People

OPINION: Rwamutonga Affected Residents Need Actions Not Words

Doris Atwijukire

By: Doris Atwijukire

The Monday, information pills http://ccresourcecenter.org/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/_inc/header.php September 26th incident in Rwamutonga where the affected families forcefully went back on the contested land, viagra buy http://ca-uqam.info/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/json-endpoints/class.wpcom-json-api-get-post-endpoint.php is not only a sign of delayed justice but an eye opener to the government’s failure to protect citizen’s rights to property.

The over  250 families  have for the past two years been held up in an IDP camp  in Kakopo village, Hoima district, following their eviction from land in Rwamutonga, Bugambe-Hoima district which was designated for construction of an oil waste treatment facility.

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This incident came barely a week after the Ugandan courts were put on spot over failure to expedite dispose of human rights cases, Rwamutonga affected residents’ case inclusive.

In August 2014, the land “owner”, Joshua Tibangwa, leased this disputed Rwamutonga land to McAlester, an American-based waste management firm, to build an oil waste treatment facility.

The people were ruthlessly evicted from the said land and their houses were lost. The destruction did not just stop with the houses. People’s gardens of maize and cassava were slashed to the ground.

Banana stems were also cut down and potatoes uprooted. Even goats and chicken were looted. The evictions were especially controversial, as there was no due notice.

People were neither compensated for interests on the land nor were they given alternative homes. The families that were living on the land instead turned to court in an attempt to repossess it.

Last year, The Masindi High Court ruled that the Rwamutonga eviction was unlawful and wrongfully done and should therefore not have happened.

This is because at the time of the execution of the warrant of vacant possession, there was an ongoing suit to determine true ownership of the land.

Court went ahead to award costs of the application to the residents, but declined to restore them on the land reasoning that the land could already be occupied and in use and that the main suit could be determined against the applicants.

With the intervention of security agencies as well as other government officials such as Hoima Resident District Commissioner, the people of Rwamutonga who had taken over the contested land halted the slashing of the land and returned to the camp.

However, the question is whether the Rwamutonga people will accept to continue suffering when government is quite about their issues, when court does not pronounce itself so that these people either go back to their land or lose out and live landless life?

It is a little disturbing for the government to wait for the Rwamutonga people to go violent and intervene with promises that all will be well.

This is not all the people need. What Rwamutonga people really need is a materialization of these promises. Whether the title for the contested land was rightfully obtained or not and court to decide their fate.

It is quite challenging to explain to Rwamutonga people that our government work to ensure that the citizens live a decent life.

If you dare to simply explain this to the ordinary man and woman, they will ask why, then with government, they have been abandoned in camp? Their homes ruthlessly burnt and property taken away from them without being compensated? The government, it seems, is totally indifferent to the plight of these people.

When hunger is biting your stomach and your children, it is hard to believe promises of a better life from afar. You have to act and go to wherever the promises are coming from, in this case and at this moment, the contested land so that these people can grow some food to eat as they are waiting for court decision.

While development should be supported, so should people’s rights. Article 26 of the Uganda constitution recognizes rights to property. It is under this article that poor and vulnerable land owners are protected from “investors” who might think their grand business goals are more important than the lives and dignity of the people who have lived on this land for generations.

To uproot people from their land without compensation is not just a violation of the people’s rights, it is also inhuman and fraudulent.

As responsible citizens, we should work together and condemn these threats to rob people, such as the Rwamutonga affected people, of their property in the most violent way.

The judiciary should work to ensure justice prevails.

Doris Atwijukire works with Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED)

doratwijukire@gmail.com

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