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View from the Termite Mound

Scattered, Scarce, and Delayed Reports While Waiting for Action against the Genocidal MLUM Proposal in Ngorongoro

I must write about recent developments in Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) even though the little information I have got is now old. This blog has for a decade dealt with “investors” threatening land rights in Loliondo. There’s almost total silence about what’s happening in Loliondo, and the current most acute threat against the 1,500 km2 Osero is that its annexation to NCA is included in the report that proposes such extensive “no-go zones” in NCA and beyond that it would mean the end of all Maasai life in Ngorongoro District, and these proposals keep being insisted upon by the Ngorongoro chief conservator Manongi, and an ugly assortment of individuals inside and around the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, while far too timid local leaders keep asking for the report to be overhauled, which keeps being granted, and is then ignored. The latest blog post somewhat explained the most recent promises by Minister Kigwangalla. Since then, the councillor of Endulen has reported about how this is being sabotaged, and surprisingly about how the criminal DC has been supportive of the Maasai (or doing damage control for the government). I can’t explain everything in this post, but there’s a decade of posts, and the latest ones have been about the MLUM report. I hope and expect to soon be able to write about some more serious action against the brutal proposal. Meanwhile I will post this.

A brief reminder about the Osero
OBC, that organizes hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, have for years lobbied the Tanzanian government to create a protected area out of the 1,500 km2 Osero (bushland) next to Serengeti National Park, that besides being village land and an important dry-season grazing area, serves as OBC’s core hunting area. In 2009 this led to a brutal invasion of village land, with mass arson and other human rights crimes, committed by the Field Force Unit and OBC’s rangers, officially ordered by the DC’s office, and defended by the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism at the time, Shamsa Mwangunga. The Maasai got more organized and in 2011 they managed to stop a draft district land use plan, funded by OBC and that unsurprisingly proposed turning the 1,500 km2 Osero into a protected area. In 2013, the plan was again brought up in a very aggressive and twisted way by then Minister Kagasheki who was eventually defeated when the Maasai managed to raise the support of both the ruling party and the opposition.
After that, divide and rule was worsened and by 2016 the always present local police-state at the service of “investors” – OBC and the American Thomson Safaris that claim ownership of 12,617 acres – turned more repressive, silencing many people. Basically every government official, and not least the successive DCs have, with complete shamelessness, been ready to commit any crime to please these investors, and intimidate anyone speaking up. Threats and illegal arrests worsened in 2016 (while the whole country got more repressive) and this weakened local leaders to the extent of agreeing on a previously impossibly sad compromise proposal, while then Minister Maghembe tirelessly worked for something even worse. In August 2017, this was followed by an “unexpected” – and “impossible” at a time when everyone was waiting for a decision by PM Majaliwa - repeat of the 2009 invasion of village land with mass arson, beatings, seizing of cattle and rapes committed by Serengeti rangers assisted by NCA rangers, OBC rangers, anti-poaching, local police, and others. This was officially ordered by the DC and funded by TANAPA. After months of extreme brutality, Maghembe was replaced by Kigwangalla who stopped the operation and made some big promises, like that OBC would have left before January 2018, which he later changed his mind about.
In 2018, a military camp was set up in Loliondo. Fear increased to the extent that almost nobody was speaking up when local police, led by the acting Officer Commanding Criminal Investigation in the district, went on an intimidation drive trying to derail the court case that had been filed against the government in the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) by four villages. Towards the end of the year the soldiers could – in violation of court orders by the EACJ - even burn down bomas in wide areas around OBC camp, while all leaders kept silent fearing that the operation had been ordered by the president.
Things calmed down after OBC’s Tanzanian director, in late February 2019, and after an intervention by the Arusha RC, was locked up in remand prison, where he, as far as I know, is kept in a judicial vacuum, while being investigated for mostly unrelated crimes. OBC staff keep driving around doing “anti-poaching”, but don’t harass herders. OBC are presumed to do their lobbying in a more discreet way. Then, in September 2019, the proposal of – among other mass evictions – annexing the Osero to NCA (and turn most of it into a no-go zone for herders and livestock, but not for research, tourism and hunting) was revealed, and is being much defended by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
When I was about to for once publish a blog post in time, I was informed about a study by a professor, Ladislaus Fredrick Batinoluho, of the Open university of Tanzania, that had been “plagiarized” from the MLUM report – or since it was finished before the MLUM report, I suppose it’s more correct to say that it’s part of the same long-running campaign - and presented at the International Conference on the Future of Tourism (ICFT) over a year ago. I was asked to mention it to show how Manongi uses scholars. The name of the study is Examining the Journey Travelled by Ngorongoro Conservation Area for 60 Years: A Conservation Perspective for Decision Makers, and its suggestions are that; “firstly the indigenous residents should give up their pastoral and other ways of life and move out to save the NCA. Secondly the decision makers must choose, either to lose NCA or pursue community development. The study recommends abolishing the multiple land use model by relocating all indigenous people outside of the NCA in order to save the property.” Dr. Batinoluho was part of the team preparing the frightening MLUM report that was proudly presented by chief conservator Manongi in September 2019.
A study of another kind is Teklehaymanot G. Weldemichel’s article Othering Pastoralists, State Violence, andthe Remaking of Boundaries in Tanzania’s Militarised Wildlife ConservationSector. In this article Teklehaymanot examines why Tanzanian authorities use violence for conservation, and how they justify it. The focus is on the illegal operation that started on 13th August 2017 when Teklehaymanot happened to be in Loliondo for fieldwork. 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. Teklehaymanot also mentions the – to anyone familiar with Loliondo, very loud and repetitive - “othering” of the Maasai as “Kenyans” as a way to make the violence acceptable to non-Maasai actors. There’s a lot to say about this article and I’ll return to it when I’m less stressed.
Councillor reports about abuse and sabotage committed by rangers and then the criminal DC receives much praise for intervening

I’ve sometimes through the years written about what’s going in NCA where people are worse off than in Loliondo, living under the colonial-style rule of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority with its many restrictions, but Loliondo itself is almost too much to keep up with. However, since the Multiple Land Use Model report, with its horrifying proposal, was presented I’ve tried to report about what’s happening, even though few people in Ngorongoro, and almost nobody in Loliondo, seem to be getting much information.
On 16th May the councillor of Endulen ward in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Emmanuel Oleshangai, reported in social media that NCAA 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 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. Though it should be remembered that the DC himself 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 saying that the operation would only have taken place inside Serengeti National Park, even though the crimes are known by thousands of victims, and other direct witnesses, were ordered in black on white by the DC himself, explained in a statement from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, and on a map by TANAPA that shows that an clear majority of bomas were burned on village land.
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 are saying that the Multiple Land Use 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 councilor 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 ward 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), 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 who even stop government official bringing building materials at the NCA gate, and demand bribes. 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 has 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. I suspect that the DC would have said the same if he had defended the rangers, but then blaming the pastoralists for having “pimps”. Maybe NCA is too far from Kenya to bring up “Kenyans”.
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, this commission is doing.
It’s election year and the DC now seems 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.
At the meeting of all councillors of Ngorongoro District Council that ended up on 3rd June, 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 kms 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 amending the MLUM work in a more “participatory” manner. Reportedly, the councillors resolved to work against the plan regardless of the consequences, and are discussing the way forward ... As said, I hope to soon be able to write about some serious action against the insanely brutal proposal. 
Susanna Nordlund

 Wed 17 June, 2020

View from the Termite Mound - A blog about threats against Maasai land in Loliondo - Thomson Safaris, that claim 51 km2 of grazing land as their private nature refuge, OBC, that keep lobbying the Tanzanian government to grab 1,500 km2 from the Maasai - and ruthless hypocrisy, lies, intimidation, and violence.