TANZANIA has invited the European Union (EU) leaders, Members of Parliament and rapporteurs to visit Loliondo and Ngorongoro, so as to understand reality on the ground instead of relying on doomsayers’ propaganda that it is violating human rights in the areas.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam recently, Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Dr Damas Ndumbaro said claims of ‘forced evictions and human rights’ abuses against Maasai people in Tanzania’ were nothing other than tarnishing the good image of the country.
“The United Republic of Tanzania believes it is important for the EU leaders to witness for themselves the challenges in these areas, to familiarise themselves with the Tanzanian context and the lives of the people in these areas.
“They need to understand our history, land tenure system and the reality on the ground, rather than rely on propaganda based on false and fabricated reports and images being submitted to them,” he insisted.
Dr Ndumbaro further reiterated Tanzania’s commitments in safeguarding the human rights among its people in the Loliondo and the Ngorongoro areas, adding that they participated in the decision making processes.
Elaborating, the minister noted that there was no eviction but a “voluntary relocation from Ngorongoro Conservation Area.”
He said overpopulation and demands from the Maasai pastoralist community for increased modernisation and expansion of social services and economic opportunities were subsequently addressed through a voluntary relocation programme designed in the consultation with the local community.
“Those who registered voluntarily were relocated to Msomera Village in Tanga Region where importantly their traditions and customs can still be maintained and they are able to involve themselves in income generating activities as they requested,” Dr Ndumbaro said.
Explaining why Msomera Village was picked for the voluntary relocation of the community, the Minister stated, it was because of the culture, beliefs and socio-economic activities of the people living in the area, who share the same culture similar to the Maasai in the NCA.
Other reasons are availability of large grasslands and suitable for agricultural activities, adding that it has no tsetse flies.
He said the government was aware that the challenges in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area have been prompted by an ever-increasing human population from 8,000 people grazing 20,000 to 30,000 livestock in 1959 to about 110,000 people taking care of 813,000 livestock in 2019.
“This is coupled with a failing multiple land use model (MLUM) for humans, wild animals and tourism to coexist harmoniously, as there are human-wildlife conflicts resulting in deaths and destruction of habitats,” he added.
Moreover, data shows that, between 2015 and 2021 a total of 49 people were killed whereas 170 others were injured by wild animals and as well some 842 livestock were killed in the same period.
On the issue, he noted that the cases of humans being caught and eaten by hyenas, leopards and lions were also increasing over the years.
Reacting on a claim that Maasai were being evicted to pave the way for the conservation projects, tourism and trophy-hunting schemes, the Minister said such activities have a long history in Tanzania and were introduced by German Colonial Administration between 1885 – 1919.
He went on to say that hunting as a means of subsistence and form of sociocultural function, has been a longstanding practice throughout the German Colonial Administration 1885 – 1919 and during the British Colonial Administration 1919 – 1961 in Tanganyika.
“The system of hunting blocks was established by the British Colonial Administration in Tanganyika and was maintained during the independence in 1961 and continues to be practiced to date,” he said.
However, he assured that the government has continued to provide vital social services in the Ngorongoro area, while refuting claims that it has stopped to do so as a weapon to force the Maasai community to vacate the area.