On Sunday, August 9, we received reports of clashes between Basongora and Bakonzo communities in Kasese District. The incident took place in Kabukero in Karusandara Sub-county. Fortunately, there were no fatalities.
The story: A group of Basongora pastoralists grazed their cattle in the cassava and maize fields of the Bakonzo. The Basongora were ‘enforcing’ what they say is the boundary between the Bakonzo and Basongora settlements. The Bakonzo were defending their livelihood and economy.
This incident triggered a red flag because Kasese is prone to community conflicts carrying the misnomer of ‘tribal clashes’. My fear was that this incident could spiral into another of those ‘tribal clashes’.
The timing was instructively inopportune; yet it still fed into a pattern. Recent violent tribal clashes occurred in the lead up to national elections.
With the ruling party’s poor electoral fortunes, the Bakonzo have been viewed as recalcitrant and opposed to Mr Museveni, NRM and government. Because these cycles of violence have been treated as community on community (tribal clashes), there has been a tendency to deploy political expedience to resolve them. This approach has shrouded the issues behind the ‘tribal clashes’.
That is why the RDC and DISO, should not treat last week’s Kabukero incident as a small thing. From me to the RDC and DISO: please investigate the incident and make the findings public before the nomination of presidential and parliamentary candidates. The perpetrators should be subjected to retributive sanction.
On Saturday, June 22, 2019, a group of elite Bakonzo were hosted by Gen Salim Saleh in Kapeka. Since I am not elite (in character and attiude), I only attended the Kapeka meet as a fly on the wall.
In attendance were two highly placed Bakonzo - Lt Gen Wilson Mbadi, UPDF’s Deputy Chief of Defence Forces and Her Royal Highness Agnes Ithungu Asiimawe, consort of King Charles Wesley Mumbere of Rwenzururu Kingdom. With these two, the Kapeka meeting was as another opportunity for the government to engage the people of Kasese; a problem district for the NRM’s electoral fortunes.
After the Kapeka meet, someone asked me to write a paper on how the NRM and Mr Museveni can make peace with the Bakonzo community. I wrote it. Basing on my paper, there was some movement. By December 2019, a group of Bakonzo senior civil servants were even cordial enough to invite Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba to officiate at their end of year party.
I must confess (some may call it brag), I have been in the middle of making the Bakonzo community make peace with itself, the national community called Uganda and the government of Uganda. Even with the accusations that I work for the NRM junta, I am firm in my belief that my effort will bring more understanding among the Bakonzo and Uganda.
Well, if my effort can lead to the NRM winning four parliamentary seats, I will take that with cheer and glee as a bonus compliment. If my efforts cause the arrest of people who failed government programmes in Kasese, I will look at that as a duty to my motherland.
Now, as we are ‘managing things’, the Kabukero incident happens! Is there someone who wants to fail our peace project (and Bakonzo community ‘new engagement’ with the NRM and Mr Museveni)? Let me also appeal to the Basongora community: For the sake of peaceful existence, the NRM and your beloved Mr Museveni, please don’t engage in acts that could derail our peace project.
To the RDC and DISO, what peace are the soldiers keeping if they can’t even remove cattle grazing in maize and cassava fields? Over to you RDC and DISO.
Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. firstname.lastname@example.org