced in social media that he on 13th November received a delegation headed by the German ambassador and that the Germans are going to fund community development projects in Loliondo, “in our quest to save the Serengeti”. Alarm was raised in Loliondo that the district chairman would have signed secretly, which some already had suspected.
On 6th December, PM Majaliwa announced a vague, but terrifying decision to form a special authority to manage the 1,500 km2 osero. He also said that OBC would stay. Manyerere Jackton celebrated the decision in the Jamhuri newspaper. Further information and implementation of this “special authority” has fortunately been delayed.
A report about Loliondo and NCA was released by the Oakland Institute on 10th May 2018, and Kigwangalla responded by denying that any abuse had ever taken place.