- November 12, 2021
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Museveni orders Balaalo out of northern Uganda, given 2 months to vacate
President Museveni has ordered cattle keepers (Balaalo) in Northern Uganda to leave the area in two months unless they prove that they bought or leased the land there for their cattle, had it fenced very securely before the introduction of their cattle, and also land has water within it.
For a long time, people in Northern Uganda have accused Balaalo of invading their land with cattle and allowing their animals to trample on people’s crops.
This according to Museveni has created political misunderstandings among Ugandan communities.
In a letter to Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja, President Museveni said, the Balaalo do what they do in three ways; invade the area without owning any land there and impose their cattle on other people’s land or the land of the Government, buy land from the locals, and lease land from the locals.
“In all the 3 ways, their movement is illegal. Even if they lease or buy land, the question is: is that land fenced, and does it have water within it? If the answer is no, then the next question is: how will this migrant stop his cattle from trampling on the crops of others?” Museveni asked.
“Some of the Balaalo being Banyankole or Banyarwanda, the traditional inhabitants of Ankole, the victim communities on account of their (Balaalo) indiscipline, erroneously think that the Government I lead is the one encouraging them to commit aggression against other communities,” he said.
According to residents and local leaders, the herdsmen, commonly known as Balaalo, have been occupying virgin lands and forest reserves, raising concerns that this might spark land conflicts.
Museveni noted that after capturing power in 1986, the NRM Government restructured ranches, and called everybody who had cattle but no land to come and be given land according to the number of cattle he had.
“These people (Balaalo) were given land in the Ankole – Masaka Ranching Scheme (Nyabushozi and Lyantonde), Sembabule, Ssingo, Buruuli and Masindi. A total of 207 cattle owners without land were given land,” he said.
Bunyoro region has a history of bickering with nomadic pastoralists.
Hundreds of pastoralists who have settled in the oil-rich land in Bugana, Kichoke, Kataleba and Waiga were evicted in 2010 in an operation that was commanded by Gen David Tinyenfuza, now Sejusa.
However, the High Court in Masindi declared the government’s December 2010 eviction of pastoralists from the oil-rich land in Buliisa illegal, and ordered that they be compensated up to a tune of Shs2 million each.
The eviction came after repeated bloody fights between the indigenous Bagungu and the emigrant herdsmen.
Some people and cows were killed in a bitter fight which attracted the attention of President Museveni who cleared the eviction of the Pastoralists.
Museveni emphasized that there was nobody who had cattle but didn’t have land that remained unattended to in the Ankole – Bweera (Sembabule – Lyantonde) – Gomba – Ssingo – Buruuli – Masindi area.
“Therefore, these Balaalo are either non-Ugandans coming from neighbouring countries or indisciplined Ugandans that sold the land we gave them, and are now disturbing other Ugandans. They should therefore not be tolerated,” said Museveni.
“Therefore, those Balaalo should be given 2 months to leave the whole of North unless they prove that they fulfill the minimum conditions stated above: lease or buy land but also have it fenced very securely before the introduction of cattle thereon and also with water within the land,” he instructed Nabbanja.
He ordered that cattle should not be moved unless the Local Government Authorities (Parish Chiefs) and the Veterinary Authorities where the cattle are going to, and where they are coming from say it is okay to move the cattle.
Museveni also informed Nabbanja that he formed a three-member Committee composed of State Minister for Internal Affairs, Gen David Muhoozi, Hon Bwogo Engola, and Minister of State for Agriculture in charge of Animal Industry, Col Bright Rwamirama to implement his directive.
To be held accountable are the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Sub County Chiefs, Parish Chiefs and Veterinary staff in all the affected areas.
Balaalo are nomadic pastoralists who move with their cattle from one place to another in search of water and pastures.