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Govt’s political injustices arousing tribal sentiments, say experts

Prof Mwambusya Ndebesa, a history don at Makerere University said that there is a lot of tribalism in Uganda. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The government has been accused of creating platforms of political injustices, which have aroused sectarian tendencies.

Over the last 10 days, tribal sentiments have dominated the public arena following the killing of Arnold Ainebyona by a security guard at a shopping arcade in Naalya, a Kampala suburb. Ainebyona’s father later claimed that his son was shot dead because of his tribe.

But Prof Mwambusya Ndebesa, a history don at Makerere University, accused the government of creating room for tribal tendencies by unequal distribution of the national cake.

“We have very many issues, the main being resource allocation where we have real or perceived unequal distribution of public resources and power, it’ll bring about manifestations of ethnicity and tribalism in the country,” said Prof Ndebesa.

“Human nature must be tamed. Some of these injustices that cause ethnicity and tribalism are socially and politically constructed. They can be deconstructed,” he added.

The History professor urged the government to make such tribal concerns a national issue and offer platforms for discussion.

“We must appreciate that Uganda is a young state trying to build a nation. We don’t have many threads tying us together. The norms that bring people together aren’t strong enough. It’s therefore expected that such issues come up. Talking about identity politics and some of these issues is ring-fenced as opposed to other countries where it’s a national conversation. However, we need to tolerate each other. We have natural identities but they’re not the cause of the problem,” Prof Ndebesa said.

“We need to give everyone an equal opportunity to grow. Practice justice. Have national inclusive debates about these issues so that you can overcome the wrong perceptions. Teaching about patriotism alone can’t solve the problem. You can’t have justice without practising justice,” he added.

Mr Israel Mayengo, a retired politician, said tribalism exists but urged Ugandans to avoid being divided along those lines.

“We have some areas in Uganda that might have 6% of Uganda’s population and 50% of the country’s wealth. This creates a divide. I think the historical background of how this country started is what makes these differences realistic and almost inevitable. We got together not by our own wish but by that of foreigners. Our main duty is to remain together harmoniously. Africans have steadily complained about the boundaries the Europeans made for them. They’ve as well been fighting for them,” he said.

The two were appearing on NBS TV on Tuesday morning.

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