Executive order No3: Museveni bans charcoal trade, guides on the Balaalo

President Museveni. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • President Museveni on May 24 issued an 18-paged Executive Order to address pressing issues, including ways to tackle the rampant problem of cattle rustling and the environmental damage. Below is the full statement.

This Executive Order, issued under the powers given to the President by Article 99 (2) of the 1995 Constitution, will cover the Anti-cattle Rustling efforts in North and North-Eastern Uganda, the damage to the Environment by the charcoal business, the damage caused by the indisciplined nomads known as Balaalo, recasting the Uganda Police Force into a Uganda-wide Police instead of being a Kampala Police and the problem of the Turkana nomads. 

Cattle rustling has been endemic in the part of the North and the whole of the North-East, ever since the colonial times. In meetings with the Acholi Leaders, recently, Mzee Okwera, former NRC Member, informed the meeting that by 1954, the Karimojong cattle rustlers, were already active in his area. 

By 1965, my Cousin, Kongyerezo, who had been recruited into the Uganda Pisons and posted somewhere in Karamoja, came to visit us at Ntare and proudly told us about his heroic gun battles, together with his colleagues, against Karimojong cattle rustlers. We envied him so much and longed for the time we could master the gun. 
 Where were the Karimojong getting the guns from? We were told, that they were getting the guns from Abyssinia, where every man owned a gun. 
These gun thirsty thieves, were greatly boosted by the political instability of the country. When, together with the Tanzanians, we defeated Idi Amin, the TPDF, who were the main actors, took long to capture Moroto Barracks. Hence, for days, the Karimojong of the Matheniko clan, helped themselves on all the guns in the store, many of them automatic AK-47, sub-machine guns, different from the SARs (Semi-automatic rifles), they had been getting from Abyssinia. 

The Matheniko, in alliance with the Turkana of Kenya, imposed great suffering on, especially, the Bokora clan of Napak. The other clans raced to balance the equation, by buying guns from different sources. The Karimojong clans, apart from fighting among themselves, they also invaded the neighbours in Acholi, Lango, Teso, Bugisu and Sebei. 

In 1985, as the NRA was advancing to capture Kampala, the Okellos, thought the Karimojong rustlers could help them to stop the NRA. They brought some of them to Mityana, where the NRA 5th Battalion of Kashaka and Kashillingyi, destroyed them. The remnants, fled without looking back, up to Karamoja. The Okellos, had promised them, the reward of raiding the Banyankore cows all the way to the Tanzania border. They did not get time, to bury their dead. 

When the NRA captured Kampala on January 26, 1986, we were determined to end the rustler nonsense in Uganda. I deployed a massive Force of the NRA, including the 1st Battalion led by the heroic Mugisha Karampenga. Big battles took place with the rustlers, including the one of Nabilatuk, where Commander Mugisha was wounded. 

A lot of rustlers were killed. Cattle rustling, would have been ended that time. However, on August 22, 1986, Eric Odwar, Odong Latek and other former UNLAs, attacked Battalion No. 28 of Jet Mwebaze at Bibia. 28th Battalion, repulsed the attack, but the Lakwena - Kony rebellion, supported by the Islamic Governments of Sudan, had begun. 

We had to abandon the disarming of Karamoja, to concentrate on defeating the UNLA counter-offensive supported by Sudan. That made the heavily armed Karimojong cattle rustlers, to even penetrate areas such as Apac, Ngora and even Pallisa, where they had never been before. The Lakwena - Kony, Sudan supported war, was, finally, won in 2003, when we defeated Kony and Otti decisively and they fled to Galamba in Congo and Sudan broke up into two countries, North and South. 

The time had come now to, again, disarm the Karimojong rustlers. The effort was, supported by many peace-loving groups in Karamoja, such as the women, the elders, the churches, etc. 
The disarmament started in 2004, where 41,000 rifles, were collected from those rustlers. Those who tried to fight, were destroyed - even those who tried to hide in Mt Murulongole. Karamoja became totally peaceful. The disarming had been done by the 3rd Division and the 5th Division. In order to get the magnitude of the guns collected from the Karimojong warriors, you should be informed that the Uganda army by 1971, before Amin’s coup detat, was 8,000 persons and that of Idi Amin by 1979, was 20,000 persons. The Karimojong had 41,000 rifles. You can see the danger to that area. 

However, this disarming using Army Divisions, had some negative consequences. An Infantry Division is supposed to be a fighting Force with support weapons in conventional wars, if they occur. However, those anti-cattle rustling operations, had turned two of our Infantry Divisions, into Securico Forces - guarding kraals in small groups, endlessly following rustlers on foot etc. What happens, if there is a big war in the region like when we had to support the Government of South Sudan to defeat the offensive of the White Army (Riak Machar’s Force) on Juba in 2013? 

Those scattered groups cannot do that. In South Sudan, we used a Brigade of 4th Division, Commandoes, Tanks, MOI and Artillery. At least, 5th Division, had to concentrate and train. However, to cater for the possible resurgence of the indiscipline, I ordered the commanders to, thenceforth, build re-inforced Divisions by putting five Brigades in a Division instead of the usual three. That would enable us, to handle the two tasks - scatter if necessary to deal with indisciplined groups like the rustlers, but maintain a concentration of three Brigades, at any given time, to fight a big war, if necessary and the other two scattered so as to deal with the indiscipline of people like the Karimojong cattle rustlers. 

We shall find out why this was not done in time. The failure to implement this in time, appears to have been one of the mistakes, that has created a potentially disastrous situation in this area of large scale economic and humanitarian disruption, that can lead to mass starvation of our people. 

The other mistakes have been the following: failing to organise for the raising of the nduuru (kuteera enduuru); failing to arrange for appropriate ehururu (responding to an alarm); and failing to correctly package the elements in the hururu (responding to the alarm). Which element does the kuhurura entail and why? There has also been the mistake of being slow in developing the supportive infrastructure for security such as the security roads and more water dams to stop the Karimojong going to neighbouring Districts in the dry season. 

Let us deal with the mistakes one by one: 
(1)    The nduuru (the alarm). In Ntungamo, whenever an alarm would be raised    (kuteera enduuru) or sounded or made, all the men in the nearby Villages, whether by day or by night, would rush out of their huts and stand in the compound [mukibuga). The question on everybody’s lips, would be: “Enduuru yagambira owooha? From whose homestead, has the alarm been sounded?” The different batches of fit men in the homesteads, would easily judge that, for instance, the alarm, was sounded from Barlegi and to Barlegi would the group rush, with spears and all. In today’s Uganda, sounding the alarm for security is much easier. There are mobile phones everywhere. 

Where the signals are not good, the LCs and the security personnel and the RDCs, should inform the Ministers of the Presidency and Local Government to liaise with the telephone companies to install more masts. 

The Army should, therefore, have intelligence agents in every kraal or parish, to be the ones to make that nduuru to the Battalion Command Centre of the Battalion responsible for that area, where the Centre should be open for 24 hours. The Battalion Centre should inform the Division Centre, immediately. The nduuru maker and relayer, should, initially, jump the Detach and Bigade, but inform them later. Why? In order not to lose time. Once the nduuru has been successfully made and relayed to, initially, two points, the Battalion and the Division, automatic response must be activated. 

(2) The ehururu (the response), must be comprised of the following:
i.  Out of the Battalion area, an appropriate-sized Force (Section, Platoon or Company), that had been on stand-by, must be ready to move out at first light if they are not equipped with night vision goggles to follow the track. 

ii.  Out of the Division Centre, a call for either UAVs or night capable reconnaissance planes, should be dispatched to the area of nduuru. This is a reconnaissance effort to locate before morning or during the day, the presence of the criminals. 

iii.  Some of the reconnaissance platforms have also a strike capacity. In that case, once the criminals are located, they are hit. If the platform (the machine) has only the reconnaissance capacity, they, then, summon the attack platforms - UAVs or gunships.
 This is if the groups are big. We can even use long range artillery, once the location is confirmed. This is what, we are doing in Congo in a terrain that is much more inaccessible than this open Karamoja. This is what, we are doing in Somalia. 

iv.  If the groups are small, which they will be once we have smashed the bigger groups as in (iii) above, then the job of okutooza (tracking), could be assisted by dogs. Dogs cannot go wrong. To be on the safe side and protect the canine tracking group, apart from the anti-ambush formations that should accompany the tracking party, you can add the overhead UAVs - the tactical ones. By this method, you will trace the small groups of criminals, to their hide-outs. 

v.  These criminals also use phones - mobile phones.  Those are easy to locate. Which phones were on the scene of the crime? Which were the ones, there legally? By elimination, you will discover the ones that were not supposed to be there and, thereafter, you trace their movements. 

vi.  Owing to the mistakes by the Army officers involved, the Wanainchi, for now, have little faith in the army protecting their property. This lack of confidence, will be cured because, yesterday, I asked the Kaabong-Kotido delegation the following questions: “Did the disarmament of 2004-2007, succeed and did it bring peace?” Their answer was unequivocal. It was: “Yes, between 2007 and 2017, there was total peace in the area”. What, then, happened to undermine the peace? Two mistakes by the Army and some of the civilian authorities. Part of the package for the ehururu locally, was the use of LDUs, known in Karamoja as Vigilantes. They were being paid half of the pay that is paid to a private of the full-time service of the army. 

Apparently, however, some thieving army officers, started stealing their money and not paying them. Moreover, it is claimed that their army leaders, were telling them not to shoot direct at the raiders!! Instead, they were told to shoot in the air. Who were those officers that stole the vigilantes’ money and those that were preventing them from shooting directly at the raiders? They must be found and be made to account. 

Besides, they misinformed us that the Karimojong vigilantes, were colluding with the raiders and we had to withdraw them from the villages and put them far away into full-time army service. This was, of course good for the vigilantes, because they became full-time soldiers with full pay but it was disastrous for the anti-rustling effort because the kraal was left undefended, and the soldiers were far away from the kraals. 

With Karamoja, I need to discover more about the role of the vigilantes. Is it true, that the vigilantes were colluding with the raiders or was it the corrupt army officers misinforming us?
However, with Acholi, Lango, Teso, Bugisu and Sebei, I have decided to authorise the recruitment of 12 LDUs per parish for all the parishes that border Karamoja. Even if the army has the capacity to solve this problem by itself if they act correctly, the mistakes of some Army Officers, have made the Wanainchi to have doubt about the seriousness of the army to defend the Wanaichi’s property. We do not have to waste time, arguing on this. Let the locals also participate. 

The Banyarwanda say: “Nacho bitwaaye— “it costs us nothing” compared to the damage done by cattle rustling. The other mistake made by the army and civilian leaders, was, apparently, the issue of justice. There is a man known as Acucu. He got arrested and sentenced for 10 years or so, that he served. While in prison, somebody took his cattle and his wife. When he came from prison, he told the authorities to help him get back his cattle and the one who took his wife to compensate him. 

The authorities in their arrogant and elitist bankruptcy, ignored him. He decided on his own and got a gun from somewhere and went and raided cattle from, I think the Jies and crossed them into Kenya. He, then, brought the gun and threw it at some official because for him, he had got his justice himself. He had got his cattle. The neo-colonial agents that do not understand the Afican tribes’ sense of justice, are a liability to the future of Africa. With African tribes, every wrong must be compensated. If it is death, you must Kukaraba (blood settlement). If it is any other wrong, you must kuhoonga  (compensation in kind). 

Impunity can never work in Africa. That was, for instance, the mistake of UPC.  On February 22, 1966, when President Obote made his broad-cast “abrogating” the 1962 Constitution, we had hot arguments with the pro — Obote students in Mbaguta House at Ntare.  We were enraged. How could an individual or a group, abrogate our constitution? The pro-UPC boys — Martin Lagara and others — responded by saying: “What will you do, we have the Army?” We answered: “army. What is army? We can be Army anytime?” The following day, three of us, Martin Mwesiga, Mwesigwa Black and myself, went to see Engaazi (the Katikkiro of Ankole),  Kahigiiiza to help link us with the anti-Obote soldiers in UA. He is the one who calmed us down and persuaded us to go back to school. 

However, we, eventually, went to the University of Dar-es-Salaam, not only to study, but also to link up with the freedom fighters based there to learn how to fight. Hence, Acucu, having been denied justice by the bogus officials, he, in his misguided way, went and got his own justice by raiding the Jie. I do not know why he chose the Jie. Once the Jie were raided, they had to counter-raid. That is how the cycle of raiding and counter raiding started and this where the Karimojong people need to also learn from their mistakes. 

They must get rid of this impatience and the desire to seek personal revenge (okuhoora). They should let the State revenge for the wronged using the law. This anarchic way of seeking for justice, is calamitous. How? Kaabong Distict had 180,000 cattle before this cycle of raiding and counter-raiding. The people are now so impoverished, that if the government does not intervene, we shall get mass deaths. Kaabong District now has got only 3,000 cattle.

In my speech at Barlegi, I reminded the Karimojong delegation of the Pian woman that confessed in the 2004 disarmament, that she had been widowed nine times, with each husband dying by the gun. 

The Woman MP for Kotido, Ms Margarete Aachilla Aleper, pointed out that the woman that got married nine times and got widowed, was lucky and the situation was better then. That today, there are no men, to inherit the widows. That the society of Karamoja is now manless    (without men to inherit the   widows).   While   I   denounce   the bankruptcy of the government officials, I also denounce impatience of  of the Karimojong actors. The correct way is put pressure on the State to revenge for them on their behalf for whatever injustice they suffered. The incurable mistakes by UPC and its offshoots (e.g. Amin), forced us to waste 20 years (1966-1986) to regain the freedom of Uganda, but at a great cost. It should never be the first option to use violence, vii. As part of the ehururu (response), the Country: 

Police must stop  stop being Police and become Uganda Police as it was planned to be. The police are now 52,000 people. However, these people are not in the countryside. Are they in Kampala? possibly. When we had killings in Masaka, I analysed the situation and advised the police to have a credible presence at the sub-county. I advised them to have 18 police personnel at each sub-county with three motor-cycles. Why 18? I want 12 of them to be uniformed police, able to move out in squads (three persons per squad), or in half a section (six persons), to respond to an emergency and leave another six to guard the police station. Then the other six, can do other jobs such as CID etc. We have about 2000 sub-counties in Uganda and if each takes 18 persons, the whole effort will take 36,000 persons. It leaves a balance of another 16,000 persons, that can do   other jobs - CID at the centre, Riot Police, Traffic, Canine, Cyber secuity etc. Since I did not get counter proposals, I now direct the police, to implement this directive in the next three years. 

The countryside, is under-policed. That is why people, use mob-justice. Could it be that cities and towns are overcrowded with persons, even if they are not over-policed? Anyway, my directive now is, 18 police persons per sub-county, in three years. Each police sub-county group must have three motor-cycles. 

(3)  In order to assist the anti-rustling efforts, I direct that the security roads must be worked on. The security road that starts from Lake Bisina, all the way to Abim and Orom in Kitgum, the one along the Kenya-border, starting from some point in Amudat and hitting Mount Moroto at its southern portion, skirting Mount Moroto to the West and continuing parallel to the border towards the high mountain known as Mt Singira, where our border ends, as well as the other inter-connected roads that may be deemed necessary. 
This will help the army and police, to move rapidly in the area in the case of need. 

(4)  The corruption of some elements in the security forces in Northern Uganda, is not only shameful and discrediting the UPDF and other security groups and government agencies but is a danger to the environment.   One   form   of is in   the phenomenon of the charcoal business. The people in charge of the Environment and Forestry, allow this destructive business to go on massively. 

Apparently, armed people escort this charcoal. Where are these armed guards coming from? Who is providing them? That question must be answered. All the same, I have now decided, to ban all charcoal burning and trade in Northern and Northeast Uganda (Karamoja, Teso, Lango, Acholi and West Nile). These charcoal burners and traders are so bankrupt that they even cut the famous shea-butter trees known as moo yaa in Acholi. 

As a consequence, the locals now hold the security people, in great contempt. In order to save the environment and also the reputation of the NRM, I, therefore, hereby ban the cutting of trees for charcoal burning. However, without greed, charcoal burning could assist ranching. How? Part of the problem of ranching are thickets (enshaka), un-wanted and unuseful trees. These thickets would comprise Kayuyuki (ekihuukyi — camara lantana),  ebishekashekye, entobotobo, emituungu, emikwantangwe and aggressive trees like obugaando [obusaana- acacia hohii). 

In symbiotic arrangements, farmers in the West, engage charcoal burners, to clear the thickets and unwanted trees, such as the accacia hohii and convert the cut trees into charcoal that they sell. You end up with well cleared farms that retain the good shade trees such as emisisa (albezia), which is also nitrogen fixing, eminyinya, emikoma, etc. 

However, under the ban I have imposed, it must only be the Minister of Environment on the recommendation of the RDC, that will authorise that symbiotic charcoal burning in that area I have indicated. 

(5)  Then, there is the issue of Balaalo. These are indisciplined cattle keepers from Ankole - Mpororo, ancient Bunyoro, parts of Congo, Karagwe in Tanzania and Rwanda, who move from their traditional areas and move to other areas of Uganda but do so in illegal ways. Having learnt the techniques of some modern farming in the cattle corridor, they come to acquire land in the areas of Uganda that have not been their traditional areas — e.g. Acholi, Lango, Teso, etc. The problem is that, they come to those areas illegally or manipulatively. There, the mistakes are two. 

First, they claim to have bought land from so and so. The problem, however, is that land in the North, is communally owned for most of the time. With such land, nobody can legally sell it to anybody without the permission of the clan or family. These sells are, therefore, null and void. 

Secondly, even if they were to be legally owning the land, nobody should bring livestock to an area, if he has not fenced the land, provided water, etc., otherwise, that livestock will commit the sin of okwonesa (cattle trampling the crops of Wanainchi). 

I, therefore, completely ban the illegal presence of Balaalo in the Northern Uganda districts. This does not mean that the Balaalo, like other Ugandans, cannot buy land and settle in Northern Uganda. However, on account of the two mistakes above, that fight cannot be enjoyed. By the authority of this Executive Order, no mulaalo should settle and bring cattle to settle and bring cattle to Northern Uganda, except with the permission of the Minister of Lands and the Minister of Agriculture. Those Ministers can only give that permission, if the two problems are addressed.

I, therefore, direct all government agencies to ensure that these Balaalo, are expelled from the indicated areas by the end of June. 

The Attorney - General, should also bring a draft of a law criminalising nomadism. A wrong doer could serve seven years in prison for bringing cattle to Northern Uganda illegally. The Attorney General, to also provide for the confiscation of the cattle of the Balaalo involved in entering the indicated areas, illegally. 

To the turkanas
Finally, the issue of the Turkana. This is another  destabilising factor. On account of our Pan-Aficanist ideology, we have allowed our Turkana brothers and sisters to settle in Karamoja around the Kobebe dam, where the problem of water has been solved. However, in Kenya, they have not carried out disarmament. That is their issue.    However, long ago, I ordered these  Turkanas to never bring guns in Uganda. They should just come and graze their cattle minus being armed. They, however, do not listen to this. Instead, they raid our disarmed Karimojong, kill people, rape, etc. They are said to have raided 2,245 cattle from the Jie. They killed our three geologists, one officer and a soldier, that were guarding them. I now direct that this Turkana nonsense, must stop. Hence, the following steps must be taken: 

i.     The Turkana must never come to Uganda with guns. 
Anybody who does so, must be arrested and charged with terrorism by a Court Martial. 

ii.     The killers of the Geologists, must be handed to us for trial of murder. The guns were handed back to the government of Uganda, but not the killers. In the alternative, the killers, with the co-ordination of the governments of Kenya and Uganda, should kukaraba (blood-settlement — mato-putj, to the families of the deceased. The price of the kukaraba cannot be the traditional one of a few cows. It must be adjusted to the full value of what the deceased would have contributed in his/her life, which life was cut-short by those criminals. 
iii. Through the co-ordination of the Governments of Kenya and Uganda, the Turkana must bring back to the victim communities the number of cattle equal to the cattle they stole from them. Here caution should be exercised because our own people could be exaggerating the numbers. In order to ease the task of cattle identification, the Kenya Government and Uganda Government should co-ordinate on cattle — branding to show district and sub-county of the respective cattle populations. 

iv.  I give the Turkana population, six months to implement my directives. If, however, the issue of the guns illegally entering Uganda, the hand-over of the criminals who killed our Geologists or the use of traditional justice and return of the stolen cattle, are not resolved, I will have no alternative but to expel all the Kenyan Turkanas and their cattle and they will never be allowed to re-enter Uganda with their cattle. 

The writer is the President of the Republic of Uganda.