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Loliondo Residents’ Petition against New Game Reserve comes up in November 8

In the petition, five residents from the affected villages want the court to nullify the government’s order that prevents villagers from venturing into the demarcated 1500 square kilometre of the now reserved land

A Maasai community gathering in Loliondo (File Picture)

The court case filed by Loliondo residents contesting the government’s decision to annex the 1500 square kilometers of land, turning it into a game reserve, comes up for hearing on November 8, 2022.

It is the Petition Number 9 of 2022 on the Judicial Review Application against the Proclamation of the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism (GN no 421) dated 17th June 2022 regarding converting a patch of land, in the formerly Game Controlled Area, into a Game Reserve.

Members of the villages surrounding the new Pololeti Game Reserve of Loliondo have filed a case opposing what they described as annexation of their rightful and customary land.

They are challenging the government’s decision to barricade them out of the lush piece of land which they depend for water, grazing and religious activities.

The case pits local villagers of Loliondo, in Ngorongoro District, against the Respondents, who are the Attorney General of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism.

In the petition, five residents from the affected villages want the court to nullify the government’s order that prevents villagers from venturing into the demarcated 1500 square kilometre of the now reserved land.

The applicants, being represented by Advocates Alais Melau, Denis Mosses and Yohana Masiaya argue that they have been using the area for livestock grazing since time in memorial.

They also claim that the central part of the forest, which is now restricted, has always served as their traditional shrine for worship and other faith related activities, pointing out that freedom of worship is their constitutional right

The case which came up for mention at the high court, Arusha registry, on the first day of November 2022 had to be adjourned following requests from the respondents to be allowed seven more days so that they may compile their testimonies.

The Court thus fixed another date for the hearing, this time rescheduled to November 8, 2022.

The case is being presided by the high court Judge, Justice Mohamed Gwae..

Three state attorneys are representing the government while six lawyers represent the applicants.

In another development, the Civic and Legal Aid Organization (CILAO) has written to the High Court Judge, Mohammed Gawe, appealing for the ongoing Loliondo case hearing be open to the general public.

In the letter signed by the organization’s Executive Director Odero Charles, CILAO also wants electronic media outlets allowed to broadcast the proceedings live.

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