President Yoweri Museveni has directed Prime Minister Robinnah Nabbanja to facilitate the process of ensuring nomads who are not indigenious to northern Uganda to leave the area within two months.

Commonly known as Balaalo, the nomads, with roots in western Uganda, have always crossed the River Nile to graze in northern Uganda, causing a lot of unrest as they encroach on land owned by the bonafide residents. On top of clashes over land use between the Balaalo and the inhabitants of the northern Districts, the crops are ravaged by cattle.

Museveni in a letter dated November 2, 2021, said the Balaalo, whom he described as “indisciplined and inconsiderate”, originate from Ankole, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and have continued to cause problems after refusing to ditch nomadism.

In his three page letter, the President has asked the Prime Minister, working with other agencies of Government, to spare only those who have legally purchased land and fenced it for grazing without conflicting with the community, who are majorly cultivators.

“Therefore, those Balaalo should be given 2 months to leave the whole of the north unless they prove that they fulfil the minimum conditions stated above: lease or buy land but also have it fenced very securely before the introduction of cattle thereon and with water within the land,” Museveni’s letter leaked to media this morning, reads in part.

The President’s letter has been copied to all Ministers and all Members of Parliament from northern Uganda. 

To work with Nabbanja in implementing the directive to kick the Balaalo from across the Nile, Museveni, who is a cattle keeper himself, has formed a three-man committee. It comprises State Minister for Internal Affairs, Gen David Muhoozi, State Minister for Agriculture in charge of Animal Husbandry, Col Bright Rwamirama, and Bwogo Engola. 

Also, the President has said that the Resident District Commissioners, Sub-county Chiefs, Parish Chiefs and District Veterinary Officers, will be held accountable if he finds out that there are Balaalo who continue to move cattle from one area to another without official movement permits. 

“Cattle should not be moved unless the Local Government authorities where the cattle are going to and where they are coming from, say it is ok to move the cattle,” he ordered.

Describing the Balaalo as either “non-Ugandans coming from neighbouring countries or indisciplined Ugandans that sold the land we gave them”, the President said that they have been invading and imposing cattle on the people they find on the land, buy land from locals and also lease land from locals. They use that land without fencing it and without extending water hence letting their cattle trample on the crops of others.

Museveni reminded the Prime Minister that the Government after capturing power in 1986 decided to end the problem of the Balaalo by restructuring ranches before giving them land in; Ankole-Masaka Ranching Scheme in the areas of Nyabushozi, Lyantonde, Ssembabule, Ssingo, Buruuli and Masindi.

“A total of 207 cattle owners without land were given land. There was nobody who had cattle but did not get land that remained unattended to in the Ankole-Bweera (Ssembabule-Lyantonde)-Gomba-Singo-Buruuli-Masindi area,” he revealed. 

Most recently in 2008, the Government gave out over 10,000 acres of land in the Hima, Bigando and Ngoko area in Kasese District to pastoralists who were stranded in the Queen Elizabeth National Park after they were chased out of Virunga National Park and surrounding areas in eastern DRC.

Their repatriation caused pressure on land in Kasese District which has remained soaked in land related conflicts that have sometimes led to bloodshed.

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