Livestock herding communities and activists supporting them are happy about last Friday’s cabinet shake-up in which four ministers were sacked over alleged atrocities committed against the pastoralists.
“I am happy because some of my brothers were victims of excessive force used by the police and game rangers”, said Mr. Elikarim Mangi from Babati when reached on phone.
He said it was appalling that nothing had been done by the relevant authorities over the law enforcers and local administrators who took law into their hands on pretext of implementing Operation Tokomeza.
“What the president did was a good job. Some ministers are not serious with the people’s problems”, he told The Citizen on Sunday, citing cases of beatings and killings of innocent livestock keepers in various parts of the country.
Mr Mangi, who commutes between his timber business mart and large herds of cattle in Ruvuma region, said Manyara leaders should be made to account from the recent death of a woman in Babati district allegedly by the police.
Rev Elibariki Gayewi of the Lutheran Church in Hanang district said the sacking of ministers was an indication that the government was now serious in addressing the problems facing the people, particularly the nomadic pastoralists after being quiet for a long time.
“I am seeing this to be a great change for the good. It is a good sign for the government”, he stated, noting that he was aware of atrocities or beatings committed under Operation Tokomeza against members of the Barbaig community near Tarangire National Park and in Morogoro.
A resident of Minjingu township in Babati district and former councillor Mr. Olais Ole Koin said he was happy with the removal of Dr. Mathayo David Mathayo as a minister responsible for livestock,saying the sector has not been well managed.
However, he wondered why the prime minister Mizengo Pinda “has not been touched’ despite his apparent failure to manage the ministers and oversee the government operations as to per his day-to-day mandate.
He described the recent trends in the Parliament as an indication that it was now matured and active to challenge the government where it went wrong. “We want the government to ensure everybody is accountable”, he explained.
Mzee Mefunya Gapjojig, the first district commissioner for Hanang when the area was curved out of Arusha region in the mid-1980s remarked; “The pastoralists are now happy that the government has started to take action against frequent killings and harassments against them”.
A business consultant based in Arusha Zephaniah Gidang’ay said what the president did was “something in the right direction” but was surprised why the prime minister has not stepped down as a political responsibility.
He played down claims by the fired Livestock minister Dr. Mathayo that he had been victimised by the Parliamentary Select Committee, wondering where the politician was when large herds of livestock were shot dead in the national parks.
He added that he expected the new cabinet line-up to have a new prime minister. A CCM grassroot official in Hanang Peter Hayumwa defended the prime minister but said the stepping down of the four ministers was not enough.
“Senior government officials and here I mean the technical people are much to blame and should have to go”, he explained, pointing fingers at the technocrats in the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
However, some of the tourism industry players appeared not comfortable with the removal of Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki as the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism,saying he gave a needed push to the war against poachers and promotion of tourism.
“Kaghasheki was very supportive to this sector. For a short time he has been with us he has done a lot. I don’t seen anybody to fill his shoes. He was in the frontline in the war against poachers”, lamented Andrew Malalika, a tour operator in Arusha.
The Arusha-based umbrella body for pastoralist non-governmental organizations, PINGOs Forum praised President Jakaya Kikwete for the move and called on the government to ensure that people responsible for atrocities committed against people during Operation Tokomeza are taken to task.
“We are sure that the findings of the Lembeli Committee are true and we have found out that all what is contained and presented to the Parliament was true”, affirmed the PINGOs Forum executive director Edward Porokwa during a press conference here yesterday.