Residents of Buwunga sub county, Masaka district, on the shores of Lake Victoria can now breathe a sigh of relief after the Minister of Defence suspended their evictions by UPDF.
Adolf Mwesige on Wednesday suspended the eviction until thorough investigations are done. The UPDF last week gave the residents in the two villages a five-day ultimatum to vacate an area that they have called home for generations. The deadline ends today (Thursday).
Mwesige stunned MPs when he said he was not aware of the evictions by UPDF despite being a minister in charge of the sector.
“I am just hearing this matter for the first time. If it’s true that UPDF is evicting people, then I will have to suspend the eviction until I have done thorough investigations,” he said.
He was responding to concerns raised by Florence Namayanja (Bukoto East) during the plenary.
On Tuesday, Namayanja asked parliament to task the line minister to explain where UPDF derives powers to evict people from an area that they have called home for generations.
According to Namayanja, UPDF officers who are currently cracking down on illegal fishing on all Uganda’s water bodies as part of government’s concerted efforts to forestall depletion of the country’s fish stocks accuse the locals of all manner of illicit fishing.
“Residents of these two villages have nowhere to go. They have called these two villages home for generations,” Namayanja said, exhorting parliament to suspend the imminent eviction of the residents in the two villages until government proffers an explanation.
During the discussion, members complained that the UPDF rather than protecting people, they have turned against them.
The MPs said the UPDF confiscate boats on the lake and yet they are no other means of transport.
“Boats are the only means of transport we have. Now people are stack and we don’t know what to do,” one MP from Kalangala complained.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah asked the minister to investigate the complaints and report back