The Parliamentary Forum on Land led by Nwoya District Woman Member of Parliament (MP), Lilly Adong has appealed to government to come out and address the major challenges facing customary land tenure system in the country.
During a sensitization meeting between legislators and officials from the Land and Equity Movement in Uganda (LEMU), the legislators noted that the customary tenure is still regarded as inferior in practice to other forms of tenure.
Section 237 of the 1995 Constitution provides for the recognition of four tenure systems; customary, freehold, leasehold and Mailo, which provision was operationalized by the 1998 Land Act.
“We have come to realize that Customary Land ownership in the country is faced with a lot of problems. In the current law, it is too inferior to other forms of land ownership,” Adong said.
Worse still, she said, when one goes to the Bank with certificate of customary land ownership, it won’t be honored for any transaction.
Despite customary tenure’s legal recognition by the 1995 Constitution, the National Land Policy (NLP) in 2013 provides that the customary land tenure should be converted to freehold.
NLP thus provides that the State shall recognize customary tenure in its own form to be at par with other tenure systems, establish a land registry system for the registration of land rights under the customary tenure.
“We want the law in the Land Act amended so that the Customary land documents attain the same status like Freehold and other forms of land ownership in the country,” Adong said.
Adong argues that once the tenure is converted to freehold, it loses the meaning of customary ownership because the clans and communities would no longer hold the land with customs and the rules that apply.
Adong noted that much as the law provides for government to assist the community and systematically demarcate the land or help owners acquire certificates, government hasn’t rolled out throughout the country.
“We want them to roll out, not only in specific regions but throughout the country before even amending the law, he current law hasn’t been practiced.”
“Let government first roll out the current law, have all land demarcated, help communities get certificates and then think of the new amendments.”