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The Multiple Land Use Model of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, review proposal

In this blog post: The MLUM review proposal. Reactions to the MLUM review proposal. Majaliwa/Olenasha/Marekani horror show in Wasso. Now

On 22nd September 2019, what can only be described as a plan to kill pastoralism and Maasai culture and life in the whole of Ngorongoro district was presented at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) headquarters.

Attending were the Ngorongoro Chief Conservator, Freddy Manongi, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Hamisi Kigwangalla, the Ngorongoro MP William Olenasha, NCAA staff, the District Chairman, the District Executive Director, the district CCM leadership, and members of the Pastoral Council that represent the indigenous residents in the NCAA. A couple of days later Manongi was boasting about this plan in the press - where it was also presented as marking the occasion of World Tourism Day and of 60 years of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority. 

The report  - The Multiple Land Use Model of Ngorongoro Conservation Area: Achievements and Lessons Learnt, Challenges and Options for the Future – was finalized after a joint monitoring mission from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) once again visited Ngorongoro in March 2019, and in their report reminded that they wanted the Multiple Land Use Model review completed to see the results and offer advice, while again complaining about the visual impact of settlements with “modern” houses, and so on. Recommendations and concerns from the UNESCO have in the past repeatedly led to a worsened human rights situation. 

The proposal of the MLUM report is to divide Ngorongoro into zones, with an extensive “core conservation zone” that’s to be a no-go zone for livestock and herders, and this includes the Ngorongoro Highland Forest with the three craters Ngorongoro, Olmoti and Empakaai where grazing these past few years has already been banned, not through law, but through order - which is what can happen to those living under the yoke of the NCAA, while having weak (or worse) leaders. This has led to a loss of 90% of grazing and water for Nainokanoka, Ngorongoro, Misigiyo wards, and a 100% loss of natural salt licks for livestock in these wards. The proposal is to do the same with Oldupai Gorge, Laitoli footprints, and the Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek basin. Further, the proposal is to annex to the NCAA 1,500 km2 in Loliondo and Sale, mostly in the Osero - important dry season grazing, the loss of which would have disastrous knock-on effects, but that for years has been lobbied for by OBC that organizes hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, and successfully resisted by the Maasai - and turn most of it into a no-go-zone, but allowing hunting – and to do the same with the Lake Natron area. The reason for including Loliondo and Lake Natron is in the report explained as an estimated 25% loss of tourism revenue when the upgrading of the Mto-wa-Mbu - Loliondo road has been finished and tourists will use that route to Serengeti. 

The proposal for the 1,500 km2 Osero in Loliondo to a large extent fulfils what OBC have been lobbying for since before funding the land use plan proposing it. In the Osero in Loliondo division 1,038 km2 are to be for tourism (hunting, unlike in the rest of NCA, “core conservation sub-zone”) conservation, and research while all other human activities will be banned. It will be a no-go zone for herders and livestock, while 462 km2 of Loliondo GCA in Malambo in Sale division is proposed to be the same, except that some grazing will be “allowed” (“transitional zone”). Though any move to annex the 1,500 km2 Osero to NCA and implement this plan would be contempt of court, since there’s an ongoing case in the East African Court of Justice, where the Tanzanian government finds itself sued for its violent attempts at alienating this land. 

The proposed resettlement areas are small and already populated, and the areas in Ngoile and Olbalbal are semi-deserts lacking water or grazing. People are to be removed from the wards of Nainokanoka, Nayobi, Ngorongoro, and Misigyo, while the wards with “human settlement zones” will have their grazing and water areas turned into no-go-zones (“core conservation zone”) like Endulen where 80 % of grazing and water is found in Ndutu. 

Reactions to the MLUM review proposal

After complaints, Kigwangalla agreed that three “community representatives” would be added to the MLUM review team, and the NCA wards visited again. In NCA there were several meetings and much frustration over the slow and weak response by leaders. On 5th October 2019, the Pastoral Council finally issued a statement, but it seemed weak, and compromised, and it misrepresented Loliondo, and on 29th October a statement by the ward councillors of Ngorongoro District was even weaker. 

The MLUM review team again toured the wards and could again observe people’s unsurprising rejection of any evictions. The community views were briefly mentioned in the new version of the report, but the “community representatives” were side-lined, which they panicked about, refusing to share the new version of the report, in which exactly the same genocidal proposal was repeated. 

Then, chief conservator Manongi, partly accompanied by the chairman of the Pastoral Council, toured development projects funded by the NCAA all over the district, including permanent structures for a JWTZ military camp in Lopolun, next to Wasso. 

It was reported thatat a regional CCM meeting there were assurances that there was no way that the ruling party would support the proposal for evictions. Some suspected that the intention was to bring people to despair and then present the president and other leaders as saviours when declaring that the plan had been stopped, but the proposal just kept being insisted upon by people in and around the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Some traditional leaders from NCA went to see the CCM secretary-general Bashiru Ally. 

On 14th April 2020 the Pastoral Council, traditional leaders, and village and ward leaders from Ngorongoro Conservation Area held a press conference in Arusha with a stronger statement than the previous one. They called upon the president and the prime minister to intervene against the abuse committed by the MLUM team - together with chief conservator Manongi whom they wanted removed - that have proposed measures to remove over 15 villages and turn the Maasai into refugees in their own country. 


Meanwhile, a MOU was signed between the Ngorongoro Pastoral Council (PC), the Ngorongoro District Council, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), after pressure by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and others, for funds to bypass the PC to instead go to the District Council, and for PC employees to be directly employed by the NCAA. The reason for this was mismanagement and corruption among PC members, but at the same time it gave more power to the person corrupting them – chief conservator Manongi. 

Several young professionals from NCA wrote an open letter to president Magufuli about the injustices, threats, and mismanagement going on in NCA. 

On 23rd April 2020 a collection of leaders from Ngorongoro were summoned to Kigwangalla in Dodoma, and were promised four new community representatives, and that the Ngorongoro residents should compose their own ideal proposal, submit it to the committee, and send him a copy. At a feedback meeting in Mokilal the MP was booed by the attendants who wanted to cut all engagement with the MLUM team, but finally the MP side managed to impose their view that the offer of appointing four community representatives should be taken, but that it this time should be accompanied by public pressure. There was strong disagreement about who should be appointed.

 In May, the councillor for Endulen reported about how NCA rangers were conducting an operation, invading villages to interrogate people about houses that had been built and doing reconnaisance of areas under threat of mass eviction, even using a plane, and that the rangers then went to the market at Naiborsoit where they arrested three women small-scale traders that were taken to Loliondo and illegally detained for 48 hours. The councillor said that the NCAA had decided to suspend all building permits for organizations and individuals, since they will be evicted anyway, and that they were saying that the Multiple Land Use Model review report had the blessing of the president. He wondered how this could happen after the promises given by Kigwangalla in April, he also wondered how the new “community representatives” had been given terms of reference than more looked like preparing for evictions than preparing a community proposal to be sent to Kigwangalla. The councillor advised Kigwangalla that the exercise should be stopped until chief conservator Manongi is retired, or otherwise removed, together with the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (Adolf Mkenda who was replaced in July, since he wanted to contest for the Rombo parliamentary seat). The councillor was full of praise for DC Rashid Mfaume Taka who had arrested the rangers who brought the small-scale traders to Loliondo (this DC and human rights criminal would normally have sided with the rangers) and later he published messages from the DC who assured that chief conservator Manongi had in no way ordered the hooligan rangers who were entirely acting on their own behalf, and he blamed imperialists and the opposition for trying to create hostility between citizens and their government.

At the meeting of all councillors of Ngorongoro District Council that ended on 3rd June 2020, the information was that the NCAA had approved funding of 5 billion TZShs for the task of expanding its boundaries – according to the proposal in the MLUM report - to become 12,000 km2 and to include the Osero in Loliondo and Lake Natron. This included the cost of “relocations”. Reportedly, the councillors resolved to work against the plan regardless of consequences, and were discussing the way forward – but then the elections got in the way … and they became busy praising the government.  

As far as I know, nothing more was heard from Kigwangalla, except that he went on to threaten Lake Natron – that’s included in the genocidal proposal – with a Game Reserve and a Wildlife Management Area. On 11th June 2020, the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, then still Adolph Mkenda, and director of wildlife, Maurus Msuha, announced in media that there is to be a Game Reserve in the Lake Natron basin. This was followed by a protest meeting in Engaresero, in which, among others, the councillor, Ibrahim Olesakai, and village chairman, Yohana Meeli Laizer, reminded President Magufuli of his statement from January 2019 against evicting rural people for conservation, that there already are land use plans, that they don’t have anywhere else to go, have lived in the area for a very long time after being evicted from other areas, and asked him to reject the game reserve plan. Mkenda’s response was to say that only the president can declare a Game Reserve, and that the ministry had a map which showed areas for Game Reserve and for Wildlife Management Area (WMA), but that it was to be used in “participatory” talks. As seen, “participatory” (shirikishi) has become a catchword for those who want to impose the genocidal plan, and every time they make a “participatory” change, they return with the same proposal.

So, on 26th June, Minister Kigwangalla after a meeting with district leaders from Longido, traditional leaders, and Arusha Region declared in social media to have embarked on a most important trip to ensure the sustainable conservation of Lake Natron. Kigwangalla’s message was that Lake Natron Game Controlled Area (all of it village land) was to be divided into a Game Reserve and a WMA, and that he had received technical advice about how to implement this. The decision to establish a Game Reserve was based on a cabinet decision following the recommendation of the committee of ministers sent by the president to address land use disputes. A committee was set up to do “ground truthing” and advice the government about the conflict resulting from the change of land use, and this committee reportedly consists of experts from the ministry, members from the Arusha RC’s office, the DCs of Longido, Ngorongoro and Monduli, and representatives from the concerned villages. 

On 1st July, a statement addressed to President Magufuli from the traditional leaders of Ngorongoro ward - the villages of Mokilal, Kayapus and Oloirobi - in Ngorongoro district was read by Njamama Medukenya and Sembeta Ngoidiko on Global tv. These leaders called for the president to hear their longstanding cry about their land that keep being stolen for conservation and tourism, and ask him to stop the current proposal, while reminding of that since they were evicted from Serengeti in 1959, there have been multiple violations of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Ordinance. 

Even though his supporters had assured me that MP Olenasha was very much concerned and working hard against it, while contesting for the CCM candidacy for the Ngorongoro parliamentary seat, he chose to deny the eviction threat, calling it “propaganda”. 

On 13th September, the councillor of Endulen posted in social media, apparently in a panic, about a visit to NCA by the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, adding that while other Tanzanians are busy finding leaders that will bring them development the coming five years, people in Ngorongoro live in fear and doubt due to various ongoing committees working to undermine the rights of the people. “We are alive and watching from a distance”, he wrote. Laws and ordinances must be changed to impose the genocidal proposal, but according to social media posts by the ministry the reason for the visit was to talk to NCAA workers about not being drunk at work and not stealing things, and to do some domestic tourism. Preceding and following his post the councillor has written uncountable others, but with over the top praise for the government of John Pombe Magufuli … 

Majaliwa/Olenasha/Marekani horror show in Wasso

On 16th October, the election campaign had brought PM Majaliwa to Loliondo. On the stage in Wasso, there was much mentioning of development projects followed by an annoying sound effect like a gun with a silencer followed by a truckload of glass bottles dumped into a container, or so it sounded to me. Now Majaliwa had the opportunity to declare that the terrible threat that had been insisted upon by people in and around the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism for over a year would definitely not be implemented, that everyone could go on with their lives as normal, and no land would be taken. He could even have declared that chief conservator Manongi had been removed from his position. The PM could have become as popular in Ngorongoro district as his predecessor Pinda became in Loliondo when he stopped Kagasheki’s terrible threat against the 1,500 km2 Osero in 2013. Since the proposal is so insane, some people more or less expected that it was a kind of ploy that would be used to make current leaders into saviours when stopping it. Though instead of this Majaliwa insisted on denyingdeflecting, and using the horrible word “participatory” (shirikishi). 

Majaliwa’s mention of the MLUM proposal was as if he had never been informed about it, had never seen the report, and didn’t expect anyone in the audience to have any knowledge at all. He complained about those saying that people will be evicted from Lake Natron and Ngorongoro. He asked everyone to stop such talk, since the president had prepared everything so well making clear that community participation is needed in community interests, and that it’s people who are coming to ask for votes who are misleading everyone. “Why has the conflict in Ololosokwan over 1,500 km2 calmed down?”, he asked, and someone could have told him a long story of horror, in which Majaliwa himself features prominently …, and shown him that the alienation of that land too is included in the MLUM proposal … He added that besides the economy there’s the interest of conservation, but it must be “participatory”. Digging deeper into the irrelevant, Majaliwa said that the president had sent a delegation that toured the areas, and that he had removed more than 7 Game Controlled Areas. Those GCAs are already village land. If degazetting them means that the threat of having them turned into protected areas is removed maybe it could have some relevance, but that has nothing at all to do with Ngorongoro, as neither Loliondo nor Lake Natron GCAs are even on that list. Instead they feature in the MLUM proposal, and Kigwangalla was publicly threatening Lake Natron in late June. Majaliwa treated the audience as complete idiots, and nobody raised their voice. 

MP Olenasha mentioned a conflict that had been going on in Loliondo GCA for 30 years and that after president sent PM Majaliwa it has calmed down and now there’s peace. That’s some astonishing – even if I by now really should have got used to anything … way of describing the Osero threat by someone who knows every twist and turn, and is aware of what a dangerous person Majaliwa is to the Osero and to Ngorongoro as a whole. I’ve written this many times and with much more detail, but some of what has happened during Olenasha’s term as MP is: 

In 2016, there was a sharp increase in intimidation, threats, and illegal arrests  - and this silenced many people, and notably the two local NGOs that used to speak up about land rights. OBC initiated yet another media campaign against the Maasai, with their own report, and their “journalist”, Manyerere Jackton, calling for Majaliwa to alienate the 1,500 km2 Osero. 

Majaliwa tasked Arusha RC Gambo with setting up a committee to solve the conflict, while Minister Maghembe and everyone in and around the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism heavily pushed for turning the 1,500 km2 Osero into a protected area as in the district land use plan, funded by OBC, that was rejected by the district council in 2011. Soon local leaders in Loliondo found that Gambo, and certainly not Majaliwa, was their “only ally”. Though they were weakened to the point that they agreed to a Wildlife Management Area, that they had rejected for a decade and half (and against which there were spontaneous protests in village after village) as a compromise proposal to be presented to Majaliwa, and celebrated it as a victory when Gambo’s committee decided upon this proposal.

Unexpectedly and unthinkable to many, when everyone was waiting to hear Majaliwa’s decision, on 13th August 2017 an illegal eviction and arson operation like the one in 2009 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, and towards the end cows were even shot in Arash. Women were raped by the rangers. The illegal operation went on until 26th October, but the MP never publicly spoke up against it. Other leaders, like the Ololosokwan councillor, were still speaking up.

In NCA, after a visit by Majaliwa in December 2016, pastoralists were in 2017 blocked from several grazing, water and saltlick areas, most notably Ngorongoro Crater, but chief conservator Manongi stretched this to include the Northern Highland Forest, Embakaai and Olmoti craters as well as the Lake Ndutu basin.

In early October 2017, Maghembe was replaced by Kigwangalla who after a few weeks stopped the illegal operation and made some big promises that OBC would have left Tanzania before the start of 2018, which he later backtracked on.

Majaliwa delivered his decision on 6th December 2017 and even if somewhat unclear, the decision was a terrifying disappointment: a special authority to manage the land after a legal bill had been prepared. This was however delayed, and the only thing that was heard were rumours that the land would be annexed to NCA.

2018 was the year of terror in which everyone was silenced. Local police led by acting OCCID, Marwa Mwita, conducted an intimidation campaign to derail the case in the East African Court of Justice, but even worse impact had a military camp that was set up in Lopolun near Wasso. In June, the soldiers started attacking and torturing various groups of people, and in November when OBC were preparing their camp for guests, these soldiers were beating and chasing away people and cattle from wide areas around OBC’s camp, and then they started setting fire to bomas in areas of Kirtalo and Ololosokwan while all leaders stayed silent fearing that the crimes had been ordered by President Magufuli. On 21st December, the soldiers burned 13 more bomas in Leken in Kirtalo. Only in mid-January 2019 did the RC, and the MP, make a statement about the arson, but without mentioning the soldiers, and in such a vague way that it was hard to understand what they were talking about. After that, people started saying that it was OBC’s director, Isaack Mollel, who directly had contracted the soldiers.

In January 2019 there were more illegal arrests of innocent people, but in late February OBC’s director Mollel was surprisingly arrested for some minor (considering what else he’s been up to) corruption crimes, and held in remand prison for over a year and a half while the hearings kept being delayed, and then released on 2nd October 2020. This arrest is, even if far from any justice - since four DCs and most government officials have, with much brutality, been working for Mollel/OBC and against the people in a local police state, while “gifts” to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism have been given in broad daylight, and everyone except Mollel has got away untouched – led to that OBC became more toned down, only engaging in some “anti-poaching” using one vehicle, not harassing herders, and not inciting against the Maasai in the press.

Though in the genocidal MLUM review proposal presented by NCA chief conservator Manongi in September 2019 OBC’s wishes are very well catered for as the threat against the Osero is renewed, and as seen, every time there is a promise of a “participatory” change, the same genocidal proposal is returned.

Further, the hunters have three of their employees placed as CCM councillor candidates, not only in Orgosorok where there are non-pastoralist townspeople, and Oloipiri where leaders have for many years been "befriended by investors", but sadly, and much more than sadly, OBC’s assistant director is “contesting” in Ololosokwan that used to be at the forefront of the land rights struggle and where there isn’t even an opposition candidate.

So, there’s not much to boast about, to put it mildly, unless the current government is so insane and dangerous that everything would have been even worse without Olenasha as a silent MP, which could of course be the case.

Very briefly, Olenasha also mentions that there are challenges in NCA and Lake Natron, but says that the government’s decision will be participatory and local people will always be included in talks about how to improve their lives in those areas … “Shirikishi” again. There’s more to write about, like Olenasha’s praise of the Orgosorok CCM councillor candidate (the MP has earlier at least kept a distance from OBC) and apparently rude comments about the opposition candidate, Msukuma, but I can’t hear all details, and everyone is too busy to assist me. 

There were rumours that Tundu Lissu would visit Ngorongoro on the 26th, and I hoped to write about it, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. 


This blog has traditionally tried to avoid party politics, not least because the local leaders that most have spoken up against the land threats have been from the ruling party, and I more than I’d ever be allowed to tell have tried to act more or less as a secretary to people in Loliondo. This time the opposition’s presidential candidate isn’t some embarrassing CCM leftover, but a hero and a friend of Ngorongoro, while these past five years have seen the whole of Tanzania turned into a police state, like Loliondo has been for so many years, while in Loliondo itself fear, silence and terrible abuse have dramatically increased. The Tanzanian government has since President Magufuli took office waged a dirty war against the opposition, and I may seem naïve thinking that a change could be just around the corner, but please go out and vote for Tundu Lissu, and guard the votes if at all possible!

Even though it was hard to find anyone brave enough, there are opposition candidates for the Ngorongoro parliamentary seat. Chadema had to bring in a guest called Jacqueline Swai who was unknown in Ngorongoro, and even though she’s been campaigning and cheered on, to me still has very blurry contours. I’ve been screaming for solid information about how much she knows about the land threats and what she will do about them, but not only this, but even her contact information, is impossible to get hold of. Though, as some apparently serious people support her very much, and she’s riding on the waves of Tundu Lissu, maybe she could do a good job.

ACT Wazalendo’s Ngorongoro MP contestant, Supeet Olepurko, is a real Ngorongorian who knows all the land issues. He got his papers in order the last second and was then disqualified by DED Siumbu, appealed to the National Electoral Commission that after weeks re-admitted him via a letter that Siumbu then sat on for another week. This and worse is what has happened to many opposition candidates all over Tanzania. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, Supeet has not been able to do enough campaigning, and he seems to be known as a humble maths teacher when too many people, notably some educated youths (but I could be unlucky with my acquaintances), seem to favour traitors and gangsters. 

If praying were my style, I’d be praying for Ngorongoro, and Tanzania. Though I still have some hope for a change - very, very soon. 

Susanna Nordlund. [email protected]