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    OPINION: Journalists Are Now Crying Because They’ve Been Victimised But It’s Not New – Andrew Mwenda Speaks Out On Police, Military Brutality…

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    Andrew Mwenda (L) inset are some of the journalists who were brutalised by security forces

    Veteran political reporter, Andrew Mwenda, has reacted to yesterday’s ugly proceedings where the police and military unleashed brutality on journalists who were covering National Unity Platform (NUP) principal, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine as he took his petition to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights office in Kampala.

    Here is the investigative journalist’s opinion about the police and army brutality against journalists reproduced verbatim;

    Museveni’s violence and what it should teach us;

    Yesterday the NRM government, in characteristic style, used military police to unleash violence against a group of activists escorting Bobi Wine to the UN Human Rights office to deliver a petition. It was the same old style with an added level of brutality this time mercilessly employed against journalists. The evening news and some comments from some of our “development partners” made the beating of journalists a big deal.

    I am a journalist and I run a newspaper but I find it self indulgent for us to make this about us.  Ugandan journalists are angry at being terrorized by security forces alongside other citizens as if they are a special category entitled to an exemption. This is a story of the state use of arbitrary violence against citizens, journalists only being a part!

    When journalists position themselves as a special category that should be exempted from the indignities and violence other citizens suffer at the hands of the state, they lose sight of the actual story. The story becomes about them as a profession instead of all the citizens.

    I am even more shocked some Ugandan elites think this is new. The use of violence has been a characteristic feature of NRM from its inception. The issue has always been which group in which region is targeted based on its attitude towards NRM. The direction of this violence seems to be changing from the North and North East to Buganda based on recent voting patterns.

    The NRM claimed its struggle was against arbitrary use of violence by the state. But it used violence to come to power. I wonder why anyone would think it would restrain itself from employing the same violence to retain that power. Its admirers, like the admirers of Uganda’s mainstream opposition today, failed to see this.

    This is why it’s critical for us to critique the groups that seek to wrestle power from NRM. What are their values? How do they treat those who criticize them? Without raising these issues we risk rotating on roundabout forever. And opposition activists hate me for this insight.

    There is nothing new about NRM’s behavior. Just ask the people in those parts of Uganda like West Nile, Acholi, Lango, Teso and Kasese who at one time of another opposed NRM. What we saw yesterday was chicken feed. In fact this is why we don’t need a mere change from NRM as a group but as a system of rule. We need a group with a different politics – politics of tolerance of divergent views, of accommodation of diversity (ethnic, religious or ideological) etc.

    If we do not insist that the forces of change must demonstrate to us a different mode of conduct, then we are giving them license to remove Museveni but not Musevenism, NRM but not NRMism. That has been the persistent tragedy of Uganda and Africa – change of guard not of values which shapes conduct.

    A large cross section of Ugandan elites hate me for exposing this, their myths and shallowness; their tendency to be driven by momentary anger (perhaps understandable) and thus embracing one violent group to wrestle power from another violent group and mistaking that for the change they want or hoping that once in power such an intolerant and violent group will change its ways.

    I am not willing to trade Museveni’s violence with anyone else’s violence. If I disagree with you and instead of responding to my arguments you hurl insults and abuses at me, you subject me to psychological terror, then you are telling me how you will use state power when criticized. Then I know you are not the change we need!

    It is harder to shape the behavior of any group once it captures power – for then it has money to rent political support and armies and weapons to coerce loyalty and suppress dissent. But it is easier to shape the behavior of a group seeking power because all it has is the power of persuasion. So before we join any group to denounce Museveni and his violence, can we ask for the values of this group?

    Many Ugandan elites get terrified by this insight because it unmasks their naivety and opportunism. I understand that people feel sympathy for a group being terrorized by the state and that this blinds them to the nature of such a group. They are always focused on the form not the substance, driven by the immediate and ignoring the long term and let their feelings cloud their reasoning. And that is what allows demagogues and opportunists to grab power.

     

    The writer, is a veteran investigative journalist, Political analyst and founder/owner of The Independent News Magazine.

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    NEWS

    OPINION: District Lands Boards Must Account Or Quit – Lands Minister Mayanja

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    Minister Sam Mayanja

    It is mandatory for District Land Boards to account to the District Council and consequently to the people of Uganda, how they handled matters of land in the District for the previous year.

    Non accountability amounts to misbehavior, misconduct or incompetence and is a ground to remove a member of the Board from office by the District Council on the recommendation of the District Executive Committee under section 58 (2) (b) and (c) of the Land Act.

    There is no way the Ministry of Land Housing and Urban Development can implement its monitoring and valuation function in regards to land management in the Country without these annual reports being submitted by the District Land Board.

    The annual reports must contain, among other things, a summary of all transactions undertaken by a District Land Board in the year, summary of all Board sittings, list of achievements and challenges faced by the Board and proposed recommendations.

    District Land Boards are a creature of the constitution whose functions are set up both in the constitution itself and the Land Act.

    These functions are among other things to “to hold and allocate land in the District which is not owned by any person or authority”.

    This means that land owned by government or bibanja holders is not available for the District Land Board to allocate. Also not available for allocation by the Boards is land covered under article 237 (2) (b) of the constitution and section 44 (1) of the Land Act. This land includes land which is a protected nature lake, rivers, ground water, natural ponds, natural streams, wetlands, forest reserves, national parks and any other land reserved for ecological and touristic purposes.

    Should a District Land Board enter into or undertakes or concludes any transaction or allocates land mentioned above, that transaction is void by virtue of section 59 (1a) of the Land Act, as amended. The Land Act gives Commissioner Land Registration under section 91 to cancel a land title issued to such a land without referring the matter to a Court or District land Tribunal.

    The District land Board is mandated to exercise the role of lessor and to exercise the powers of a controlling authority in respect of leases granted out of public land then controlled under the repealed 1969 Public Land Act. In this regard a District Land Board is obligated to honour all the conditions and covenants in the existing leases including those implied under the repealed Public Land Act 1969.

    In the exercise of its duties a District Land Boards must abide by the Guidelines on the Administration of the land under the Land Act, Cap 227 issued on 12th July 2005.

    Under those guidelines, a District Land Board in exercising the powers of a lessor is prohibited from automatically re-entering a lessee’ land and provides that renewal and extension of leases on initial and full term for all citizens is automatic.

    The guidelines also makes it clear that where a lease on full term expires and the former lessee applies for renewal of the lease, the District shall charge a premium of 10% of the unimproved value of the land. When a lease shall be renewed for a shorter term, the lessee shall pay a proportionate premium. Where there is a variation of lease regarding user, premium and ground rent will be determined to reflect the changes.

    It is important for all to be aware that article 237 (5) of the constitution allows any Ugandan citizen who had been granted a lease out of public land to convert it into freehold in accordance with the law setup by Parliament. This Law was passed by Parliament under section 28 (1) of the Land Act cap. 227 and the District land Board are obliged to do the conversion to freehold if a citizen of Uganda applies.

    All these issues and the performance of the District Land Boards in fulfilment of the Law are covered under the annual reports which the District Land Boards must issue annually in compliance with section 60 (3) of the Land Act.

    All the confusion of District Land Boards allocating public land, land with bibanja holding, protected forests, wetlands and wildlife areas, re-entering citizens’ leases which have expired when they are not supposed, refusing to extend leases when this is automatic for all citizens, exacting lease premiums beyond the 10% of the unimproved value of the land etc. etc., are all as a result of defiance of section 60 (3) by refusing to account, despite repeated reminders by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.

    District Land Boards which have failed to account as required by law, have no legitimacy to continue in office for the succeeding year. In effect the District Executive Committees and District Councils must by 1st January 2023 disband all District Land Boards which have not submitted accountability and insure that new ones are put in place. Ugandans are a decent people, they deserve accountability from those chosen to manage their most important asset-Land.

     

    Dr. Sam Mayanja

    Minister of State for Lands

    smayanja@kaa.co.ug

    www.kaa.co.ug

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    NATIONAL

    OPINION: The Struggle To End 122-Year -Old Land Question In Uganda – Minister Mayanja…

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    Calamity befell that area of Uganda original covering three counties, expanded to twenty through the 1900 Buganda Agreement curving it out as the first province of Uganda.

    The leadership of the original three counties had collaborated in the colonization of Uganda and still essential for the pacification, first of the seventeen counties newly conscripted into the first Province and the conquest of the other three Provinces.

    The calamity was in the form of a paradigm shift of land ownership, where Clan heads lost their trusteeship of land on behalf of their clans, to a position where land would be bought or sold like any other commodity.

    It was this commodity-the chunks of land grabbed and given away to collaborators. The chunks were neither surveyed nor did they have any known tenancy category.

    It was the 1908 Land Law which categorized them into two tenancies-Mailo and official Mailo. The official Mailo and crown land was publicly owned. The Mailo was private ownership in perpetuity with the right to disposal of it through sale or gift.

    Neither the 1900 Agreement nor the 1908 Land Law created any rights for “bibanja” -neither security of tenure nor formal recognition. Instead “bibanja” holders became tenants at the mercy of the Mailo landlords who could evict them without reprieve.

    The 1920s sow “bibanja” agitations calling for the abolition of 1900 Agreement and took strike action of not growing cash crops which hurt the colonial treasury. It became clear to the colonialists that an injustice had been committed in 1900 Agreement where only 3700 people out of 1,000,000 had been given land.

    The result of this “bibanja” agitation was the “Busulu” and “Envujo” Law which assured the “bibanja” of security in the occupation of their plots and freed them from the fear of arbitrary eviction.

    The “Busulu” and “Envujo” was fixed at 10 shillings per annum and was never revised until 1975 when it was abolished under the Land Reform Decree. By this time, the busuulu had become of more symbolic rather than of economic value.

    Mukwaya writing close to thirty years of passing the 1927 Law posited that: “It is rare for courts to grant orders of eviction against tenants who fail to pay “busuulu” or “envujo”. Any dues in arrears are legally considered civil debts, which are recoverable in the usual manner”. Therefore, even the non-payment of “busuulu” was not ground for eviction.

    There was no significant land reform from 1928 to 1975. Unfortunately, the Idi Amin Land Reform Decree which converted Mailo land titles into conditional leases did not have in its vision emolument of “bibanja” holders in land development of the Country. The Land Reform Decree largely remained a dead letter.

    The land question was in limbo until the 1995 when the constitution restored the Mailo tenure and also recognized the legal interests of “kibanja” holders on land titled under Mailo, freehold or leasehold.

    It guaranteed security of occupancy to “bibanja” holders under article 237 (8) and a constitutional undertaking for “bibanja” holders to obtain land titles under article 237 (9) (b). This was to be within two years of coming into force of the 1995 constitution.

    However, the 1998 Land Act and subsequent amendments thereto did not implement the constitutional guarantees to “bibanja” holders. Instead, the “bibanja” holders remained tenants essentially at will. They can and indeed are being evicted Willy Nilly. The solution is not in courts of law which regularly issue eviction orders.  Sometimes whole villages are brutally evicted, and their property destroyed.

    The President exercising powers conferred upon him under article 99 (1) and (3) of the constitution has in recent past issued Directives to protect the constitutional rights to security occupancy of “bibanja” holders.

    These Directives have included a ban of all evictions, prosecution of all those involved, including offering Government support to those evicted, to be brought back to their “bibanja”.

    Implementations of the recommendations of the Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s Report are expected to strengthen the President’s drive in answering the land question. The principles of adverse possession as given in the Limitation Act and Registration of Titles Act if applied can offer immediate solution to “bibanja” owners in the former so called lost counties of Buyaga and Bugangaizi.

    The Restitution of Properties to Traditional Rulers Act of 1993 should be brought into conformity with the constitution pursuant to article 274 (1) in order to eliminate ambiguity of land ownership and administration in the country.

    Time is up to the One Hundred Twenty-Two-year land question. Land is property per excellence. There is now an opportunity to address the issue squarely so that “bibanja” holders can become truly liberated.

    There cannot be dual interests of “kibanja”, and mailo or any other titled holder existing side by side on the same piece of land. It is in this scheme of things that the drive of President Museveni to give the final solution to the decades old land question must be supported and applauded.

     

    Dr. Sam Mayanja

    Minister for State of Lands

    smayanja@kaa.co.ug

    www.kaa.co.ug

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    NATIONAL

    STOP YOUR LIES: Churchman Kabuleta Is Tied In Psyche Of Lies…

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    Joseph Kabuleta (R) and Faruk Kirunda (L)

    On October 3, 2022, Mr. Joseph Kabuleta, appeared on Radio Simba talk show “Olutindo” where he made various allegations to wit:

    That there is unfair compensation for people along the oil and gas pipeline project, especially in Buliisa District, by Government which has caused hunger, famine and unemployment in the Bunyoro Sub-region, yet in Tanzania, the PAPs have fully been compensated:

    On this, first, we need to appreciate the fact that the people were indeed compensated. Compensation of Project Affected Persons (PAPs) is a process; it is not a one-day issue as Mr. Kabuleta wants to express. The process even provides for those wanting to appeal in case they feel that the process or figures are unfair. One is free to appeal or even resort to the Courts of Law. Government cannot take people’s land by force or without compensation.

    Uganda is actually a liberal Government where citizens are compensated for right of way for public projects yet in other countries all land belongs to the Government and there is no compensation for land taken for such projects. Have Kabuleta’s complainants gone to court for redress or do they exist in his private records only?

    Mr. Kabuleta alleges that H.E. The President and the First family have personalised natural resources like oil and gas for selfish interests; Here, we will need evidence. Show us the shares belonging to Mr. Museveni and the first family!

    Secondly, if you have evidence in this regard, you are free to present this concern to the Courts of Law and even to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or any other avenue. Short of that, the former presidential candidate’s statement is intended to tarnish the image and record of the President and the first family, and in furtherance of his partisan political agenda. Having failed to convince Ugandans with his crafted manifesto, he has resorted to mudslinging.

    Matters of oil and gas are matters that are fully discussed through the national entities such as the Parliament. Are you insinuating that all Members of Parliament (MPs), including those in opposition, betrayed Ugandans and handed Uganda’s oil and gas to the President and the first family for personal benefit? Does this sound like a credible query that even deserves to be heard on public radio?

    The former journalist and churchman also stated that residents of Kibawe in Hoima District who were affected by the construction of the airport found it hard to get land titles such that they can be valued fairly and that only Government officials managed to get the land.

    I wish to ask why Mr. Kabuleta is bringing up this issue at the tail-end of things when the airport construction is getting completed. Is it to divert the minds of people from the mega investment of the airport project and to fight the project at large? Why do I see a connection with foreigners who were targeting the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), to fail its construction, only to look at the argument when subject to the logical test of their allegations? We have agents around and we must be on the lookout as we push our beloved country, Uganda, into the fast tracked phase of development.

    However, I need to state that obtaining a land title is a process and being as such, show us the stage at which the exercise failed and why! As a “son of the soil”, Kabuleta should have helped his people right at the beginning and brought this issue up then before the project reached advanced stages where it cannot and should not be interrupted. Bringing it up now when the airport is about to be handed over for use is suspicious and an indictment on the leadership credentials of the claimant.

    Mr. Kabuleta advances the claim that the indigenous people of Bunyoro sub-region are denied well-paying jobs which instead go to people from other districts. Here, Mr. Kabuleta is promoting nepotism and thinking tribal rather than looking nationalistically. Where is it stated that jobs in a particular district go to indigenous citizens of that district? Are there no Banyoro working in other districts? Has Kabuleta worked in Bunyoro all his work life? When he was looking for votes, did he only campaign in Bunyoyo? I see him isolating himself from the reality that is a united Uganda under the very able leadership of President Yoweri Museveni. Imagine if Kabuleta had won and become the country’s leader. Tribalism would be the only ticket to employment and services!

    And his claim must stand, then the Basoga and Baganda would also claim for the same-that no non-Musoga or non-Muganda must serve within their tribal territory. They would also prohibit, for instance, that power from the power dams constructed in their areas must be consumed by their people only.

    No, these are national goods to benefit all Ugandans! These jobs are given on merit. If one qualifies, and they apply, appear and pass the interviews, then they are taken on. It is imperative to explain how the Banyoro are denied the jobs using clear facts, showing the trend, the particular actors behind the move and backed by motivating factors and actionable data. Besides, rather than express these concerns through the media, one can present them through the Inspectorate of Government or the Courts of Law to challenge the recruitment process or better still to take them to the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

    Yes, it’s okay for people to lobby for their own but it must be done with the consciousness of a united Uganda.

    On the same talkshow, Mr. Kabuleta, claimed that Uganda will not benefit from the oil and gas project because the NRM Government has been selling crude oil secretly and that he sees trucks moving during the night carrying crude oil; I need to state that crude oil is such a heavy item that you cannot transport stealthily for an extended period of time without being traced. Even the roads would heave under its weight, leaving them in dire despair.

    That is why the Government has emphasised construction of the pipeline to ease pressure on our road infrastructure. I would challenge Mr. Kabuleta to bring footage of CCTV cameras (whether Government or private) along the routes to prove his allegation.  Do these cameras show anything of what he is describing? Please, get us this footage and we will start from here! Even eye witnesses would do. Does Mr. Kabuleta still harbour the old mentality of thinking that during night time anyone can commit crime and escape? That is very old thinking and shows someone lacking imagination. Maybe that is why the Government at times ignores such people; their claims can be so ridiculous that they don’t deserve responses but out of respect for our general public, I have come out on their behalf.

    Her went on and claimed that over 200 people have been killed in Bunyoro sub-region, arguing that Oil refineries are associated with human rights violations citing the case of Nigeria’s Ken Saro Wiwa who was brutally killed in the 1990s because of his environmental activism; I wish to challenge Mr. Kabuleta to produce this list of the persons murdered to prove his case.

    By saying this, you are trying to tarnish the image of the Government and giving more ground to the distorted assertions of the European Union (EU) Parliament on EACOP. Please, show us the names of the deceased and their families! Indeed, the security agencies should pick interest in this matter which is aimed at undermining Government’s efforts in rebuilding the economy and sowing seeds of hatred and insurgency. Security agencies should demand for this list and expose those that may found answerable!

    Bringing in the Nigerian scenario of Ken Saro Wiwa is an attempt to “import” evidence in a futile attempt to stir emotions. This is Uganda, not Nigeria! Saro Wiwa was tried by the court of the day in his home country, fairly or not, and executed publicly. Has anyone been executed in Uganda for standing up for human rights, more so to do with oil and gas developments? Can we have the names?

    During the EACOP saga, residents in the oil basin came out to defend the human rights record of sector developments in Uganda. If there are any violations, they can be reported with Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) or court for redress but not lamenting in the media or reporting to foreigners. Begging for freebies can be done another way!

    On the allegation that Uganda has for a period of three to four years been selling in excess of US 1bn of gold to Dubai and that there is no accountability for it to the general public; you need to silence us with facts. How does that business run and what makes him sure that proceeds are not captured in national financial records? What is special with the gold trade that transactions cannot be tabulated as with coffee, tea and other goods?

    I would advise Mr. Kabuleta to come clear if he wishes to retain any integrity and trust from the people. The Ugandan public is not all that “green” as some think; they operate with a great deal of logic and scientific analysis unlike in the past. They can cross check for themselves from international and local sources and sieve fact from fiction. Uganda’s gold trade is subject to audit procedures and complies with regulations of the International Financial system which is very sensitive to illicit trade of any kind. This claim ties in with the one on the ghost oil trucks. It doesn’t make sense unless the alleger can substantiate.

    Mr. Kabuleta stated that the discovery of minerals in Uganda is a curse to ordinary citizens alleging that when gold was discovered in Mayuge and Namisindwa Districts, the Government started arresting and killing people accusing them of being part of ADF rebels; and that 53 people were killed and several others chased from their land without compensation in Sebei Sub-region where oil and gold were discovered I wish to ask him to provide us with a list of persons that have been arrested and killed on those grounds.

    How many inmates are in prison cells because minerals were discovered in their areas? Has gold only come to be discovered in Mayuge, Namisindwa and Sebei? There is gold in Bihanga (Ibanda) and Buhweju among other places in Western region. Have they also come to be persecuted for that? Uganda is a mineral-rich country, have citizens all been branded ADF? I may ask, are these peasants who are arrested or killed the only ones owning land where there are minerals? How is it with the others who are still mining; can we know the families of the victims and how many they are? This is a very laughable but serious allegation that not only seeks to annoy Ugandans but also seeks to air brush acts of insurgency. Doesn’t ADF actually exist? And if the head of the ADF, Mr. Jamil Mukulu, was arrested and has not been killed, how about the innocent peasants referred to? Wouldn’t we have just had them slaughtered enmass?

    The Courts and Uganda Prisons Services should explain to the public if there are any such inmates linked to “mineral discovery”, even if just to allow Mr. Kabuleta “a hearing”.

    Lastly, Kabuleta claimed that people who were murdered in Masaka district last year were accused of stealing money meant for compensation because they were living along the demarcation of the proposed oil and gas pipeline. Another irresponsible allegation, I would say! Is fraud treated by killing the culprits or they are arrested, tried and sentenced accordingly if found guilty? Can he provide a record of who was killed and what amounts they were accused of swindling? Who are the complainants?

    In conclusion, I am nearly lost for words living in a country where the gift of democracy and freedom of expression is misconstrued for freedom to act anyhow and say anything. This is not a lawless country. Mr. Kabuleta, his hatred for President Museveni notwithstanding, should act like the churchman we knew him to be and speak facts or say nothing. He will be set free! For now, he is tied in a psyche of lies.

     

    Faruk Kirunda is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary

    Contact: faruk.kirunda@statehouse.go.ug

    0776980486/0702980486

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