By Our Reporter
Members of Parliament from Buganda Parliamentary Caucus have warned Balaalo who have been chased from the Greater North not to relocate to Central Uganda.
“We always welcome people who come and settle here and make a positive impact but we can only take so much, the land here isn’t elastic, our hospitality can’t be abused to an extent, therefore, we will keep track of this issue, and rally our people,” added Kivumbi.
This warning was sounded today, 29th January, 2024 by the Buganda Parliamentary Caucus MPs in a press briefing at Parliament.
Speaking on behalf of the Buganda Parliamentary Caucus, Muwanga Kivumbi, MP Butambala County and Chairperson of the Caucus says they have received reports that the cattle keepers (balaalo) who were evicted from Northern Uganda have begun to infiltrate the cattle corridors in the Central region.
“We have reports that are beginning to filter through that the balaalo who were chased from Acholi and greater North are slowly finding their way to the Central areas and especially they target districts of Kayunga, Ntenjeru and the greater cattle corridor,” Kivumbi said.
He said they are following this development consciously, deliberately and that they will even undertake a tour of the suspected route of the cattle exodus and try to establish the truth of that matter.
Muwanga noted that although the Central region made it simple for everyone to settle, the region is currently facing enormous pressures on its land characterised by a dense population, huge land conflicts and evictions, and such challenges can’t be further compounded by welcoming the balaalo.
“The people who are nomads must know that nomadism had its time and that time is past, it is a primitive behaviour, their cattle isn’t the owner of all the grass in this land, that they will walk up to Alaska looking for green pasture, so we ask them to go where they came from,” said Muwanga.
President Yoweri Museveni ordered nomadic pastoralists, often referred to as Balaalo, to leave northern Uganda if they cannot abide by the law at the end of 2023.
Giving the final directive, President Museveni said Balaalo who had cows in non-fenced areas had to leave immediately, calling it recklessness.
“Why should you bring cows in an area where you have no control,” Museveni said.
The eviction order came five months after the president issued Executive Order Number 3 of 2023, directing that the pastoralists vacate these areas for failing to operate in an orderly manner that would prevent their animals from destroying people’s crops.
According to Executive Order Number 3 of 2023, every pastoralist is expected to have a fenced land with a water source within, to prevent the animals from straying and trampling others’ crops.
A mini-survey to establish the number of nomadic pastoralists in Acholi following the Executive Order registered at least 217 non-compliant pastoralists in the Acholi Sub-region alone.
The Survey was done between June to September by an inter-ministerial technical committee led by Prof. Jack Nyeko Pen Mogi, the chairperson of the Uganda Land Commission, and deputized by Anthony Akol to ascertain the different aspects of the issues contained in the Executive Order.
During the survey, it was also found that some pastoralists are grazing cattle on government land or ranches. Some of the ranches are Aswa in Acholi and Maruzi Lango. Museveni also ordered that those grazing animals on the government land leave within the specified period.
“Whether you bought or rented, we shall handle that later because here, we are not handling the issue of ownership or renting contracts. You have no right to destroy my crops and that is why I have already asked the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General to draft a law criminalizing this type of nomadism,” Museveni clarified.
Rwot Santo Apire, the chief of the Atiak, said the locals who sold land to the pastoralists were ignorant of the fact that customary land can’t be sold.