28 January 2013

Tanzania: Kagasheki Wants End of Loliondo Land Conflict

Loliondo — THE government has promised to put in place a mechanism that will help find lasting solutions to land, border and other conflicts between investors and local communities in Loliondo Division, Ngorongoro District in Arusha Region.

In a meeting with all stakeholders, including investors, NGOs, local government leaders and representatives of local communities on Sunday, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki said if left to continue, the conflicts will escalate and endanger peace in the country.

"We have to work closely with all parties; that is the investors, local communities living around investment areas and local government, including your Member of Parliament, Mr Kaika Ole Telele. We will put in place a mechanism that will help solve the problem step by step," Mr Kagasheki stressed.

He noted that some of the people who have been accused of invading investors' land have in fact been staying in those areas for more than 40 years, which called for wisdom in handling the issue.

"Some people moved in those areas a long time ago, some 40 years ago. In such a situation wisdom has to be used. There have to be better ways to deal with such problems...to find solutions that both parties, agree amicably...we are trying to avoid conflicts and come up with a win-win situation for both parties," he explained.

Earlier, in a meeting with investors, the minister stressed the need for them to work closely and cooperate with each other, a move that, he said, will reduce conflicts.

"I need investors, because your undertakings will create jobs as well as boost the nation's economy. However I will not allow this conflict, which has been going on for a long time, to cause divisions among communities and cause a rift between the government and its people," he stressed.

He urged them to form an association of investors that will hold meetings and address challenges faced and find solutions.

Ambassador Kagasheki blamed non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for instigating and blowing the situation out of proportion by posting unfounded information on social media.

He said the government stood for peace and not conflicts that threaten the very foundations for peace that the government is striving to uphold.

In his meeting with councillors, the minister was told how revenue that was previously being collected by the local government have dwindled after the central government took over.Ms Tina Timan (Special Seats-CCM) suggested that 30 per cent of the revenues collected should go back to communities.

"The public should benefit from revenues from resources within their areas before it is distributed across the country," she explained.She also complained that investors were employing the 'divide and rule' technique by meeting certain preferred groups which has escalated the conflicts.

The councillors also appealed to the minister to change the Game Controlled Areas to Wildlife Management Authority (WMA), noting that in its current form, communities are not allowed to conduct any activities in the controlled areas.

"We don't want the investors to leave. They should, however, work closely with communities around them to address developmental issues as well as honour contracts entered between them and village authorities," she explained.

Member of Parliament, Mr Kaika Ole Telele (Ngorongoro - CCM), told the 'Daily News' that he was impressed by the minister's determination to find a solution to the conflicts.

"I will now sleep at night because I know at last we are all going to work together to address challenges facing Ngorongoro District, not just the government but together with investors, local communities and its leadership and find solutions," he noted.

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