The controversial ownership of Lupita Islands on Lake Tanganyika by an investor, a Tanzanian of British origin, who has built a luxury hotel, Lupita Island Lodge, is a subject of investigation by the Ministry for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development.
“I have directed the Director of Legal Affairs at the ministry to probe the matter and report back his findings to me as soon as possible,” said the Minister for Land, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Professor Anna Tibaijuka, earlier this week.
Prof. Tibaijuka told the Daily News through a text message that his ministry considers Tom Lithgow’s ownership of Lupita Islands illegal because no legal documents are available at her ministry to establish legality of such a possession.
“I have instructed the Director of Legal Affairs at the ministry, Mr Michael Kamba, to make a follow up on the matter. Please, contact him for an update on the progress he has made so far,” Prof. Tibaijuka said.
On his side, Mr Kamba said his men are already on the ground to probe the controversy which has exposed laxity in the country’s investment regulations relating to land tenure. “I am still waiting for a report from an advance team of experts,” said Kamba.
Asked what his take is in the whole controversy last week, Mr Lithgow said in an emailed message from his Blackberry phone, “Finnigan, you will have an answer tomorrow.” It was last Wednesday but until we went to press yesterday, the investor had not offered any explanation.
But on the website of his company, Tanzania by Firelight, where Lupita Island Lodge is one of the company’s luxury tented camps, it reads, “Lupita Island is the ultimate private retreat, offering luxurious accommodations set amidst a pristine natural habitat.”
“Located on Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania, this 130-acre private island resort has eleven lavishly decorated, thatched-roof living spaces and two family cottages that offer breathtaking, uninterrupted views of Africa’s second largest lake,” the company says on its website posting.
Formed in 1989 by Tom and Belinda Lithgow, Tanzania by Firelight owned Lupita Islands Lodge is one of the most prestigious luxury resorts named by U.S.-based Travel & Leisure as one of the best facilities in the world of luxury travel.
Born and raised in the country, Tom grew up on a farm on the slopes of Ngorongoro Crater where as a child, he spent time at his father’s hunting camp in the Selous Game Reserve assisting him as first walking guide.
While the ministry disowned Lithgow’s ownership of the luxury islands contrary to the 1999 Village Land and National Land Acts and land tenure system which does not allow private ownership of land let alone an island.