Land Takeover Could Lead To Regime Fall- Serumaga Top story

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Serumaga, a Kampala-based Journalist, filmmaker in a presentation at the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Commission of Inquiry into land matters said taking over citizens private land will provoke the same resistance that the previous governments faced.

One of President Museveni's critics, Kalundi Robert Serumaga says the proposal by government to give itself the right to forcibly take over land held by citizens-whether paid for or not - is a most dangerous folly, and will not solve any of the problems.

 
Serumaga, a Kampala-based Journalist, filmmaker in a presentation at the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Commission of Inquiry into land matters taking over citizen's private land will provoke the same resistance that the previous governments faced.

Serumaga who also describes himself as cultural activist said land is the only asset that many in the society are clinging on for survival.
 
He warned that many will become poorer, more disorganized and that the government's suggestion will create greater opportunities for corruption and encourage what he called government's aired bad habits of borrowing.

Serumaga's over two hour submission seemed to have generated a lot of interest from all the commissioners who attentively listened to his combative nature of submission.

The Commission's Lead Counsel Ebert Byenkya occasionally interrupted the submission with questions which Serumaga would energetically reply to without referring to his 15-page prepared document.

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Serumaga said part of the country's land problem has been caused by the ailing economic system in the last twenty five years.

He when the  economic system does not benefit any of the people trapped in it, then they are bound to start "eating" each other by which ever they can find, be it open crime or rental extortion.     
 
He says these issues are especially sharp in areas of large population increase like South-West Buganda and areas where there is anticipation of resources like Bunyoro or due to migration to where the formal economy can be tapped into like Greater Kampala.

One of the terms of reference to the Justice Bamugemereire commission involves probing into the land acquisition question.
 
Comes at the time when cabinet is considering an amendment to the constitution to provide for a clause for prompt and timely compensation of a land owner to allow for government to take over the land for development projects even when the owner rejects the government compensation rates.

Serumaga equated the suggestion to what he called political adventurism which he said will invite the crisis that brought down the regimes of Milton Obote and Id Amin.

Asked by some of the Commissioners about what the current government can do to resolve the land questions, Serumaga suggested that all the current government's attempts to resolve the land question have failed. He hastily added that the situation should be left as it is because NRM's attempts to change the land laws has been  disastrous.

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When pressed harder by Commissioners, Joyce Habasa and Dr. Rose Nakayi, Serumaga suggested that government should first get hold of public officers who are on record for having taken public land for public use and make them return it and compensate the country for the time they have used it.
 
He had earlier suggested that laws should be amended to make specific formal recognition of Uganda's clans as institutions because they hold a lot of land hidden ways. Serumaga says at present, in Buganda, only the head of Clans (Kabaka) is recognized in law but none of the clans institutions answerable to him are. 

 The Commission resumes its hearing on Friday with some member of the cultural institutions, government ministries and departments expected to appear.   
 
Other commissioners include former deputy Attorney General, Freddie Ruhindi, Makerere University's land law specialist, Dr Rose Nakaayi , Hoima District chairman George Bagonza Tinkasimire, Development Specialist, Mary Odupa Ochan , Robert Sebunnya and Uganda's first f