Cultural, Religious Leaders Hail Gulu Alcohol Ordinance

3798 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
Rwot Yusuf Adek Okwonga, the Pageya clan leader, says promoting production, sale and consumption of alcohol is a blow to President Yoweri Musevenis vision for a middle income economy and operation wealth creation.

Cultural and religious leaders in Gulu have hailed the district council for being steadfast on the implementation of the Alcohol Control Ordinance 2016. It follows the unanimous decision by the council on Monday to reject proposals by the Trade and Industry Ministry to stay the implementation of the Alcohol Ordinance until September 2017.

The Ministry had made the proposal to enable government comply with international  trade Treaties, allow manufacturers clear the available stock and enact a nationwide instrument dealing with alcoholism in the country. The Ministry also argued that implementing the ordinance poses technical barriers to trade with in the East African Community, Common Market for East and Central Africa and the World Trade Organization. 

However, Gulu District council declined the proposal to stay implementation, saying alcoholism is threatening consolidation of peace in northern Uganda amongst others. Now, Clerics under the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) have thrown their weight behind the district, saying the implementation of the Alcohol Ordinance is a landmark for post conflict recovery of Northern Uganda. 

Monsignor Mathew Odong, the Vicar General of Gulu Archdiocese, says government should understand the decision taken by Gulu district council as the region recovers from two decades of brutal conflicts. "You can't preach to a drunkard. Government needs to understand us on this" he said. McBaker Ochola, the Retired Bishop of Kitgum Diocese, says the council demonstrated autonomy envisioned under the core principles of decentralization by rejecting the Ministry directive to suspend implementation of the ordinance. 

"I urge government to prioritize revitalization of agriculture cooperatives instead of promoting production of alcoholic drinks. Bishop Ochola stressed that Gulu district Council did the right thing and wondered what Uganda's export to World Market is after Cotton lost value as coffee farmer's battle coffee wilt disease.  

Sheik Ahmed Lubangakene, one of the Muslim leaders in Gulu says the district council resolution is in line with more than 10,000 residents who backed the enactment of the ordinance. Cultural leaders have also hailed the decision as fundamental for protection of the human resource in the region. 

Rwot Yusuf Adek Okwonga, the Pageya clan leader, says promoting production, sale and consumption of alcohol is a blow to President Yoweri Museveni's vision for a middle income economy and operation wealth creation. "It is not proper to value taxes at the expense of the health of the people because a healthy population produces more tax to the government," he stated. 

Ambrose Olaa, the Prime Minister of Acholi cultural institution, Ker Kwaro Acholi, says the paramount chief David Onen Achana was very excited by the council decision, adding the chief has pledged total support for the implementation of the ordinance.

The ordinance seeks  restricts the time for opening bars between 5pm to 1am, licensing bars and packaging alcoholic drinks in more than 250 Mililitre glass containers amongst others. At least 307 cartons of the banned sachets have been impounded since the ordinance entered into force in January. 

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.