First Family General and the Land in Karamoja
Gen Salim Saleh, is arguably the biggest landowner in Uganda with his stake spread across all the regions of Uganda some of the land in his possession include large swathes of land listed as follows: 6sqm of land in Mbarara, 10 acres in Njeru and 32 acres in Wakiso, 4.5square miles of land in Sembabule and 9 square miles of land in Bulemezi
However we need to delve into how this General who happens to be a brother to the president arbitrarily and primitively acquired land on this large scale. What is the mystery behind this single man who own large swathes of land from Kisoro to kabong?
Salim Saleh land preoccupation can be traced back to the period of as early as 1986 when he started eying land in Acholi, Saleh at one point unilaterally declared that it was necessary to forcibly displace the Acholi people with the use of military and armed attacks to move them off of their own land against their will... The evidence indicates that the motivation and goal of the camps was takeover of the land, not the protection of the people. And by 1999 his company Divinity Union Ltd took hold of vast, highly fertile lands in Acholi in the disguise of large-scale commercial farming run by ministry of defense as militarized working farms, with local youth recruited and trained by the government to protect the fields.
In March 2009, President Museveni appointed his wife, Janet Kataha, to the post of Minister of State for Karamoja and later she was elevated to a full minister in the same office with a fully-fledged department under the prime minister`s office, lets understand this was never about politics but commercial interests. President Museveni appointed his wife for purely economic reasons; to secure direct family involvement in the exploitation of the huge Karamoja gold deposits.
Karamoja has large swathes of arable land and is also rich in minerals, particularly gold. It wouldn’t, therefore, be surprising if some private investors were interested in it. And because Karamoja has been for the most part insecure, as a result of cattle rustling and the protracted disarmament exercise, it is believed that only well-connected individuals can have meaningful business interests in the region.
With this developments Salim Saleh is appointed by the president as an in charge of overseeing implementation of secret arrangements to put a security blanket over the Kaboong area, which the biggest prospects for gold deposits. As we speak now the Karamong are grumbling over land matters and pointing a direct finger at none other than Gen Salim Saleh, who through coercion has gazette to himself big chunks of Kidepo national parks equivalent of forty square miles that is three quarters of the park. Incidentally this the area the geologist discovered is endowed with huge deposits of gold, iron ore, marble, diamond. In addition to this the first family is on a land spending bonanza in Karamoja region, communities are being displaced from their communal land, a certain clan of the Dodoth karimojongs, approached the chairman lc iii of loyolo and the sub county chief to petition the parliament after seeing excavators, drills, and all sorts of mining machinery on their land without their knowledge.
The president’s family has been involved in Karamoja gold mining since the early 1990’s in 1995 Mr. Museveni told Ugandan national assembly that: “In Karamoja, six occurrences of gold have been identified and a Uganda registered company, Branch Energy Uganda Limited is going to spend US$7 million during the next two years on prospecting and development. What Mr. Museveni did not mention, which became public information by 1996, is that Branch Energy Uganda Limited was owned by his brother Salim Saleh in partnership with infamous Branch Energy of South Africa.
Karamong area MPs held a press conference and accused unnamed members of the first family of complicity in this scheme. According to the MPs, 6,130 hectares of land located at Kimacharin, Moruita sub-county, in Nakapiripirit district, has been sold or leased to a private company called Feronia Uganda Limited. Another 2,001 hectares has been sold or leased to another company, Pro-Solutions Limited. The legislators said in Moroto District, through the Karamoja 50-year Master Plan, a design was prepared by what they called “self-centered forces” in Uganda to steal 1,500 acres of land in the mineral rich Rupa Sub-county. Also, in 1998, the people of Katikekile Sub-county lost land with quality marble rock deposits to investors.
This, the MPs say, has been done without the consent of the customary land rights owners. The Karamoja sub-region MPs’ remarks come amid long-standing fears within the community that minerals are being mined and spirited away with the alleged collusion of certain elements within the army’s Special Forces Group that is deployed in the sub-region. SFG units guard the President and his family.
This general acting as a surrogate for the first family continues to be implicated in large scale land grabbing scandals by means of manipulating the law has to be stopped.
Ugandans should wake up because land matters is a very emotional subject which cannot be swept away ,Bagandas in Kiboga and Nakaseke are already motioning over mysterious people who occupy land that belongs to the first family as foreigners protected by the military ,they are well off yet they don’t have any commercial activity that the local community knows.
In Bulisa district indigenous people were evicted from their own land only to be replaced by cattle keepers with already title deeds and all round protection of the military. Tension is simmering below the scenes in all these areas and soon it will explode in this areas while the actors are safely tacked away in their fortified mansions in the suburbs on Kampala
Martha Leah Zesaguli
Moses Atocon Atyekwo, I will never thank you enough for writing this piece. I hope you put it on your blog so that the world can see. My older sister is married in Apac and her family suffered a lot and so that is how I learned about the camps. the Gulu Walk was rather successful in Canada to raise money to help the people in the camps. I did not participate because I knew better, the money was being sent to the government to help my people. So I did something on the side to get my sister and her family out of that situation. When I watch Ugandans say the camps saved lives, I nearly throw a feat (and I do that when it comes to stupidity). Fsat forward. I analylyzed the demilitarization of Northern Uganda by taking away all the guns. It is public knowledge that when the guns were taken away, the cattle was stolen. Then Fast forward, I find out that there are over 100 companies mining in Karamoja area. Then fast forward. I find out about the Oil deposits and the minerals in the area. The anger which boiled inside me nearly made me fly home and walk to parliament burning myself up. Then this one time, The Minister of Karamoja says "they must stop wasting resources". Till I looked at the $140 million missing money that donors had given to rebuild Karamoja area. But I am not done yet. That same woman was also in the media saying "Karamoja kids beg in Kampala and ashame Uganda". I think this one is also on my blog. The horror! So if you take everything from the people, what do you expect them to do? Trisha knows all the key traffickers of kids from Karamoja to Kampala to get them as labourers, house maids and slaves. You can ask her about it. The government knows who the key traffickers of kids from Karamoja are. Not withstanding what I knew and knew the government could not help our people, I attempted to start projects in Karamoja. This after learning about 27 people dying of hunger in Kaboong. My team does small farming, poultry and piggery. The young gentleman I was working with had friends who kept abusing me on Face Book about me telling them that GAY was not the issue in Karamoja, it was a distraction. So he got his poultry project all set up and we were going to start with 50 chicks (with feed) paid by Moi. Till one day this other friend posts that I am a lesbian (like that even matters) and I asked the young man to remember that the friends you keep can affect your life. His reply, just ignore them, they are my friends. So to help Karamoja when you are not stealing from them is really rather complicated. I am aware that this message is being read by the gentleman (my baby brother) but we have lost so much and we have to fight for our rights. How can a place which is so endowed with so much suffer this much? Back to the land grabbing. I assure you all that whoever has taken land through any dubious means will pay a price so high they will not even see what is coming. By the way, there was an article in one of the Uganda dailies that some 5,000 guns which were given by the government to the youth to fight Kony have never been recovered. Let our mothers and grand mothers undress to protest the land grabbing but those who ignore the news and history make a very big mistake. The Thunder which will strike you will have no measure. THIS by the way is called Situation Analysis, not Incitement.
For God and My Country
Born and Raised in Uganda (Bududa District)
Martha Leah Zesaguli (Nangalama)
BELIEVE! I wept because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet." Ancient Persian saying I am a Social Justice and Human Rights Activist. Find me on Face Book. All my opinions are mine and do not reflect on any employer or organisation.