A non- governmental organization which stands for the rights of pastoralists in the country has appealed to the recently appointed constitutional review commission to work on reviewing a clause in the current Land Act to defend pastoralists and farmers in the country.
The Executive Director of the Arusha based PINGO’s Forum, Edward Porokwa said in an exclusive interview with The Guardian on Sunday early this week that “there are various inhuman acts which are frequently done to pastoralists as there is no specific law which defends their right to land ownership.’
Mr Porokwa is of the view that the current Land Act should be amended in order to give priority to indigenous people especially pastoralists their right ownership of the natural wealth in the country, despite that they do not have permanent places to stay.
However, he says there are some clauses which do not defend the rights of pastoralists when it comes to land transfer to other users, where traditional users in particular cattle herders are subjected to mass eviction, which he described as abuse of human rights and contrary to UN Habitat conventions.
He noted that issues that touch pastoralists in the country are repudiated by government authorities at a certain level in decision making, the most affected ethnic groups being those living in bushes and feeding on wild fruits and meat from livestock or bush animals.
According to him, little attention is given to affected ethnic groups, mostly found in Arusha, Manyara and Singida. These groups are not given special attention when it comes to land ownership.
He further noted that the Village Land Act of 1999 and policies of the land ownership introduced recently do not empower pastoralists in the sense that the laws do not provide them with safety whenever they need it as citizens.
The livestock policy set out in 2006 talks about products or commodities but doesn’t talk about better life for pastoralists, He said, amazed to see that this is contrary to government policy which requires better meat, hides and skins, where the benefits are enjoyed by pastoralists who tender the livestock on which the country relies for meat and milk.
“This is contrary to the constitution of other countries such as Kenya and Uganda which go into details about land ownership of people in their respective counties,” he ,noting further that in Tanzania pastoralists are subjected to humiliations and denial of rights to ownership.
Way back in 2006, the government issued an eviction order on pastoral communities residing in Usangu basin especially at Ihefu valley in Mbarali district, Mbeya region, a measure which OnePorokwa says was inhuman and affected many innocent people.
The eviction of pastoralists from Usangu and elsewhere has always been executed violently without due regard and respect to human rights and land rights of livestock owners.
It is amazing to note that the victims of evictions have not been compensated. The government through the Ministrry of Livestock Development admitted to have committed a mistake by not providing alternative land for evictees. It was thus officially announced that evicted pastoralists were to move to Lindi and Coast regions.
The inbuilt societal stereotypes and negative perceptions over pastoralists in the country have often been the basis of policies. Laws and orders directly affect the majority pastoral communities and the wellbeing of their mode of livelihood.
Some of the basic perceptions characterize them as destructive of environment, sources of animal disease, and enemies of wildlife heritage, practicing an economically unreliable, even wasteful mode of livelihood.
Worse enough, there are attitudes that have been dogmatized in mainstream policies which are being applied without being challenged even when they stand in sharp contrast with scientific evidence.