Dodoma — THE government has denied reports of alleged killings of livestock and herders by conservation rangers at Mwanavala village in Mbarali District, Mbeya Region.
This was said by the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Mohamed Mchengerwa in the National Assembly on Monday, when presenting a report on implementation of directives that were issued by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa last week.
Mchengerwa, who visited the area at the weekend, maintained that neither livestock nor herders got killed in the skirmishes that erupted in the area.
“There is not a single person who was humiliated and their livestock killed or confiscated by the wardens of Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) in Mbarali as it was reported in the National Assembly recently,” Mchengerwa said.
Mr Majaliwa’s directives came after Mbarali Member of Parliament Francis Mtenga demanded the National Assembly to suspend other activities to discuss the urgent matter claiming that the residents were being beaten, humiliated and their livestock confiscated by Tanapa wardens, allegedly for encroaching into the protected area.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Mchengerwa acknowledged the occurrence of the incident, however he said the incident occurred within territories of the protected area of the Ruaha National Park.
“It’s true that the incident occurred on May 6th, this year, on the mentioned date, the Tanapa wardens were on a normal patrol to the protected area, where they found two structures that were meant for animal keeping contrary to the law”.
He said while on the process to arrest owners of the structures, the latter were resisting and attacked them by using traditional weapons including stones, sticks, arrows and even dogs as a result endangering the safety of the Tanapa wardens.
The minister added that in a move to protect themselves, the Tanapa wardens used force that ended up injuring some villagers who, however, despite encroaching the protected areas, were given 1m/- each to vacate.
“Moreover, the government took them to hospital for treatment where it also covered all the bills,” said Mr Mchengerwa, adding that all the Tanapa wardens, who were involved in the incidents, recorded their statements at the police station.
“I want to assure the House that no woman was undressed, there was no livestock that was killed or confiscated, on top of that, no resident was about to commit suicide as it was reported here by the Mbarali MP,” he added.
“I’m saddened by the claims raised by Mr Mtega which somewhat caused panic, I’ve seen for myself, nothing of the sort happened here,” the Minister said.
Following the incident, the minister instructed national parks wardens to avoid the use of force while controlling encroachment of the protected areas.
He also asked Tanzanians to avoid encroaching the protected areas as well as adhering to all laws of the land for sustainable development.
Moreover, he tasked the conservation officers across the country to continue enhancing patrol in the protected areas as well as putting border marks, banners and all possible demarcation marks that show boundaries between villages and the conserved areas.
“To ensure effective protection, I’m instructing construction of the rangers post in Ruaha National Park,” said the minister.
Expounding, Mr Mchengerwa said as part of efforts to find a permanent solution on land disputes between authorities and the citizens, the government has planned to issue 34,000 hectares from the Ruaha National Parks to the villagers who will use it for various development projects.
He said this week, the government would also deduct 900 acres that will be used for pasturing livestock.
“We shall also conclude the evaluation process for some areas of Mwanavala village before issuing compensation to all who will be affected.