Besigye Says Battle Lines are Drawn Between Gov’t, People Over Land

Dr Kizza Besigye addressing press at his home in Kasangati today

Former Forum for Democratic Change presidential candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye has lashed out at government for its proposed amendments in the land laws that are already causing tension amongst private land owners.

On Tuesday, adiposity the Lands Minister Betty Amongi was quoted saying government is in final stages to table before parliament the amendments into the Land Act (1998), website like this to allow government acquire private land from owners for its projects.

The new adjustments if passed by parliament, this will allow government to acquire and commence development on any person’s land before the owner is fully compensated.

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The minister says this is to address the delays that most government projects suffer, during the compensation negotiations.

Addressing journalists at his home in Kasangati, Besigye said this is intended to grab land by what he called mafias in government but said the members of the public would fight it tooth and nail.

Besigye said efforts have for long been ongoing to see how land can be grabbed by some big government shots especially in the Northern, Eastern, Karamoja and Western parts of the country where he said most of the land is customary and owned by the communities.

“While handing over office, the former State Minister for Lands Aida Nantaba said it clearly that there is a powerful ‘mafia’ in government who is grabbing land. It was not hype because there is a real mafia grabbing all land in Uganda,” Besigye told journalists on Wednesday.

“These mafias are concentrated on those vulnerable lands especially in those areas with customary land.”

Besigye said the said reforms allowing government to take over land without first paying the owner are part of those schemes by mafias in government intended to grab land owned privately.

According to Besigye, for long, President Museveni had wanted to include the provision in the constitution citing the period during the Constituent Assembly in 1994 and the review of the constitution but said on all occasions, efforts by the president on the matter had been frustrated.

“The struggle to have government take over private land is an old one dating back during the times of the Constituent Assembly but fortunately on this matter of land, there has not been anything  partisan about it. He (Museveni) has faced as much opposition from NRM as from outside the party.”

The opposition strongman also said the World Bank is fronting an attractive idea of lending money to government  so as to be able to register land and also acquire titles which he stressed would be a good idea but it  cannot be done properly.

“The World Bank says if we register the land we can use it to get loans and also commercialize agriculture which is very reasonable but unless we deal with fundamental problems that face land management and administration we will be opening our country to a lot of problems.”

The FDC former president said if the registration of land is not streamlined; it would only give chance to mafias in government to acquire titles on private land and grab it.

Besigye however said these schemes intended to grab land would be fought tooth and nail by the people whom he said have only remained with land as their only source of wealth.

He however said he is worried about parliament which he noted can easily be bribed to pass the bill into law and let government forcefully take over private land without compensating owners but noted   the public would not allow such things happen.

“Just like we defended Mabira forest, Ugandans must rise and defend their land from predators. We must defend our land because it is the only thing we have remained with.”

He vowed, “They can take other things but land is the thing where we must draw the red line and we shall do everything in our power to defend it.”

The opposition strongman however urged government to consider to put to a halt issuing of land titles especially in areas where grabbing is rampant in a bid to review them.

“We must put in place an inquiry into land grabbing as well as reviewing the land framework especially in relation to customary ownership. The people must also be educated on the value of land plus the laws governing land so they are not duped,” Besigye advised.


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