In another attempt to resolve the simmering tensions over land in Kayunga district and growing divisions among local leaders over the matter, President Yoweri Museveni met district leaders and later held a rally for bibanja and landlords to address the issue.
President Yoweri Museveni who met leaders from the lowest councils to the district leadership at Nakyesa Primary school urged them to educate the people about the law governing land issues especially about bona fide occupants and illegal occupants. He said the disagreements among the leaders focus on the same issue but interpreted differently.
“People being evicted illegally from their land and land disputes in the district are rampant. It is my job to inform you about the improved laws that govern land in Uganda. I want to get to the truth of the matter,” he said.
The President later held a rally at Kayonza Primary school were victims of land evictions and some landlords gave their testimonies on matter. The President pledged to send investigators to ascertain the credibility of the issues raised by the residents. He said he would use the testimonies given to help him scrutinize the issue to its conclusion.
There were reports that the district is faced with rampant evictions that have left thousands homeless and starved while others claim that the number of illegal occupants in rising.
“ People who get involved in Illegal evictions will be dealt with. I have come here three times because people in Buganda have been affected by these evictions. I want to stop this practice. I want to commend Minister Madada….the banyankole have a saying that a child saw their aging mother and asked what kind of wife their father married... Madada helped us a lot in the land act especially in parliament. That law was passed and it is tough because it says those who illegally evict will be arrested including their accomplices. The frustration has been that it has not been implemented because we have not been getting accurate information about who is doing what,” he said.
According to the President, if it is mailo land or lease land you can have a kibanja by law in two ways. If the landlord granted you permission to stay there or if you have been staying on the land before 1983 or the person who sold you the land was there prior to 1983 or if you are settled there by government or if you are the first land on public land under customary rights.
“You should see were your claim lies. If you don’t fall in any of these categories then you are on that land illegally and we shall have to discuss with you how to help you in another way. One way of helping you would be to set up a fund from which you can borrow money to buy land. If you are on land illegally, it will help you to buy land elsewhere. Land is not only for building on and sleeping there but also for production so that we get out of poverty,” he said.
The President stressed that they don’t want a situation where people invade other peoples land without following the law, adding that landowners must also be protected especially those using the land for production.
“That stampede which you say they have sold you out is because you don’t know the law and you are just frightened for nothing. Because it makes no difference because the one who is buying is inheriting the problems the old one had. A kibanja holder does not have to buy themselves out if they have no money or no desire. If you have money it is good to pay the landlord and get a title. But even if you do not pay the landlord for title you can use your kibanja for production and nobody will evict you by law,” he said.
The President said landlords can only charge nominal fees approved by the District Land Boards adding that a special account will be opened at the districts for money that is rejected by the landlords to be deposited.
Mr. Museveni commended the State Minister for Labour and Bbaale County MP, Hon. Sulaiman Madada together with Kayunga District Woman MP, Hon. Aidah Nantaba, for their relentless assistance to the people in a bid to solving the land issues.
He assured LC Chairpersons and other officials, to fulfill their roles basing on the law. He assured them that their financial needs would be addressed as the national economy improved.
The President called on the people to cultivate a culture of valuing the important role the environment plays in human sustainability.
“Those people invading swamps and forest reserves should know that that is government land and government needs to protect it,” he said.
Regarding the government development programmes, the President said that Bujagali power dam is ready adding that the government would embark on the construction of other power generating dams such as Isimba, among others. He revealed that the people that would be affected would be compensated promptly.