When the recurrent Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) broke out in the Cattle Corridor (a geographical region comprising districts like Kiruhura, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Nakasongola, Luwero, Nakaseke, Kiboga, Mubende, and Sembabule) in early 2020, Cabinet approved a fifteen-billion-shilling supplementary budget to contain the pathogen.
The abovementioned districts are predominantly inhabited by a cocktail of Hima, Tutsi, Nkore, and Ganda peoples who, until recently, have been a bastion of electoral support for the ruling Family and its acolytes.
The regime-owned newspaper, New Vision, on November 21, 2021, reported a request for yet another twenty billion shillings in supplementary expenditure, ostensibly to procure diagnostic equipment, vaccines, and motorcycles to support efforts directed at Foot and Mouth Disease. That is a total of thirty-five billion shillings for a livestock disease, excluding other budgetary allocations from previous financial years.
River Nyamwamba in Kasese (Rwenzururu Kingdom) successively burst its banks in 2014, 2020, and 2021, ravaging up to thirty villages, and rendering Kilembe Mines Hospital alongside other public infrastructure dysfunctional. That hospital at Kilembe was written off by government and no longer receives disbursements. It is the heroic efforts of the local administration and medical practitioners that have kept it operational, against incredible odds. The most that the so called government has done is to herd one hundred and fifty families, as well as two hundred and seventy Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) onto a ‘100×50’ piece of land, near the Muhokya Subcounty Headquarters. In a supreme act of cold-heartedness, these hungry and dejected IDPs are being registered as (NRM) voters because a by-election is anticipated soon.
The silt, boulders, and general devastation that the flooding caused remain unattended and have been left where nature placed them. Not even the riverbanks were ever desilted to mitigate against the likelihood of an even worse disaster in the future. Premier Robinah Nabbanja burnt hundreds of litres of fuel on a fact-finding mission to Kasese, made some noise over the substandard quality of donated blankets, and mosquito nets, and that was it. The liable procurement officers who profited from a calamity are sitting pretty in their offices.
Over the years, Bududa has been synonymous with the deadly phenomenon of landslides. Between 2008 and 2018, up to 400(!) landslides have been recorded. In response, the ruling establishment has done little else beyond proposing a haphazard resettlement scheme (which has predictably fallen through the cracks) and the occasional sprinkling of relief items for the nightly TV news. In March 2010, Gen. Museveni shamelessly visited Bududa, clad in combat fatigues, with a Kalashnikov rifle slung over his shoulder. After making empty promises and mesmerising helpless villagers with a helicopter and a battle-ready security detail, he left. Done.
The bulk of the rescue efforts and humanitarian response was done by hapless locals using thoroughly inadequate rudimentary tools (like axes and hoes), while nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and faith-based institutions came in with basic necessities and medical supplies. A UPDF contingent postured and talked about how the altitude impeded the deployment of heavy equipment, and, after a few days, left the community to its devices. The same army often deploys an armada to comb the much higher and misty Rwenzori ranges for “ADF rebels”!
Eleven years later (in 2021), Museveni ‘apologised’ (imagine!) for the delayed government response. To this day, nothing substantive has been done to alleviate the situation in Bududa.
Then there is the forgotten and godforsaken region of Karamoja! The ultimate exemplar of poverty amidst plenty. The enduring blight on the conscience of Uganda, if any is left. Pillaged and deprived of its mineral wealth by the reigning NRA junta; neglected and left for dead. Her children are the embodiment of destitution—dotting every traffic stop in Kampala, begging, malnourished, sickly, and dying! Close to a thousand have died back home due to biting hunger and famine. The people in charge of the 135 billion that was apparently allocated to fight hunger instead diverted the funds to buy and sell food for commercial purposes. No one has been apprehended or arrested.
This is the same region where Janet Museveni, First Lady and former Minister for Karamoja (current Minister of Education) built valley dams that cannot be seen at a cost of five billion shillings. As the crisis in Karamoja bakes the soil and claims more lives, the most important thing that Janet, together with the Inspector General of Government, Beti Kamya, and Vice President, Jessica Alupo have done, is to organize interdenominational prayers to fight corruption.
After aiding and abetting the rigging of the by-election in Soroti, where she spent hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money, the amiable buffoon, Nabbanja, was in Mbale yesterday to deliver lip service to the disaster-stricken Bamasaaba.
Please note that the total budgetary allocation for contingencies (disaster preparedness) for the Financial Year 2022/23 is 217 billion shillings—more than half of which has been stolen in Karamoja.
So, besides corruption, what explains the above disparities?
Mbale and Kasese are opposition strongholds, and, as Museveni has publicly indicated, he does not care what fate befalls those who vote for his political opponents. Bududa largely supports the NRA, but has been punished for entertaining some stubborn pockets of opposition. Karamoja is simply taken for granted.
Whereas one may (rightly) contend that government is broke, and saddled with more debt than it can service because of the difficult economic situation worldwide, it does not explain the profligacy, malpractice, and military deployment that was exhibited to steal the Soroti District parliamentary seat, or Kayunga some months ago. Museveni and Company know which side of their bread is buttered. Bateeka ssente webalaba!
The final analysis looks like this: damn the Karimojong (after all, they support NRM with bloc votes) and hard luck to the (FDC-loving) people of Bugisu! As for the stubborn FDC/ANT/NUP Bakonzo, they might as well die.
Foras, we are praying against corruption, and passing supplementary budgets to treat cows!
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