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PASTORALISTS TO BE EVICTED IN PHASED MANNER

By Mulengera Reporters

The State Minister for Internal Affairs Gen. David Muhoozi has launched a phased operation to evict illegal and non-compliant pastoralists from Acholi, Lango, and West Nile Sub-regions. Codenamed “Safisha Kilimo Na Mifugo”, the operation expected to last for three months starting this week will ensure a safe and lawful eviction of all defiant pastoralists from the region.

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Speaking during a review meeting at the Fourth Infantry Division Headquarters in Gulu City on Friday, Gen. Muhoozi notes that the first phase of the operation will commence with the eviction of all pastoralists occupying government lands. He directed that security personnel in the region should embark on the exercise with immediate effect. Among the government lands currently being occupied by pastoralists include Got Apwoyo in Nwoya District, Aswa Ranch in Pader District, and Maruzi in Apac District.

Gen Muhoozi made the directives while meeting top police and army officers and elected district leaders from Acholi and West Nile sub-regions. Others in attendance during the meeting were senior police officers from Police Headquarters, senior army officers under Operation Wealth Creation, and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries.

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Gen. Muhoozi notes that the second phase of the operation will see the eviction of pastoralists occupying communal land while the third phase will entail mop up and action review. He says each phase of the operation will take one month.

The move comes more than two weeks after the expiry of two months’ eviction ultimatum issued by President Museveni in November last year. The President last year ordered for the eviction of all pastoralists from the region who will fail to fence their grazing land, provide private water sources for their cattle, and those without proof of genuine land acquisition documents.

Gen. Muhoozi says the eviction will be implemented in accordance with guidance from technical officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries to control animal disease spread. He says the committee spearheading the eviction will zone the operational area and place them under specific senior security personnel to coordinate the eviction exercise.

Gen. Muhoozi however notes that while the eviction commences, the leaders in the region should come up with ways of ensuring land is put into use arguing that the communal way of holding land in the region is no longer tenable.

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Col. (Rtd) Charles Okello Engola Macodwogo, the Minister of State for Labour, Employment, and Industrial Relations during the meeting cautioned the leaders against abusing the eviction exercise through unlawful approaches. Dr. Tashoora Bariremwa Optato, the Principal Veterinary Inspector at the Ministry of Agriculture, says they will closely monitor the eviction operations to ensure the animals being evacuated to different districts are free from diseases.

He notes that they have also realized glaring loopholes in the operation of some of the pastoralists who were issued with permits for animal slaughtering but they are instead breeding cattle in the region. Dr. Optato says the Ministry is already in the process of disbursing drugs to enable vaccination of cattle belonging to the pastoralists against foot and mouth disease.

Agnes Akello Ebong, the Nwoya Resident District Commissioner notes that they are worried the operation may be affected in her district due to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. She says the district recently registered 40 new cases of Foot and Mouth disease which may see them getting more quarantine extension periods which will hamper the eviction of the pastoralists.

Gulu District Chairperson Christopher Ateker welcomed the directives from Gen. Muhoozi but noted that the time frame of one month for each of the three phases of the operation is too long.  Ateker proposed that the time frame of operation be reduced to two weeks to speed up the eviction of the pastoralists.

This is the second operation the government has launched in an attempt to evict out illegal livestock cattle keepers from communities in Acholi and the West Nile sub-region. In 2018, Uganda People’s Defence Forces soldiers drove out more than 10,000 cattle belonging to pastoralists from the region–URN. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us atmulengera2040@gmail.com).

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