President Museveni has warned people in Bunyoro sub region against tribalism and environmental degradation.
“Don’t vote people basing on tribes. Vote people according to their abilities and competencies” Mr Museveni said on Thursday night while appearing on Spice FM during his countrywide campaigns on the proposed land amendment.
Bunyoro region is a hotbed of land and ethnic disputes between the indigenous Banyoro and the emigrant groups especially the Bakiga. According to the President, all ethnic communities in Bunyoro should co-exist and work towards development.
“We shall fight sectarian platforms legally and logically,” Mr Museveni said.
He said where there is evidence that leaders mobilised people to vote along tribal lines, the election results can be annulled.
His statement comes after Bunyoro Kitara Reparations Agency (BUKITAREPA) filed cases in court challenging land offers by district land boards to immigrants. The organisation also conducts community outreaches opposing immigrants standing for elective posts in Bunyoro on grounds that they disenfranchise the Banyoro from self-rule.
The Deputy Attorney General, Mr Mwesigwa Rukutana who accompanied the president said he had received copies of sectarian audio recordings that were being played on some radio station from a delegation from Bunyoro. He said the group of elders who met him are opposed to sectarianism and they want to co-exist with settlers, traditionally known as Bafuruki.
In 2001,a bloody tribal fight broke out in Kibaale District as the indigenous Banyoro resisted the election of Mr Fred Ahabwe Rulemera,a Mukiga who had defeated Mr Sebastian Ssali Ssekitoleko, a Munyoro.
President Museveni persuaded Mr Rulemera to step down. Later, Mr George Namyaka was elected after being regarded as a compromise candidate.
Mr Museveni said Bunyoro region and Uganda are strong when ethnicity is diverse with each people utilising their skills to contribute towards national development.
“If you say everyone return where you came from, what shall we do for a Munyoro who has bought land and built in Kampala or in other areas?” Mr Museveni wondered.
He said the tribal disputes are linked to land as people fight over land for agriculture. In most developed countries, Mr Museveni said, agriculture employs about 2% of their populations. “Majority of people in developed countries are employed in industries and the service sectors,” he said. “I have observed that most of your thoughts are on land and agriculture. Expand your thinking beyond agriculture. There are hotels, factories, ICT and other sectors which can employ many people. Uganda’s wealth is broad.”
He claimed that opposition against the Land Amendment Bill is being fuelled by greedy people who want to loot from the government the institution they accuse of planning to steal citizens’ land.
“How can NRM be accused of stealing land when it is the one that first brought a law that says land belongs to the people,” Mr Museveni said.
He said the land law goes ahead to require government to compensate landlords when it intends to use the land for public projects.
He said many road, water and power projects have stalled or delayed due to astronomical compensation demands by landlords.
He said government will review the compensation funds it has spent on various projects to ensure value for money.