SAMSON TINKA: Karamoja iron sheets: Karamojongs battered by the would be protectors 

I went to Karamoja in 2000 during the 2001 election campaigns. Immediately after soroti, we hit the 148 kms marram potholed road. It almost took us a whole day to reach Moroto state lounge. However, along the road, something scary happened, almost in every trading centre, I saw young children teenagers, women, youth, old men carrying different types of guns along the road and in markets. I wondered how people in civilian clothes would carry guns including LMGs-Light machine guns . As soon as we arrived moroto state lounge, we were instructed to move in numbers ( at least more than four people) not to go to the nearby borehole when few in  numbers. Later in the evening we went to the borehole, only to find there a mini detach ( Many karamojongs with guns). It was shocking and frightening to me. Where I grew up and studied from seeing a gun was either with a uniformed police officer, LDU, military person or prisons officer.

In December 2001, President Museveni travelled to the Morulinga area of Karamoja’s Moroto District, where he spearheaded the voluntary disarmament exercise. He gave a deadline of 15 February 2002, after which, he said, those found in possession of illegal firearms would be arrested. Over 50,000 guns have since been recovered either willingly or forced disarmament. 

With guns reduced, Karamoja sub region gained some semblance of peace, agriculture picked up, school going children numbers went up, banks, NGOs, factories, Tourism facilities tripled. The notion of Uganda will not wait for Karamoja to develop was erased. This had become an in house proverb. In 2018, I went to Moroto, Kotido and Kabongo through Nakapiripiti and on my way back I came through Katakwi and Soroti. What I saw was completely opposite of 2001.  I thought I was in another region. I did not see any gun on any civilian’s shoulders; I saw a new Tamarac road, permanent houses, electricity poles, good hotels, expanded roadside markets, well-built schools, a number of health centers with mothers lining up for either vaccination, antenatal services or medical attention. I saw an orderly fast growing sub-region. 

In 2019, over 13,000 tourists visited Kidepo valley national park. This is a positive sign in terms of peace and security in Karamoja sub-region. Kidepo valley national park gives you ultimate feel of wild life in Uganda. The Moroto terrain is beautiful, the plain lands, protruding Mt Moroto and the grassland vegetation.

Ideally, Karamoja region is another game changer in Uganda’s journey to middle income. It’s no longer a rumor that it has huge deposits of precious minerals including gold, phosphates among others. It would be the desire and deliberate efforts of  politicians and civil servant in Karamoja sub region to deploy every resource to make it more peaceful and safe. Investors must be eyeing karamoja, the only threat has been cattle wrestling.

The iron sheets scandal.  

As part of dealing with cattle wrestling menace for the last time, the government initiated an affirmative action program of giving iron sheets to youth and other people in cattle wrestling mess. Building of permanent houses would somehow slow down nomadism and encourage other forms of farming especially crop growing. Government mobilized resources including seeking supplementary budget to buy iron sheet for this program. The current findings are hard to stomach, a minister using iron sheets for vulnerable people to construct a cows shelter at his farm. Sometimes us not in government see things and wish to apply to relocate for this country. Ministers entrusted to run this government working tirelessly to bring it down.  Karamojong’s ghost will hunt the senior government officers that have messed up with their iron sheets and other affirmative goods. Iron sheets saga has undressed the kind of political leaders in our space. They seem to have changed Uganda’s motto to for God and My Stomach. Yet to come to terms of how hungry- whether politically or otherwise these leaders are. 


Investigations will serve Karamojongs when done in the shortest possible time. I hope that no underhand authorities will try to delay or frustrate the investigations. The President I know must be miles ahead in this investigation. It’s common for President Museveni to deploy both formal and informal investigations teams and compare notes. In most cases, the informal teams work ahead. Let us see if there will be some individuals put on the cross. The investigations will only show us how deep this theft is but for iron sheets misuse its already in the light and cannot be covered any longer. 

Karamoja -the locusts, famine & drought

Karamoja was beaten hard by locusts. Famine and drought has affected the same region so badly because locusts ate the grass for animals & cassava gardens.  Kenyan communities keep crossing the boarders to wrestle cattle. This Kajongo population have inherit historical issues, now locusts torn them into pieces, boom-Politicians have taken the last soft landing ground for them. Stealing or diverting of iron sheets would have been the last thing done by our dear politicians. Karamoja deserves special leaders who will support their trajectory to growth. Karamojas total pacification will steer development not only for the sub-region but for Uganda as a whole.

Ministers implicated.

As it is now, you are soiled, naked and cursed. The gods of Karamoja are still practicing. They will struck and when they do so, you will breed. I will not say that ministers should resign or step aside, they need deliverance. Leadership is for the sober ones. There is no justification why they received these iron sheets. Karamoja MPs should do this for their people. They should suspend attending parliament, they should fast for 40days for these ministers. They should not seat until investigations are over, they should create a situation that will irritate these minutes both day and night. 1.4M people are many to be hurt, cheated and robbed by their leaders in broad day light. They deserve irritating environment. 


Iron sheets and the 2026 elections.

Its three years to the polling date. If this issue is not firmly settled it may have impact on, the overall voting patterns come 2026. Karamoja sub-region, commonly known as Karamoja, is a region in Uganda. It covers an area of 27,528km and comprises Kotido DistrictKaabong DistrictKarenga DistrictNabilatuk District Abim DistrictMoroto DistrictNapak DistrictAmudat District and Nakapiripirit District. The region is estimated to have a population of 1.4 million in 2022 by UBOS. There are 291 district councils across Karamoja and 21 MPs. These are big numbers to be neglected. The president should this time throw a punch on those that put their hands on iron sheets. Now this political question must be solved with an iron hand. Otherwise, it may dictate the proceedings of elections performance come 2026. 

John Muhanguzi Kashaka was convicted because of LC1 chairpersons’ bicycles; we need to see Ministers facing the same tide. This case if well-handled can be the turning point in Uganda’s journey to deal with corruption. We, the public, our eyes and ears are wide open. If government fails to deal with them, the elections of 2026 will sort them. Karamojongs, keep crying, your tears will not be in vain.

Samson Tinka

Safety and Security consultant. 

[email protected]

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