Parliament has asked President Yoweri Museveni to intervene into the planned process of evicting people from and around Zooka forest and game reserve an area that is situated in Apaa Parish, Paboo Sub County in Amuru district.
The request by parliament chaired by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah came after the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kiiza asked government to explain the continuous land conflicts between the Madi and the Acholi as government resolved that both encroached on game reserve’s land.
“Given that the president has taken the initiative to have a permanent solution to this problem, any activities on the remaining land should cease until the he gets on the ground. The earlier the president goes there, the better for all of us,” said Oulanyah.
According to a report presented by the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, out of the 827 square miles of the land in question, locals have been evicted from 400 square Miles.
“There is no conflict among the people; the conflict is instigated by some leaders who instead of going to courts of law want to incite violence. Despite the demarcation, locals from Gulu, Adjumani and Amuru districts continue to encroach on the forest reserve,” he said in parliament.
He regretted the incident of March 23, 2018 where one of the locals was shot dead by the patrol team, “It is unfortunate that a group of 20 youths suspected to have been poachers, and armed with bows and arrows, attacked a patrol team, the team had tried to avoid confrontation with the hostile group and retreated from the attackers who continued to pursue them,” said Kamuntu.
The First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali also appealed to MPs to allow the president to resolve the issue, “President Museveni has already committed to solving the Apaa land conflicts and he should be given the opportunity to do so,” he added.
“Even if the president is going to de-gazette the land, he will have to follow the procedure and consult the people of Adjumani,” said Gen Moses Ali.
However, Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya accused government of evicting the locals to clear the land for an investor from South Africa.
“The investor is already advertising that he has acquired about 42 square kilometers of land in Apaa. Government should instead de-gazette the land for the locals and find better ways of getting land for investors,” said Olanya.
The land conflicts between the Madi and the Acholi in the northern Uganda date way back to 2015 when members of the two tribes attacked each other, following with claims that the Madi had settled on Acholi land in an area stretching from Zooka Bridge to Aliwala.