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Maasai Land All Over Tanzania Threatened

Pindi Chana in Her Budget Speech Announces Planned Contempt of Court in the Loliondo Case and Threatens Maasai Land All Over Tanzania

On 3rd June, in her budget speech for 2022-2023, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism Pindi Chana said that her Ministry expects to upgrade Loliondo Game Controlled Area to a Game Reserve. This is not only a criminal threat of violence and destruction of thousands of lives and livelihoods, but if in any way implemented, contempt of court in the case, in its final stages, in the East African Court of Justice. This comes only days after local leaders, on 25th May, in their futile dance to PM Majaliwa’s tune - at the same time as those from NCA – handed in explanations that the land is theirs, that they need it, that they care for it, and that they aren’t going anywhere. As if Majaliwa, or anyone in the government would listen … There must be loud protests, more court cases, perhaps even a reclaim of Serengeti if the government continues like this.


Chana’s land grab attempt via budget speech

As mentioned, Pindi Chana in her budget speech indicated that the Ministry expects to upgrade the status of several Game Controlled Areas including Loliondo and Lake Natron into Game Reserves. I assume (it wasn’t specified) Chana was referring to the 1,500 km2 of the old 4,000 km2 Loliondo Game Controlled Area, which is the core hunting area of Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC), that organises hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, and that for years have been lobbying the Tanzanian government to have their hunting block since 1993 (the whole of Loliondo GCA, first contract signed in 1992 without involving local people) reduced to these 1,500 km2 and turned into a “protected area” to evict the Maasai and their livestock. This lobbying has led to two major illegal mass arson invasions of village land, ordered by the DC’s office in 2009 and 2017, and a local police state in which anyone who criticises the “investors” (OBC and Thomson Safaris) will be severely harassed.

 

 
The 4,000 km2 old/former Loliondo GCA consists of the entire Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District, and Piyaya and Malambo wards of Sale Division. This area includes two towns, district headquarters, agricultural areas, forest reserves, hospitals, a teachers’ collage, a military camp, and a “private nature refuge” claimed by the deeply unethical American Thomson Safaris. The 1,500 km2 that OBC uses as their core hunting area is essential dry season grazing land, the home of many people, and legally registered village land, on which the new Wildlife Conservation Act No 5 of 2009 prohibits the establishment of Game Controlled Areas.
 

Each Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism has tried to assist OBC in their own way, but still the Maasai keep their land. Pindi Chana’s strategy is apparently to issue a demented massive attack against almost all Maasai grazing land in Tanzania’s northern zone and beyond, all at the same time. In one sentence she announced not only that Loliondo GCA is to be upgraded to a Game Reserve, but that her ministry expects to do the same with the GCAs of Lake Natron – part of it is in Ngorongoro district and there’s also a threat of annexation to NCA. Other Game Controlled Areas to be upgraded are Kilombero, Lolkisale, Longido, Muhuwesi, Umba River, Mto wa Mbu, Simanjiro, Ruvu Masai, Ruvu Same and Kalimawe; and the Forest Reserves of Litumbandyosi and Gesimazoa.

 

 

 A Game Reserve, like a National Park, has a strict ban on all activities by local people, while tourism is strongly encouraged, but with the difference that unlike in a National Park hunting by tourists is allowed, or not only allowed, but it’s the purpose of a Game Reserve.

 

 
Somewhat outdated map of hunting areas, but the old Game Controlled Areas are the same, and even if not all of them are included, it gives an image of the insanity. Loliondo (27 and 28), Lake Natron (29), Longido (30), Mto wa Mbu (31), Lolkisale (38), Simanjiro (39-42), Ruvu Same (44), Ruvu Masai (45), Kilombero (55,56). Does anyone have a better map?


The announcement would require evictions from such huge areas of Tanzania that it just can’t be seriously meant but could be a strategy to make old mass eviction plans seem measured. There’s been some reactions in social media, but in regular media it isn't mentioned at all. This contrasts with the attention given to a statement issued by the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) on 5th June temporarily lifting a ban on exports of live wild animals. Just one day later Pindi Chana reinstated the ban to allow further consultations.

Fortunately, Ngorongoro has an MP, Emmanuel Oleshangai, and in parliament he reminded the Minister and indeed the government that Loliondo representatives have handed over their report of recommendations to the PM as he asked them to do, and the MP asked the Ministry to go through them and those from Ngorongoro division. He wondered why the Ministry didn’t want people in any part of Ngorongoro - Loliondo, Lake Natron or NCA - to be able to exist. Then they go to Mto wa Mbu GCA, wherever that is (it’s a town). Everywhere people will cry because of the Ministry, from Monduli to Longido to Lolkisale to Simanjiro to Kilombero. For whose benefit are such protected areas? Protected areas that make Tanzanians cry every day have no benefit. The conflict in Loliondo has lasted for 30 years. About 307,800 km2 of Tanzania are already protected areas. Let people continue their lives in the rest of the country.

 


Old Game Controlled Areas do not restrict local human activities and can, and do, overlap with village land. Though in Wildlife Conservation Act 2009, that came into effect in 2010, GCAs are defined as the same as Game Reserve. Per the 2009 Act they are no longer allowed to overlap with village land, and they were to be reviewed within one year of the Act coming into operation, which didn’t happen anywhere, so all GCAs are now to be considered defunct. Though after the illegal mass arson operation in 2009, OBC tried the “legal” (not really) way and funded the surveying of a new draft district land use plan, which unsurprisingly proposed turning their 1,500 km2 core hunting area into the new kind of GCA that would not allow local Maasai and livestock. This proposal was strongly rejected by Ngorongoro District Council in 2011, but then several attempts to impose it anyway have followed:

Previous criminal attempts

In 2013 Kagasheki attempted the strategy of shameless lying, saying that the 4,000 km2 were a protected area, that the Maasai were landless, and that the government was generously gifting them with 2,500 km2, when the actual plan was to steal 1,500 km2. At this time the Maasai were united in an exemplary way, raised support from both ruling party and opposition, and PM Pinda stopped the Kagasheki-style land grab attempt.

With Nyalandu followed the strategy (already widely practised but intensified) of divide and rule and buying off local leaders. This was frightfully successful in some cases, but not to the extent that anyone signed anything about the land.

Next came increased repression with lengthy illegal arrests, which continued between 2016 (or 2015) and 2019, and this is where Majaliwa entered the Loliondo land grabbing circus. In 2016 he tasked then Arusha RC Gambo with setting up a select committee to solve the conflict. Local leaders were weakened to the extent that when the committee reached the compromise proposal of a Wildlife Management Area, that in Loliondo had been successfully rejected when the government and FZS tried to impose it in the 2000s, and even when there were spontaneous protests in village after village against Gambo’s committee, they regarded it as a victory.

While everyone was still waiting to hear Majaliwa’s decision, on 13th August 2017 an “unexpected” illegal mass arson operation, like the one in 2009, was initiated and 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. People were beaten and raped, illegally arrested, and cattle seized. Some leaders were frightfully silent while others protested loudly. Minister Maghembe pretended that OBC’s land use plan would have been implemented and the operation was taking place on some protected land, while the DC, and Maghembe’s own ministry, said it was not about the 1,500 km2, since Majaliwa was to announce a decision about that, but that village land was invaded because people were entering Serengeti National Park “too easily”.

 

 
A few weeks after Kigwangalla had been appointed as minister, he stopped the illegal operation, and for at least a couple of days, he appeared to be a completely new kind of minister. He complained that OBC’s director Isaack Mollel had tried to bribe him more cheaply than he had bribed his predecessors and said that OBC would have left Tanzania before January 2018. Though OBC didn’t show any signs of packing, and on 6th December 2017 Majaliwa announced that they were staying. The PM also announced his decision that was something terrifying, but vague, about a legal bill and forming a special authority to manage the land. This decision was celebrated by OBC’s journalist Manyerere Jackton, but then it fortunately kept being delayed.
 

In 2018, OBC reaffirmed their love relation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism with yet another gift of 15 vehicles. In Loliondo a military camp was set up and later made permanent in Lopolun near Wasso with donations from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority. Then followed the most inexplicable silence during an attempt by the OCCID and local police to derail the case in the East African Court of Justice, filed during the illegal operation of 2017, when only the main counsel, and not any local leaders spoke up. The silence continued during strange and brutal attacks by the soldiers stationed at Lopolun against several groups of local people. On 25th September 2018 – a year after being filed - the court finally granted the injunction restraining the government from evictions, destruction and harassment of the applicants while the main case continues, but this injunction was soon brutally violated when in November and December soldiers from the camp in Olopolun tortured people, seized cattle, and burned bomas in Kirtalo and Ololosokwan, while nobody at all dared to speak up. Local leaders claimed to fear for their lives and thought that the brutality was directly ordered by President Magufuli. When RC Gambo in January 2019 condemned the crimes in a very vague way, they changed to thinking that OBC’s director had contracted the soldiers.

 

There were finally some promising developments in 2019 when OBC’s director Isaack Mollel was arrested on economic sabotage charges and OBC toned down (they never left and Mollel was never fired) their activities on the ground, but the local police state wasn’t dealt with and after a lengthy stay in remand prison Mollel was out, and soon back to work. Speculations about Mollel’s misfortune include his clashes of egos with Kigwangalla and Gambo, and Magufuli wanting to send a message to OBC’s old friend Abdulrahman Kinana (and to Bernard Membe) that nobody is untouchable.
 

Now some local leaders claim that after the arrest of Mollel everything was calm until 2022, which isn’t true at all. It was they who had been silenced. In September 2019, the genocidal zoning proposal for NCA, which included the proposal to annex most of the 1,500 km2 Osero from Loliondo and Sale divisions and turn it into a protected area, while allowing hunting, was presented. This Multiple Land Use Model review proposal has since been met with countless protests from every kind of group of people from NCA, but near silence from Loliondo. Then 2021 brought Jumaa Mhina as new DED and he started working hard to make the village chairmen of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, Oloirien and Arash withdraw the case in the East African Court of Justice, but they stood their ground.

 

Escalation in 2022

On 11th January 2022, Arusha RC John 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.

 


On 14th February, Majaliwa came and wasn’t much better than Mongella, but with a friendlier tone, and not being too specific. Three days later, on 17th February in NCA, not Loliondo, Majaliwa ordered the disputed land to be marked by beacons, so that we may know the boundaries – while claiming that this is NOT a trick! 

Then former Minister Ndumbaro on 8th March re-introduced Kagasheki’s lies in an interview with DW Kiswahili, and on the 11th Majaliwa again mentioned beacons and water projects (outside the 1,500 km2, pretending that the land was only needed for water) in Loliondo 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, who as district chairman 2015-2020 had been a disappointment, 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.

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 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 previous and coming blog posts) 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. 

Then, in her budget speech on 3rd June, Pindi Chana, announces that her ministry expects to “upgrade” Loliondo GCA to a Game Reserve!

How?

How can local leaders again and again fall into the trap of dancing to Majaliwa’s tune? He’s such a monumental liar, known by almost all Tanzanians as having said that Magufuli was working hard with heaps of folders on his desk, when the late president had been gone for weeks and was dying or already dead. In 2016-2017 dancing to his tune in Loliondo was followed by unexpected extreme brutality and then a dangerous and disappointing decision, and in NCA his visit in December 2016 led to loss of access to the craters of Ngorongoro, Olmoti and Empakaai. One explanation is of course that all local leaders are CCM members, but some professionals in the committee preparing community reports are opposition supporters. One CCM member explains it as, “The Maasai want peace, and they think negotiations will bear fruit. Just because he is in the government, they have no alternative. The only good thing is Malijwa lies all the time (he gets trapped in his own lies)”. A non-CCM-member, from NCA, not Loliondo says (regarding the latest committee), “Their intention was not only to hand these reports to Majaliwa. It was beyond it. They made an advocacy tool for life and forever.” This was referring to the NCA report. The Loliondo/Sale report is partly impressive as well, but some grave and unnecessary mistakes made me angry.

Meanwhile in Ngorongoro Conservation Area on 4th June, the CCM youth wing UVCCM, has made a 1,000-headed fossil fuel guzzling tourist visit using 140 vehicles, celebrating their Mama Samia, The Royal Tour (see previous blog post) and this unbelievably destructive industry. The same was already done by Deputy Minister Masanja and her caravan of women, and it couldn’t be made clearer that the eviction threats against the Maasai have absolutely nothing to do with environmental concerns.

 

 

  

 

 

In February 2022, President Samia attended the Dubai Expo 2020 and signed a US$7.49 billion business partnership deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Here’s photo of her and OBC’s hunter, the UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. 

Pindi Chana has earned her place in the vast, vast Loliondo hall of shame. Her attempt at imposing OBC wishes, stealing the 1,500 km2 Osero from the Maasai, will be stopped!

REF: View from the Termite Mound: Pindi Chana in Her Budget Speech Announces Planned Contempt of Court in the Loliondo Case and Threatens Maasai Land All Over Tanzania (termitemoundview.blogspot.com)

 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 sannasus@hotmail.com