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Soroti Council Hits Deadlock on Land Board Appointment :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Soroti Council Hits Deadlock on Land Board Appointment

According to Owiny, Gweri County was omitted from representation on the land board, something he notes was an irregularity that needed the attention of the council before the names are forwarded to the Ministry of Land and Urban Development for approval.
Soroti District Council Speaker, Stephen Olebe (on wheel chair) waves to George Michael Egunyu, LCV Soroti as he leaves couuncil hall.
The appointment of the Soroti District Land Board has suffered a setback following a petition challenging irregularities in the district council. On December 21, 2021, the Soroti district council approved the names of five nominees to the district land board on December 21, 2021, two months into the expiry of the terms for the sitting land board. 

Those approved were Francis Baptista Opolot from Katine Sub County, Frances Asero Elasu from Tubur Sub County, Francis Ewoyu from Tubur Town Council, and Vincent Enomu from Ochuloi Sub County, and John William Anyau from Asuret Sub County. But it later emerged that the council had erred in constituting the District Land Board. 

This resulted in a petition by one of the council members, Bob Owiny. In his petition to the LC V chairperson, Simon Peter Edoru Ekuu, and the Council Speaker, Stephen Olebe, Owiny noted that four nominees to the land board were from Dakabela County and the other from Soroti County leaving out Gweri County.

Section 57 (1) of the Land Act, 1998 subjects the District Land Board membership to five. This comprises the chairperson, one member representing Municipal Council and another representing urban council. The guidelines also require equal representation from all the counties including a female member.

According to Owiny, Gweri County was omitted from representation on the land board, something he notes was an irregularity that needed the attention of the council before the names are forwarded to the Ministry of Land and Urban Development for approval.

“Section 57 (3) states that at least one-third of the members referred to in subsection (1) shall be women. This also has not been observed”, Owiny’s petition reads. Adding that when he raised the same matter in council on March 24, 2022, the speaker guided that he writes to the district chairperson, who is the appointing authority.

The matter came up during the council convened to approve the budget estimates for the next financial year. It took councilors almost two hours to drop one of the nominees in order to accommodate a representative from Gweri County.

The council later dropped Frances Asero Elasu, who is expected to be replaced by a female representative from Gweri County. The absence of the district land board has stayed all land-related transactions in the district since the tenure of the former land board expired in February 2022. 

Stephen Olebe, the Soroti District Council Speaker, says that the name will be proposed by the executive committee in consultation with the Gweri County council members. “Since this is our last council meeting in this financial year, we shall have the proposed name approved in the next council meeting expected around August. The executive can proceed to submit the names to the ministry to enable the board to commence its works”, he said.

Soroti district is currently battling 48 court cases following complaints of double allocation of plots and land by the district land board.  Salim Kumakech, the new Resident District Commissioner in Soroti, says that most cases arose from wrong decisions taken by the district.