Land Evictions: Gov't Faulted for Favouring Investors, Powerful Politicians

2840 Views Lyantonde, Uganda

In short
David Malagala, the Katikiro of Mbwa Clan in Buganda Kingdom also says Buganda Land Board has escalated land conflicts in Gomba, Mpigi and Butambala districts.

60-year-old Godfrey Lwandizo and 67-year-old Abubakar Busulwa together with more than 100 other families are the recent victims of the rampant land evictions across the country. The families were evicted from their land measuring 700 acres in Lwamayongwe-Seeta and Kasamba in Lyantonde Sub County by the Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary, Keith Muhakanizi.


The affected people are mostly pastoralists and subsistence farmers. The land also hosts a farm belonging to Lwamayongwe-Seeta-Kasana Growers Cooperative Society, which belongs to farmers. 60-year-old Godfrey Lwandizo says he acquired the disputed land on Block 64 in Lwamayongwe village in Lyantonde Sub County in 1977.

According to Lwandizo, he secured a land title and started farming on the land. Lwandizo explains that when he joined Lwamayongwe-Seeta-Kasana Grower's Cooperative Society, he surrendered part of his 152 acre piece of land to the cooperative for maize growing, adding that in 1989 he secured a loan of Shillings 10 million from the defunct Uganda Commercial Bank to expand his maize farm.

He however, says the maize didn't do well due to the prolonged dry spell, which affected the loan repayment. Lwandizo says he later approached Stanbic bank, which took over UCB to reclaim his title, but he was told it was missing. He says they received information that the land title had been sighted at Masaka district land board.

According to Lwandizo, he paid Shillings 48 million to Masaka District Land Board to reclaim his land title. He however, says he was surprised when Sarah Kulata, the Commissioner for Lands in the Lands Ministry wrote a letter evicting him and dozens of others on ground that the land had been given to Keith Muhakanizi.


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Abubaker Busulwa, another affected pastoralist accuses Muhakanizi of fencing off his 200 acre piece of land he acquired in 1987.  Busulwa says although they secured a court order blocking Muhakanizi from taking over their land, he threatened them with soldiers.


Busulwa says he has been unable to utilize the land for two years, which has affected his livelihood. Frank Lubega, another resident claims he was assaulted by soldiers on the orders of one Ronald Kansabe, during the eviction. 


Lubega and Kansabe are feuding over two acres of land in Lyantonde town council. He says after evicting him, Kansabe deployed his workers to cut down his eucalyptus trees. Keith Muhakanizi couldn't be reached for a comment he neither picked nor returned repeated calls to his known mobile number.
 
 
Frank Lubega, Abubaker Busulwa and Godfrey Lwandizo are among thousands of Ugandans battling land evictions across the country. Their cases are ongoing before Lyantonde magistrate's court. Edmond Malilo Owor, the Executive Director Uganda Land Alliance, says the land evictions are all over the country.

 
He says hundreds of people have been evicted or are on the verge of being evicted from their land at least in every sub region around the country. Owor says accuses Government of conniving with investors to grab land from ordinary Ugandans. He cites the example of Karamoja, where almost a quarter of the total land area has been allocated to foreign mining firms.

 
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Although parliament has passed several amendments to the Land Act to address the persistent land conflicts in the country, the legislation has not helped.

 
Dr. Rose Nakayi, a law don at Makerere University, says the legislation has not resolved the land conflicts because Government does not implement what the land laws dictate.

 
She says although the Land Policy 2013 and Land Act provides for the establishment of land tribunals, they are nonfunctional.
 
 
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Government is mooting another amendment to the Land Act 2010 to allow it take over land in the public interest without compensating landlords. But Dr. Nakayi says the proposed amendment is not necessary.

 
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David Malagala, the Katikiro of Mbwa Clan in Buganda Kingdom also says Buganda Land Board has escalated land conflicts in Gomba, Mpigi and Butambala districts. 


 

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The Buganda Land Board leadership declined to comment on the accusations when contacted by our reporter. Betty Amongi, the Land, Housing and Urban Development Minister, says government has set up a Commission of inquiry into all land conflicts, saying the ministry doesn't support illegal land allocations.


She cited the example of Sembabule where she ordered evicted families to return to their land and directed police to investigate how Kamwoozi farmer's group limited secured 6.6 square miles of land and evicted over 20,000 villagers.



She says the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Commission will help investigate all land conflicts around the country and make recommendations. Last year, two people including a journalist, Thomas Ssetuba working with Kalangala based Ssese FM radio, were killed when they attempted to evict people from a contested piece of land.


The Bukoto East Constituency Uganda People's Congress Chairman, Fedinanto Kamyu was also killed in a land related dispute last year.
 

 

About the author

Edward Bindhe
Bindhe prides himself on being a part of the society he writes about. He believes there is no way a journalist can understand his society unless it considers him a part of it. This is why he is dedicated to investigating the challenges of the "little person."

Bindhe says, "My work reflects the Uganda Radio Network unique approach to news." Not many Ugandan journalists would consider or even notice the re-emergence of Water Hyacinth on a lake. Bindhe does.

Truant children will attract Bindhe's attention until he gets to the bottom of their truancy: poverty and the need to work to earn bread for their families. These are the kinds of stories Bindhe is often after.

Edward Bindhe is the Masaka URN bureau chief. Rakai, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Kalangala, Mpigi, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Sembabule districts fall under his docket. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.

A Mass Communication graduate from Uganda Christian University, Bindhe started practising journalism in 2008 as a reporter for Radio Buddu in Masaka district.