Loliondo - Urgent alert
Posted on Jun 09, 2022
Massive Police Invasion and Imminent Threat of Illegal Beacons for a Protected Area in Contempt of Court in Loliondo
Never ever again dance to Majaliwa’s tune! It ends in tears however much he smiles and however clearly you explain everything to him!
On the 8th June 2022, high numbers of police vehicles from the anti-riot Field Force Unit, were in the morning sighted in Wasso town in Loliondo division of Ngorongoro district. The FFU, and others, have now set up camp in the Oloosek area of Ololosokwan and in Sanjan sub-village of Malambo. Unconfirmed reports also mention camps in Oloipiri and Arash. Fears were (now confirmed) that the plan is to erect beacons to demarcate 1,500 km2 of vitally important, legally registered, village land that the “investor” OBC, and others, want turned into a “protected area”. FFU were saying that they are sent to erect beacons for a TAWA area (Game Reserve), which confirmed the fears, later further confirmed in a nauseating clip by RC John Mongella. Such an exercise is a heinous crime and contempt of court. Reports say that in Oloosek there are 18 vehicles from the FFU, two from the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (that has a camp in Olopolun near Wasso), some from the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA)/Jeshi Uhifadhi, and others. In Sanjan there are 11 FFU vehicles, 3 from TAWA and 2 unknown. Numbers may not be exact and others may arrive. Reportedly, the FFU are also saying that they will extend OBC’s hunting area, also known as the Osero, into Serengeti National Park, which seems unlikely, and they may not have been properly briefed.
Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC), that organises hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, have for years lobbied to have 1,500 km2 of important grazing land, village land belonging to the local Maasai, turned into a protected area. This caused illegal mass arson operations in 2009 and 2017. A local police state had, until recently, silenced all local leaders and activists, and still people from Loliondo are much more silent in the debate than those from Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), even if protests erupted when threats were renewed this year, and then community recommendations were handed over to PM Majaliwa (who had asked for them) on 25th May. There’s an ongoing case, in its final stages, in the East African Court of Justice, filed during the brutal illegal operation of 2017. The land under threat is in Loliondo Division and Piyaya (or Piaya) and Malambo wards of Sale Division of Ngorongoro District. While not unrelated, this is NOT THE SAME issue as the threat of “voluntary” relocation to Handeni from NCA (Ngorongoro Division).
In 2010/2011 draft district land use plan funded by OBC proposed the alienation of the 1,500 km2 of village land. This was strongly rejected by Ngorongoro District Council. In 2013 Minister Kagasheki brought it back via vociferous and shameless lies but was stopped by PM Pinda thanks to the then exemplary unity and seriousness shown by the Maasai. Divide and rule and attempts at buying off local leaders worsened. Some were gravely corrupted but none to the extent of signing off the land in any way at all. Repression worsened with Magufuli as president. PM Majaliwa attempted to “solve the conflict” via a select committee set up by Arusha RC Gambo. This was in 2017 followed by an unexpected, extremely brutal and illegal invasion of village land like the one in 2009, ordered by the DC. The crime continued, on and off, well into October. Hundreds of bomas were razed to the ground by Serengeti rangers, assisted by NCA rangers and those from OBC, NCA, TAWA/KDU, local police and others (in 2009 the FFU and OBC rangers had been the main implementors). People were beaten and raped, illegally arrested, and cattle seized. Some leaders were frightfully silent while many others protested loudly.
|Oloosek 13th August 2017|
In December the same year, Majaliwa announced a terrifying but vague decision that fortunately was delayed and forgotten until the MLUM review proposal for NCA in 2019 was announced and catered to OBC’s wishes for Loliondo.
By 2018, local leaders were silenced to the extent that they didn’t speak up when soldiers, without any official order, tortured people and set fire to bomas in Kirtalo and Ololosokwan. In 2019 some thought the hostility by the government had lessened when OBC’s director was locked up in remand prison for economic sabotage. Though in September the same year a Multiple Land Use Model (MLUM) review proposal for NCA included OBC’s wish for a protected area allowing hunting, and in this case also annexing the 1,500 km2 to NCA. Compared to leaders and activists from NCA, those from Loliondo have been remarkably quiet about this MLUM threat, except for two joint statements by the councillors in 2019 and 2021 and a press statement by village chairmen in September 2021.
Current reports seem to keep to the map from the MLUM threat that proposed alienating a 1,038 km2 area along the boundary to Serengeti National Park, and a 462 km2 area in the southeast end of the old Loliondo GCA (therefore the FFU camp in Sanjan) bordering NCA. Though this time the NCA annexation isn’t mentioned but the aim seems to be to create an equally illegal TAWA area (Game Reserve).
The confused build-up to this this year’s Osero grab attempt
In January 2022 there were fears about leaked documents with plans (later confirmed) for NCA, but instead Arusha RC Mongella summoned village and ward leaders from villages with land in the 1,500 km2 to inform them that the government would make a painful decision for the broader interest of the nation. The leaders, even those who for years had worked for OBC and against the people, refused to accompany the RC for a tour of the 1,500 km2 Osero, or to sign the attendance list. On 13th-14th January in Oloirien there was a public protest meeting and a statement by village, ward, and traditional leaders.
Already in January, TAWA set up camp in Sanjan, which led to fears that they were planning to erect beacons, and people protested until the TAWA rangers left. Since then, several other meetings have been held and local leaders have suffered harassment from authorities.
On 14th February, Majaliwa came and wasn’t much better than Mongella, but with a “friendlier” tone, and the attendants were far too soft on him. Three days later, on 17th February in NCA, not Loliondo, Majaliwa lied that the 1,500 km2 is “empty” (there are both permanent and seasonal bomas). The PM said that, if the problem is water, we have the minister here, and boreholes can be drilled elsewhere (unsurprisingly, on 1st-2nd March, the Minister for Water and Irrigation, Jumaa Aweso, visited Loliondo to announce water projects), Just three days earlier, the Ngorongoro MP had very clearly explained the area’s importance for grazing. Excising the 1,500 km2 from the 4,000 km2 old Loliondo GCA (Loliondo division and parts of Sale) signifies destruction of lives and livelihoods. The remaining area has two towns, with district headquarters and hospitals, agricultural areas, forest reserves, and the horrible American company Thomson Safaris claiming their own private nature refuge. Majaliwa ordered a demarcation exercise of the disputed 1,500 km2 to be initiated to “know the boundaries”! There aren’t “boundaries”, since the area is part of the village land and has not been grabbed! No boundaries are needed, unless there are bad intentions. And bad intentions are now certainly being shown!
On 11th March. Majaliwa again mentioned beacons and water projects (outside the 1,500 km2) pretending that the land was only needed for water, when informing parliamentarians about a fake spectacle that he had set up in Arusha regarding “voluntary” relocations from Ngorongoro Conservation Area, without people from Ngorongoro, the previous day.
At a huge protest meeting in Arash on 19th March, several leaders spoke up in defence of the land, among them the Arash ward councillor Methew Siloma spoke up very clearly and strongly. The message from this meeting was:
-PM Majaliwa is a liar.
-The Maasai are not renouncing one square inch of land.
-They request to meet with the president, since Majaliwa can’t be trusted.
Following the protest meeting 19th March, on the 23rd councillor Siloma and the councillor of Malambo, Joel Clement Reson, were summoned to the CCM ethics committee at the party’s office in Loliondo, after which the police entered and Siloma was arrested – or abducted – and taken to Arusha accompanied by Security Officer Hassan. In Arusha family and lawyers weren’t allowed to see Siloma. The Regional Commanding Officer said that it was a political case, and the councillor was being interrogated outside the police by TISS (Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service), which TISS do not have a mandate to do. On 25th March, Siloma was released on bail, without charges, but he must continue reporting to the police, which has reportedly lately calmed down. Later Siloma has in social media said that he was locked up, interrogated and threatened in an unknown building, not at the police station.
On Easter Eve, 16th April, the councillor of Malambo was arrested and so were the councillors of Piyaya and Maaloni. They were released the following day, but Joel Reson from Malambo was told to report to the police in Arusha, which he did on 22nd April and then he was locked up at Arusha central police station, interrogated, released on bail the following day, and told to continue reporting to the police.
Though the illegal arrests of this year of been “mild” compared to those of 2016 (or 2015) to 2019 that were lengthier and included torture.
As mentioned by Siloma and Reson themselves in Clubhouse, all focus of the “interrogations” was laid on making them stop defending the land, “confess” to having received millions from the Kenyan Senator for Narok County, Ledama Olekina and that this would be the reason that they were speaking up against any plans of turning the 1,500 km2 of vitally important grazing land into a “protected area”.
On 31st March Abdulrahman Kinana was brought in from the cold, after having fallen out with Magufuli, and is now Vice-Chairman of CCM mainland. Kinana is one of OBC’s and Sheikh Mohammed’s best and oldest friends since at least 1993.
On 6th April, the new Minister Pindi Chana visited Loliondo, but nothing has transpired of what she said or did.
This year has seen the return of OBC’s journalist, Manyerere Jackton, to incitement against the Loliondo Maasai. The past years he’s parroted chief conservator Manongi’s rhetoric about NCA, but he’s lied low about Loliondo following the arrest of OBC’s director Mollel, after previously in over 60 articles having engaged in extreme incitement, slander and fabrications. Also, Mollel himself has returned to sharing his views in the press, even if only in one international article. His message is that the president can change the land use anywhere in Tanzania to benefit the nation, naming a couple of brutal evictions operations to exemplify, and adding that urban NGOs use the Maasai as milking cows.
President Samia has repeatedly threatened the Maasai of NCA, but she has also mentioned Loliondo. On 30th April, in connection to the premier of The Royal Tour, Peter Greenberg published a radio interview with her in which she includes a threat against Loliondo when being asked a somewhat unrelated question. Peter Greenberg mentions “overtourism” and asks the president for her definition of “sustainable tourism”. Then Samia uses the occasion to respond that we must come up with strategies to protect the whole ecosystem, so that tourist attractions last for a longer time, and gives the example of Loliondo that’s bordering Serengeti, claiming that Loliondo is close to the Mara River (it’s not) and that we can’t allow the river to dry up, since there will not be the migration and Serengeti will not be the same …
Contrary to what had been announced at the meeting in Arash, on 25th May the committee handed over their report of “community views” on both NCA and the 1,500 km2 Osero in Loliondo and Sale to PM Majaliwa. The 60 members of the two parts of the committee weren’t allowed to make any presentation. Instead, as usual, there was one-way communication from Majaliwa who, as far as I’ve found out, didn’t say anything at all about Loliondo, and went on about houses that are being built in Handeni for “voluntary” (see many blog posts from this year) relocation from NCA to Handeni. The PM said that he will work on the recommendations. He told the committee members to keep believing in the government, and ignore nonsense by irrelevant people, since it can’t have bad plans for its citizens! The following day the committee members held their own press conference. While speaking up strongly and making it clear that they aren’t going anywhere, they were also grateful for the opportunity to hand over community views to Majaliwa. IF Majaliwa has had a look at the community recommendations (which he of course hasn’t), he will see that the land belongs to the Maasai, that they need it, that they care for it, and that they aren’t going anywhere. Though this is something that has been explained to him many, many times for years!
Then, in her budget speech on 3rd June, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Pindi Chana, announces that her ministry expects to “upgrade” Loliondo Game Controlled Areas to a Game Reserve! Not only this, but the plan is to do the same with a long list of other old Game Controlled Areas, which are huge areas of village land. Her words were so ignorant and demented that nobody could take them seriously. They would mean that the whole northern zone from Serengeti to Kilimanjaro would become a Game Reserve, and many other areas below. Still, except for the Ngorongoro MP Emmanuel Oleshangai, this blogger, and some people in social media, there wasn’t any reaction at all! The other MPs from areas mentioned in her speech didn’t utter a word, and nothing at all was written in the press. Is this the reason that it was seen as safe to send the FFU to invade Loliondo?
A video clip of RC Mongella is being circulated in which he repeats Kagasheki’s old – since long stopped and disproven - lie that the old 4,000 km2 Loliondo GCA would be a protected area, but that the government out of the kindness of its heart would have decided to give people living there 2,500 km2! And that 1,500 km2 are being “kept” for conservation! To make matters worse, he pretends that the exercise is “participatory” through many visits by government officials. He seems to have forgotten what he was told when he issued his threat in January! And it wasn’t exactly subtle.
This must be the same meeting in Karatu yesterday, to which the Ngorongoro District Executive Director (DED) summoned all ward and village executive directors via a letter dated 6th June. Just one day’s notice. This DED Jumaa Mhina, who arrived in in Ngorongoro in 2021, has been a destructive force indeed trying to make village chairs abandon the ongoing case in the East African Court of Justice.
I certainly didn’t expect this invasion! Not now! But now all local leaders and activists, together with national and international allies, must speak up in unison, while trying to keep to facts (I will help with that if anyone listens).
Never ever again dance to Majaliwa’s tune! It ends in tears however much he smiles and however clearly you explain everything to him!
Please alert everyone and share all information that you have!
Susanna Nordlund is a working-class person based in Sweden who since 2010 has been blogging about Loliondo (now increasingly also about NCA) and has her fingerprints thoroughly registered with Immigration so that she will not be able to enter Tanzania through any border crossing, ever again. She has never worked for any NGO or intelligence service and hasn’t earned a shilling from her Loliondo work. She can be reached at email@example.com