By Charity Kalebbo Ahimbisibwe
KAPELEBYONG, The newly created district of Kapelebyong risks returning Shs1.2 billion to the government treasury due to a rift between the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Nasser Mukiibi and the interim district council. The interim district council argues their term in office expired on January 20, 2019 and their hands are tied because the government has not conducted the much-needed elections. “Most of the substantive district positions are not filled because we do not have elected leaders in office,” said Mukiibi.
Kapelebyong became a district when parliament approved it in July 2017 anticipating that by July 2018 elections would have been held and the district would be fully operational. This has not been the case.
To date, the district awaits the election of its leaders. According to Esther Lucy Isipa, the Sub-County Election Officer (SEO) for Kapelebyong, the roadmap for elections in the new districts was developed long ago, but the Electoral Commission now awaits funds from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in order to conduct the Election.
Relatedly, a local citizen of the area, Michael Omoji Ebwayi has dragged Mukiibi to Court for continuing to operate with an interim district council whose term expired on 20th January 2019. The citizen contends that Mukiibi continues to facilitate the interim LCV Chairperson whose term expired on 20th January 2019. “The CAO should answer to the district councillors and the locals for such an anomaly,” reads the letter which this reporter saw.
The CAO on the other hand says it is not his fault. “The citizen who is suing me is not informed. He should be suing the Attorney General for lack of elections and not the CAO,” said Mukiibi.
If the elections had been conducted, Kaplebyong district would have been well set on a journey to resolve some of the contentious issues in the district. Kapelebyong district is largely faced with numerous land disputes, high school drop outs (70% for the 14-15 year olds) rates, defilement, domestic violence, poor road and internet infrastructure and widespread poverty.
According to the district CAO, while some districts in Uganda are close to attaining a middle-income status as per the government vision 2020, Kapelebyong has not moved an inch to attaining that status because it is only seven months old. Mukiibi said, “we have high levels of defilement, high school drop-out rates and early marriages as the major factors affecting the education sector in the district.”
One of the aspiring candidates for the Local Council Five (LCV) Chairperson position, Richard Enyangu said: “the biggest problem the people of Kapelebyong face is the border conflict between Teso and Karamoja. Nobody knows the proper boundaries between the two regions, so if I am elected district chairperson I will work towards establishing the boundaries and ending the fierce conflicts between these two communities.”
William Alloch, another contender for the LCV position identified the lack of clean water for drinking and home usage as a major problem afflicting Kapelebyong.
Francis Akorikin cited the problem of poor roads and high school drop-out rates, plus early marriages as his priority issues to resolve should he assume office.
Winifred Adio an aspiring woman MP for Kaplebyong district, said if she is elected into leadership she would promote the education of the girl-child.
Kapelebyong was curved out of Amuria district in Eastern Uganda. It became a district with effect from July 1st 2018 together with Kikuube, Bugweri, Kassanda, Kwania and Nabilatuk.
The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) organised a community Baraza in the newly created district on Thursday 14th, February 2019, to raise citizen consciousness on how to elect good district leaders and Members of Parliament. The potential LCV candidates namely: Erwagu Simon, an Independent, Francis Akorikin – National Resistance Movement (NRM), Stephen Eselu – Forum for Democratic Changa (FDC), William Alloch – an Independent, Richard Enyagu – an Independent and Tom Okello – an Independent and the district women MP aspirants namely: Angela Arego , an independent, Gloria Ojakal- an Independent, Jacinta Atuto-NRM, Joyce Ajupo- an independent, Florence Adupo – FDC, Regina Asio – independent but NRM leaning, Caro Eric Akello – independent but NRM leaning, Ketty Akol – UPC and Winifred Adio – UPC were given a chance to speak to the electorate and present their manifestos. At the end of the Baraza, the over 150 participants demanded for an immediate election to resolve the district leadership crisis.
Kapelebyong District is found in the Teso Sub-Region of Eastern Uganda. The district has 5 sub counties (Obalanga, Acowa, Kapelebyong Ikewelong and Okungur), 29 Parishes and 220 villages.
The district has over 76 schools currently; with 10 Nursery Schools, 59 Primary Schools, 7 Secondary Schools; with 5 government secondary schools, 41 primary, 1 seed school and 1 Early Childhood Development Centre.
Majority of the people are farmers and mainly grow sweet potatoes, cassava, groundnuts and cotton as a cash crop.
On July 1, 2019, six other new districts namely; Obongi, Kazo, Rwampara, Kitagwenda, Madi-Okollo, Karenga and Lusot will be come into effect.