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Minority Ethnic Groups want Article 32 in the constitution repealed

A-Benet-woman-sits-outside-her-hurt-after-weaving-a-basket. (PHOTO: MAFABI)

KAPCHORWA – Representatives of the Ethnic Minority Groups have demanded for a repeal of the Article 32 of the 1995 constitution describing it as ambiguous and catering for only the interests of Women, Children and People With Disabilities.

The Ethnic Minority Groups [EMG] say that although in the third schedule of the constitution in reference to Article 10 [a] on Uganda’s indigenous communities as at February 1, 1926, the constitution names 56 tribes, many of the Ethnic Minority Groups have been left out.

Article 32[1] on affirmative action in favour of the marginalized groups says “Notwithstanding anything in this constitution, the state shall take affirmative action in favour of the groups marginalised on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason for the purpose of redressing imbalances which exist against them”.

“We want article 32 [1] to be repealed because it puts us, the EMGs in ‘any other’ and does not make mention of us anywhere. To make matters worse, the subsequent articles 33, 34 and 35 clearly name the marginalised as women, PWDs and children leaving us completely out in essence this is discrimination.

The article should be revisited in order to give us a voice,” said Mr. Moses Mwanga, a Benet, traditional ethnic tribe in Kween.

Ms Mary Nabayizi, a Munyara also an ethnic marginalised group from Kayunga told PML Daily that although Article 36 of the 1995 constitution on protection of rights of the minorities says minorities shall have a right to participate in decision making processes and their views and interests shall be taken into account in the making of national plans and programmes for the last 20 years they have not been invited by local governments to participate in anything.

A report dated June 6 by the Community Development Resource Network [CDRN] says it was resolved that government makes a fresh registration of all EMGs and grants affirmative action in political, economic and social spheres for the purpose of recognising the EMGs.

CDRN is an intermediary Organisation [IO] that plays a facilitative role and acts as a link for capacity enhancement of those Community Based Organisations [CBOs] among the various EMGs.

Ms Nabayizi, said failure by the constitution to specifically recognise them explains why they [EMGs] are living in deplorable conditions as squatters on the land they hitherto owned out of reach of government main services like Education, Health and communication.

In their resolutions the EMGs want government to revisit the constitution to specifically include them and also add the other EMGs that are not mentioned anywhere and are not known by many.

Benet-women-one-of-the-minority-groups-living-in-Mt-Elgon-park-weaving-baskets-for-thier-economic-sustainance-but-also-for-cultural-festivals.(PHOTO BY DAVID MAFABI)

Some of the EMGs not included in the third schedule of the constitution as part of Article 10 [a] on Uganda’s Indigenous communities as at February 1 1926 include the Basibolo [Sironko], Nyangea [Kabong], Babukusu [Bugisu], Kapsegek [Bukwo], Bakama [Sironko], Mening [Kabong] and Palwo [Masindi].

Mr Muwanga, now an LCV councillor at Kween district representing the Benet revealed that although many EMGs exist in the country, many a government leader, RDCs, Ministers, MPs have never reached there to know their problems.

“Even when president Museveni comes, he moves in his chopper and along main tarmacked roads and has never reached remote places like Benet, Kadam, Tepeth where some of the EMGs live,” said Mr Muwanga. Mr Moses Chipsara, a local Benet urged government to give the EMGs an immediate affirmative action in political, social and economic spheres in order to enable them to move faster in development to catch up with other communities.

He said whereas there are schools around Kampala and other parts of the country that are celebrating over 100 years of existence, amongst the EMGs there are community schools that are not even a year old.

Mr Chipsara called for immediate re-settlement and compensation of the EMGs who have been deprived of their land and government intervention to resolve the historic injustices.

The CDRN programme director, Mr. Joseph Mugisha said whereas CDRN will continue enhancing advocacy efforts for ENGs, building organizational capacity for effective advocacy and service delivery, government needs to develop and adopt legislation on ethnic minority rights.

Mugisha revealed that CDRN has identified the Basongora and Banyabindi [Kasese], Batuku [Bundibugyo], Batwa [Kabale, Bundibugyo and Kisoro], Lendu [Nebbi] Paluo and Babukusu [Masindi], Babukusu [Bugiri], Banyara [Kayunga and Kamuli], Bahehe [Busia], Shana [Bulambuli] Benet [Kapchorwa], Tepeth [Moroto] and Ik [Kabong].

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