WHO IS RIGHT? Minister Jim Muhwezi and Hon. Midius Natukunda clash with Rukungiri district authorities over wetland evictions in Ruhinda

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The Rukungiri district leadership is at odds with the minister of security, Hon. Maj. Gen. Jim Katugugu Muhwezi, and the woman member of parliament for the district, Hon. Midius Natukunda Kaharata, over what is being called unlawful wetland evictions of Ruhinda Sub County people.

In an effort to evict residents who are gravely invading wetlands, Rukungiri district authorities from the departments of water and environment, supported by the police, conducted an operation in Ruhinda Sub County last month.

The Ruhinda Sub County, Rukungiri district’s Parishes of Kicwamba, Rwamugoma, Burombe, and Ndere are home to the majority of the casualties.

Ruhinda Sub County residents, however, asserted that their properties which included millet, yams, beans, maize, sweet potatoes, banana plantations, and tree plantations were completely destroyed during an operation. This led them to seek legal counsel so that those involved could be held liable.

Residents questioned why district leadership would trash their possessions, adding that the demolished houses and their gardens were not in wetlands.

After the incident, Hon. Maj. Gen. Jim Katugugu, the Minister of Security and Member of Parliament for the Rujumbura Constituency, where Ruhinda Sub County is located, responded angrily, claiming that the way the Rukungiri district authorities carried out an operation to restore wetlands was improper and that those responsible would face consequences.

Minister Jim Muhwezi explained that the goal of government programs is not to cause individuals to misplace their possessions, but rather to raise public awareness in the event that a new initiative or program is introduced, hence preventing difficulties.

He went on to say that the environment atlas, which designates wetland areas where people should evacuate in the event that they trespass, should be used by authorities.

Minister Jim Muhwezi, however, stated that people who lost their properties as a result of operations carried out in Ruhinda Sub County will receive appropriate compensation, and those responsible for such activities will face individual punishment.

He went on to say that the NRM is a people’s government that does not allow its citizens to suffer, and he urged the people of Ruhinda, especially the victims, to abide by the law while their concerns are being addressed.

Cue in……..MINISTER JIM MUHWEZI………….

The Rukungiri district Woman Member of Parliament, Hon. Midius Natukunda Kaharata, expressed her concern on the Ugandan parliament floor after the destruction of her constituents’ properties, claiming that they were not in wetlands.

She also asked the government to step in and provide compensation to the victims.

Hon. Natukunda told the Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Anita Among that the directive’s implementation was improper as people were not informed about it and those in charge of carrying it out neglected to consider other means of sustenance.

Cue in……..HON MIDIUS……………..

Following the condemnation of the Rukungiri district’s operation to evict wetland encroachers in Ruhinda Sub County by two legislators, Hon. Jim Muhwezi and Hon. Midius Natukunda Kaharata, the district authorities defended their actions, threatening to do so until people’s wetlands are restored.

The Rukungiri district Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Hajji Masokoyi Wasswa, issued a warning to the people of Ruhinda Sub County, stating that they should stop threatening his personnel, who carried out the wetland restoration operation, as they intend to file a lawsuit against those responsible for the incident.

The announcement by the CAO Hajji Masokoyi followed a barrage of social media posts in which Ruhinda locals accused Rukungiri district leaders of illegally demarcating their lands and damaging their properties while carrying out the wetland restoration project.

CAO Masokoyi made it quite clear that the ministry of water and environment had given the district a project to restore wetlands and that they had been granted cash to complete it, something that is necessary.

He went on to state that they are currently in Ruhinda and intend to extend to other Sub Counties after that.

Initially, they worked on the project in the Sub Counties of Bwambara, Bugangari, Nyakishenyi, and Nyarushanje.

Masokoyi continued by stating that some people attempt to fool others by pretending to be lawyers and implying that they are wasting their time because the district wants people to relocate away from wetlands.

Cue in……….CAO MASOKOYI………….

In addition, Mr. Ahimbisibwe Wilberforce Ongom, the Deputy Resident District Commissioner (DRDC) for the Rukungiri district, made it clear that they are implementing the directive of the president to rehabilitate wetlands that have been overrun by humans.

Ongom claims they conducted enough sensitization and warned residents about the dangers of wetlands encroachment to be told to leave, but in vain, which forced them to take on the role of district leaders.

DRDC Ongom criticized the lawyer’s efforts in the case, saying that the villagers should not pay him any mind since he could be attempting to con them out of money.

Cue in…………..DRDC ONGOM……………