Opposing Museveni’s Land Grab

Tell me, how are the Acholi people going to benefit from a sugar cane factory? The jobs provided by sugar cane plantations are menial labor jobs with low pay and limited skill set type of careers.

[Africa: Uganda Commentary]

Daniel Omara Atubo, the Ugandan Lands Minister hailing from the Northern part of Uganda and now regarded with much suspicion by his people is playing a very dangerous game.

Atubo in his capacity as the lands minister, is oblivious to the fact that land issues transcend political dynasties and cross multiple generations. The thought of selling 40,000 hectares of land in Acholi for sugarcane production is ridiculous and short sighted.

Tell me, how are the Acholi people going to benefit from a sugar cane factory? The jobs provided by sugar cane plantations are menial labor jobs with low pay and limited skill set type of careers.

While other countries and regions are seeking investment that require learned skill sets to enable international competition, President Yoweri Museveni further wants to enslave Acholi people by locking thousands of them to be sugar cane laborers. This would mean no education required for these Acholi to keep them continually in labor. This is similar to the prevailing conditions and lifestyles in the concentration IDPs where much of the population is now confined.

Sugar cane plantations are consistent with the labor exploitative mentality of the Madhvani companies that are seeking the land for sugar cane production. The Madhvani’s sugar plantations now in the south actually import laborers from the North and North West of the country. These laborers are badly treated but out of desperation for jobs, and consideration for what other alternatives are left for them, they still remain their.

There is a high dropout rate for laborers from Southern Uganda in these plantations. So there you have it. Northerners are to be exploited again.

Has anyone told Museveni that the International Commodity Price for Sugar Cane has dropped by 7% in the last two years and has been steadily declining by 15% in the last four years? The Western world is cutting down on the consumption of sugar and salt as unhealthy choices. So demand has continually declined.

However our illustrious far-sighted leader wants to commit 40,000 hectares of Acholi Land with over 8,000 laborers to this “investment” choice. Tell me if there isn’t something wrong with this equation?

There are now healthier alternatives to sugarcane like sugar beats which are less labor intensive. There are also synthetic sugars and esters used in industrial productions, that are half as costly as natural sugar from sugar cane. So with waning demand, lower price, cheaper alternatives, who in their right mind would want to commit a chunk of their land to such ventures? If Omara Atubo or Rwot Acana and their cronies support this venture, then they are truly not working in the best interest of Acholi. Atubo in selling off Uganda Land to Museveni’s investor friends is literary choosing the wrong battle with his own people.

Museveni’s government like no other Uganda government before, has sold prime Kampala city school lands to cronies and family friends. It is becoming apparent that Museveni wants Buganda and Acholi lands for his friends in the name of “investment.”

As land becomes scarce in Kampala, fundamental property like lands for schools, hospitals, military barracks, are being sold and these institutions are being relocated on the outskirts of Kampala or asked to utilize smaller areas for same operations.

All these land reforms are being done under Atubo’s reign as lands minister. In Developed countries a reverse trend of such activities are is happening. The Western world spends lots of money to buy back lands in the city centers so as to provide parks, children’s play ground, schools, hospitals and so forth. Atubo and Museveni in their infinite wisdom are doing what others have learnt long time ago as fool hardy.

Atubo as he eats today is very short sighted and does not notice that he is from Northern Uganda. Museveni’s government most surely will not last forever, but the land will still be there after Museveni. Atubo’s descendants may find themselves landless.

Acholi people do not forget easily. Any investors foolish enough to commit long term resources to untenable projects should be wary. All these wrongs with Uganda land will be re-written.

So, the Acholi Members of Parliament now opposing the attempted land grab are on the right track by being rather apprehensive. Atubo recently threatened the Acholi Parliamentarians undisclosed reprisals by the government if they united with the Buganda to fight his so-called Land Reforms.

When did Omara Atubo become Lands Minister? More precisely, what does he hope to attain?

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