By Arafat Ssebadduka.
Land grabbers in Uganda use different antiques to render communities destitute on their own ancestral land. The use of cattle is the latest phenomenon to be employed as an eviction tool. This practice is common in Mbende district.
This trend of illegal land acquisition enables land grabbers to obtain huge chucks of community land with a lot of ease. The perpetrators normally execute their mission at night or in the wee hours of the morning when communities are still asleep.
Through interactions with land victims in the different parts of Mubende district, the unwanted witness has learnt that actors either use their own cattle or mobilize herds of cattle from their colleagues which are then unleashed into people’s gardens to create food insecurity.
As the cows feast on communities’ food crops, the “cattle keepers” engage in brutalizing Communities and demolishing their houses. This process has easily facilitated land grabbing in Mubende district since gardens and household property is destroyed at once.
Local communities are therefore left with no choice but to flee from their villages. The area police has not been helpful either as communities accuse individual police officers of overseeing such destructive operations.
The recent incident occurred at Kalwana Sub County, Mubende district where an estimated 300 acres of maize garden covering three villages was destroyed by the cattle raiding technique.
A wider view of Bweyongedde village, Kalwana sub county, Mubende District, reflects a fresh battlefield. Buildings reduced to rubble and gardens turned into cattle grazing grounds. The village is deserted as local communities leave destitute lives.
The men accused of terrorizing the village are said to be hired by one Moses Kiwe Ssebunya, Uganda’s ambassador to Libya who also allegedly has vested interests in this piece of land.
The disputed land covers seven square miles with over two hundred community members who are now homeless and hungry.
I lost all that I had, my house was demolished so I decided to take refuge in the nearby forest. However my biggest challenge currently is feeding the children who constantly demand for the food which I do not have.” Narrates Mariam Nakawande, Bweyongedde land victim.
Nakawande’s miserable situation is shared by all the evicted community members of Mubende district. The perpetrators take advantage of the fact that these villages are located in remote parts of Mubende district with communication challenges, a compromised police personnel, sparsely populated and high illiteracy levels.
This kind of treatment being experienced by Mubende communities contravenes with article 24 of the 1995 constitution. It calls for respect for human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment for all Ugandans.
The senior police officers should therefore investigate its junior personnel who are allegedly being compromised in Mubende district as well as acts of lawlessness exercised by herdsmen. Culprits should therefore be brought to book in order to prevent future human rights violations being meted on communities.