Crime & Investigation

Besigye: Gov’t Taking ‘Dangerous’ Step on Amending Land Law

Col Dr Kizza Besigye

Opposition leader, stuff Dr Kizza Besigye has warned of tough times ahead should government proceed with the planned amendment of the Land Act to allow compulsory acquisition of land for development projects, Chimp Corps report.

Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Betty Amongi recently said she would table before Parliament the proposed amendment to simplify government acquisition of private land for national infrastructural projects such roads.

Amongi further argued that the existing legal framework which only allows acquisition of land after negotiation and compensation of the owner slows down government projects.

The move has since attracted stiff resistance from several sections of the public with many arguing that the proposed land law could give a green light to land grabbers to terrorise society.

Addressing the media in Gulu Town on Saturday, Besigye said the new law could spark chaos in the country.

“The bill from Kyankwanzi has two dangerous items. Removing land from a private person to another person by force and taking people’s land before they are paid,” said Besigye.

“Both are extremely dangerous especially if this law is implemented by distinguished land grabbers.”

The former FDC presidential candidate further cited former Lands Minister Aidah Nantaba’s warning to Amongi on the existence of land grabbers in government.

Besigye pointed out that President Museveni believes in having immense powers over land ownership.

“Control of land is control of people. It has been Museveni’s agenda since he took over power. I was in the Constituent Assembly and we defeated it. It was brought through the Prof. Ssempebwa Constitution Review Commission, it was defeated,” added Besigye.

Land grabbing has left many desperate and homeless in many parts of the country especially in the central and northern regions of Uganda.

Gov’t responds

However, Information Minister Hon Frank Tumwebaze recently said Besigye is seeking political relevance and media attention.

“His (Besigye) talk about land therefore is irresponsible talk trying to look for relevance. Remember he once said that President Museveni was going to sell Lake Victoria. The same Dr Besigye and his party mounted stiff resistance to the land amendment law government passed some years back which was for the protection of the Bibanja holders against unfair evictions by rich absentee landlords,” said Tumwebaze.

“So what moral authority does he have now, to claim to be an advocate of people’s land rights? Kyankwanzi was about serous talk, work and substance. No wonder Dr Besigye is worried about the Kyankwanzi meeting. No body and certainly not Besigye can claim to care more for citizen Land rights than the NRM government and President Museveni do.”

Nevertheless, Besigye said even without amendments, there is a lot of illegal land grabbing, adding, government now wants the legal channels to grab land

He proposed the suspension of giving Land Titles on disputed areas and a judicial inquiry in the land matters.

Besigye further called for the review the land under communal ownership which is under threat and educating people about the land law and land markets.


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