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MPs Demand Apology From Minister Over Mailo Land Statement

Some of the issues recently identified by the Buganda Kingdom that need to be addressed by government regarding land are apprehending those who evict people using guns, streamlining all land offices in the country to ensure that rightful people get Certificates of Title, strengthening and providing financial and logistical support to the Land Protection Unit of Uganda Police, timely disposal of all land cases in the courts of law and others.
MPs Lulume Bayiga, Fred Kayondo and Micheal Kakembo addressing a press conference at parliament. Photo by Olive Nakatudde

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A section of legislators from Buganda region have today demanded that the new Minister of State for Lands, Dr. Sam Mayanja apologizes for statements made regarding the Mailo tenure system.

Addressing journalists at parliament, the MPs led by Buikwe South representative Dr. Lulume Bayiga accused the Minister of trying to provoke Buganda and create friction between title and bibanja holders in Buganda.

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Early this week, the Minister of State wrote an opinion in the New Vision titles ‘Mailo land reforms: After years of suffering, bibanja holders need to win their land back’.

In his opinion, Mayanja says that titled Mailo owners do not recognize the certificate of occupancy and consequently, the Mailo landlords have continued to evict willy-nilly the bibanja holders who they now carefully call squatters.

Part of Mayanja's statement reads: “They deploy lawyers, court brokers, valuers, the police, army, private security firms, musclemen, local defence units, bribe local councils- it is a monstrous circle to which bibanja holders have lost their homes, properties and livelihood. They have in addition been maimed during evictions and in some cases, lost their lives.”

He adds that Mailo landlords are selling off land without any social or ideological considerations whatsoever and that the sale bonanza has caused bibanja holders to live in a permanent state of trauma since they do not know when they will be sold off to a ruthless landlord.

Mayanja explains that land reform is accordingly imperative otherwise hell will break loose and no one may be able to pick up the pieces since that there is already a low intensity land war going on in several places.

“Security of tenure cuts across religious, tribal or political differences, says Mayanja. "It is in this scheme of things, that the call of President Yoweri Museveni for a comprehensive reform of the Mailo tenancy and indeed in any other tenancy, necessary to give security of tenure in perpetuity for all citizens, is a noble call and must be supported by all Ugandans.”

However, MP Lulume who is the Vice Chairperson of Buganda Parliamentary Caucus says that the implementation of the Land Act, 1998 is enough to give security of tenure to bibanja holders. He also notes that reforming the Mailo land tenure system was never a recommendation by the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire led Land Commission report.  

Lulume also wonders why government has not considered buying land for bibanja holders in Buganda under the Land Fund like it has done in different parts of the country. He adds that those evicting people on land hold fake land titles and that government only looks on as the illegal evictions are carried out.

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Fred Kayondo, the Mukono South MP says that although a number of land eviction cases have been reported in Buganda region, the move by government to provide land reforms on the Mailo tenure is not with clean hands. 

Kayondo appealed to government to instead handle different challenges facing ownership of land like issuance of fake titles which he says is one of the major reasons why people are evicted.

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Micheal Kakembo, the Entebbe Municipality MP says that the proposed reforms are targeting Buganda as a region. He equally demanded for accountability for money appropriated in the Land Fund in the past ten years and whether it has been used to help bibanja holders in Buganda.

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Minister Mayanja’s statement comes on a backdrop of government statements regarding Mailo land. Early this year, the then Minister of Lands, Beti Kamya said that the proposed new laws on ownership and management of land, especially in Buganda are intended to protect bibanja holders and bonafide occupants from being arbitrarily evicted.

President Yoweri Museveni, also during the 32nd Heroes Day celebrations at Kololo Independence Grounds last month described Mailo land as a very bad and evil tenure system used in the Buganda Kingdom.

Museveni said that this needs to be reformed so that land owners are entitled to full ownership of their land, noting that he was perturbed by concerns of people who are illegally displaced from their land induced by land grabbing cases related to the Mailo land tenure system.

But Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II on Monday appealed to subjects to pray for God’s mercy against the ill intentions of people targeting Kingdom property.

“We appeal to all believers participating in this animal sacrifice to do it with a purpose of beseeching God to save us, have mercy on us, and continue blocking all paths and voices targeting our properties, especially ownership of land in a move to undermine and create hatred for Buganda in various ways,” read part of Kabaka’s message.

Kabaka Mutebi also encouraged believers to pray for the Eleventh Parliament to legislate on matters that concern the entire country rather than issues regarding a particular region, faith, or political ideology. He says that this forms the basis for the development of Uganda and its people.

The Katikkiro of Buganda, Charles Peter Mayiga also recently warned the government against interpreting the country’s land issues in political terms.

“It’s not the Mailo land system that is causing the problem because we have witnessed development in Uganda since the Mailo land system was introduced. Land Problems started around the 1990s and 2000s and if they are addressed, there should be no problem at all,” said Mayiga.

Some of the issues recently identified by the Kingdom that need to be addressed by government regarding land are apprehending those who evict people using guns, streamlining all land offices in the country to ensure that rightful people get Certificates of Title, strengthening and providing financial and logistical support to the Land Protection Unit of Uganda Police, timely disposal of all land cases in the courts of law and others. 

   

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