Rakai, Kyotera locked in boundary wrangle

Monday May 22 2017

Residents display placards in protest against sepa

Residents display placards in protest against separation of Kifamba and Kibanda sub-counties from Kakuuto county recently. PHOTOS BY IVAN KIMBOWA 


Rakai- The planned split of old Rakai District to yield Kyotera, a new district, has triggered both excitement and public apprehension with the district leadership bickering over boundaries.
Kyotera is among the 23 new districts that were approved by Parliament in 2015 and becomes operational effective July.
Despite their divided opinions on political, social and cultural aspects, all the residents concur on the split of district.
Mr Adolf Mwesigye, the then Local Government minister, says the general argument that facilitated the creation of Kyotera just as was with other new districts, was the consensus for effective administration of those areas and bringing services closer to the people.
The former minister argued that creation of Kyotera District had taken into account the means of communication, geographical features, destiny of the population, the economic viability and the aspirations of the people.
But the well-intentioned decision to create new Kyotera District has now generated unintended consequences of disputes over boundaries with old Rakai.
At its creation, Kyotera District was to be constituted by the two counties of Kakuuto and Kyotera, leaving the other two constituencies of Buyamba and Kooki in the original Rakai District.
But the underlying difference in the political and cultural boundaries in old Rakai District has of late sparked off division between residents and cultural leadership in the semi-autonomous chiefdom of Kooki and Buddu counties, with the former accusing the latter of having selfishly influenced the debate to create the new district.
Culturally, a large chunk of old Rakai District lies in the territories of Kooki chiefdom; which has a hereditary chief (Kamuswaga Apollo Sansa Kabumbuli II) while the other parts of the district are situated in Buddu county under the Buganda Kingdom arrangement.
Previously, the boundaries of the old Rakai District and newly created Kyotera Districts happen to share some sub-counties of the two cultural units without any history of disagreement.
Geographically, the two of the sub-counties of Kifamba and Kibanda, among those that constitute Kakuuto County, are situated in Kooki County; but the new arrangement leaves them in Rakai District, a decision regarded as ill-conceived and irrational by some sections of residents living in the affected sub- counties.
The contention stems from what some locals have perceived as a dictatorial strategy by their leaders to bundle all sub-counties in Kooki chiefdom under Rakai District even when they would have benefited much more under the administration of the new Kyotera District.
Among the key figures that feel offended is Gerald Karasira, a councillor representing Kifamba to the district, who insists that the decision to deny them a chance to belong where they want is against the ideals of splitting the district. “The connivance that resulted in this treacherous resolution had their planning meetings within the Kamuswaga’s palace. The primary aim of all this was to fulfill cultural interests of having Kooki chiefdom (Obwa kamuswaga) encompassed into one district of Rakai, without being mindful of social and economic implications it may render to the population,” he argues.
But Mr Christopher Kalemba, the Kakuuto County MP, says politically the residents in the area belong to Kakuuto County and traditionally know Kamuswaga as their cultural leader. “So, we do not see any justifiable reasons to influence the change of political boundaries.”
Mr Kalemba says if government doesn’t comply with what the residents want, they will take the matter to court.
This clash has now created strong mistrust among the subjects of the Kamuswaga.
Mr Karasira says their loyalty to the Kamuswaga would remain standing only when they remain part of Kakuuto not Kooki as a constituency.
But Mr Godfrey Kimbugwe, the deputy prime minister of Kooki, says the Kamuswaga is innocently being dragged into this fight, adding that the chiefdom has never hatched any intentions to influence or change the said political boundaries. “Even if we had the political jurisdiction and power of influencing change of boundaries, what would be the essence of making the kingdom fight for the sub-counties where we don’t either collect taxes or own land?” Mr Kimbugwe asked.
The move to carve the district of Kyotera from Rakai started in 2008 and the resolution was passed in 2009.
According to Mr John Kasiiba, who was the clerk to council at a time when the district passed the resolution; the motion to create the new district was mainly pushed by councillors from Kyotera and Kakuuto counties and supported by among others former Kakuuto County MP, currently Uganda representative to the East African Legislative Assembly, Mr Mathias Kasamba.
Mr Kasiiba says among the major reasons fronted in creating Kyotera District were geographical barriers, limited budget and unequal power sharing.
He reveals that in the same meeting, they received a petition from the Kamuswaga requesting council to annex Kibanda and Kifamba to Rakai to enable him have his territory under one district, but “the general consensus was that we leave the matter to the discretion of Cabinet and the President to decide.” But Mr Kasamba, who is among the key individuals contesting the annexing of Kifamba and Kibanda to Kooki, alleged that “all documents presented to the Ministry of Local Government supporting a proposal to annex Kifamba and Kibanda to Kooki County are forged with no approval from Parliament as alleged by the Rakai District executive.”
“What was approved was the new district of Kyotera, but not adding any sub-county to Kooki constituency; any document confirming change in boundaries is forged and got from the streets,” he adds.
During a council session that sat on December 21, 2016, the councillors resolved that the two sub-counties resubmit their requests from their respective councils to become part of Kooki which they did in objection, insisting to remain part of Kakuuto.
According to the 2017/18 budget estimates of both Rakai and Kyotera districts, which were recently passed, the two sub-counties of Kibanda and Kifamba are considered as part of Rakai District.
These contested two sub-counties host many progressive farmers and businessmen and have always fetched a lot of revenue to both Rakai District local government and Kooki chiefdom and this seems to be the reason why the authorities in Rakai want them to remain part of their district.
Ms Jessica Muhiire, a councillor representing Kibanda Sub-county in the district council, said boundaries for the two sub-counties have already been demarcated and they feel comfortable to be part of the newly created Kyotera District, and not Rakai. “We are closer to Kyotera than Rakai and we believe our areas will develop faster than when we remain part of the old district,” she said.
Mr Patrick Lubega, one of the residents in Kifamba, says he currently spends Shs 35,000 on transport to access Rakai District headquarters, but it will now cost him only Shs15,000 to access the proposed Kyotera District headquarters.
The Rakai District chairperson, Mr Robert Benon, says a decision has already been taken and “it is irreversible.” During a district council sitting in February, councillors also resolved that Kooki constituency be named Kooki East and Buyamba becomes Kooki West.
There are higher possibilities that current disagreements may drag on and eventually spark off political infighting; something that may hamper services delivery in the newly created district.