THE government has finally settled the 15-year long land conflict pitting farmers and livestock keepers in Mbarali District, Mbeya Region within Usangu Basin on one hand and the Ruaha National Park on the other.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa made the announcement on Tuesday during a meeting with residents in the area, noting that the government has made some changes on Government Notice (GN) number 28, which will allow sustainable agriculture and grazing of animals in an area measuring 74,000 hectares.
Present at the meeting were paddy farmers and livestock keepers whose areas had been earlier pronounced to be within Ruaha National Park and thus required to leave the basin.
“We decided to find a lasting solution for the GN number 28 after a number of meetings with concerned stakeholders. I have the pleasure to inform you that we have reached an impressive solution which will enable farmers and livestock keepers to continue with their activities,” he announced.
The Premier noted that 34 villages out of 39 which had been pronounced to be within Ruaha National Park will be spared from evacuation, while the residents in the remaining five villages will be removed from the reserve after being compensated for their land.
“The team of ministers from eight ministries which has been dealing on this issue has done a great work leading to adjustment of the boundaries of the national park, which was proclaimed in the GN. The five villages have to be removed because they are in sensitive areas,” Mr Majaliwa said.
The PM elaborated that the land conflict which has persisted for a long time led to the formation of a team of eight sectoral ministers to deal with land disputes and environmental protection across the country.
He hailed the sectoral ministries for their review and assessment which led to changes of the GN but warned the villages against encroaching reserved areas.
In addition, he said the government has approved request by residents of the five villages who have been lined up for relocation to continue tending to their crops until they are harvested.
The Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Pindi Chana, banned herders from reintroducing livestock to the areas they were removed, while warning that strict action will be taken against those caught in those areas.
“The law allows us to confiscate the livestock found in the reserve, so I ask the breeders to observe the law, breed productively so that you don’t lose your livestock to nationalization,” said Minister Chana.
The Minister of Livestock and Fisheries, Mr Mashimba Ndaki, said that they are currently continuing to provide education to breeders about improving breeding by reducing the number of livestock and breeding more productively in order to get rid of unnecessary conflicts.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation Antony Mavunde said that they will ensure that they organise the people well by developing good irrigation systems and remove challenges between farmers and breeders, and put irrigation infrastructure in various schemes so that farmers can farm productively.
On his part, the Chairperson of the committee of the eight sectoral ministries, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Dr Angeline Mabula, said that after the end of the dispute, they are ready to cooperate with the people of the areas to ensure that they provide public awareness on proper land use.
The Member of Parliament for Mbarali, Mr Leonard Mtega, thanked the government for resolving the conflict and requested the authority pay compensations to the citizens who are being removed from the five villages in order to make preparations for new homes in advance.