Banyarwanda living in Uganda will petition the government there to put an end to what they call discrimination and harassment.
Last Saturday, hundreds of Banyarwanda living in Uganda held a general assembly at the Lugogo Indoor Stadium in the Capital Kampala to discuss and address issues affecting them.
Some of the grievances raised during the meeting include denial of Ugandan passports to Banyarwanda, land grabbing, denial of recruitment into public service, exclusion on State scholarships and other forms of discrimination.
“The plight of the Ugandan Munyarwanda is worrying. These days there is a determination to deny us passports, education, job opportunities, promotions, contracts, land rights and opportunities to join the Armed Forces. In other words we are being disenfranchised,” said Dr. Ephraim Kamuhangire, the Vice Chairman of UMUBANO, an umbrella association of Banyarwanda in Uganda.
“In respect of passports, our youths are subjected to body checks such as shapes of faces, noses, bums, height, etc. One wonders whether we are different from other people,” he lamented.
“If one happens to have a contact in Rwanda, then it is enough reason for disqualification. Their passports are withheld at boarder posts and told to claim them from the Passport Office in Kampala. One puzzling thing is that these interviews are not subjected to all passport applicants.”
The other urgent issue raised during the gathering was that of “Balaalo” who are being evicted from their land. Previously the term “Balaalo”, was a derogatory word referring to paid herdsmen but have recently become synonymous with the Banyarwanda pastoralists in Uganda.
“The Balaalo issue has acquired a political/ethnic dimension and although the case is to be decided by the Court of Appeal, the Government has already set its preference for the Bagungu against the Balaalo,” Kamuhangire said in his keynote address.
“It would be in the interest of the Balaalo to be compensated and they look for alternative settlement rather than relocating them to Kyankwanzi where they are not welcomed by the Baganda, and where it will only be a temporary measure,’ he added.
According to the Uganda Constitution 1995, (Article 10) under third schedule section, Banyarwanda are included among the 56 Ugandan indigenous communities.
Recommendations on the aforementioned grievances are to be presented to the Government of Uganda by UMUBANO leaders.