Members of parliament from the Karamoja sub-region have protested the appointments of Maria Goretti Kitutu and Agnes Nandutu as ministers in charge of the region.
President Museveni on Tuesday this week announced former Energy minister Maria Goretti Kitutu as minister for Karamoja Affairs, and former NTV journalist Agnes Nandutu as her junior minister. Kitutu is the Woman MP Manafwa while Agnes Nandutu Bududa Woman MP.
In a press conference held on Friday at parliament, the 15 MPs from Karamoja said that the appointments should be revised because appointing people from outside Karamoja will not help the people of Karamoja.
Remigio Achia, the Pian County MP and chair of the Karamoja Group says that Karamoja has a unique problem that doesn’t only require an understanding of the region, but also someone who understands the language and can mobilize the people.
He says that there is insecurity in Karamoja due to increasing cattle rustling. He says that such challenges need to be addressed by a native minister. According to Achia, the past ministers of Karamoja who do not hail from the region have simply been tourists in the area because they don’t understand the needs of the natives.
"We know even with the last parliament, we got ministers who were just tourists. They fly in, fly out. Those are tourists, now we have another two tourists brought again. They have again brought another two tourists to come and tour Karamoja. By the time their five years are done, they will probably not even have finished touring the whole region. What is the purpose of having a ministry called Karamoja Affairs, it is because the president has acknowledged that there is a problem facing the region. He knows, he has been part of the solutions to the region including disarmament and we're happy with that," Achia said.
Faith Nakut, the Woman MP Napak says that the problem with ministers who are not natives is that they come with a mentality that people in Karamoja are backward, and this hinders them from working.
"We lose a lot of time in the learning curve. By the time the person has appreciated the region, a new reshuffle will appear or a new election will happen. There is also a belief by people who just come that the Karimojongs have a bad mindset. When you come with that mindset, you will not appreciate the people. For us as a region, we're willing to work with them but those things should be taken into account. We're going to lose more time. The socio-economic transformation will take a little more to be achieved because of the learning curve," said Nakut.
The MPs say that the president should revise the cabinet. Paul Lokol the LC V chairperson Nabilatuk says that the appointment of the two ministers who hail from the Bugisu region to manage Karamoja affairs is an insult to the people of Karamoja. He says that despite the Karimojong being loyal to NRM, they are still not pleased with the appointments.
"Why send the same people from Bugisu to Karamoja. Are our MPs not legible for those positions? he asked.
Simon Nangiro one of the opinion leaders says that the appointment of Kitutu and Nadutu is meant to impress Bugisu region and not the Karamojong. Joyce Nangiro, a resident of Moroto Municipality says appointing people who do not know pastoralism will not address the concerns of the Karamojong.