Ushering into the New Year 2023 but feeling uncertainty about their future, pastoralists from various parts of Tanzania now want the State House to hear their case.
The Indigenous Livestock grazers whose members of communities say they have been facing series of evictions from their customary lands, want to meet President Samia Suluhu Hassan and present their grievances.
Speaking in Arusha, representatives from pastoralists communities together with human and people’s rights organizations say their meeting with the Head of State will help clear the air, as far as series of negative accusations against them are concerned.
“Since time in history, pastoralists have been the pioneers of conservation around the East African Region, but of late there some people, including misinformed government officials seems to be insinuating that indigenous people are destructive to environment which is not and has never been the case. These accusations are laying grounds for continued episodes of land-grabbing at the expense of livestock grazers!”Robert Kamakia – Pastoralist Livelihoods Support and Empowerment Program (PALISEP)
According to Kamakia, it is high time that the Head of State gets to hear straight from the horse’s mouth, the real story behind the lives and predicament of indigenous livestock grazers as well as other marginalized groups.
Explaining the situation further, the Director of the ‘Integrated Development Initiative in Ngorongoro,’ (INDIGO), Loserian Maoi, say it is possible that government officials have not been feeding the president with the right information regarding pastoralists or their lands.
“We need to have audience with the president so that the head of state gets to hear everything straight from the pastoralists themselves, in order for her to come up with own informed decision.”
They cited the case of Loliondo chaos and Ngorongoro Evictions in Arusha and the ongoing displacement of people that have been living for ages in areas around the Kilimanjaro International Airport.
Other cases include long-existed problems facing pastoralists in Morogoro Region and the Southern Highlands as well as Simanjiro District of Manyara.
On his part, the legal expert, Advocate Alais Melau points out that the central government needs to start respecting other pillars of governance such as the courts of law.
Lawyer Melau cited the case of Mobegere Village in Morogoro, in which the Court had ruled in favor of its resident, as having the right of land ownership and the hamlet legally registered, yet government officials went ahead to evict the villagers unceremoniously.
It was also observed that when it comes to evictions and people losing their homes, farms and properties, it is women and children who suffer most.
Mary Mushi from the Women and Children Welfare Support Organization points out that during land-based conflicts, livestock and property belonging to poor households get confiscated or auctioned.
“Normally those are the only things that such families owned,” Ms Mushi said.
According to Mary, sometimes the cattle which get confiscated are those that stray into former grazing pastures whose land-use have been changed.
“When animals get used to their usual grazing areas, it is hard for them to know that the land-use have been changed or piece of property revoked, they still go there and get confiscated.”
Problems facing most pastoralists are usually the clash between the sector and that of conservation.
As far as the indigenous livestock keepers are concerned however, cattle are as important as wildlife.
“Animal husbandry sector creates employment, is an important segment of agriculture industry, produces meat, milk and hides for domestic use and export, therefore it needs to be protected and supported,” they said.
They also pointed out that pastoralists such as the Maasai have always been living in harmony with wildlife without harming each other.