Speech by Hon Ben Wacha, MP Oyam North and Chairman, Lango Parliamentary Group
Hon Ben Wacha introduced members of Parliament present and applauded LA for bringing the Langi from around the globe together. He then went on to say:
Lango parliamentary Group is a non-partisan association that has always stood united on issues that affect Lango. He traced the history of the group to the days of Constituent assembly and National resistance Council.
There are times when the interest of Lango supersedes partisan politics. It was on this understanding that the group:
1. decided to persuade government to recruit a militia unit to defend Lango at the height of LRA insurgency;
2. mobilised Lango youth to form Amuka militia to defend Lango;
3. lobbied international NGOs to start talking on behalf on the people of northern
4. constantly agitate for peace talks between government and the LRA as the only final solution to the war in northern
5. is currently seeing that the Amuka group is systematically demobilized and paid all their dues.
With the event of peace in
The war devastated our area. There was immense loss of lives, immense destruction of infrastructure, of social services, destruction of our people’s means of livelihood. Our people were traumatized, our population was brought into being demoralised, diseased and functionally illiterate would be manpower.
We should brace ourselves for years of hard work. Even if the war were to be finished today, Lango would still have to bring itself to the realization that it would take maybe 20 years or more if we are lucky for Lango to realise its normalcy. An economist friend of mine said that even if other districts were to stay still and wait for Lango, it would take the Lango 30 years to catch up with them.
Things are that bad. But nobody is going to stand still and wait for Lango. Nobody owes us a living. But it is possible that poverty could be fought and we could have relative prosperity. Similarly it is possible that infrastructure could be rehabilitated and made to look good in the eyes. What cannot be redeemed is lost or untapped manpower.
We must always remain mindful that for the past 20 or so years whilst others sent their children to the best schools possible the children of Lango never had quality education. The problem is huge.
Let us for once be selfish and talk about ourselves. We have been nationalists for so long that people have started taking us for granted. You heard about Milton Obote and Okello Field Marshal. But you should also remember that when the name of
But because we are always looking at
Nobody owes us a living. We have to fend for ourselves and it is not shameful. The message of this conference is a direct reflection of the biblical statement: knock and it shall be opened; ask and it shall be given to thee. We are doing exactly that. I hope even the most hardened will listen.
I want to end this part with a plea – it is not possible for all of you to collectively go back home to see what is happening at home, but it is possible for your association to get a representative group to visit the affected areas. When you do that you can incorporate what you have seen in Lango in your recommendations.
The other aspect of this conference has emotionally affected me. Amongst you are people I never saw for more than 35 years; people I fear to ask whether they are alive or not. If you lived during Amin’s time – we had a protective mechanism – if you don’t see somebody for so long you don’t ask whether they are alive or not, hoping he is alive.
This conference has made it possible for us to come together again as Langi from all parts of the world and I congratulate you for that. Even if we were not to realise our interest, God forbid; even if our recommendations were not to be recognised by anybody, God forbid; we still would have succeeded by being together and talking as people of one womb about the things that concern all of us.
Even if we don’t realize anything, let us make it a future in our calendar that we meet as Langi from every part of the world and talk about one thing – Lango. Even the talk itself would have made us achieve something.
Good governance, Democracy and Human Rights Protection, by Hon David Ebong Abongo, MP Maruzi, Apac District
Many countries especially in Africa including Uganda have low pace of development that have been attributed to their turbulent past and current problems, characterised by insurgencies, oppressions, one party and military dictatorships with limited democratic practices and recognisable omission of human rights observance. It is true that the said countries have fragile democracy with visible cases of human rights abuses
Inability to adequately and effectively address corruption in public offices are some of the outstanding set backs in countries such as
The local government structures in
Democracy has continued to be a desired ideal, but its understanding and practice elude many local government practitioners as well as the general public. Many people in local government are unable to practice the basic principles necessary for democracy and governance to take root.
Elected and appointed leaders at local level are still used to upward accountability to Ministries and bosses, but do not care to account downwards to voters and the common man below to whom they provide the services. This is coupled with the custom where citizen do not demand accountability regularly from leaders due to belief that they are above reproach! The local governments have inherited customs and traditions, which deny basic human rights to citizens because of the past-centralized mode of public administration.
Understanding and practicing democracy has remained a big challenge in
Poverty: This has made Ugandans to follow leaders without being critical. The people are given small gifts during campaigns and elections. Voting is influenced by such gifts! This limits the people’s participation in public affairs. Citizens are only concerned with the day to day survival. Leaders cannot therefore be held accountable by the majority of the poor citizens.
Ignorance: Despite the literacy level in
Limited access to transitional justice: Transitional justice seeks to reduce human rights violation that exacerbate poverty and fundamentally to do with lack of well being. Only 2% of cases in northern
Corruption: By National Integrity Survey 2003, the local government positions in northern
Inequality: This has remained a challenge because some sections of Ugandans have remained less empowered, like in Lango.
Recommendations & Way Forward from Hon David Ebong’s paper
(a) Strengthen good governance and Democratic Principles through targeted capacity building programmes and civic education.
(b) Mainstrem public/private partnership as a framework for development planning, implementation, M&E.
(c) Justice, fairness and rule of law: Access to economic and other forms of justice is central to transitional justice. Legal aid support is critical to enforce governance and integrity issues.
(d) Disseminate and operationalise “The Access to Information Act, 2005.”
(e) Strengthen, empower, facilitate and strictly supervise institutions responsible to enforce laws to strengthen transparency / accountability, protect human rights and promote democracy, ensure free and fair elections etc in
(f) Disseminate and Implement Leadership Code Act.
The Recovery of Lango Sub-region – A gender Perspective, by Hon Beatrice Lagada MP, Oyam District
The background to LRA insurgency is well documented and familiar to all of us. The suffering of the population of northern
While the suffering has affected the whole population, women and children have suffered the most, as in cases of armed conflict the world over.
It is against the above background that we need to dissect and understand the needs of women even as we talk about recovery.
The Lango sub-region, much as it suffered the effects of the insurgency like its geographical neighbour -the Acholi sub region, Lango has not attracted as much donor attention as Acholi. It has been quite a common trend for the Langi to watch in despair as trucks of relief items drive through their way to Gulu, Kitgum or Pader.
The marginalisation that Lango sub region suffered must not be allowed to extend into the period of recovery.
But over and above the general recovery programme, women and children need to be put in the centre, for it is only in this way that the whole community can become rehabilitated.
In the effort to ensure that women do not get marginalised in the peace process and therefore the recovery process, Ugandan women formed the Uganda Women’s Coalition for Peace (UWCP). This coalition has engaged women in the conflict area and gathered women’s voices and concerns both on peace process and their expectations on the recovery process.
The result is well documented in reports by UWPC. For example ISIS-WICCE, one of the coalition partners produced a documentary named “A Ray of Hope” to showcase the success stories of women war survivors in Uganda who after ISIS-WICCE’s various interventions including skills building and medical services rebuilt their lives and strengthened their communities.
Ray of Hope features stories of women who empowered themselves as well as other women to move out of poverty.
The documentary serves as an advocacy tool to reach key stakeholders involved in post conflict rehabilitation process to recognise the potential women war survivors have in reconstruction and sustainable peace building. Over the year, the documentary was featured at a number of events in communities in northern
The bodies of women, it must be realized, have been a battlefield over these years of insurgency and therefore any post conflict recovery program must take this into consideration.
As a result of the conflict HIV/AIDS remains a big problem in this sub region. While the national figure of HIV infection stands at 6%, the regional average is 9%. The ratio of infection for women is higher than of men. Yet, the level of tackling this problem in terms of accountability to medical and antiretroviral drugs remains wanting. HIV/AIDS adds a significant burden to women if they fall sick, because women are the caregivers in the family,
Poverty levels in northern region remains above 60% whereas the national figure is down to 31%. Projects that increase household income must be supported as this is the only way the people will start regaining their dignity as human beings.
In conclusion, I hope the issues in this short paper will enable whatever decisions and programs this meeting agrees on to be properly grounded.
We should bear in mind that “Women are forever pregnant with problems, and this is like carrying babies that are never delivered. They eventually commit suicide because babies who cannot be delivered after nine months cause their mothers deaths”.