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Background & Introduction
This is the Report of the Commissioner (of the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) in the Republic of Tanzania) assigned to investigate and mediate in the conflict between the Itete People and Mr Ryan Shallom a professional hunter and investor whose company – Wild Footprints Ltd – based in Dar es Salaam was licensed to hunt in the Ulanga Game Reserve at Ulanga District. This Ulanga Land Conflict ensued because land of the people in Itete District was being expropriated by Mr. Shallom Company; the villagers were forced out of their land; abused and assaulted; their properties were destroyed; and they were accused of illegally occupying the land which was part of the Game Reserve. The people of Itete ward represented by the Member of Parliament of Ulanga West Hon. Juma Ngasongwa, laid a formal complaint to the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) since its previous complaint to offices of the District Commissioner of Ulanga District and his boss, the Regional Commissioner of Morogoro were ignored. In their complaint, the following concerns were therefore raised in relation to the Ulanga Land conflict:
- The Wild Footprints Ltd Company arbitrarily altered the Boundaries of te Ulanga Game Reserves encroaching into the Villages bordering the Game Reserve.
- Mr. Shallom allegedly committed a wide range of Human Rights Violations such as Arson and the destruction of properties of villagers, Assault of the Villagers, and
- The Wild Footprint Ltd Company was protected by the police and other public officials against the people whose lands were illegally usurped by the Company as part of the Ulunga Game Reserve.
The CHRAGG undertook a thorough fact-finding and mediatory mission in the Itete District to ascertain the veracity of the allegations levelled against Mr Shallom and his Company (and Workers). There were counter arguments put forth by the District Commissioner – that the villagers were illegally occupying the land in the Ulunga Game Reserve and that the Complainant (the member of Parliament was doing a political work) – but the Commission’s investigation proved effective in deciphering the situation of things in the Itete Ward. The Commission found out that:
- Mr Shallom and his Company had license to hunt in the Game Reserve;
- The company arbitrarily changed the Game Reserve borders encroaching into villages;
- That the District Commissioner encouraged Mr Shallom to destroy the property of the villagers;
- The land occupied by the villagers was legally their own; and
- That his actions amounted to Arson, Abuse, Destruction of property, Assault, and the use of public officials to perpetuate human rights violations in the area.
The Commission used its mandate according to Section 25 (d) No. 7 of the Human Rights and Good Governance Act (2001) to declare an INTERIM ORDER which declared that the land (in question) belonged to the Itete people legally, hence they could remain and continue their lives there. Thus investigations proved that the complainants were right and that Mr Shallom had violated the Rights of the villagers of Itete Ward.
The Commission established that Human Rights Violations had been committed and the parties had accepted to make peace. Compensation to the villages was accepted, but evaluation of the value of properties and the number of people to be compensated was riddled with suspicious actions by the office of the District Commissioner as well as the Police Officer Commanding District (OCD). This included the distortion of the names of affected people – from 201 to 46 people. Thus the process of mediation and negotiation was delayed. At the end, the verification of all destroyed property amounted to US$55,000 (TS. 85 Million Tanzanian Shillings) which the respondent requested a reduction. The mediation of the Commissioner ensured a 50% reduction (i.e US$27,000 (TS. 42 Million) by means of the principle of GIVE and TAKE (compromise). The mediation and negotiations collapsed when Mr Shallom refused to accept the terms of the mediation undertaken by the Commission – the compensation he was to pay. The CHRAGG therefore took the matter through its legal mechanism to the Court. A report was also submitted to the office of the President of Tanzania on the conduct of the District Commissioner of the Ulanga District culminating in his re-commissioning away from Ulanga District. The Company also lost Hunting License in the Game Reserve. The Case was closed afterwards as relative peace was reported in the area.
Contributor(s): This article was modified by George Hodge (10).