By David Mugarra
As the 2016 general elections reached fever-pitch, so did the agitations between various players in Bundibugyo get. The elections left Bundibugyo District more divided than ever before. The division was majorly on the political lines which later degenerated into a tribal and religious conundrum. The situation remained tense even after other parts of Uganda healed and went back to normal business.. For any man or woman walking in the district, you will not fail to hear of the name TNS (Team no Sleep) and TNJ (Team no Joke). These teams were and still are strong political camps for the politicians in the district. Each of these camps had a particular group of politicians that they supported –emerging victors and losers, respectively. However, the failure or success of some of the leaders didn’t dissolve the camps but rather exacerbated the conflict -with both teams countering each on social media, radio and all walks of life.
KRC with support from USAID SAFE organized a meeting so as to build the social relations among the people especially those who were torn apart by the post election violence and results or any effects of such. Among the targeted group are the political actors and these including supporters and losers. For this particular meeting KRC targeted the key members/leaders of the two prominent teams of political camps in Bundibugyo. This was the first time these people were being gathered to discuss a way forward on the political situation in the district.
Being the first time they were being convened jointly, it was never an easy task for KRC peace department to bring these teams together. However with the 20 years expertise in community development and peace building, KRC employed her snowball approach to reach these members and a meeting of twenty members in balance (10) from each group was held in Bundibugyo district. The meeting was in high tensions with less people expecting a peaceful end of the meeting.
As the meeting started with participants opening up and sharing their story and how they feel about the current situation in the district and how it will look like incase the status quo remains the same. They argued about the past saying that the major causes of the conflict in the district was politics characterized by rumors, individual hatred against each other.
During submissions, the vice chairperson of Team no Joke (TNJ) a one Winnie clearly said “this is the first time we are meeting since March 2016, isn’t it a shame?” this attracted a number of reactions from the rest of the members calling for unity. Mr. Emmanuel Businge the secretary for Team no sleep had this to say “unity and development cannot be separated, if we are divided, then we should forget anything concerning development” they spoke all heartedly calling for peace and asking each other for forgiveness and forgetting the past. Members from both sides emphasized the need to reconcile and tasked each other to take full responsibility of mobilizing and rallying behind other actors to call for reconciliation and forgiveness among parties.
In conclusion the members agreed to a have a joint peace committee comprising of eight member divided equally for equal representation to join other peace actors to rally for peace. This committee resolved to have joint radio talk shows, move to the community jointly especially the most divided sub counties so as to call for peace and one talk show was held with representatives of both parties and the community appreciated the step and motive in which these two groups were brought together.