Following the operationalization of Bunyangabu district, concerns have emerged among a section of residents and opinion leaders that Kabarole could cease to exist. In 2015, Kabarole district council approved annexing the whole of Burahya County to Fort Portal Municipality with the aim of coming up with requirements for the city status. Burahya County is the only remaining county in Kabarole district with 14 sub counties.
In 2015, Kabarole district council approved annexing the whole of Burahya County to Fort Portal Municipality with the aim of coming up with requirements for the city status. Burahya County is the only remaining county in Kabarole district with 14 sub counties.
According to the resolution, when expanded, Fort Portal Tourism City would consist of Central Division, Burahya North and Burahya South. At that time, the resolution meant that Bunyangabu would remain the only county in Kabarole.
However, following the breakaway of Bunyangabu to form its own district effective July 1, 2017, concerns have emerged among a section of residents and opinion leaders that Kabarole as a district could cease to exist.
Beatrice Kiraso, a former Woman Member of Parliament Kabarole, says that the Local Government Ministry should come out clearly and explain if Kabarole is still an administrative unit. Kiraso, who in the past opposed the split of Kabarole, says the district council should have consulted residents and opinion leaders before passing the resolution.
She also says that Kabarole district should not be easily wiped away because the name is historical. The name derives its origin in the early 1890s when Daudi Kasagama Kyebambe, the 10th Omukama of Tooro named a hill Kabarole, meaning "let others see" and established his palace on top of that hill. It is this hill on which Karuziika, the main palace of Tooro Kingdom is located to date.
However, Peter Magelah Gwayaka, a lawyer allays the fears. He says that Kabarole district exists until the proposal to annex parts of Burahya to Fort Portal has been presented to cabinet and subsequently approved by parliament. He also says that since Kabarole is listed in the constitution as one of the districts of Tooro, it will require amending the constitution to change the name.
Defence Minister Adolf Mwesige, who was then in charge of Local Government, said he was busy in a meeting, adding that he will comment later. Mwesige, who also represents Bunyangabu County in Parliament, was supposed to table the resolution of Kabarole district council to cabinet and then to Parliament.
Reduced to bare bones
The creation of Bunyangabu District has left Kabarole a much smaller district than it was 20 years ago when it was one of the largest districts in the country. It comprised of at least five of the original counties of Tooro Kingdom including Kibaale, Mwenge, Kyaka, Burahya and Bunyangabu.
This started to change in 2000 when the sub counties in Mwenge and Kyaka broke away to form Kyenjojo district. Kyaka would go on to break away from Kyenjojo to form Kyegegwa district.
Soon, the sub counties in what was Kibaale county broke away from Kabarole to form Kamwenge district to the east of the mother district. This left Burahya and Bunyangabu forming Kabarole district until this year when Bunyangabu broke away.
Records from the office of the District planner indicate that the population of Kabarole is estimated to be 415,600.
Vincent Kajura, a resident of Fort Portal Municipality says that splitting Kabarole could be a deliberate move to weaken and divide the people of Tooro. He explains that the government's argument that the creation of the district will bring services closer to the people is a hoax.
Kajura says that instead of creating more administrative units, the government should instead increase funding for social services in the mother districts.
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Tom Mboijana, a member of the Tooro People's Forum, says that although a new district brings benefits, the split of Kabarole into several districts has already divided people of the same ethnicity. He explains that in the past people in the greater Kabarole lived together as brothers and sisters.
Mboijana also says that unlike in the past when Augustine Kayonga, a former Kabarole district local council Chairperson and other leaders publicly opposed the split of the district, today's leaders are quiet.
Kayonga was the last chairperson of a united Kabarole and was one of the leaders who opposed the split of the district. He says that those spearheading the creation of districts should first consult the residents and leaders.
In his opinion, Kayonga says that the creation of districts could be political and in the case of Kabarole, there are people with intentions of completely wiping the name off the map of Uganda.
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Kayonga also says that there is no need for the leaders to agitate for the creation of Fort Portal city. According to Kayonga, the area has a long way to go to become a city like Kampala.
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Steven Kaliba, a Former Member of Parliament for Fort Portal Municipality, says that not all parts of Burahya County should be annexed to expand Fort Portal Municipality in preparation for a city status. Kaliba, who later served as a prime minister of Tooro, argues that Kabarole district can stay, even as a much smaller entity.
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Joram Bintamanya, the district councillor representing South Division in Fort Portal, says that residents and leaders should resist the move. He says that Kabarole is an identity for the Batooro which should remain.
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However Alex Ruhunda, the Member of Parliament Fort Portal Municipality, who is agitating for the creation of Fort Portal city, says that the city status is aimed at attracting development in the area and that the idea should be supported. He explains that it is useless for Kabarole to remain a district when the residents lack social services.
Members of the Tooro Elders Forum are planning to meet Kabarole district local government and Fort Portal Municipality officials over the matter.
In 2015, Parliament unanimously passed a proposal requiring government to embark on creation of another city to decongest Kampala.
This was while legislators considered the second five-year National Development Plan (NDPII) to be implemented from 2015/2016 to 2020/2021 financial year.
In Vision 2040, government proposed four regional cities including Arua, Gulu, Mbale, and Mbarara, and five strategic cities which include Hoima for oil, Nakasongola and Jinja as industrial cities, Fort Portal as a tourism city and Moroto for mining.
The Kampala case
In 2013, a group of lawyers under their umbrella Catholic Lawyers Society petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging the presence in Parliament of Kampala Woman MP Nabilah Naggayi Sempala.
The lawyers led by Masaka district local council chairperson, Jude Mbabaali, argued that Kampala shouldn't have a woman MP since it ceased to be a district in accordance with Article 5 of the constitution and became Kampala Capital City Authority administered by the central government.
They based their argument on the passing of the Kampala Capital City Authority Act, 2010. On December 28 2010, President Museveni assented to Kampala Capital Bill whose object was to establish in accordance with Article 5 of the constitution.
Nabilah Sempala was jointly sued along with the Electoral Commission and the Attorney General.
In April last year, Eric Sabiti a lawyer for the Electoral Commission told the Constitutional Court that Naggayi cannot represent Kampala City as a Woman MP because it is not a district. Sabiti submitted that Woman parliamentary elections for Kampala were held under the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005, which provides for the representation of women MPs for both a district and city. This, he said, contravened some sections of the Constitution.