Some 366 villages located within various protected areas in the country had already been earmarked for removal. But the President has now directed that border change documents be prepared within one month and the same presented in the next session of Parliament.
A statement released yesterday by the Directorate of Presidential Communications, the Head of State now wants all ministries involved in the exercise to halt it so that the settlements can be turned into hamlets and villages.
President Magufuli gave the directive at the State House in Dar es Salaam where he convened a sector-wide meeting involving the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla, Chief Secretary John Kijazi, deputy minister for Livestock and Fisheries Abdallah Ulega, the Permanent Secretary in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government) Joseph Nyamhanga and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development Dorothy Mwanyika, the statement said.
“Apart from the directive, the President has also ordered leaders in the ministries concerned to identify conservancies and forest reserves that have no wildlife so that the same are given to landless pastoralists and farmers,” reads the statement in part.
The President further directed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to apply wisdom in the ongoing demarcation of protected areas so that areas that are not so important for conservation are left for people to use.
“I am not happy to see cattle keepers being rejected everywhere. If there is a wildlife reserve which is not being utilized, we shall change the law, take part of it and distribute to pastoralists as well as farmers,” President Magufuli declared.
The Head of State said the same will apply to forest reserves with no forest and yet it has fertile soil. That will also be sliced and distributed to farmers for cultivation of crops.
President Magufuli defended his move saying it was justifiable because of a massive increase in the numbers both of people and livestock. Tanzania now has over 55 million people and 35 million livestock, whereas in 1961 at independence the population stood at just nine million and livestock at 10 million, he pointed out.
The president has also directed that the law that protects water sources be looked at so that it does not stop Tanzanians who farm near rivers from doing so. He has expressed his sorrow to see crops being uprooted anywhere within 60 metres of a river, the statement noted.
Minister Kigwangalla mid-last year embarked on a 25-day countrywide tour during which he ordered eviction of people who invaded and settled in protected lands.
In Busega district, Simiyu region, Dr Kigwangalla gave a 45-day ultimatum to individuals who had encroached and settled within Kijereshi Game Reserve to leave.
But in Kigoma region, the minister said in July that foreign nationals had invaded and settled in protected wildlife reserves within the region under the watch of government officials.
Addressing regional leaders, minister Kigwangalla dropped the bombshell—that he was reliably informed that foreigners had settled in and were engaged in economic activities within Moyowosi and Kigosi game reserves located in Kibondo district, along with Makere forest reserve in Kasulu district.