By Chris Zumani Zimba
On 9th August, 2018, a Ugandan local politician who suffered a defeat in the parliamentary elections emotionally reacted by dismantling and removing 10 boreholes he commissioned while in office. Patrick Okumu-Ringaa, a prominent lawmaker (MP) decided to dismantle the boreholes by claiming that he built them using his personal money and his community members were not thankful to him by not giving him a vote.
“Our people are not appreciative. All I wanted from them was votes. I have educated so many children, but all they tell me is I have done nothing. I used my money to sink the boreholes, and in any case, even National Water and Sewerage Corporation doesn’t supply free water,” Okumu-Ringa was reported as saying in the local newspaper.
According to local media, these boreholes have been a major source of water supply for residents in Nebbi Municipality, a district in northern Uganda for over two decades. Generally, water is not a readily available natural resource for many Ugandans as studies estimate that, around 24 million Ugandans cannot access suitable water for drinking and sanitation.
This means that the actions of Ringaa have a serious negative impact on the affected communities especially girls and women whose daily household chores and personal hygiene depends on water. In many Africans set ups, drawing water from longer distances makes girls and women prone to Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and HIV/STIs apart from negatively affecting their educational studies due to the hardship involved.
In addition, water is both a basic human need and life. The act by Ringaa therefore must be deemed evil as sinking these boreholes was at no point meant to be ‘his political guarantee’ to remain their area MP for life. Hence, we need to commend these poor Ugandans who voted according to who they thought was a better candidate to politically represent them than Ringaa. The losing lawmaker mistakenly provided these good community services with a wrong mindset of ‘voting buying’ and not public service or free charitable gesture. We therefore hope that speedy efforts will be made to repair and sink more boreholes for these affected but well informed poor Ugandans.
Chris Zumani Zimba is a Political Scientist, Author, PhD Scholar, Lecturer, Researcher and Consultant