UGANDA, Kasese | Real Muloodi News | The Basongora community, primarily pastoralists, and the Bakonzo community, mainly cultivators, have been in a long-standing land dispute over 1,452 hectares of land in Ntoko, Kitswamba Sub-county in Kasese District.
Last month, the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development released a survey report directing the district leadership to open boundaries on the land. However, the Basongora have protested against the move, accusing district officials of siding with Bakonzo to grab their land.
The Basongora pastoralists claim that the whole piece of land belongs to the community to graze their animals, and the opening of the boundaries would lead to them losing most of their land to the Bakonzo community. The Bakonzo community on the other hand, say they cannot grow crops because of the dispute.
The survey report allocated 310 hectares to cultivators, 350 hectares to pastoralists, and 600 hectares to the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
The remaining 400 hectares have not yet been allocated to any party.
Basongora Protest Against the Opening of Boundaries
Since Thursday 2nd, March 2023, the Basongora community tried to block district leaders from accessing the land, saying they were not involved in the survey process.
Mr John Mugume, a Basongora pastoralist, said they would not tolerate the demarcation and splitting of their land as they have the freedom to graze from any part of the land.
“We have the freedom to graze from any part of this land and therefore we shall not tolerate the demarcation and splitting of our land,” he said.
District Leaders’ Conflict of Interest
The chairman of Kitswamba Sub-county, Mr Yofesi Katenene, has called for district leaders to distance themselves from the matter due to a conflict of interest.
He alleges that some leaders are illegally soliciting money from non-residents of the area to secure pieces of land once the matter is resolved.
“It is alleged that some leaders are illegally soliciting money from people who are not even residents of the area to secure for them pieces of land once the matter is resolved,” he said.
The village chairperson of Kayanja I, Mr Richard Nankunda, accused the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Lt. Joe Walusimbi, of favouritism, saying that instead of being a mediator, the RDC is more interested in a specific group of people owning the land.
“Instead of being the mediator, the RDC is more interested in a specific group of people (not named) to own the land,” he said.
However, Mr Walusimbi dismissed the claims, saying that no one would be evicted, and they were interested in establishing the truth.
Mr Walusimbi also said: “We have to make sure that everybody is treated equally. A survey report was released indicating the pieces of land belonging to each group but we are still wondering why these people are still in persistent disputes. We have to act as leaders to have each party settled.”
Appeal for Acceptance of Survey Report
The Kasese District Chairman, Mr Eliphazi Muhindi, has appealed to the community to accept the recommendations of the survey report.
He says that the Basongora community mobilised against the district security team, which had gone on the ground, but they have agreed to meet them again to persuade them to accept the report’s findings.
The chairman says that they have a survey report that is backed by all people who have the authority.
“They (Basongora) mobilised against our district security team which had gone on ground, but we agreed to meet them again so that they can accept. We have a survey report backed by all people who have authority,” he said.
Background of the Dispute
The Basongora and Bakonzo communities were considered squatters at the Ibuga refugee settlement camp and Ibuga prisons land in Karusandara Sub-county in the 1980s and 1990s.
The government relocated both communities in 2002 to Kayanja Villages (I and II), where they reside alongside the army to date.
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