Labwor’s struggle: Seeking fair representation and resource allocation

President Museveni displays a copy of the new NRM manifesto ahead of the 2016-2021 elections. PHOTO/FILE/FAISAL KASIRYE

What you need to know:

  • Our nation’s resources have seemingly transformed into commodities, traded for political loyalty, especially favouring communities with larger populations.

Dear President Museveni,
Our nation, blessed with cultural diversity and natural splendour, has weathered storms—political, social, and historical. Today, as we stand at the crossroads of our past and present, I humbly implore you to address the fractures that persist within our society.  Our history bears witness to the scars left by colonialism, tribal animosities, and power struggles.

These events continue to shape our reality. Yet, one issue resonates—the gap between majority and minority ethnic groups. The words of former president Milton Obote— ‘A country without the majority and without the minority’—linger, challenging us to unravel their profound implications.

Today, it is understandable that being a minority in present-day Uganda feels like an arduous struggle. Over the past 38 years, we have observed a Uganda where national resources resemble a political chessboard. The allocation of these resources intricately ties to community voting strength. Communities with millions of votes wield significant influence, while those with softer voices fade into obscurity, raising valid questions about equity.

Consider Labwor—a community with fewer than 50,000 voters—struggling for recognition. Despite unwavering support for your leadership, Labwor’s leaders have been absent from the Cabinet since 2001. With each government formation and reshuffle, no Ugandan citizens from Labwor find a place in your Cabinet. Positions such as ambassadors, Resident District Commissioners, and heads of parastatals, among so many others, consistently elude your loyal and consistent voters from Labwor.

Despite casting their votes in favour of leaders believed to be radical cadres of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), the community remains perplexed by the persistent absence of their children from political appointments that would grant them recognition as integral parts of Uganda. The NRM, with its lofty claims of ushering in peace, must recognise that true peace transcends mere cessation of violent conflict. It encompasses fundamental pillars, chief among them being equitable distribution of resources.

In the pursuit of peace, enlightened nations prioritise equal access to essential resources such as education and healthcare. These are not mere luxuries but the bedrock upon which a harmonious society is built.

Furthermore, fair income distribution contributes significantly to positive peace. When a community is systematically excluded from government positions where other tribes enjoy disproportionate influence, it undermines their very ability to experience genuine peace. The silence of guns alone does not suffice; peace is realised when every citizen has a stake in the nation’s prosperity.

Our nation’s resources have seemingly transformed into commodities, traded for political loyalty, especially favouring communities with larger populations. While communities with substantial voting power receive attention, smaller ones like Labwor face marginalisation. The consequence?

Disparities in essential services, infrastructure, and development. It is unjust that certain regions thrive with multiple ministers while others languish without representation. The harsh reality is that we inhabit a country where every community clamours for a slice of the national cake. If we fail to advocate for ourselves, no one else will.

Uganda’s strength, like that of any progressive country, lies in unity. However, the truth remains stark. Consider this: What if the 22 national hospitals built during the Uganda Peoples Congress regime had been constructed under the NRM regime? Would Labwor, with its then modest voting population, have received its fair share? Unfortunately, when we raise these concerns, some dismiss us as troublemakers. Yet, our cries against injustice must not be silenced; they should ignite transformative change in how resources are distributed.

Bridging the gap between majority and minority communities transcends mere politics; it is crucial for the progress of our nation. Let us move beyond vote calculations and prioritise equitable distribution of resources.

There is need to address the issue of resource allocation and fair representation of minority communities like Labwor. Together, we can construct bridges that connect our diverse communities, fostering national pride and cohesion.

As we navigate this decisive moment, let history serve as our compass. Let us work towards a Uganda where every voice matters, regardless of voting bloc size. Only then can we genuinely claim to be a nation united in purpose and progress.

Peter Cromwell Okello, @cromwellokello