Maasai Battle for their Land in Tanzania

BREAKING NEWS: Splits within Ruling CCM Party who join opposition  in opposing Government Decision to Divide Maasai Land

Reports from Loliondo, Tanzania say that members of the CCM party are opposing the decision from the Tanzanian government to split the 4000 km area, ultimately taking ancestral lands away from the thousands of Maasai who live there.

The CCM committee, formed last week to look at the issue, met the community in Oloirien on Saturday and responded to their questions by agreeing with their case. Nchemba, CCM deputy Secretary General, said at the meeting (in Swahili): ‘I agree with you because the earth is your life.’

CCM are now taking the issue back to the Prime Minister Mizendo Pinda, and President Kikwete.

The piece below was published in The Citizen, Monday 8th April

CCM, Chadema fault plan to split area

Monday, 08 April 2013 08:48

By Mussa Juma and Peter Saramba, The Citizen Correspondents Loliondo.

The ruling CCM and opposition Chadema have faulted a controversial plan by the government to subdivide the Loliondo Game Controlled Area as a measure to end its long-standing land dispute with the Maasai Community.

Both parties have opposed the government decision to split the 4,000 square kilometre area into two parts, one for the Maasai community and the other for conservation purposes.

CCM, which had formed a committee last week to probe the decision to divide the area as part of efforts to solve the dispute which has lasted for 20 years, said yesterday that it had referred the issue to Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda.

The committee chairman, Mr Mwigulu Nchemba, who is also CCM’s deputy secretary general, said preliminary investigations have indicated that the decision announced by the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Mr Khamis Kagasheki about two weeks ago was contrary to the “laws of the land and would adversely affect the local community.” Other committee members include, Mr Christopher ole Sendeka, who is the MP for Simanjiro, Mr Lekule Laizer, the MP for Longido and Ms Mary Chatanda, the Arusha CCM secretary for Arusha Region.

“After meeting the district’s political committee, local and community leaders as well as district government officials, we are now satisfied that the decision to partition the area is not the best option. The area to be held by the government is the lifeline for the communities. We are told that is where water and greener pastures are available for cattle,” Mr Nchemba told residents of Olorien Magaiduru at a public rally.

Chadema leaders also addressed a public rally last week at Soitsambu village where they urged residents of villages in the Loliondo area not to accept the government decision to partition the area. Chadema’s director for Legal and Human Rights Tundu Lissu and shadow minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Peter Msigwa, told villagers to support the opposition party in opposing the government decision.

Mr Kagasheki announced the government’s decision late last month, saying the government has decided to partition the area with the communities living in villages re-allocated 2,500 square kilometers, while a portion of 1,500 square kilometres that borders the Serengeti National Park will be taken by the government for conservation.

We will bring you updates on the situation as we receive them from our partners in Loliondo.

Visulise the Loliondo Land Grab

What can you do?

  • There is an official petition to support the Maasai, launched by Avaaz. Sign it here
  • Write to your MP, asking them to work with the Tanzanian government to protect the livelihoods of local people in Loliondo. You can find you MP at http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ It should go from your personal email address and include your home address (so they know you are a constituent).