Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
Think tank reveals ‘serious issues’ with Maasai ‘relocation’ from Ngorongoro
A U.S.-based environmental think tank has revealed a number of issues with the ongoing government’s plan to ‘relocate’ indigenous people from Ngorongoro to designated areas in Tanga and Manyara regions.
Tanzania has designated Msomera village in the Handeni district of Tanga region and Kitwali A & B villages in the Simanjiro district of Manyara for people who will offer to voluntarily relocate from Ngorongoro. The government says volunteers will be provided with houses as well as land for grazing.
However, a fact-finding mission conducted in March and April 2022 by the Oakland Institute has revealed discrepancies between government promises and the situation on the ground.
The Oakland Institute says in its latest brief that resettlement plans face several serious issues, many concerning the resettlement process and feasibility of the selected sites.
These issues include failure to consult communities in Msomera and Kitwai; lack of adequate water and grazing land in selected sites; concerns over promised social services; risk of conflict; and incomplete resettlement plans.
“Only after construction had already commenced, the government allegedly informed the Handeni District Council the houses being constructed would be for [Ngorongoro] residents who have ‘volunteered’ for resettlement,” the brief states.
Similarly, in Kitwai B, the village ward and district councillors had no knowledge that their village had been chosen as a resettlement site, the brief explains, adding: “Crucially, no social or environmental impact assessments appear to have been conducted prior to choosing the relocation areas.”
This revelation, however, is in sharp contrast with the reporting by the government-owned Daily News newspaper that on March 14, 2022, covering the government’s delegation to Msomera, said that villagers consented to the resettlement plans.
“The residents of Msomera expressed their readiness to receive their counterparts, who are willing to relocate from Ngorongoro, extending appreciation that their arrival will contribute to the improvement of infrastructures and other social services including water, health and electricity,” the paper reported then.
On the lack of adequate water and grazing land in selected sites, the Oakland Institue describes the problem in both Msomera and Kitwai as “a very serious issue that already impacts communities living in these areas.”
According to the organisation, in Msomera, there is only one water collection point powered by a generator to pump water for diverse demands, but there are shortages of water during dry seasons.
“Residents in Kitwai suffer from water shortages for both human and livestock use as portions of the supply contain too much salt for safe consumption,” reads the brief in part. “In Kitwai A and B, recent droughts have had a devastating impact on livestock—over 6,000 livestock perished in the 2021 drought.”
But Minister for Water Jumaa Aweso told the Daily News newspaper on April 26, 2022, that the government would ensure that all water projects in Msomera village were completed on time so that the residents could access clean and safe water, promising to construct a dam that will be able to store 700 million litres of water.
Given the fact that local communities present in the relocation sites were not consulted prior to the decision and the areas suffer from inadequate water and grazing land, the Oakland Institute also warns that the risk of conflict cannot be exaggerated.
“Increased competition over scarce water and grazing resources has the potential to escalate into violence during increasingly frequent drought periods,” the organisation states in its briefing. “There are also potential conflicts between pastoralists and agriculturalists.”
The government seeks to relocate Maasai from Ngorongoro, arguing that increased human activities there put the UNESCO-inscribed world heritage site at high risk of destruction.
But activists argue that the very existence of the site is thanks to the long-term care and conservation by the Maasai people and instead of evicting them, authorities should reward and laud them for their role in guarding the site against destruction.
“It is imperative that indigenous residents of [Ngorongoro] are not just consulted but given substantial authority over any resettlement schemes or changes to land use regulations,” the Oakland Institute demanded.
“The dominant framing used by international conservation agencies and Tanzanian government departments—that the [Ngorongoro Conservation Area] NCA must either prioritize conservation or indigenous livelihoods— ignores the evidence that empowering indigenous communities is the most effective way forward to ensure environmental sustainability,” it added.
Mbatia: I’m still NCCR-Mageuzi’s legitimate chairperson
The internal squabbles within the opposition NCCR-Mageuzi party are intensifying following the decision by the party registrar to endorse the suspension of James Mbatia as the party’s national chairperson by a faction within the party, a decision embattled Mbatia called “illegal” on Wednesday.
In a letter sent to the party’s secretary-general on Wednesday, assistant party registrar Sisty Nyahoza endorsed all decisions passed during the party’s executive council meeting that took place on May 21, 2022, in Dar es Salaam.
Apart from suspending Mr Mbatia from the party’s chairmanship, the meeting also suspended the party’s vice-chairperson (Tanzania Mainland) Ms Angelina Mtahiwa. It accused the two, among other things, of planting discords within the party and of forceful resignation.
“NCCR-Mageuzi’s executive council meeting that sat on May 21, 2022, was legal according to the party’s constitution and regulations,” Mr Nyahoza, who was present during the disputed meeting, said in his letter. “Decisions made during [that] meeting are [also] legal.”
But Mr Mbatia told journalists during an impromptu press conference on Wednesday that he was still a legal national chairperson of NCRR-Mageuzi, accusing Mr Nyahoza of “deliberately planting discords” within the party and “trying to silence me.”
“I’m a legal [national] chairperson of NCCR-Mageuzi according to all laws and regulations governing political party activities in Tanzania,” Mr Mbatia said during the press conference. “I was accused, and convicted, without being provided with the right to defend myself. I did not even know that there was [the party’s] executive council meeting happening.”
According to the May 21 meeting, Mr Mbatia and Ms Mtahiwa are not allowed to take part in any NCCR-Mageuzi activities until a general meeting is convened on an unknown date.
In addition to the suspension of the leaders, the May 21 meeting also resolved to dissolve the NCCR Board of Trustees and appointed new members who will now be registered in accordance with the procedures.
But Mr Mbatia has refused to accept any of the resolutions. He said all resolutions arrived at the meeting are null and void because the meeting took place in violation of the party’s constitution and regulations.
“As a national chairperson, I was supposed to chair that meeting,” said Mr Mbatia, citing the party’s constitution. “But that was not the case. This whole fiasco is being coordinated by the office of the party’s registrar. There is a hidden agenda here.”
Mr Mbatia claimed to reach out to Mr Nyahoza to get some clarifications over his letter that leaked to the public and widely circulated on social media. But his efforts were futile after the assistant party registrar failed to pick up Mr Mbatia’s calls.
“I contacted the party’s registrar Francis Mutungi who luckily picked up my calls,” Mr Mbatia explained. “[Mr Mutungi] told me he knows nothing about the letter. We agreed to meet on Thursday to sort things out.”
In his letter, Mr Nyahoza warned Mr Mbatia against doing political activities under the umbrella of NCCR-Mageuzi, telling him that doing so is tantamount to engaging in criminal activities.
“I urge them to stop pretending that they are NCCR-Mageuzi’s leaders,” Mr Nyahoza wrote. “For doing so is a criminal offence.”
But Mr Mbatia considers Mr Nyahoza’s warning as a mere threat, aimed at silencing him.
“[Nyahoza] cannot wipe out my records of fighting for changes in this country. Nobody can rob me of what I believe in,” he told journalists on Wednesday. “I’ll stand on the truth and the truth shall keep me free. Even if that will come at the expense of my life, I’m prepared for that.”
Police in Manyara detain over a dozen CHADEMA leaders over illegal assembly
Police in Manyara temporarily detained a total of 20 CHADEMA leaders after accusing them of holding an illegal assembly on a New Constitutional issue, the party’s director of communications John Mrema said on Wednesday.
Mr Mrema said in a statement that the leaders – which include those from the party’s youth and women wings – were arrested at a coffee hut where they were allegedly discussing the issue of the New Constitution with other people.
“We want the police to release our party members and leaders unconditionally as they have not committed any offence according to Tanzania’s laws,” Mr Mrema said in the statement.
Police issued no statement over the matter but the leaders were all released hours later following a sustained public outcry, especially on social media platforms.
Mr Mrema said that some of the leaders were beaten “badly” while at the hands of the police, something he called “a serious human rights violation.”
CHADEMA youth leaders from Manyara organised a forum on New Constitution on May 24, 2022, a function that was attended by the party’s youth and women leaders from across the country, including the chairperson of the party’s Youth Council (BAVICHA).
The arrest and detention of CHADEMA leaders come a few days after a delegation from the party met and held talks with President Samia Suluhu Hassan and her delegation from the government and the ruling party CCM on May 20, 2022.
CHADEMA secretary-general Mr John Mnyika described the meeting on May 23, 2022, as one in a series of other meetings aimed at reconciling the opposition party with the government and CCM when it comes to the issue of freedom of political parties to do their activities in Tanzania.
Mr Mnyika was forced to issue a clarification of the meeting following some concerns raised by some of the party’s members and followers over the genuineness of President Samia’s gesture.
Some CHADEMA members expressed dissatisfaction with their leaders over their acceptance to sit down with the government and CCM for reconciliation talks, doubting the latter’s commitments to the issue.
Wednesday’s development, therefore, will mean that these people will be vindicated, pushing those willing to proceed with the reconciliation talks to continue further on the sidelines.
CHADEMA parliamentary candidate in the 2020 election Liberatus Mwang’ombe, for instance, said that the arrest of the leaders means that “the ongoing dialogue with CCM is headed to a dead end.”
In a Twitter post, Mr Mwang’ombe referred to the reconciliations talks as a “wastage of time.”
Over 180 cases of cholera reported in Tanzania since April
At least 181 cases of cholera have been reported in Tanzania since the government announced the outbreak on April 23, 2022, according to a statement by European Civil Protection And Humanitarian Aid Operations released on Wednesday.
No fatalities have been reported, the statement added.
The outbreak has spread from the initial locations in the regions of Kigoma and Katavi to other areas along the shores of Lake Tanganyika with a risk of further spread, the statement warned.
More than 40 per cent of the cases occurred among children younger than five years of age.
Authorities have reacted swiftly and there is an active surveillance system in place, the statement said.
The Ministry of Health has set up a task force within the government. Organisations, such as the Tanzanian Red Cross and UNICEF, are responding with a variety of activities, including water, sanitation, health and hygiene measures, risk communication and community engagement.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched disaster relief emergency funding, supported by the EU. The last cholera outbreak in Tanzania occurred in 2019.
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