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    OPINION: M7’s Imperative Goal Is Security Of Land Tenure For All – Sam Mayanja…



    Sam Mayanja

    Since 1900, commoners have had to fight for their land occupancy rights. After dividing the mail, the leaders of the day raised no finger as the colonists declared the rest of the land ‘crown land’.

    By this stroke of the pen, the colonialists became holders of the radical title, and all land users became tenants of the British. As holders of the radical title, the colonialists proceeded to grant a limited number of freehold estates to selected individuals and corporations, and by virtue of political sovereignty, asserted the right to control the management and use of land in Uganda. They however delegated the control of Mailo to the Mailo landlords.

    The Mailo landlords exacted heavy taxes in the form of Busuulu and Envujo on the bibanja holders who in protest threatened to stop growing cash crops. This threat would undermine the production of export crops thereby diminishing the colonial states revenue base. Consequently their grievances were addressed by the passing of the Busulu and Envujo law, 1927. The Law assured them of security of tenure and freed them from the fear of arbitrary eviction.

    Upon independence in 1962, the Mailo system was retained including Busuulu and Envujo Law and all former

    crown lands became public land under the Public Land Act, 1969 enacted to govern its management. The official Mailo being public land had already been placed under the Commission by the 1967 Constitution.

    In 1975, however, Idi Amin issued “the Land Reform Decree” declaring all land public land, vesting the same in the State to be held in trust for the people of Uganda and administered by the Uganda land Commission. The decree abolished the Mailo tenure, the Busuulu and Envijo Law, effectively removing the security of tenure guaranteed by the 1927 Busuulu and Envijo Law.

    When in 1986 the NRM administration took power, it vowed to correct all historical injustices. This was interpreted by the mailo landowners as the return of their rule. They demanded economical instead of nominal rents from bibanja holders, and demanded for the restoration a Buganda Kingdom with political power, chiefs, and land- hence the call for federo, special status.

    This delayed the restoration of security of tenure taken away by the 1975 Land Reform Decree. The situation was aggravated by the Kabaka’s call to the Baganda to stop selling land. Many non-Baganda had bought mailo and bibanja. They saw this as a move against them. This heightened ethnic tensions, which thankfully culminated into a major land reform enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 and the Land Act Cap 227 enacted in 1998.

    The 1995 constitution repealed the 1975 Land Reform Decree, and vested all land to the citizens of Uganda, under four land tenure systems namely customary, leasehold, freehold and mailo. The Land Act Cap 227 operationalizes all constitutional reform relating to land and provides a framework for the management of land under a decentralized system.

    The constitution was the first document ever to recognize customary land holding as a land tenure system in Uganda. It guaranteed the security of land ownership of the majority of Ugandans who hold land under customary tenure. The constitution provided that customary tenants could acquire certificates of customary ownership which they could convert to freehold titles. The Land Act Cap 227 reiterated these provisions.

    Another radical provision of the constitution and the Land Act was the recognition of the rights of tenants, namely, legal and bona fide occupants, on mailo land with security of occupancy. A ‘legal occupant’ is the one who occupied land by virtue of the repealed Busuulu and Envujo Law of 1927 (kibanja holder) or who had entered the land with the consent of the registered proprietor. A ‘bona fide occupant’ on the other hand, is anyone who had occupied and utilized or developed any land unchallenged by the registered owner or agent of the registered owner for twelve years or more.

    Bonafide and lawful occupants may only be evicted from registered land on grounds of non-payment of rent and only by order of court. However, the rent payable is nominal, non-commercial in nature, and is to be determined by the District Land Boards with the approval of the Minister.

    It is important to recognise that there was no public land to be returned to the institution of a traditional or cultural leader as a corporation sole following the vesting of all land in the citizens of Uganda and also conferring ownership on customary tenants on former public land by the 1995 constitution. A cultural leader can however as a corporation Sole like any Ugandan, juridical or natural, can acquire and own land under any four tenancies.

    The cause of current illegal evictions in Uganda therefore, is not the lack of laws protecting bibanja or other untitled occupants. It is therefore within this scheme of things, that one of the core challenges of President Museveni in his fresh term, is to consolidate the security of tenure for all.

    The author, Sam Mayanja, is a prominent lawyer, senior advocate with Kampala Associated Advocates.



    Commonwealth Lawyers Caution M7 On Dismissal Of Justice Kisakye



    Lawyers under the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) have protested the removal of Justice Esther Kisakye from office.

    In a written statement by the association, the Commonwealth Lawyers have called upon president Museveni to carefully consider the implications of Justice Kisakye’s dismissal.

    The lawyers say that judges should only be subjected to suspension only when they are incapable or if they misbehave.

    “Judges should be subject to suspension or removal only for reasons of incapacity or misbehaviour that clearly renders them unfit to discharge their duties,” part of the statement reads.

    The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) last month recommended the removal of Justice Esther Kisakye from office and have her probed over her misconduct and attack on chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo.

    Justice Kisakye’s troubles began following the 2021 election petition by National Unity Platform president Robert Kyagulanyi in which she gave a dissenting opinion from other judges.

    Justice Kisakye in her ruling said Kyagulanyi had not been given enough time to present his case.





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    Karamoja Iron Sheets Scandal: Speaker Among Returns 500 Iron Sheets



    Speaker of parliament Anita Among has revealed that she has bought 500 iron sheets to compesate those meant for the vulnerable in Karamoja that were misallocated  by the minister of Karamoja affairs Hon. Goretti Kitutu.

    Among told parliament on March 15th that she bought the iron sheets because she does not want to be accused of grabbing iron sheets that were meant for the vulnerable in Karamoja.

    Speaker Anita Among is among the government officials who were cited in the Karamoja iron sheet scandal. Among is reported to have received 500 pieces of iron sheets. However, Among claimed she did not request for the iron sheets but admitted that she saw them in her district Bukedea.

    Other government officials that received the iron sheets include vice president Jessica Alupo, minister Rose Akello, Agnes Nandutu, prime minister Robinah Nabbanja, minister Amos Lugolobi, finance minister Matia Kasaija, Minister Maria Goretti Kitutu, government chief whip Denis Obua among others.

    The Karamoja iron sheet scandal sparked off when family members of minister Goretti Kitutu were found in possession of iron sheets meant for the vulnerable in Karamoja region. Minister Kitutu told the committee on presidential affairs, during the probe, that she was not guided thus misallocating relief items meant for Karamoja.



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    Opposition MPs To Boycott M7 Address



    Members of Parliament from the opposition have announced a boycott of president Museveni’s address slated for Thursday this week.

    Members of the opposition say they will not attend Museveni’s address because his government has failed to address their concerns.

    The legislators say the regime has continued to arrest political opponents, failed to fight corruption, violated rights of members of Parliament and incarcerated innocent citizens without trial.

    President Museveni is expected to address Parliament and the nation at large tomorrow March 16th, 2023 at Kololo ceremonial grounds.

    There is high anticipation of what president Museveni’s address will look like with some legislators hoping that he will address the issue of his ministers involved in the Karamoja iron sheets scandal.

    Forum for Democratic Change’s Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda on Tuesday during plenary protested the change of venue of Thursday’s plenary from Parliament to Kololo.

    Ssemujju said there is no need for legislators to move to Kololo yet Parliament purchased a big tent to host sessions with high attendance.


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