Basongora petition parliament over planned split of Kasese District

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Petitioners before the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in parliament on Monday; Parliament Photo

The Basongora have petitioned parliament over the planned subdivision of Kasese District in Western Uganda, to create 3 new districts which they say may not address the current imbalance of interests within different ethnic groups in the region.

The petitioners led by Dr. Annette Kezaabu, say that while they support the creation of new districts, the demarcation of boundaries should address the hegemony expressed by the Bakonzo -a dominant group, over minority groups including the Basongora.

In the petition they gave to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, the Basongora noted that the way boundaries were drawn bundles Basongora with the Bakonzo, who they accuse of using their dominance to suppress minority groups through segregation and exclusion from service delivery.

In 2010, the Kasese District Council passed a resolution to split Kasese District creating Katwe District, Rwenzori District, Hima District and Bwera District.

The boundary however, was drawn in form of a vertical line across the mountainous region (inhabited by Bakonzo) and the lowland region inhabited by the Basongora, which petitioners contest claiming that it keeps Basongola in a position of marginalization since they will be in smaller units and therefore cannot participate in governance and self-determination.

The proposed map showing the 4 new districts curved out of Kasese

The petitioners also presented a map illustrating what they say is a fair subdivision of Kasese District in which the Basongora want Katwe District curved out covering Nyakatonzi Sub-county, Lake Katwe sub-county, Karusandara sub-county and the proposed Kayanja sub-county, all in the lowlands of Kasese District.

According to the map presented by petitioners, their preferred Katwe District will cover part of Lake Edward, Katwe salt Lake, queen Elizabeth National Park and part of Lake George.

Dr. Kezaabu said the prevailing conditions of poor service delivery to their region provides justification for creation of Katwe District from Kasese and it is envisaged to end several of their grievances including deliberate marginalization, segregation, forced integration, deprivation of cultural and language expression by the majority Bakonzo.

The petitioners claim that the lowland region which is currently inhabited by Basongora is the most poorly serviced part of Kasese District in terms of education infrastructure, health facilities, clean water and road network coverage despite its proximity to District Headquarters.

They further stated that their marginalization is not only in land but in access to health services and clean water, but their people are also excluded from Local Government level employment opportunities by the sectarian Kasese District leadership.

Dr. Kezaabu noted that Basongora are the indigenous people of Kasese District contrary to claims that they are immigrants.

She said, Basongora and other ethnic communities have lived together in peace for many centuries and they have been the effective occupants of the Kasese region for thousand s of years.

Speaker Kadaga said, she took note of the petitioners’ concerns and she will bring them to the attention of the minister for Local Government so as to find a way forward.

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