The Spectacular U-turner Kigwangalla has Commented on Loliondo in a TV Interview
Posted on Nov 07, 2018
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.
On 31st October, Kwanza TV aired a lengthy interview with the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Hamisi Kigwangalla, and in this interview he talked about Loliondo for a few minutes. As known by followers of this blog, almost exactly a year ago Kigwangalla made the most splendid promises about Loliondo, including promising that OBC would have left before January 2018. Then sadly he made a complete U-turn that I’ve also written about in several posts. In advance, Kwanza TV had been asking the public to submit questions for the minister. The question I submitted wasn’t asked though… “Mh @HKigwangalla, tufanyeje na”syndicate”ya OBC inayotesa wananchi Loliondo?Ulilisemea hili mwaka jana, hata kuahadi OBC ingaliondoka kabla ya 2018! Tunafahamu ulishabadilika kuhusu OBC. Umebadililika pia kuhusu mkurugenziMollel uliesema alitaka kukuhonga? @kwanza_tv #chukuahatua”(translation: what should we do about OBC’s syndicate that persecute people in Loliondo? You talked about this last year, even promising that OBC would have left before 2018! We know that you have changed about OBC. Have you also changed about director Mollel who you said wanted to bribe you?) I hope it didn’t sound like I believe that Kigwangalla accepted Mollel’s supposed offer. I think his reason for throwing the Maasai of Loliondo under the bus are far more ambitious and long-term than US dollars 100,000, or 200,000 into his pocket.
Instead, the part about Loliondo was introduced by a question about who has the hunting blocks in Loliondo and if they government considers them beneficial for the country’s economy. Kigwangalla started by saying that there’s only one hunting block (there was actually Loliondo North and South, but now there’s been one “investor” since 1992/1993) that’s the whole 4,000 km2 Loliondo Game Controlled Area. Kigwangalla correctly states that this includes towns and the district headquarter, and that it’s registered village land, but he adds that his ministry also considers it a protected area, and that the cause of conflict would be conflicting laws. No, it’s definitely not a protected area, and the cause of conflict isn’t that it could legally be turned into such, but that it’s what parts of the government, for many years openly lobbied by OBC, and maybe less openly by others, want it to become, which would lead to the destruction lives and livelihoods – and logically increase conflicts with neighbours, since the Maasai would have to go somewhere else - by taking away important dry season grazing from people who already lost huge areas with the creation of Serengeti National Park. Though “conflict” is hardly the correct word when one side uses defamation, threats, violence, illegal arrests, and malicious prosecution to totally silence anyone who could speak up on the other side. Blinding injustice and extreme repression would be more exact. Kigwangalla adds that water catchments for several rivers critical for the survival of Serengeti National Park are found in Loliondo, that people can do whatever they want with their land, and that this is a problem since there are many people and livestock.
The minister also mentions that the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 calls for the separation of village land and Game Controlled Area within 12 months of it coming into operation. He claims that former Minister Kagasheki decided to turn 1,500 km2 (known as the osero, or bushland where OBC have their core hunting area) into Game Controlled Area and 2,500 km2 into village land, but that the Maasai refused, and since then there has been a conflict back and forth. Kigwangalla briefly mentions that OBC hunt on the 1,500 km2, and that the company is owned by people said to be princes from Dubai… Kigwangalla incorrectly adds (or lies, since he knows this very well) that people don’t live in the 1,500 km2 and pretends to be unaware of the importance of the area for pastoralism. WCA 2009 came into effect in June 2010. Before that, in the catastrophic drought year 2009 OBC’s rangers assisted the Field Force Unit illegally evicting thousands of people, burning their houses in the 1,500 km2, and dispersing cattle into extreme drought areas while committing many other horrible crimes, and 7-year old Nashipae Gume was lost in the chaos and is yet to be found. Then, as Mollel boasted about to the press, OBC funded in its totality a draft district land use plan that proposed turning the 1,500 km2 into the new kind of Game Controlled Area that’s a protected area, prohibits human activities, and can’t overlap with village land. The land use plan was strongly rejected by Ngorongoro district council in early 2011. Kagasheki didn’t make his land grab move until 2013, and it consisted of shameless lies that the whole 4,000 km2 would mysteriously have become a protected area, and the Maasai were “landless” people who would be gifted with 2,500 km2. Eventually, after many meetings, protest delegations to Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, and support for the Maasai from both opposition and parts of the ruling party, the then PM Pinda in a speech in Wasso on 23rdSeptember 2013 declared that the land belonged to the Maasai that should go on with their lives as before Kagasheki’s threats. Sadly, after 2013 everything went downhill with increased divide and rule, eventually extreme repression that silenced almost everyone, and in 2017 another illegal operation with mass arson, and many other human rights crimes.
Kigwangalla continued, index finger moving in the air, describing the 1,500 km2 as place where over 600,000 wildebeest calves are born each year. That's not correct and sounds like one of the estimates for calves born in the Serengeti migration each year, and while there’s some calving in the osero, most are born in the short grass plains of the Ndutu area of Ngorongoro Conservation Area and southern Serengeti. The minister made no effort to explain the critical importance that the 1,500 km2 osero has for the Maasai, but seemed to imply that they simply are stubborn.
Most frightening was Kigwangalla’s description of the planned chombo maalum, special authority, announced by PM Majaliwa on 6th
December 2017, but then fortunately delayed. He explained that the government’s plan is that the whole of the old Loliondo GCA (4,000 km2, more than the whole of Loliondo division, including Sale division) is to be turned into a “Loliondo Special Conservation Area”, under the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), and that the people will be involved, and so will photographic and hunting investors. The investors, especially those least respectful of land rights (OBC and Thomson Safaris) hardly need more influence when they already get the service of slander, persecution and arrest of anyone who could even think of criticizing them… I’ve spent three nights in police cells myself, and the servants of investors in September this year so intensely wanted a Belgian
woman to be me that she had to spend several nights arrested until her fingerprints “sadly” were found not to match mine. Local people suspected of being able to speak up have been illegally arrested for longer periods, among other harassment. Kigwangalla says that a legal bill will be prepared for this “LSCA” that will be placed under the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA). For Loliondo, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a horror image of what should never be allowed to happen to them, since people living under the almost colonial rule of the NCAA aren’t allowed to practise subsistence cultivation, and are being excluded from one grazing area after the other. Malnutrition among children in NCA is much worse than in Loliondo.
The court case brought by four Loliondo villages to the East African Court of Justice isn’t mentioned by Kigwangalla, but this case will stop any dangerous “LSCA” idea.
Then the interview moves on to another Loliondo issue, away from the osero, Loliondo Forest One in Orgosorok and Oloirien-Magaiduru wards, not far from Loliondo Town. The bigger former Loliondo Forest Two in Enguserosambu is a community forest. As far as I've understood, the forest is more relevant when talking about water catchments than is the osero. The reporter reads a question sent by a villager,“Msitu wa #loliondo one ni msitu uliopo chini ya halmashauri ya wilaya ya #Ngorongoro. Kwa miaka uharibifu umekua mkubwa mno. Jamii imehamasika kuhifadhi kama msitu wa jamii. Je si wakati muafaka kuukabidhi kwa jamii?” (Translation: Loliondo Forest One is a forest under the Ngorongoro District Council. For years destruction has been bad. The community has mobilized to conserve it as community forest. Isn’t it time to hand over it to the community). This makes Kigwangalla and the reporter giggle, the minister says, “Pole, ole”, and explains that the current movement is away from the community and to central government, that even in his home district Nzega community forests become deserts, and the government will not hand over Loliondo One to the community.
A reminder of the spectacular U-turn
Hopes were raised when in a cabinet reshuffle on 7thOctober 2017 Kigwangalla replaced Maghembe as Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism. An illegal operation, officially ordered by DC Rashid Mfaume Taka, funded and implemented by Tanapa/Senapa, had started on 13th August 2017, hundreds of houses were burned to the ground, cattle were being seized, people beaten and illegally arrested, water sources blocked, and women raped by rangers - while some leaders, notably the previously much trusted MP, stayed silent. This violent attack came “unexpectedly” at a time when everyone was waiting to hear a decision from PM Majaliwa. In late 2016, after increased repression with the aim to silence everyone in Loliondo, and a report by OBC complaining to the ministry about the Maasai, Majaliwa had tasked the Arusha RC Gambo with “solving the conflict”. Gambo set up a select, non-participatory committee that was to reach a proposal that had to be either a Game Controlled Area as in Wildlife Conservation Act 2009 which is complete land alienation, or a Wildlife Management Area (WMA), that’s still nominally village land but hands more power to investors and government, and had been resisted for a decade and a half in Loliondo. Minister Maghembe, like the leaders of parastatals under his ministry, was strongly for a GCA 2009 and showed up in the osero in January 2017, together with the “journalist” Manyerere Jackton, who by now has written over 50 articles inciting against the Loliondo Maasai, to declare that the 1,500 km2 had to be taken before the end of March, and then in March he took a standing parliamentary committee on a Loliondo tour that was so co-opted that several members complained to the press about being used to rubberstamp the minister’s wish to hand the land to OBC. Though OBC weren’t alone in wanting to take the land away from the Maasai. Serengeti Chief Game Warden Mwakilema told the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Land and Natural Resources that German funds for a Serengeti Ecosystem Development and Conservation Project were subject to the approval of the land use plan that would alienate the 1,500 km2 of important grazing land next to Serengeti National park. Mwakilema’s words led to big protests against both OBC and the Germans, 600 women marching in Wasso, and the district council decided not to accept the money, which consequently wasn’t signed by district chairman Siloma. These weren’t the only protests, but the RC’s committee when on a tour to mark “critical areas” was met with almost violent protest in village after village. Though by this time all local leaders were already in favour of a WMA, as a lesser evil, and they saw RC Gambo as their “only ally”. On 21st March 2017 the RC’s committee through voting reached the proposal of a WMA, which at this time was seen as a victory, on 20th April the proposal was handed to Majaliwa, and a long wait to hear the PM’s decision started – and was then interrupted by massive human rights crimes.
The crimes continued unabated despite an interim stop order by the government organ Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance, and the silence by some leaders (not all) was shocking and demoralizing. A 21stSeptember the case against the government was filed in the East African Court of Justice by the villages of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, Oloirien and Arash, and on 7th October came the good news that Maghembe had been removed in the cabinet re-shuffle.
At first, Kigwangalla seemed like a disappointment. A very brief mention of Loliondo in his inauguration speech on 9thOctober 2017 sounded like he had already been fed a story by OBC’s friends. At a public meeting in Ololosokwan on 11thOctober the Maasai pleaded with Kigwangalla to come and visit them to hear their side of the story instead of listening to rumours, but things kept deteriorating, and on 19thOctober 2017 Kigwangalla issued the most bizarre letter ordering cattle and tractors from “outside the country” to leave Loliondo within seven days, or they would be nationalised, and claimed to have been “informed” about 200 Kenyan tractors! To make matters worse, on 12thOctober an article by the spokesperson (who sadly passed away in a road accident in August 2018 in which Kigwangalla was injured) for the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism was published, in which he argued for a return of the Kagasheki-style land alienation threat.
Hopes were again raised when in a meeting with tourism stakeholders on 22nd October, Kigwangalla said that hunting blocks with conflict, like Loliondo and Lake Natron, would not be renewed until the conflicts were solved. The same day surfaced a timetable for a visit by Kigwangalla to Loliondo on 26th – 27th October 2017, but meetings with the victims of the ongoing illegal operation didn’t seem to be anywhere in this timetable.
Kigwangalla’s visit to Loliondo went beyond all expectations. On 26th October, after meeting with the Ngorongoro Security Committee that was deeply involved in the ongoing human rights crimes, Kigwangalla held a public meeting in which he stopped the illegal operation and ordered the release of cows not involved in any court case. Though the minister was overly diplomatic and didn’t show any understanding of power relations saying said the problem isn’t solved by one side using guns, but at the same time mentioning that the other side using “harsh words” doesn’t solve anything either and must be stopped. The following day, 27th October 2017, after a tour of areas of interest, Kigwangalla held a meeting in which he declared that OBC’s hunting block wouldn’t be renewed and that the company would have left by January 2018. By this time, Kigwangalla was a hero in Loliondo.
November 2017 Kigwangalla returned to Loliondo on a surprise visit and the following day surfaced information that he would have fired the Director of Wildlife, Alexander Songorwa, on suspicions that Songorwa would have shared secret government information with the press and made up stories to incite conflict in Loliondo. In a video of Kigwangalla in Loliondo that’s still online he strongly and clearly declares that he’s going to clean up his house. Rangers from Klein’s gate had worked for the “investor”, invading village land, and they would be transferred. Kigwangalla says he had witnessed a syndicate at the service of OBC and that this reached all the way into his ministry. He had directed the Prevention and Combating Corruption Bureau to investigate OBC for corruption, starting with questioning the director, Isaack Mollel, who had been boasting everywhere about having bribed his predecessor with 200,000 US dollars, while saying that 100,000 would be enough for this little boy Kigwangalla. "Siwezi kujaribiwa nasiwezi kuchezewa, siko hapa kwa bahati mbaya
" ("I can't be tested, and I can't be played with, I'm not here by chance") is the title of the video on Youtube.
Though OBC never showed any signs whatsoever that they were packing. In social media OBC’s assistant director (a local traitor) told me his employer was there to stay and that I would have a heart attack, while OBC’s PR officer (Mollel’s brother) informed me that, "OBC is waiting for you to come and pack them off".
On 13th November 2017 Kigwangalla announced that he had received a delegation headed by the German ambassador and that the Germans were going to fund community development projects in Loliondo, “in our quest to save the Serengeti”. Alarm was raised in Loliondo that the district chairman would have signed secretly, which some already had suspected. The chairman denied having signed, but said that he would since he fully supported the idea that wasn’t any threat to the 1,500 km2, in which he was joined by the Ngorongoro MP who on 14th November said he had checked with Kigwangalla that the funds were for the whole 4,000 km2 area, not excluding the 1,500 km2. The Serengeti Ecosystem Development and Conservation Project is to be implemented by none other than the Serengeti National Park Authority that implemented the massive human rights crimes of 2017, and by Frankfurt Zoological Society that’s been lobbying against Maasai land rights since the 1950s!
On 6th December, PM Majaliwa announced his disappointing and frightening decision that a “special authority” was to be set up to manage the land, but his information was so vague that nobody was sure what it really meant. Clearer was that he said that OBC was staying, but Mollel would be investigated for corruption. For a while, some people kept saying that Mollel would be replaced, but as of now, a year later, he stays put as OBC director. For months, Kigwangalla kept silent about what had happened to his big and loud promises.
On 13th December 2017, the CCM secretary general (now retired) and OBC’s old friend Abdulraham Kinana, visited Kigwangalla’s Nzega Rural constituency where he handed motorcycles to CCM workers together with the minister.
On 5th February 2018, Kigwangalla explained the matter in a Whatsapp group:
“1. Mollel is history. Taratibu za kuondolewa na kampuni yake zinaendelea.
2. Loliondo kwenye new structure will need OBC, Thomson &Beyond na wawekezaji wengine zaidi! So tumeona ni busare tujipange upya.
Only Mollel ni kwikwi.”
(1. Mollel is history. Procedures by his company to have him removed are ongoing.
2. Loliondo with the new structure will need OBC, Thomson, &Beyond and more other investors! So we saw it wise to arrange ourselves anew.
Only Mollel is troublesome.)
This message made the threat of a special authority all the more frightening, since it would “need” investors with zero respect for land rights.
Kigwangalla refused to comment anything in open social media until 23rd March, when photos from a hunting trip by Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, his crown prince and an entourage were being shared on a fan page of the crown price. He welcomed the hunters and asked them to be ambassadors for Tanzania. To a question about what the government is doing to protect Loliondo, Kigwangalla said that there isn’t any “sin” in hunting, since the hunters follow the law and bring business and employment to Tanzania, and people in Loliondo aren’t abused. The opposition politician Zitto Kabwe asked, “Hawa sio OBC uliowafukuza? Ama?” (Aren’t those OBC that you drove away? Or?), and Kigwangalla’s reply to him was:
“Hawa ni wateja wa OBC. Tunafanya restructuring ambapo tutaanzisha mamlaka maalum ya eneo la Uhifadhi la Loliondo, wananchi watabaki na ardhi yao na pia watahitaji wawekezaji. Uchunguzi wa kina umebaini shida siyo wawindaji, ni kiburi cha baadhi ya staff wao na presha ya malisho!”
(These are OBC’s clients. We’re doing a restructuring in which we will start a special authority for a protected area of Loliondo, people will keep their land and they will also need investors. Comprehensive investigation has revealed that the problem isn’t the hunters, it’s the arrogance of some of their staff, and the grazing pressure.)
In a brief video shared by fans of the Dubai crown prince, his father Sheikh Mohammed was seen in the company of Abdulrahman Kinana, just as when Stan Katabalo was reporting in 1993 when Kinana was minister of defence, the same office as Sheikh Mohammed was holding at the time. Now he’s Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of of Dubai.
Some people in Loliondo had been so convinced that Kigwangalla was genuine that they felt sorry that he had to bow to the pressure from his superiors. I had already seen his behaviour as deputy minister of health.
On 19th April 2018 OBC’s assistant director, handed over 15 Toyota Landcruisers to the acting Director of Wildlife, Nebbo Mwina. Mwina said that the government recognised the continued important contributions by OBC, wanted them to continue developing the long-time relationship, and not despair because of “underground talk” (maneno ambayo yanasemwa Chini chini). James Wakibara, director of the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) also wanted to thank OBC, and especially the company’s director who couldn’t attend…
On 10th May the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism issued a crazy statement on an ambitious report about Loliondo, that unfortunately contained some important mistakes that are not being corrected, prepared by the Oakland Institute. The report got significant media coverage, but this wasn’t used at all by the silenced Loliondo activists. The ministry’s statement denied any wrongdoing, or that the illegal operation would even have taken place, and adds that measures to solve the conflict are underway, involving all "stakeholders". Oakland’s intention is described in the classic way as wanting to smear mud on the government, and create dispute between the government, the local community, and investors, with intent to cause breach of peace.
When asked about corruption investigations on BBC Swahili, Kigwangalla quickly brushed it off and said that he didn’t know if anyone is conducting such investigations, and then continued talking about the committee that the PM ordered the Arusha RC to set up and how very participatory it was. On Twitter, Kigwangalla reacted by having a meltdown insulting people (not least myself) and going to the extreme of claiming that nobody had ever lived in Loliondo GCA … and saying that the government had a solution that’s acceptable unanimously by all parties …
Later in May there was a vicious intimidation campaign, with multiple arrests, against the applicants of the case in the East African Court of Justice. By this time everyone was so intimidated that at first nothing was heard about the abuse. And in late June to late August there were several incidents with soldiers attacking and torturing people. In Ololosokwan apparently targeting those that had many cattle, and in Sukenya people that were accused of instigating others to graze on the land occupied by Thomson Safaris. The soldiers, that set up a military camp in Olopolun in March 2018, are newcomers to violence and abuse in Loliondo.
For a long time, the only good news was that nothing was heard about Majaliwa’s “special authority”, and it kept being delayed. Some had heard that the 1,500 km2 osero would be placed under NCAA, which added fears. In April there was a secret meeting attended by village and ward leaders, and NGOs, to come up with a “friendlier” proposal than the government’s, which was a strange thing to do when there’s an ongoing court case to stop any such thing, but as far as I know, nothing has come out of this. In his budget speech for the 2018-2019 financial year Kigwangalla mentioned that his ministry had prepared a draft for a management strategy for Loliondo Game Controlled Area. As far as I know (which maybe isn’t far at all in this case), nobody in Loliondo saw this draft. The German funds were also in the speech. And, now in the interview on Kwanza TV he said that more than the whole of Loliondo would be placed under NCAA as “Loliondo Special Conservation Area”. This must obviously be stopped.
by the East African Court of Justice on 25th
September ordering interim measures restraining the Tanzanian government from any evictions, burning of homesteads, or confiscating of cattle, and also from harassing or intimidating the applicants, was good news indeed, even if there also was some confusion in the ruling. Hopefully, there will soon be a mechanism set up for reporting any violations. Then the case must be won.
Summary of developments of the past decades
All land in Loliondo is village land per Village Land Act No.5 of 1999, and more than the whole of Loliondo is also a Game Controlled Area (of the old kind that doesn’t affect human activities and can overlap with village land) where OBC has the hunting block. Stan Katabalo – maybe Tanzania’s last investigative journalist - reported about how this hunting block was acquired in the early 90s. By 2018 there does no longer seem to be journalists of any kind.
In 2007-2008 the affected villages were threatened into signing a Memorandum of Understanding with OBC.
In the drought year 2009 the Field Force Unit and OBC extrajudicially evicted people and cattle from some 1,500 km2 of dry season grazing land that serve as the core hunting area next to Serengeti National Park. Hundreds of houses were burned, and thousands of cattle were chased into an extreme drought area which did not have enough food or water to sustain them. 7-year old Nashipai Gume was lost in the chaos and has not been found, ever since.
People eventually moved back, and some leaders started participating in reconciliation ceremonies with OBC.
Soon enough, in 2010-2011, OBC totally funded a draft district land use plan that proposed turning the 1,500 km2 into the new kind of Game Controlled Area that’s a “protected” (not from hunting) area and can’t overlap with village land. This plan, that would have allowed a more “legal” repeat of 2009, was strongly rejected by Ngorongoro District Council.
In 2013, then Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Khamis Kagasheki, made bizarre statements as if all village land in Loliondo would have disappeared through magic, and the people of Loliondo would be generously “gifted” with the land outside the 1,500 km2. This was nothing but a horribly twisted way of again trying to evict the Maasai landowners from OBC’s core hunting area. There’s of course no way a Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism would have the mandate for such a trick of magic. After many mass meetings – where there was agreement to never again enter any MoU with OBC - and protest delegations to Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, the then Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda in a speech on 23rd September the same year revoked Kagasheki’s threat and told the Maasai to continue their lives as before this threat that through the loss of dry season grazing land would have led to the destruction of livelihoods, environmental degradation and increased conflict with neighbours.
Parts of the press – foremost Manyerere Jackton in the Jamhuri – increased their incitement against the Maasai of Loliondo as destructive, “Kenyan” and governed by corrupt NGOs. OBC’s “friends” in Loliondo became more active in the harassment of those speaking up against the “investors”, even though they themselves don’t want the GCA 2009, and rely on others, the same people they persecute, to stop it…
Speaking up against OBC (and against Thomson Safaris, the American tour operator claiming ownership of 12,617 acres, and that shares the same friends as OBC) had always been risky, but the witch-hunt intensified with mass arrests in July 2016. Four people were charged with a truly demented “espionage and sabotage” case. Manyerere Jackton has openly boasted about his direct involvement in the illegal arrests of innocent people for the sake of intimidation.
In July 2016, Manyeree Jackton wrote an “article” calling for PM Majaliwa to return the Kagasheki-style threat. In November 2016 OBC sent out a “report” to the press calling for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to intervene against the destructive Maasai. In mid-December 2016, the Arusha RC Mrisho Gambo was tasked by the PM with setting up a committee to “solve the conflict”, and on 25th January 2017 the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, in the middle of the drought stricken Osero, flanked by the most OBC-devoted journalists, and ignoring the ongoing talks, made a declaration that the land had to be taken before the end of March. In March 2017 Minister Maghembe co-opted a Parliamentary Standing Committee, and then Loliondo leaders’ “only ally”, RC Gambo’s, committee started marking “critical areas” while being met with protests in every village. German development money that the standing committee had been told was subject to the alienation of the 1,500 km2 was – after protests by 600 women – not signed by the district chairman. On 21st March a compromise proposal for a WMA (that had been rejected in Loliondo for a decade and a half) was reached through voting by the RC’s committee, then handed over to PM Majaliwa on 20th April, and a long wait to hear the PM’s decision started.
While still waiting, on 13th August 2017 an unexpected illegal eviction and arson operation 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. Women were raped by the rangers. Many leaders stayed strangely and disappointingly silent.
The DC and the Ministry of Natural Resources explained the illegal operation with that people and cattle were entering Serengeti National Park too easily, while Minister Maghembe lied that the land was already the “protected area” wanted by OBC and others.
There was an interim stop order by the government organ Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG), but the crimes continued unabated.
A case was filed by four villages in the East African Court of Justice on 21st September 2017.
When in Arusha on 23rd September, President Magufuli collected protest placards against Maghembe, OBC and abuse, to read them later.
On 5th October 2017 the Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga, (who had met with people from Loliondo) told supporters that his friend Magufuli had promised him that all involved in the illegal operation in Loliondo would be fired.
In a cabinet reshuffle on 7th October Maghembe was removed and Hamisi Kigwangalla appointed as new minister of Natural Resources and Tourism.
Kigwangalla stopped the operation on 26th October, and then made it clear that OBC’s hunting block would not be renewed, which he had already mentioned in Dodoma on the 22nd. On 5th November, he fired the Director of Wildlife and announced that rangers at Klein’s gate that had been colluding with the investor would be transferred. Kigwangalla emphasized that OBC would have left before January. He talked about the corruption syndicate at their service, reaching into his own ministry, and claimed that OBC’s director, Mollel, wanted to bribe him, and would be investigated for corruption. However, OBC never showed any signs of leaving.
Kigwangalla announced in social media that he on 13thNovember received a delegation headed by the German ambassador and that the Germans were going to fund community development projects in Loliondo, “in our quest to save the Serengeti”. Alarm was raised in Loliondo that the district chairman would have signed secretly, which some already had suspected.
On 6th December, PM Majaliwa announced a vague, but terrifying decision to form a “special authority” to manage the 1,500 km2 osero. He also said that OBC would stay. Manyerere Jackton celebrated the decision in the Jamhuri newspaper. Further information and implementation of this “special authority” has fortunately been delayed, even if it was mentioned in Kigwangalla’s budget speech on 21st May.
Sheikh Mohammed, his crown prince, and other royal guests visited Loliondo in March 2018, and Kigwangalla welcomed them on Twitter. Earlier, in restricted access social media, Kigwangalla had been saying that OBC weren’t a problem, but only the director, Mollel, and that Loliondo, with the “new structure” needed more investors of the kind.
An ambitious report about Loliondo and NCA, with massive media coverage (and some unnecessary mistakes) was released by the Oakland Institute on 10th May 2018, and Kigwangalla responded by denying that any abuse had ever taken place, and threatening anyone involved with the report. He went as far as denying the existence of people in Loliondo GCA.
In May-June 2018 there was an intimidation campaign against the applicants in the case in the East African Court of Justice, and silence became worse than ever.
From late June to late August 2018 there were several incidents of soldiers from a military camp set up in Olopolun in March the same year attacking and torturing people.
On 25th September 2018 the East African Court of Justice ordered interim measures restraining the government from any evictions, burning of homesteads, or confiscating of cattle, and from harassing or intimidating the applicants.