The media in the last few weeks has been awash with stories of violent clashes involving pastoralist, the most recent one being in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Buliisa District. The pastoralists from Buliisa are now trekking to Kyankwanzi in Kiboga District and some have already arrived.
The government of the Republic of Uganda has officially informed the Nation that they will be screened and resettled in Kyankwanzi although they planned to do these two months back.
The Buganda Lukiiko [Parliament] in its sitting of Monday, July 2, 2007, passed a resolution rejecting the resettlement of Buliisa pastoralist on Buganda territory. Of course, their resolutions has been ignored and dismissed by the NRM government. The Parliament of Uganda also joined the fray and discussed the issue of these pastoralists as they await the government official explanation.
The people of Uganda are asking several questions.
Who are these Balaalo? Is it true as Gen [David] Tinyefuza [now called David Sejusa] stated that these are Banyarwanda of Ugandan origin and Banyankole? Where do they originate from? Apart from Banyankole Balaalo’s, where are the roots of Ugandan Banyarwanda? Who arms and facilitates their movement in trucks?
According to Gen Tinyefuza, they are not armed but Ugandans from areas where they have passed through saw them with arms. This requires conclusive investigations to determine the truth. Who protects them? Why do they roam around with their cattle in apparent impunity without serious government intervention?
The Uganda Peoples Congress [UPC] wishes to unravel the mystery of these Balaalo. These wanderers are part of the “Special NRM Politics,” who over the last two decades have been organised, armed and facilitated to primitively accumulate cattle and acquire permanent territories nationally as part of NRM grand scheme to perpetuate its stronghold on the political, economic, social and cultural life of Uganda. Their activities are not isolated nor are they accidental or incidental acts of a few misguided individuals.
The first phase of this NRM Balaalo strategy was the massive theft of cattle from Teso, Lango and Acholi during the insurgency between 1987 and 1989. During that painful period, the Special Resident District Administrators (now RDCs) mobilised and organised the Balaalo who had been herding cattle on behalf of the Teso, Lango and Acholi masters to revolt against their masters and enable them to rob thousands of cattle while their erstwhile masters were herded in camps. The Special District Administrators armed these Balaalo, provided them with security and cattle movement permits that facilitated their transit from Northern and Eastern Uganda to Southern and Western Uganda.
The next phase of these NRM-supervised and broad-day robbery involved the plunder of well-established and stocked ranches in Kashaari, Nyabushozi, Masaka, and Buruuli. These [ranches] were established in 1960s by the first UPC administration to modernise agriculture and expand our export base. Squatters and neighbours of these ranches were systematically mobilised and organised to take over these ranches between 1990 and 1992. Later the government legalised and formalised these territorial acquisition by Balaalo through the Ranches Restructuring Board, which formally dispossessed the former owners of these ranches and promised to pay them compensation.
Unsatisfied with these ranches, the NRM government through its machinery mobilised, organised and facilitated these Balaalo to move and acquire more land in Bunyoro, Lango, Teso, Acholi, and West Nile. With the exception of Buliisa County in Bunyoro where they acquired land and settled until recently, the natives of other sub-regions resisted and repulsed the NRM political Balaalo.
Finally, UPC calls upon the government to seriously settle this issue of roaming pastoralists by engaging and consulting with stakeholders in whose area government desires to settle them.
For God and my Country,
Miria Kalule Obote, UPC party President,
National Secretariat, Uganda House, Kampala.