MPs want Customary Land Tenures Untouched by Reforms

Audio 1

Members of Parliament have asked government to exclude the regulation of customary land ownership from the Land Amendment Bill 2007.

The Land Amendment Bill 2007 provides that evictions from customary land can be effected through courts of law in cases where traditional land institutions have failed.

Kaberamaido county MP Julius Emigu stated that the customary land system in the country had traditional institutions that regulate them.

Emigu argues that powerful people would use courts of law to evict poor customary land owners.

He added that there were pastoralists who were moving from district to district and could claim interest in other peoples land since the law could protect them.

Kilak county MP Michael Ocula expressed fears that the government wants to introduce a law on customary land so that they could use it to allocate customary land to investors.

Ocula asserted that if investors were interested in acquiring customary land, they should consult the land owners and not come through government.

//Cue in: iGoing to the Bill ..."

Cue out: "# continue the evictions.i//

Oyam South MP Ben Wacha said

introducing laws to regulate the customary land tenure system would interfere with the system.

Wacha said the Land Act and the Constitution cater for the customary land systems.

The Constitution and the Land Act provide that land in Uganda shall be held under the following tenure systems; customary, freehold, mailo and leasehold.

Wacha appealed to government should deal with the problem facing landless people and the population explosion putting pressure on land because the Bill would not solve these problems.

Responding to this arguments, Lands Minister Daniel Omara Atubo said the Bill seeks to protect the interest of customary land owners by recognizing the traditional institutions governing them. He said in case the traditional institutions fail to settle customary land disputes, the cases could be brought to courts of law.

The Land Bill seeks to prevent land occupants from illegal and unfair evictions. It seeks to give powers to the land district land boards to set fees for ground rent and empowers the lands minister to fix the ground rent where district land boards have failed.

The Bill has reached a stage where debate is almost complete and voting to pass it will take place this week or early next week.