Kasese conflicts blamed on witchcraft, propaganda

Kasese conflicts blamed on witchcraft, propaganda
A Uganda policeman holds his weapon during a search at one of the Rwenzururu kingdom royal guard huts at one of the kingdom’s shrines near Kasese town, in western Uganda bordering bordering with Democratic Republic of Congo November 29, 2016. COURTESY PHOTO/REUTERS/James Akena

Propaganda, witchcraft and ignorance have been singled out as the major causes of conflicts in Kasese district during a community dialogue organised by Rwenzori Peace Bridge for Reconciliation (RPBR).

The dialogue is part of the efforts being made to end the persistent conflicts in Rwenzurur region. The dialogue offers residents a platform to speak about the conflicts and try to find a shared solution to the problem.

On Tuesday, residents met at one of the dialogues at Peace and Life Skills Development Centre in Rwesande Village, Kyabarungira Sub County in Kasese district. Samuel Kithawithe, the Kyabarungira Sub County LC 3 Chairperson, blamed the conflicts particularly in Busongora North to ignorance, belief in witchcraft and malicious propaganda.

Busongora County North was the most affected by the skirmishes between the army and residents in 2016 leaving more than 150 people dead. The army responded brutally after some residents raided police posts especially in Kyabarungira, Bwesumbu and Kitswamba Sub-counties.

Kithawithe says many people in the area still believe that fetishes can protect them from bullets, which motivates them to dare security personnel.

But Miriam Masika, a resident of Rwesande in Kyabarungira, says the biggest problem in the district is poverty that is precipitated by unemployment affecting both the young and old.

She says many youths and heads of households spend most of their time in bars gossiping because they have nothing to do. Masika says there is need to find a solution to poverty if peace is to be realised in the Rwenzori Region.

The Kasese District Police Commander, Alex Kyakaaga, blames their failure to apprehend the perpetrators of the conflicts on lack cooperation from the community.

He says the community is tight-lipped on information that wouldn’t only be useful in ensuring security in Kasese, but also help to curb social vices like theft.

Nelson Sunday Ndungo, the Executive Director Rwenzori Peace Bridge for Reconciliation, says there is need to carry out massive sensitisation in the area to develop the civic competence of the citizenry. He says many people especially youths involved in the conflicts are ignorant.

He says there is need for all actors, especially politicians to embrace dialogue as the only way to solve conflicts in Kasese.