THE government has started taking measures to address land disputes in the country, including embarking on enforcing sedentary lives of pastoralists who roam about with their livestock and stray into farms.
The development has come in the wake of a dispute pitting pastoralists and peasants in Kilosa District that saw a farmer, Augustino Mtitu, suffering grievous bodily harm after he was speared through his mouth to the neck.
Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Deputy Minister William ole Nasha told the ‘Daily News’ yesterday that the Fifth Phase Government is determined to end land clashes in the country, which have so far resulted into deaths and destruction of properties. He said that the government embarked on livestock while it was also working on other measures because there were a large number of animals roaming about.
“These animals have greatly contributed to the recurrence of land disputes in the country ... it is impossible for the government to work on long-term solutions without resettling the animals,” the deputy minister observed. Mr ole Nasha said that the government was currently working on the possibilities of getting land for keeping the animals as it works on ways of addressing the problem.
The deputy minister hinted on possible areas where the livestock could be resettled as in the national reserves, idle ranches as well as allocating land in some regions, which could be legally used by pastoralists. He noted that the government can decide to allocate land for either farmers or pastoralists from national reserves if it faces
shortage of the resource. Mr ole Nasha also stated that pastoralists who would be relocated to the national ranches are those who will comply with progressive livestock regulations. He, however, noted that the number of livestock roaming around has increased following various operations conducted in the country to evict pastoralists from several areas without allocating land for them.
The deputy minister mentioned the operations conducted to evict pastoralists from Ihefu valley as ‘Operation Okoa Mazingira’ and ‘Tokomeza.’
“These operations have greatly contributed in increasing the number of land disputes because pastoralists were evicted without being alternative given land for keeping their animals,” he said.
The deputy minister further said that land disputes can also be addressed by allocating special land for pastoralists and farmers respectively. Mr ole Nasha said in the past, the country had special zones for pastoralists and farmers, but in 1970s the system was abandoned thus resulting to land clashes currently experienced in the country.
He cited an example of Ethiopia, saying the country has 50 million cows, but it has managed to clear land disputes because it has designated special areas for pastoralists. He also cited Kenya where livestock keepers are found in North-Eastern part of the neighbouring country while in Uganda pastoralists were confined to the north. The minister said in addition to the measures being taken by the government to end land clashes in the country, it was high time to encourage pastoralists to remain in their traditional areas of operation.
“In the past, Lake Zone, northern and central regions were famous for livestock keeping but to date, the animals have moved even to the regions that are traditionally non-livestock keeping,” he noted.
He further said that the government had formed a team that is being coordinated by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development to work on a joint programme of managing land disputes.
The team, comprising six ministries, will go through various reports on land disputes, identify the clashes and even visiting affected areas to talk to the stakeholders and advise the government on the way forward.
Other ministries are Natural Resources and Tourism; Industry and Trade; Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries; Defence and National Service, President’s Office - Regional Administration and Local Government; and Works, Transport and Communications. Police in Morogoro Region said on Tuesday that 12 people have been arrested in connection with the attack on a farmer in Kilosa District on December 25.
Morogoro Regional Police Commander (RPC), Ulrich Matei, said that the suspects, all pastoralists, are being held at the Central Police Station in Kilosa District, pending ongoing investigations.
According to the RPC, Mr Mtitu was attacked after intervening in the brawl that ensued following the pastoralists’ move to graze their cattle on maize and bean farms at Mikumi in the district. Other grisly incidents, claiming lives and destroying properties, have also occurred in Kilosa, Kiteto, Chalinze and Mvomero.