By Akol Madut Ngong
The insecurity that has risen in Mugali, a village in the outskirt of Magwi County of Eastern Equatoria; since the invasion of the area by cattle herders in the village has raised concerns from the community whose lives and property have been lost.
Okello Odongtoo, a Member of Parliament representing Magwi County at the Council of States earlier raised a motion to be discussed involving minister of Presidential Affaires, the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Defense and three governors of Eastern Equatoria, Central Equatoria and Jonglei to provide recommendations for overcoming this problem.
“The motion that I raise is pertaining the activities of cattle herders in our county. We invited the minister of Presidential Affairs, the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Defense and three governors of Eastern Equatoria, Central Equatoria and Jonglei but the minister of defence did not show up plus the governor of Jonglei State for the summon that had been risen,” Odongtoo explained.
Despite the proposal of the motion, some of the members who were invited did not turn up to the discussion thus not answering other sets of questions which were meant to be answered by them.
“We are still pause that the questions supposed to be answered by the Minister of Defense and the governor of Jonglei state since they did not come, we believe that they will answer those questions about the Presidential decree ordering the cattle to be evacuated immediately in the areas of Eastern and Central Equatoria state,” he added.
Hon. Okello Odongtoo revealed to No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper yesterday via phone interview that on 30th April 2022, five people were abducted, five still missing and three dead bodies were recovered by the authority at Mugali, the outskirt village of Magwi county in Eastern Equatoria state. But he stated that these hostilities are still going on.
“The governors who were summoned came up with the recommendation that laws should be enacted to control the movement of animals from one location to another and this will bring calls from the civil societies, host communities or people in the camp and cattle herders.” Odongtoo has stated.
“The recommendation of the two present governors is that they are calling upon the lawmakers to enact laws that govern the movement or control the movement of animals. We will see as lawmakers to draft a law that can control the movement of the animals that will be in line with the ministry of livestock and animals’ resources,” he stressed.
“Initially the governor of Eastern Equatoria Louis Lobong had organized the committee to organize a dialogue with cattle herders and the governor has initiated the dialogue between the farmers and cattle herders but the cattle herders were armed, started confronting communities, restricting them to go into the bushes, destroying the properties, burning houses and massive displacement of people in those areas.” he highlighted.
“So, due to the confrontation from the cattle herders, the community has finally ruled out the possibility of dialogue between cattle herders and the host communities, we were travelling with teams from UNMISS, UNHCR and the Deputy minister of Foreign Affairs from Juba then the governor of Eastern Equatoria with his team met in Torit in Magwi county to initiate dialogue and the deputy minister had to apologize to the people of Magwi county,” he added.
Odongto expressed his disappointment in the mismanagement of the issue of cattle herders in Magwi despite the contrary humble way of life of the land owners who are peasants.
“Our people, they deserve their land, our people are not confrontational, they love their land. They are loving people, depending on agricultural activities and what cattle herders from Bor are doing is unacceptable. This is a crime but these cattle are belonging to an individual not a government cow nor community cow. They are belonging to senior official from the government including military general in the army” he stated.
“As an MP representing Eastern Equatoria, Magwi County I am calling upon the government of Jonglei state to initiate a rule and regulation pertaining cattle herders. If they want their cattle to graze in land of Eastern Equatoria, then the governor or any other government official must come first with an application of grazing land for their cattle,” Odongtoo said.
Meanwhile No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper tried to contact the Minister of Information of Jonglei state for a comment but the call was not successful.