Loliondo Game Controlled Area East of Serengeti National Park. It encompasses the Loliondo and Sale Divisions of Ngorongoro District. The area covers the entire Ngorongoro District with the exception of the Ngorongoro Division. There are many villages in the said area, which are recognized by the Land Act No.5 of 1999 and the Local Government (District Authority) Act No.7 of 1982. The villages in the area are, among others, Ololosokwan, Soitsambu, Oloipiri, Olorien, Maaloni, Arash, Malambo and Piyaya. It important from the very beginning to make clear that enactment of Wildlife Conservation Act No.5 of 2009 neither altered the legal status of land ownership in the area nor transferred the ownership to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. It should be clearly understood that although the Director of Wildlife has legal powers to grant hunting permits for the game controlled area the same has no legal mandate whatsoever regarding the land of the said villages. For that matter the neither the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1974 nor its predecessor has repealed either the Land Act no 5 or the Local Government District Authority Act no 7 of 1982 which confers the right to land to the exiting villages located within the Loliondo Game Controlled Area.
In 1992 the Government granted a hunting permit to Brigadier Mohamed Abdulrahim Al-Ali through Otterlo Business Corporation Limited (hereinafter OBC) to hunt in the villages within the Loliondo and Sale Divisions. The permit which has been renewed every five years ever since, did not extinguish the rights of the people to own, use and live in their ancestral land in legally established villages.
Despites such reality, the Government has been going out of its ways to deliberately mislead the public about the ownership of land in the area. The Government has been doing so to protect the invading investor. Specifically, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism together with the Central Government at Arusha Region and Ngorongoro District and at time have used force to evict Maasai pastoralists from the area. The Government has been using false claims such as invasion of the area by illegal immigrants from Kenya, degradation of the environment, increase of human and livestock population. These claims are baselessly and are maliciously used to misinform the public and justify the ill intention of the government to protect OBC.
On March 21, 2013 the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Hon. Ambassador Khamisi Khagasheki, issued a public statement on this same conflict. The statement was to the effect that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism intend to review boundaries and size of Loliondo Game Controlled Area from 4,000 to 1500 kilometers square. The statement is available on the website of Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism. The minister informed the general public that it has decided to reduce the size of the Loliondo Game Controlled Area in order to solve long existing conflict in the area, to rescue the ecology of Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Loliondo Game Controlled Area.
In the same statement the minister further explained the reasons for reducing the size of the Game Controlled area as to protect wildlife-breading sites, wildlife migratory corridors and water sources for the national Interest and the interest of residents of the area. The minister also mentioned in the statement that the residents of the area may establish a Wildlife Management Area in the remaining areas left to the villages.
In response to the statement made by the minister, We, civil society organizations being defenders of land rights and human rights which have been following this conflict with keen interest would like to informed the public as follows;
1. It is utterly not true that the Government is giving 2,500 km2 to the aforementioned villages. The truth is that Loliondo Game Controlled Area which estimated to be 4,000km2 is within legally recognized villages and that the Government is grabbing 1,500 km2 from the land falling within village boundaries.
2. OBC has never been given any area as the minister is misleadingly by informing the public in his public statement saying “serikali ipo tayari kuangalia upya eneo kubwa alilopewa OBC na ikibidi litapunguzwa…” The truth is that OBC was only given a hunting concession to hunt in Loliondo Game Controlled Area, which is within the boundaries of legally recognized villages. On the other hand the minister making the public believe that the government has contravened the law that prohibits foreigner to own land in Tanzania save for derivative right given by Tanzania investment center.
3. The decission of the Government to grab the 1,500 km2 is set to worsen the conflict, which has been simmering for the last 20 long years. The claim by the minister that the Government is giving villages 2,500 km2 of land is lying in broad daylight. It is the villages, which have to plan how to use their respective village land since the entire LGCA including the 2,500 km2 and the 1,500 km2 are within the boundaries of these legally recognized villages.
4. To justify the illegal appropriation of the land belonging to the villages the minister also claimed that the Government is doing so in order to rescue the ecology. The hidden reasons however is to accommodate OBC by breaking the law and ignoring the wished of the legal residents of the area. In fact wild animals, which OBC is subjecting to indiscriminate hunting, are taking refuge near to Maasai bomas to run away from hunters.
5. Another baseless claim made by the minister in his deliberate attempt to mislead the public is that the Government decision to appropriate the 1,500 km2 is also meant to protect water sources within the area. If that was a true agenda the same Government should not have been playing blind while OBC constructed its base camp within 10 meters from Olosae water source which is the source of water for both wildlife and residents of Soit Sambu, Arash, Ololosokwa and Kirtalo.
6. The press statement did not take in mind good governance and the rule of law. The Wildlife Conservation Act No.5 of 2009 clearly states in Section 16(5) “For the Purposes of subsection (4), the Minister shall ensure that no land faIling under the village land is included in the game controlled areas.”
We the civil society organizations, based on arguments above, urge the Government of Tanzania to;
1. Immediately cease its plan to grab land belonging to villages and hand it over to the investor under guise of public interest. It should instead admit that the entire Loliondo Game Controlled Area is within legal village boundaries in the Loliondo and Sale Divisions.
2. The Government desists from its deliberate misleading propaganda that the 1,500km2 land it is gabbing is not within the boundaries of legal villages. It should leave alone the villages to manage their land according to the Village Land Act No.5 of 1999 and Local Government (District Authority) Act No.7 of 1982.
3. The Government should tell the pubic the plain truth that it is aiming at giving OBC the 1,500km2 instead of providing baseless claims, which are intended to win public support.
4. The Government should stop intimidating residents of Loliondo and Sale Division, their representatives, human rights activists, civil society organizations and journalists who are following up this conflict. It is also trampling on their right to get information and express opinions protected by the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and international legal instruments.
5. The Government should stop interfering with the judiciary. As we stand there is a constitutional case in court (MISC CIVIL CAUSE NO 15/2010) at the High Court of Tanzania at Arusha in which the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism and OBC are among the respondents.
6. The Government should stop its propaganda that activists and foreign organizations are the one fanning the conflict. It should rather be reminded that the land induced tension in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area has been simmering for the past 20 years following discontent of the residents of the area since the Government brought OBC.
7. The Government should desist from misusing the peace and security organs particularly the police force which it often uses to forcefully evict people leaving behind untold damages to the vulnerable especially women and children.
THE FOLLOWING ORGANISATIONS ISSUED THIS PRESS STATEMENT
1. Pastoralists Indigenous NGOs Forum -PINGOs Forum
2. Tanzania Land Alliance- (TALA)
3. Haki Ardhi
4. Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC)
5. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders
6. Tanzania Gender Network Program (TGNP)
7. Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF)
8. Community Research and Development Services (CORDS)
9. Ujamaa Community Resource Team (CRT)
10. Pastoralists Women Council (PWC)
11. Ngorongoro NGOs Network (NGONET)
12. Tanzania Pastoralists Community Forum (TPCF)