Labongo Akwang Sub-county leaders in Kitgum District have issued a
two-day ultimatum to pastoralists to vacate their area.
The directive follows the entry of two balalo herdsmen with 35
head of long-horned Ankole cattle on Sunday morning in Pinymunu village in
Pajimo Parish. The herdsmen reportedly ferried the cattle in two Fuso trucks
from Ngora District in Teso Sub-region.
Mark Rubangakene, the Labongo Akwang Sub-County Chairperson says that the
pastoralists illegally entered the sub-county.
He notes that the pastoralists had no animal travel documents from
officials in Ngora district where they ferried the animals from and in Kitgum
District. Rubangakene says the pastoralists have been given until Friday
noon to relocate their animals claiming the district had banned the activities
of balalo pastoralists.
//cue in: “Malube ki kacoke…
Cue out:… ao ki kany.”//
//cue in: “It’s today that…
Cue out:…not endorsed anything.”//
Franco Olweny, the Pajimo Parish LCV Councilor says evicting the pastoralists
will help to reduce the risk of land conflicts among members of the community
arising from hiring of communal land to the herdsmen.
Philip Michael Okot, the Labongo Akwang Sub-County Health Assistant says the
illegal entry of the pastoralists poses great health risks to locals and
livestock in the area. He says they will conduct tests on the cattle brought by
the pastoralists to ascertain whether they are free from highly contagious livestock
diseases especially Foot and mouth disease.
Okot however warned locals against any attempts to purchase animals from the
pastoralists before assurances from the district and sub-county veterinary
Earlier on Sunday, residents backed by their local leaders intercepted the
cattle and drove them to the Sub-County Headquarters on grounds that they were
never informed of the entry of the herdsmen. The cattle were however released
back into the community on Wednesday.
The pastoralists however say they didn’t break any rules since they followed
the necessary processes including getting consensus from some of the family
members and local leaders in the area before transporting their animals.
Benon Eric Kizza, one of the pastoralists says he was initially approached by
one of the clan members, Livingstone Oketa to help him look for a Munyakole
herdsman to look after his cattle.
Kizza notes that he told Oketa he was best suited for the job but gave him
conditions that should also allow him to bring in his (Kizza’s) cattle from Teso
to which he (Oketa) accepted.
He, however, says even after finalizing an agreement with Oketta
in the presence of the area LCI chairperson, was surprised that his animals
were intercepted on Sunday morning shortly after arrival.
//Cue in: “Mzee Oketa owaco…
Cue out:…de dong urwinyu.”//
Kizza has faulted some of the political leaders in the area for spreading false
information that their presence will lead to land grabbing arguing that he only
intends to fatten his animals for business.
//cue in: “I requested to…
Cue out:…me his boundary.”//
Charles Odano 70, a resident of Pinymunu village says that one of
the herdsmen had reached an agreement with his younger brother Livingstone
Oketta on looking after his animals. He however says his brother failed to
inform them and other clan members on the nature of the agreement that it would
involve the herdsman bringing in his animals to graze on their land.
//cue in: “Lok obedo ikin…
Cue out:…dong pe otime.”//
Odano says they later reached an agreement as a family to give the
herdsmen two months to fatten their animals and vacate their land since they
found out their brother had made the mistake of inviting them.