We have seen a communication from a meeting held on 7th June 2020 at Collins Palm Gardens, in Kasese titled Position of the Inter-religious leaders and Elders Forum of Kasese on the purported split of Kasese District.
Its from this document that I would like to raise concerns and express our dissatisfaction with the position the purported Consultative meeting put to the Minister of Local Government.
As a preamble, they tried to point out in their meeting and position communication, its well known that the reason why the communities of Basongora, Banyabindi, Bakingwe, Bagabo, Bafuruki among others have demanded for a unit of self-determination, leadership and management is due to the long term and continued marginalization, injustice, abuse and contempt which once again was demonstrated when they met as Elders, and Inter-religious leaders to come up with a position relating to the creation of new administrative units in Kasese.
To start with, I will begin by correcting the wrong impression which they continue to peddle around that Kasese district is being split. This is wrong, misleading and they are using it with ulterior motives to hoodwink people into imagining that the district is being split as they alarmingly expressed it in their recommendation number 1.
Let it be known and made clear; that what we are looking for, is creation of new administrative units, in line with the Local government Act, and also the long-term development goal of the Government. New administrative units are created for purposes of improving administration and bringing services closer to the people as envisaged in the decentralization concept.
The negativity with which they approach this issue reflects a long term hidden agenda and continued suppression of many people. Instead of celebrating new developments, they deliberately package them in negativity and claim that there is a split. They are alarmists!!! I will repeat, we are not looking at a split. *We are looking at progressive development that is coming with the creation of new administrative and planning units that will benefit the vast majority of the people in our communities. We are not building wall fences around newly created districts.
Having said that, the way they conducted themselves in that meeting demonstrates why we need to find new administrative units. They constituted themselves into a group of people who for a long time we have complained about marginalizing us. In their wisdom as elders, they found it right that they can meet as one-sided Elders from the Bakonzo community to discuss a matter for which cuts across all the communities in Kasese? Do they want to suggest that there are no Elders in the communities of Basongora, Banyabindi, Bakingwe, Bagabo or the Bafuruki? Who are worth being part of the Elders forum? What was running through their minds when they faced each other in the meeting room from one side of the divide infront of the Minister? Don’t they now see why we need a new administrative unit that will embrace and respect our diversity? Their continued disregard with contempt of our existence is what continues to motivate us to request for an administrative unit that will embrace us and treat us with the dignity, which we deserve as humans, something that they have failed to do since 1974.
Secondly, it’s not right for them as Elders, with whom we have constantly complained to be at the forefront of marginalizing us to be the same people to meet and decide that they are not marginalizing us when even the Equal Opportunities Commission proved it. Its us who have gone through the marginalization that can demonstrate it, not them to sit and say, actually as you see us here, we are not marginalizing any one. Just imagine in the early 70s and late 60s, if the Batooro had met to decide that they are not marginalizing Bakonzo, would the Bakonzo have found any sense in that? since when did the accused become judge in a case for which they are accused and suspects? Do they see the attitude with which they have been handling Kasese affairs and want to continue handling? That is exactly what we are opposed to and say, No.
They say that the new administrative units shouldn’t be along tribal or religious lines, well knowing that for all these years, they have treated affairs of Kasese based on tribes, favouring themselves against us, to an extent of calling for consultative meetings where they exclude us since they don’t consider us human enough to meet with them!!
And for our dear *Inter-religious leaders* , If you are our religious leaders, why don’t they find time to have discussions with us? As they walked into that consultative meeting with the Minister, were they within their hearts confident that they weere going to represent the views of the people they shepherd? Or they too have joined our tormentors to make sure that the subjugation we have endured for all these decades never ceases? If they also had a fair interest in us as communities, they would have taken time to hold meetings with us so that they reflect our views in the meeting to which they were going to. Their action of walking into a meeting to rubber stamp the one-sided views casts doubts on the intentions for which they signed that document.
We call upon government and the Minister of Local Government particularly to stand by us to understand and dismantle the syndicate with which the Elders, Inter-religious leaders, district leaders are acting in outing the documents that are now in public. Those documents when read, them, they are proof of the injustice we have always complained about. The syndicate in them is vivid to an extent that the discussions and recommendations are too similar but signed differently!!!
On top of the injustice and marginalization they have subjected us for this long, they have now recruited religious leaders to validate it. They exclude us and make recommendations to forever have us as hostages.
We are seeing through the injustice and ulterior motives through the move to simply rename Nyamugasani to Katwe District without attempting to address the core issues that we have for ever raised that led to us requesting for a new unit of administration. Its this kind of hypocrisy with which they attempt to name a few tokenism jobs that have been held by non Bakonzo. Jobs that these non Bakonzo acquired before decentralization and most of whom havevsince retired or died!! This is the window dressing that we are rejecting. We are rejecting their attempts to hoodwink Government that there is a Katwe District in their proposal and recommendations, yet the district doesn’t address our concerns. Let it be known to everyone that we are not falling for that bait. Our request is clear and it’s a request that is born out of long-term consultations within the marginalized communities and motivated by the continued injustice, subjugation, Malice, contempt as demonstrated in the one-sided meetings they have always held and purport to be a position of Kasese District Elders!!! Up to now, we are failing to understand the basis with which they purport that there are no Elders with in our communities.
I end by reiterating our position; We reject the one-sided position of Elders! We reject the continued injustice and abuse of our intelligence; We reject the sugar coating of Katwe district without addressing our inherent concerns. We demand respect. We demand justice; we demand an end to the many years of marginalization. We demand a unit of administration and leadership that respects and addresses issues of our diversity.
Issues that need to be seriously addressed for the ethnic minorities can be summarized as:
1. Need for a Historical homeland
2. The right to culture and language development (Runyakitara not Lhukonzo)
3. Land protection ( control of the District Land Board to guard against land grabbing by unscrupulous Bakonzo
Katwe District includes all the land government gave our people for resettlement. That land must be protected by a compliant Katwe District Land Board
4. Political representation at all levels
5. Employment opportunities
Municipalities do not have a Service Commission?? When you hear of government university quota slots for districts, they don’t mention municipalities
6. Equitable Provision of Services
With time, we will be demonstrating the kind of treatment they have subjected to us, and illustrate how its worse than what the Batooro did to the communities of Bakonzo and Bamba.