FDCIP 2013 The Maasai of Tanzania

The Maasai of Tanzania as Worst Practice

Kelly Askew (Univeristy of Michigan) with Adam ole Msarabu (PAICODEO)
and Navaya ole Ndaskoi (PINGOs Forum)

The following is a list of pastoralist evictions in Tanzania between 2006-2013)

  • Usangu Valley in Mbarali District in 2006-7
  • Kilombero, Ulanga and Kilosa Districts in 2009
  • Loliondo in Ngorongoro District in 2009
  • Makao WMA in Meatu District in 2011
  • Rufiji and Kisarawe (brutal clashes) in 2011-2
  • Alienation of 1,500km2,  Loliondo in 2012
  • Morogoro Region (Kilombero and Ulanga) 2012

There were cases brought against pastoralists in 2005 and the pastoralists were evicted. The official justifications were that were too many conflicts between pastoralists and farmers, and that in the name of peace, the pastoralists had to be moved. There was also an expansion of the National Park in this case as well. They are not required to follow the same rules and restrictions as with other National Parks, so they can make money on this by allowing foreign hunters the right to hunt in these territories.

The following is a list

A newspaper heading states “they [the pastoralists] have been reliably informed that the disputed land would be leased to private investors.” Some of the justifications previously were for the environment, to reduce conflicts between pastoralists and cultivators, and for the expansion of national parks— which would all seem to be somewhat internal to Tanzania— but now you see that the arm of foreign investment is becoming increasingly the main justification for pastoralist evictions.

The biggest version of foreign investment and looming investment going on right now and about to launch in Tanzania is called SAGCOT (Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania.) This is President Jakaya Kikwete at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2011 where this was publicly and internationally announced. This is a plan to allocate large tracts of land to major investors and agri-business corporations, who would set up contract farming with local producers in return for some of the inputs necessary: the seeds, the fertilizer, and credit and investment in infrastructure, such as roads and storehouses.

Slide 15
The whole southern third of Tanzania, with the area darkened showing SAGCOT (Slide 15)

SAGCOT is co-chaired by the ministry of agriculture and it has the support of the G8 and other major partners, including the very infamous Monsanto Corp., Syngenta, DuPont, and General Mills. The idea is to leverage 1.3 billion dollars in public and donor money in order to raise an additional 2.1 billion from the private sector over a twenty-year period.

The aim is to:

  • incorporate an initial 350,000 ha into “profitable” agriculture through a mix of commercial farming and small producers via contract farming;
  • seems small but amounts to roughly 21% of all land under cultivation in the corridor;
  • one goal is to increase land for investment in the General Land category by shifting large parcels out of currently designated Village Land into Tanzania Investment Corporation (= central govt.)

Here is a statement from a USAID land specialist, from 2012, which sums up clearly what we are dealing with here:

“It may be factually accurate that land is widely available for investment, but the claim begs a crucial question:  from whom will these hectares come? To state it bluntly, most of the lands that the government of Tanzania wishes to see developed in SAGCOT will need to be taken from villagers by government and leased to investors.
— USAID land specialist, 2012

Slide 19
Kilombero Valley and the Kilombero river basin, one of the major resources in Tanzania. In this area is where many of the pastoralist evictions are happening right now. (Slide 19)

Kilombero Valley and the Kilombero river basin, one of the major resources in Tanzania. In this area is where many of the pastoralist evictions are happening right now. (Slide 19).

In 2006, Government Proclamations re: Kilombero

“People who settled in Usangu and Kilombero valleys should leave immediately. This directive also applies to livestock keepers and farmers who feed their animals and cultivate land in national parks and in Ihefu and Kilombero wetlands protected under the UN Ramsar Convention.”
— Vice-President Shein, 2006

Also, here are some newspaper headings from the time:

“Government orders all pastoralists off Kilombero.”
The Citizen, 25 August, 2011

“Kilombero to expel pastoralists, fishermen.”
Daily News, 3 Sept. 2012

A government official states that it needs to be implemented and now the rhetoric has shifted and instead of calling people “Wafugaji” which means pastoralists, she now uses the term invaders. So this is a shift in the discourse by calling pastoralists “invaders,” and denying them their citizen rights and calling them foreigners and aliens. There were teams brought in to evict the pastoralists; they were well equipped and highly funded with helicopters and all the latest in technology. What was particularly upsetting was that 100 million shillings were set aside for the evictions in Kilombero. The first sentence here states that the government will spend 100 million for evicting pastoralists and their livestock from the Kilombero River Valley, the amount will be spend paying allowances to police and other government officials who will be involved in the evictions.

Kilombero Eviction Rhetoric:

  • Environmental degradation from livestock
  • Kilombero Game Controlled Area
  • The United Nations Ramsar Convention, which is to protect wetlands, this is being employed as part of the rhetoric for evictions
  • Eastern Arc Mountains & associated forests
  • Migratory corridors (Selous, Mikumi & Udzu)
  • Pastoralists decried as ‘aliens’ or immigrants
  • Hydroelectric dams like Stiegler’s Gorge, etc. require the water and therefore the water and therefore the water cannot be used for supporting cattle
  • Endangered species: Kihansi Spray Toad, buffalo
  • National grain reserve through SAGCOT  (protecting the land and water for the SAGCOT initiative)

The Morogoro press was particularly aggressive in the rhetoric. The Morogoro Regional Commissioner (RC) Joel Bendera is behind many of these very violent evictions where peoples’ houses are being burned down, women are being raped, children and livestock injured. Even though a High Court injunction was launched by some of the pastoralists. It was issued that nothing would happen until it had reached its decision. The Regional Commissioner completely and flagrantly violated that injunction and continued with the eviction proceedings, these articles are from September and October of this year.

To sum up the Ulanga and Kilombero District evictions

  1. 5,000 pastoralists evicted.
  2. 486,736 livestock confiscated by government officials.
  3. Billions of Tanzanian shillings collected through fines during the operation.
  4. Pastoralists left in abject poverty.
  5. No compensation made.
  6. No alternative land allocated.

Some voices in the government are starting to speak out against this. There are ongoing evictions that have not gotten as much attention and one group has been somewhat successful in resisting. They were issued a communal title deed, but it is already being reviewed because, unlike the Enderoi case, they did not constitute a people in the constitution before they were given communal title. They were able to protect their land against a foreign tour operator who was seeking it, but it still remains to be seen.

I will now turn out attention to the Emborley-Murtangos case, which involves the Kiteto district (see: http://www.der.org/films/chairman-and-the-lions.html) in the Manyara region. This is the former Maasai district; it is still the Maasai step. This is a case that, like the Enderoi case but in the context of Tanzania, went up to the court of appeal. It was judged at the High Court level and the case was launched at the High Court level, but the nine Maasai villages that were trying to protect their land against farming invaders did not launch it. The case involves 200,000 ha of land in the middle of which is a major salt lake that the pastoralists depend on for their cattle and that the migratory wildlife also depend on as they move from the Serengeti down to the Urawa. This salt lake is a well-known natural resource that, even under colonial times, was protected. Even under colonial times it was zoned for hunting and wildlife management only. In 2007, some of the villages decided to pool their village land in order to legally cordon it off to prevent residence by outsiders there so that this land would only be used for cattle pasture and access to the salt lake and wildlife. They pooled their resources, each of the nine villages contributing some part of the village land to the creation of a wildlife management area. In violation of that process, major political elite recruited poor laborers from their home districts and sent them into the area to start farming and clearing bush and cultivating illegally. So, by 2007, there were 17,000 farmers that had entered this area and were farming illegally on land that had been designated for wildlife management and for pasture.

As is the case in several cases I have noted in Tanzania, it was not the pastoralist villages that launched the lawsuit against those who were encroaching on their land, in fact, it was the reverse; it was the invaders who filed the lawsuit. Fifty named respondents sued the District Council on behalf of all 17,000 of them, claiming they were being subject to constant harassment and eviction-proceedings when they were entitled to be there. They used the exact same rhetoric that you heard the farmer in the film use, which is that they had been there since the 1980s. The reason this is important is because the law in Tanzania states that if you have lived on land for 12 uninterrupted years, peacefully, then the land is yours. So, by trying to claim that they had been there since the 1980s, they were making a claim under that mechanism of the law that this was customary ownership. But interestingly, in their own affidavits and testimonies in the case, they talked instead about how they have been subjected to constant persecution—being moved from here to there and getting kicked out of one area and sent to another. They told long stories about harassment, which then undermined their claim that they had lived there peacefully and uninterruptedly since the 1980s.

Nevertheless, despite this discrepancy in the evidence, the High Court judge who is rumored herself to be one of the land-grabbers in this region and therefore biased, ruled in favor of the cultivators and assessed a fine of 1 million shillings against the District Council. The District Council then launched its appeal to the High Court of Appeal and it argued on a number of grounds. One of the grounds was that it was unfairly fined and it was the wrong person or institution to be sued because the District Council did not claim ownership of the land. It was argued that if the farmers were suing for ownership, they should be suing those who did claim ownership, which were the villages, which as I said, the village land was under village authority not under the central government. The district protected itself by saying that they were the wrong entity to be sued, claiming that they were simply the enforcing authority for the decision made by the villages, who have been trying for years to evict these people off the land that they had set aside for wildlife management purposes. There were a number of other rationales used. But in the end, fortunately, the case was won in November of 2011. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the district. But interestingly, whereas the High Court had issued a fine against the district of I billion shillings, and outright ownership of all the land to all the cultivators, the Court of Appeal did not make any redress. It simply said that the land remains under the authority of the villages, end of story and no compensation. Not even lawyers fees would be fined against the plaintiff.

The case is now that these villages have been granted their ownership rights by legal writ through this judgment, but the invaders are still there and they are not being evicted because the District Council says it has no money to evict them. Note that in one of the media pieces from earlier, 100 million shillings was set aside by the government to evict pastoralists from the Kilombero Valley, so the government has resources to evict pastoralists over and over again, but when it comes time to evicting farmers from pastoralist lands, they say they have no money.

One month after the final court judgment was issued in November of 2011, the very next month, all of the villages, not just the nine who were named in the suit, but all the neighboring villages known to have Maasai majorities in this region were all given letters by the District Councils. The letters said that each village had to pay the District Council money for paying the district back for legal fees and all the trouble we went through to protect your land for you and each village was assessed a rate depending on the distance from the site. Lesoit, the village we saw in the film—even though they are at the far reaches of the district—they were still assessed a 3 million shilling fine by the district that they had one month within which to raise. The district very clearly laid out in its letter that wealthy pastoralists had to pay 400,000 shillings, middle tier pastoralists had to pay 100,000 shillings, and the poorest pastoralists had to each come up with 50,000.

Now it has been two years since the judgment. The farmers are all still there and we also have a situation of lack of enforcement and implementation of the decision, but the villages are being taxed yet again. This time of the year is the hardest for pastoralists because this is between the end periods of the longest dry season. The rains hopefully will come in November or December, but until then there has been no rain since May, so the cows are scrawny and there is not much food anymore and people are suffering. This is the single worst time of the year, and yet just two weeks ago they were all summoned to the district office and told that every village had to pay 20 million shillings, which is roughly 13,000 to 14,000 USD, and again it was very carefully laid out. Wealthy pastoralists would pay a certain amount. Farmers, curiously, irrespective of the size of their holding, were given a flat rate for what they had to pay as well. So the villages now are trying to seek what legal options they have to avoid this tax. In every case, whether you are the one being evicted or whether you are the one whose land is being protected, it seems that the pastoralists are always made to pay.

Loliondo is a famous case that I won’t spend too much time on because there is a lot there. But what is interesting is that they have received international attention. They were able to access the international networks in a way that the Enderoi case also exemplified. They have gotten attention through a website AVAAZ.org, which as of yesterday had 1.7 million signatories to it which is forcing some recognition. Tanzania was put on the defensive. The British press and the international press were all saying that the government of Tanzania is trying to evict Maasai in order to grant the land to a private hunting concession to the Arab royal family of the Emirates. This, of course, is unconscionable, but as of September 26 (2013) it is rumored in the press—but it is yet to be confirmed—that the prime minister met with the Maasai and said: “Fine, fine, I give up, the land is yours to keep.” How true this statement is remains to be seen.

In conclusion, anti-pastoralists legislation is also the legal foundations on which the state in Tanzania is able to engage in some of these violent abuses against pastoralist communities. Here is a list of recent anti-pastoralist legislation:

  • Animal Diseases Act, 2003
  • Grazing Land and Animal Feed Resources Act, 2010
  • Livestock Identification, Registration and Traceability Act, 2010 (Shs 3,000 fee per animal)
  • (new) Wildlife Conservation Act, 2009/11

One of the impacts of this legislation is that pastoralists cannot move with their livestock, which is essential to their livelihood. The Livestock Identification, Registration and Traceability Act, 2010 requires that every single cow must have a government issued identification. The state has not managed to do this for people yet, but it is insistent that it must do it for cows, and again, the Maasai and all pastoralists have to pay the fee for the tag. The Wildlife Conservation Act, 2009/11 removes the ability of communities to enable grazing in wildlife management areas. The wildlife management act of 1974 said they could not take up residence, but they could use it for grazing and other purposes, like bee-keeping, and other productive purposes. Now this new version, issued in 2009 and implemented in 2011, said no productive activities in the forest at all. There is also the continued refusal by the government of Tanzania to recognize the existence of Indigenous peoples, although it has signed the UNDRIP, unlike in Kenya where ratification of International treaty converts automatically into local enforcement, in Tanzania if the government signs an international treaty, it is still not recognized as enforceable until the Tanzanian government issues its own law domesticating that treaty into the state of Tanzania. Tanzania is undergoing a constitutional review right now; it remains to be seen whether some of the protective measures found in the Kenyan constitution will also be replicated here. People are very worried and the pastoralists are exceptionally concerned that the new constitution will just be further legal grounds upon which the persecution of their way of life can continue.

And I leave with this unusual piece of media from earlier this year where the president challenges the pastoralists to acquire land for grazing, he is encouraging pastoralists to buy land and get title deed to it. So after having removed them from the lands that they originally had and fine them for that exercise, now he is saying, use more money and buy back other land. So you can see the case in Tanzania, indeed, as being a case of worst practice.

Slide 37
Slide 37

Thank you very much.