"In 1955, Zakaria Mungonya became the first minister of lands in the colonial government and he introduced a mailo land system in areas such as a Ankole, Kigezi and Bugisu, which is never talked about when discussions of land happen; It is as if land only exists in Buganda and not elsewhere, and the system has been called evil and only evil in Buganda" -Historian/Author Professor Lwanga Lunyiigo.
The revelation by government that its preparing to amend the land laws has triggered anxiety in Buganda over the possibility of abolish mailo land, a system of land ownership common in central region which the president has described as evil. But Prof
Samwiri Lwanga Lunyiigo, a historian and author thinks it could be mostly non-Baganda
who will be stabbing themselves if mailo land is abolished.
In an interview with URN reporters, Prof Lunyiigo argued that very
few Baganda own mailo land in the first place, as it is owned by “those in power” who have amassed a
lot of wealth.
"Hence, won’t the land owners be committing suicide if they
engineer abolition of mailo land?" Lunyiigo asks.
//Cue in: “very few Baganda…
Cue out:…of elite do.”//
The land question discussion, Lunyiigo says, should start with
Buganda’s 9,000 square miles taken by Obote's government in 1966.
book The Struggle for Land in Buganda:
1888-2005, Lunyiigo argues that apart from the monarch, no other issue raises the
passion of Baganda more than the 9,000 square miles that the British grabbed from
Baganda in the 1900 agreement which Lunyiigo says was a disaster for Buganda.
In March 1962, under the public lands ordinance, crown land of
British colonialist was returned to Buganda and vested in Buganda Land Board.
revolution of 1966 swept Buganda kingdom away, an act which was formalized in
the 1967 Uganda Republican Constitution,” Lunyiigo writes in his book. “Thereafter,
the 9,000 square miles were vested in the Uganda Land Commission and following
this change, those close to the Obote I regime helped themselves to whatever public
land they wished and it was this new land grabbing that represented the real
conquest of Buganda.”
Whatever and whoever is on this land, Lunyiigo argued during
the interview that there is need for recognition that land grabbed by Obote in
1966 belongs to Buganda.
Subsequent discussions, he says, can focus on how the
kingdom can benefit from it and how it can relate with those occupying it.
"In 1955, Zakaria Mungonya became the first minister of lands in the colonial government and he introduced a mailo land system in areas such as a Ankole, Kigezi and Bugisu, which is never talked about when discussions of land happen;" Lunyiigo argues. "It is as if land only exists in Buganda and not elsewhere, and the system has been called evil and only evil in Buganda."
//Cue in: “you see this…
Cue out:…in other places.”//
In amending land act, the government has
explained that its aim is to protect squatters who are being evicted. When Museveni
slammed mailo land as evil system that isn’t found elsewhere in Uganda in June,
he gave an example of a person he knew who has been evicted.
“I was surprised to hear that veteran Livingston
Ssenabulya who gave us a forest during the [1981-86] liberation war had been
chased from his land, the person who was chasing them, Namwandu Mulyante, was
our person," he said.
Lunyiigo equally dedicates a
chapter in his book on ominous frequent eviction of peasants in Buganda. He says
land is the ultimate security to a peasant who has nothing else. “They work on
land until they drop dead,” he wrote.
He says that there are signs that
peasants are being pushed to the wall and are losing patience. As a consequence,
he writes that they are beginning to resist eviction.
“They are becoming
violent," he wrote. "They smash fences that landlords erect, they smash surveying equipment
and chase away surveyors."
A question that should loom
large in the mind of land owners is, where should evicted peasants go?
Buganda is no longer plentiful and the question of where to evict is very
crucial," he argued in his book. "Eviction is traumatizing, it is even more so if the evicted don’t have
where to go.”