Kasese Conflicts Blamed on Unfair Distribution of Resources

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In short
Eric Muhasa Maathu the Mahango Sub County LC III chairman says it would be foolhardy to expect a population of over 500,000 to have equal services with a community of 20,000 people.

Unfair distribution of land and social services among the Bakonzo and Basongora in Kasese district are partly responsible for the endless ethnic tensions, according to some residents. Contention is normally between the cultivators who are predominantly Bakonzo and Basongora cattle keepers.

Tom Kachope, a resident of Nyakatonzi Village in Nyakatonzi Sub County, says the tension is precipitated by conflicts over ownership of land in the low areas of Rwehingo, Bigando, Ibuga and Kabukero. 

In 2007, a cabinet inter-ministerial committee led by Engineer Hillary Onek, the then Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries recommended that government degazettes some land and distributes among the cultivators and cattle keepers at the ratio of 1:3 respectively in an attempt to settle the land conflicts.
The land distribution drew protests from the cultivators who accused government of favoring the cattle keepers. But Ham Natuhwera, the Nyakatonzi LC V councilor, says the land distribution exercise was meant to resettle the Basongora who were displaced when Queen Elizabeth National Park was gazzetted.

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He instead accuses Kasese district leadership of denying the Basongora a fair share of social services. Elisha Mugisha Ateenyi, the head of the Banyabindi Cultural Trust shares the same sentiments. According to Ateenyi, the Bakonzo use the tyranny of numbers to pass resolutions that favor them.
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Eric Muhasa Maathu the Mahango Sub County LC III chairman says it would be foolhardy to expect a population of over 500,000 to have equal services with a community of 20,000 people.
Lukonzo Audio

Cue in:  "Kyino sinangasagha….."
"I can't be ashamed of saying this; you can't expect 1000 people to have the same opportunities with 30,000. You must accept that! We are not responsible for our huge population here, it is only God who created us and settled many of us on this mountain".
He says the counter accusations will not lead them any further and calls on all leaders in Kasese to commit to building peace.
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The leaders expressed themselves during a dialogue meeting organised by Rwenzori Peace Bridge of Reconciliation (RPBR), a Non-Governmental Organisation at Kisinga Town Council early this week.

Nelson Sunday Ndungo, the Executive Director Rwenzori Peace of Reconciliation-RPBR, said such sharp disagreements are important in the peace-building processes.

Ndungo says the disagreements will help the people to identify the missing links that trigger conflicts not only Kasese, but the entire Rwenzori Region.
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Cue out: "Thutholere ithwakolha…."

"We believe in equal representation so that we talk at length, the solutions to the problems won't come from Kabarole, Kampala but instead we must all sit together disagree and agree as natives of this place until we get a way forward.".

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About the author

Kule Jerome Bitswande
Jerome Kule Bitswande is the URN pioneer Bureau Chief-Kasese.

He's passionate to write about public policy, culture and politics.

Before joining URN in April 2018, Jerome had written for Radio One and Two, The Observer and New Vision.

Jerome strongly believes that it is only the common man that has the untold story. And it is that untold story whose narration he wants to be party to.

The two-time Award Winner with Media Challenge Initiative also believes the Kasese and entire Rwenzururu story is yet to be told; it's against that background that when URN assigned him to his cradle, he did not give it a second thought.

Todate, he's fondly called the Rwenzururu Royal Guard by peers and workmates.