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Ever since 1928, the Land law has been clear about the relationship between the Landlords and the ‘bibanja’ owners following the complicated situation created by colonialism in the 1900 Agreement in Buganda as well as similar agreements in Toro, Ankole and Bunyoro.
Well as the landlords exploited the peasants excessively prior to 1928, the 1928 Busuulu and Nvujjo decree by Governor Mitchell established two principles, no eviction without the permission of the Governor and rent had a ceiling. Up to 1966, that rent had been fixed at eight shillings per annum. Amin then brought in his 1975 Decree which abolished Mailo land and converted all Mailo titles into leases.
In the 1995 constitution, we thought that the Amin decree was high-handed and inconsiderate of the landlords. This decree was bought from the original landlords which had free allocations on account of their collaborating with the colonialists.
We therefore, went to the 1928 principles but also strengthened them – no eviction at all except for non-payment of rent has to have a ceiling. The rent is fixed by the District Land Board with the approval of the Minister of Lands. Rent would remain nominal because the peasants cannot afford commercial rent. Therefore, the law is very clear – no eviction except for the non-payments of rent and rent has ceiling.
On account of the peace and the private sector-led pro-business policies of the NRM, there is increased tempo for development and therefore, greater thirst for land. This is healthy and good. However, there are three problems: Bayaaye-minded, nouveau-rich, pseudo capitalists; corrupt local leaders, police and courts; and still unsensitized peasantry.
These Bayaaye-minded pseudo-capitalists refuse to observe two pre-requisites of peaceful acquisition of land for development, willing seller – willing buyer, and a fair, market determinate price per acre of land if the ‘Kibanja’ owner is willing to sell.
All the other talk by these pseudo capitalists is wrong and off the point. Mwegule (redeem your ownership), twabasasula (we compensated them), etc, is all talk that is off the point. A legal ‘kibanja’ owner or a bona-fide one does not have ‘Kwegula’. If he/she is not able to kwegula, he/she will continue with his/her kibanja.
Manipulating the peasants through intimidation to accept “compensation” when they prefer to keep their ownership of the bibanja is also illegal. Anybody who buys occupied land (occupied by the legal bibanja owners or the bona-fide ones) buys more or less air if the two groups are not persuaded to sell if they are persuaded and given good money- which would be good for the developer would get vacant possession of the land for higher value development. It would be a win-win situation.
However, since the Bayaaye-minded pseudo-capitalists cannot be advised and they are causing Internally Displaced Person (IDPs) in different parts of Uganda and the Government has decided to act. These evictions are illegal in most cases taking advantage of the ignorance of the peasants. When they are evicted, they are denied of shelter (their permanent houses are destroyed), their food, commercial agriculture, family cohension and advancement in education is all destroyed.
The country will, therefore, end up with people that need food relief in Central Uganda (not because of war but because of the Bayaaye-pseudo-capitalist), with no shelter, no commercial agricultural activities which means no incomes and therefore, cannot buy exercise books, uniforms or provide ‘entanda’ (packed lunch) for their children and families are disrupted.
The government has therefore decided to do the following.
Halt all evictions involving peasants. Anybody found engaging in evictions will be prosecuted according to the law, those who have been illegally evicted will be assisted by government to go back to their bibanja.
A committee headed by the Hon. Rosemary Seninde, Ms. Deborah Asasira, Ms. Mulinde Mukasa Kintu, a representative from the Ministry of Justice, police and the Army will go area by area returning people, illegally evicted, back to their bibanja. All to note- nobody should take the law in their own hands. Wait for the Committee to come and take you back to your land.
If there is anybody who got an authenticated eviction order against encroachers on his/her land through courts of law, the registrar of High Court will verify and authenticate the court order and the Government will assist him/her to implement the eviction.
All corrupt officials that have been effecting illegal evictions will have punitive actions taken against them, anybody who maliciously or falsely tries to encroach on other people’s land will face tough action by the Government including prosecution and forcing him/her to compensate the victims of his/her malicious and illegal actions. Nobody should encroach on government lands-such as forest reserve, wetlands, government ranches, etc.
The Government will intensify efforts to raise money for its land Fund so that the phenomenon of dual ownership of land in Buganda, Ankole, Toro and Bunyoro is ended.
I thank you
Feb 26, 2013