So far the village land and natural resource committee has been dissolved by the village government but the committee leaders claim that the suspension is illegal and did not follow the law and procedures.
This tussle between the two sides has left the village land forest reserve without any security as the patrol team is composed by the natural resource committee.
Reports say since the committee was dissolved in 2018, illegal loggers and illegal timber harvesters have taken that loophole of lack of the committee which used to patrol the forests to enter and fell down trees freely.
The village natural resource committee Secretary Nurjan Shamte Simbambili has condemned the act by the village government to dissolve the committee saying it has no mandate to do so, adding that the committee was dissolved on grounds of person interest.
“Since the committee was dissolved, the village government has never come up with any initiative to even form interim committee to conduct patrol in the forests. Even yesterday we saw some logs being ferried from the forest to town by unknown people,” she said.
She said that the village government assembly is the only body that can dissolve the committee and not the village government.
Contacted for comments, the village Chairman Issa Simbambili refuted the allegations saying laws were followed to suspend the committee due to some irregularities that was found in the income and expenditure.
He said that the committee is currently remained suspended until when the village Executive Officer will conduct audit of income and expenditure and give the report.
“The VEO will conduct auditing and the report will be shared at the village government assembly,” he said.
Hassan Ndete from a local forest conservation network called MJUMIMWAKI said that the dispute is caused by corruption adding that the district council should visit the village and get solution to the problem.
“The fight between the village government and the natural resource committee is stinking corruption. When there s the village general assembly, the leaders are not giving us the truth, they are not even reading income and expenditure. We villagers think that there is a hidden agenda here,” he said.
Contacted for comments, Acting District Executive Director for Rufiji district, Brighton Kilimba and the Rufiji District Commissioner Juma Njwayo promised to visit the village and take action.
“I passed to the village few days ago but they didn’t tell me about this case. I promise you, I will visit it as soon as possible to establish the truth and take action,” he said.
The village is one of the villages in Rufiji district which is implementing the project with WWF, MJUMITA and MCDI under funding from SIDA.