THE government is in the final stages of resolving land conflict between the Ruaha national park and the local communities, Ministry of Natural Resource and Tourism announced yesterday.
The head of Ministry, Dr Khamis Kigwangalla said in a written response to Special Seats MP Sophia Mwakagenda (Chadema) that the decision is part of President John Magufuli’s directive to the ministry to end land disputes in all national protected areas.
Dr Kigwangalla said a team of sectoral ministries has been established to revisit all reported land wrangles across the country, He said the conflicts involve farmers and pastoralists in Mbarali district as well as the Ruaha national park.
Earlier, the MP said a number of villagers from Madibira, Miyombweni, Igawa, Rujewa, Songwe, Mapogoro and Ruhanga wards were still facing land based conflicts.
The legislator claimed that despite the government notice GN no. 28 of 2008, the problem has remained far from ending.
She said the public needs clarification on the matter so that they can live in peace and free from being arrested for staying in national parks areas.
“Why is it that citizens who are farmers and pastoralists continue to be arrested by the order of the District Commissioner?” she asked arguing that the Prime Minister in his address to adjoin the 2016/17 parliamentary budget session issued an executive order that the people must not be disturbed,” Ms Mwakagenda said.
Earlier, the premier emphasized that farmers and pastoralists should not be disturbed until further notice. He said actions would be taken after receiving a detailed report from a team of experts who are investigating land disputes in various parts of the country.
But in his response, the minister said the technical report was submitted to the respective authority for further decision.
He said the premier issued a verdict in September 2019 regarding 920 villages in 975 wards that had land disputes saying the areas will remain unchanged.
He meanwhile said the ministry through the National Parks Authority (TANAPA) is working with the district commission to enforce the prime minister’s decision.
“This includes preventing disturbances to Wananchi until a final technical report on the dispute is published,” he noted.
The minister was concerned that some people have continued with human activities in the protected areas.
He mentioned the activities as farming, building residential structures and grazing in areas that people have already been compensated and therefore relocated.
The affected areas include Ihefu and Ikoga wetlands that have no records of disputes.
“We are seeing people conducting activities that are in contrast to conservation laws,” he noted expressing optimism that land disputes in the areas will soon be resolved especially after the villages draw their boundaries.