Will Secession Tear Uganda Apart?

Published on 25th May 2009

Uganda is full of contradictions and controversies. Our newspapers are always awash with corruption, child sacrifice, murder, nepotism and marginalisation stories among others. Some pundits now think the once pearl of Africa is now a dud of Africa. Currently the Members of Parliament from the greater North comprising of West Nile, Karamoja, Lango, Teso and Acholi sub-regions are making calls for secession.Secession calls haven’t been exclusive to the people from the greater North. Honourable Hussein Kyanjo has at one time made spirited calls for secession of Buganda, citing marginalisation. 

Uganda Flag                 Photo:AE Graphics
Sadly, some Ugandans have opted to vilify and demonise those calling for secession. Personally, I think that those calling for secession are using this either as a bargaining tool or as a tool to express their discontent. Thus, rather than scold them, we should exhort  the government to treat all citizens equally. Surprisingly,  the Uganda government hates talk about secession yet it has failed to address the concerns raised. Should the greater North people remain in subjugation?  All they need is an assurance that they are not second-rate citizens.  All of us would like to live in a country where we are treated with dignity.

The government’s act of recalling Ambassador Onen from the East African Community secretariat was just a trigger. Even if Ambassador Onen had not been recalled, he wouldn’t be a solution to the greater North in as far as marginalisation is concerned. Clearly NRM has radically ignored its blueprint, the ten point programme whose point number three and seven were consolidation of national unity and elimination of all forms of sectarianism, corruption and misuse of power.

Sectarianism is one of the highest forms of corruption that we are witnessing in this country. It has led to misallocation of resources, undermined institutions (as office bearers pay more allegiance to their political godfathers at the expense of institutions) and is both inimical and antithetical to patriotism. Those raising the secession voices are simply showing that something is amiss. We must applaud them for demanding a fair share of the national cake.

What I find disagreeable however is their firm conviction that individuals in western Uganda  are benefiting. Marginalisation is not exclusive to the North. It doesn’t mean that because my area Member of Parliament is a minister, I am benefiting if I have no job, if there are no drugs in our health centres and if our roads are in a sorry state. We have five counties and five ministers in Bushenyi district but only one Member of Parliament who incidentally is a backbencher has registered visible success through an organisation known as Integrated Community Based Initiative.

Ironically, there are many people from western Uganda who are frustrated given the adverse atmosphere of unemployment, poverty, and poor service delivery among others. They are caught between the devil and  the deep blue sea.

In Kampala, the talk is that Westerners are in the thing. When you go to the West, the talk is that the Banyankole are eating; if you go to Ankole, the talk is that the Bahiima are eating and possibly among the Bahiima the talk is that it is the Basiita who are eating. This is a pointer that each region and ethnic group feels some level of discontent and marginalisation. The difference is only in the magnitude with some regions feeling that they are more marginalised while others are less marginalised.

The  Uganda government ought to embrace meritocracy and in the allocation of public resources as opposed to patronage basis. All Ugandans, without exception, pay taxes and have a right to benefit from their taxes. Virtually all Ugandans are faced with more or less similar problems and should adopt similar means to solve them. 


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