Ugandan Government Minister a no-show in local mediation issue

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Lawirwodi Rwot David Onen Acana II can't help showing his frustration as Uganda government minister is a no-show for mediation meeting.

GULU-Uganda: A senior governmeny official was a no-show at a meeting called to iron out bickering among local officials in Gulu that is paralyzing service delivery for people in this part of Uganda. 

Tom Butime, Uganda's minister of local government was a no show and kept Rwot David Onen Acana II, paramount chief of the Acholi people, religious leaders and Gulu Municipal authority officials and others waiting for four hours.

The district chairman, Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, had earlier assured over 300 people who had convened at the council hall that Butime was on his way traveling from Kampala, the capital, to Gulu, and would arrive soon. The meeting was scheduled to begin at 9:00am and many people arrived in time.

Controversy started when the agenda of the meeting indicated that there would be a “mediation” between the parties in conflict--the municipal councilors and town clerk. Yet, neither side was included on the list of speakers. The Mayor who allegedly has issues with some councilors for misusing funds intended for municipal activities, was on the program.

Amony Francesca, the women representative of Pece Division, demanded to know why digitaries such as Rwot Acana II, Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Uganda, Anglican Church, Johnson Gakumba and Bishop Nelson Onono Onweng, Chairman of Acholi Religious leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), all of whom were around, were not designated speakers. 

The district chairman who claimed not to know why Butime had called for the meeting in the first place, said the program would be amended when the minister arrived. Four hours later, Butime was still a no-show. 

In the commotion that ensued, people demanded to know where Butime was. The chairman then informed the house that the minister had boycotted the meeting until further notice.

Rwot Acana and his team of elders stromed out. 

“I see no reason for the minister keeping people waiting like this and then he does not show up,” said Ambrose Oola, the Prime Minister Ker Kwaro Acholi.

Olaa said the Paramount chief received a letter from the mayor inviting him for the mediation but they were shocked with the show of emotions and confusion at the council hall yesterday.

Gulu district chairman Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, however blamed Gulu municipal leaders of misinforming the minister of local government about issues in the municipality.

Bitume was scheduled to hear some of the issues among municipal authorities and the councilors and forge a way forward.

The minister apparently returned to Kampala and asked for another meeting without the religious and cultural leaders in attendance. Mapenduzi said the minister to boycotted the meeting due to bickering of some leaders within the municipality.

“Some of you, any slight problem, run to the ministry and you think you are going to succeed and when the minister comes, he is given a completely wrong information," Mapenduzi said. "The RDC went to invite him, it was not possible. Again I was called to talk to him. And I pleaded with him and I said Honorable minister, even if people who have come are not needed, it would be out of courtesy to come and push the meeting to another day. But the minister said he strictly wanted the local leaders….” 

Alfred Oluba, a local leader said the minster should have come to hear their problems despite the presence of other guests in the meeting. Oluba cited poor management of the municipality by the Town Clerk and the mayor which is hindering service delivery to voters.

Since June, Gulu Municipal council has had conflicts in leadership. Recently, a group of councilors, termed rebels, locked the office of the town clerk over corruption allegations.

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