Kasese. Fresh land conflicts in Kasese District have left more than 10 farmers injured by cattle keepers in Kabukero, Mubuku Zone for allegedly encroaching on the demarcated land that government gave them.
Kasese is a hotbed of unresolved land and ethnic conflicts that are a key factor in the recent clashes in the region since 2012.
The clashes sparked off last Saturday as farmers went to plant maize in their purported gardens which they claim government gave out to the cattle keeps without their consent.
The farmers argue that they had already begun cultivating on the disputed land before it was given away.
The injured include Josephine Nagawa and Fanahasi Blaze one of the farmers who was beaten to coma.
Mr Blaze was later rushed to hospital.
“We are conflicting because of politicians in the district. The RDC meets the Basongora who are cattle keepers while the district chairman meets the Bakonzo who are farmers on the same conflicting land, without bringing all the two groups together so that we can mediate on what to do” Mr Erieza Kabesere, a farmer said in an interview.
Kabesere who claims to have stayed in Kabukero area for more than 40 years said for all those years, issues of land conflicts between ethnicities was not always heard of in Kasese but due to poor administration of the politicians who have continued to fuel locals to revenge even when government has intervened to see people working together in their communities.
According to Mr Kabesere, the disputed land was more than 1,000 acres. Government gave farmers one acre and three acres to the cattle keepers so that peace can prevail in the district.
However, Mr Kabesere said politicians disagreed on government’s proposal which has re-fueled the ethnic fights in the region.
Several squatters on Kabukero, Mubuku Prison land in Karusandara Sub-county have asked the Resident District Commissioner, Mr James Mwesigye, to explain the alleged illegal demarcation of the land they were staying on.
At a meeting chaired by the district chairperson, Mr Geoffrey Sibendire Thembo Bigogo, last Saturday, the residents accused the Maj Mwesigye of leading the team that surveyed the land without their consent.
According to the district lands officer, Mr Jimmy Baluku, the Ministry of Lands authorised the district administration and the staff surveyor to put distinctive land marks to act as clear boundary between the land which was offered to cultivators and pastoralists.
The directive was in accordance to the Government Technical Team recommendation that was conducted in October 2007.
However, Mr Sibendire asked the residents to remain calm and pledged to invite the RDC to explain to them the modalities of surveying the land.
When contacted, the RDC said the land belongs to government and that the district had no objection to any development that government wishes to carry out on the land.
However, early last week, cultivators vowed to shed blood over Kabukero land if government reopens boundaries in favour of the pastoralists.