Don’t evict tenants from land, government tells Buganda

Kampala. President Museveni has told Mengo officials not to evict tenants on kingdom land in rural Buganda, which the central government returned yesterday after a 48-year wait.

The President at a function at State House Entebbe handed more than 213 land Titles, comprising sub-county and county headquarters.“In rural areas where a big population has settled on this land, [they] should not be chased. Even those who do not qualify as bona fide occupants should not be evicted. The government and the Kabaka will agree on how to handle it. We will see whether government can compensate the Kabaka,” he said.

It’s not clear how many districts or sub-counties will be affected but Buganda constitutional affairs minister Apollo Makubuya gave an early nod that neither the local governments housed in kingdom’s properties nor people settled in rural areas will be disturbed as a result of yesterday’s land ownership.

“There will be continuity, only that these people will have a new landlord. We encourage those who don’t have the lease to apply [for it],” he told this newspaper in an interview.Earlier, the kingdom deputy Katikkiro Emmanuel Ssendawula said the central government had only paid Shs2 billion out of Shs20 billion rent arrears for the administrative premises.

The return of part of the kingdom’s properties, popularly called ebyaffe, comes at the backdrop of a protracted struggle followed by a 2013 Memorandum of Understanding between President Museveni and Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi. Other properties Buganda wants returned include markets, some landmark buildings, 9,000 square mile land and chiefs’ properties expropriated in 1966.

During yesterday’s handover, President Museveni said: “I have no problem returning properties without conditions, especially in urban centres. The central government can give them to the kingdom to use them for development. Those [local governments in urban centres] should [vacate and] munonye ezamwe (find your own).”

This means local governments that keep on the already returned kingdom properties will have to reach an understanding, and pay directly, to Mengo administration.

On Tooro and BunyoroThe President also revealed, for the first time publicly, that the central government was in parallel talks with both Tooro and Bunyoro kingdoms, which were also abolished 48 years ago.The principal legal aiser to the President, Ms Florence Kiconco, is coordinating the renewed dialogue.

Attorney General Peter Nyombi drafted an agreement for the return of Tooro Kingdom properties, a document the kingdom’s prime minister Stephen Kalibala said the kingdom is still studying. The deputy Katikkiro said they would use the property to generate wealth for the kingdom, but did not say how.Buganda Kingdom has been demanding the ebyaffe since 1993 when cultural institutions were restored.

Uganda Land Commission has been managing the contested lands on behalf of the central government since 1966 when President Obote abolished the kingdoms.

What Baganda say“What we want is real power and that is in federo. We need the power to run and use these things that they are returning to us.”Ramadhan Kyanakyampologoma, Boda boda cyclist.

“I’m happy that our properties are being returned, what we want now is federo.”Saadi Walugembe, Sales manager

“We hope for cooperation between the two in the future. However small this might be, we hope in the future we shall get better and bigger things.”Sulait Kibuka, Boda boda cyclist

“We want all our properties to be returned and not just some. But the initiative is good.”Viola Nakiwala, Market Vendor

rkasasira@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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