Thursday March 8 2018

Kisoro land dispute pits locals against district leadership

By Robert Muhereza

Kisoro- A group of 78 people from Nyakabande and Chahi sub-counties in Kisoro District claiming to be rightful owners of the 164 acres of land in Shozi, Kanyabukungu and Kabuga villages are demanding compensation of Shs25 billion from the district.
The complainants in June 2002 sued Kisoro District local government for allocating part of their land to the Kisoro Prisons and asked to regain full control.

They also want all activities being done on the land halted until they have been compensated.
The then Kabale Chief Magistrate, Ms Gladys Kiseka Nakibule, issued an interim order restraining both the applicants and the respondent from cultivating, wasting or damaging the land.

The Chief Magistrate ordered that the land maintains its status quo, among others, as public grazing land since the bigger part of it was being used for that activity, until the determination of the main suit.

During the mediation process, the district offered Shs1 million as compensation for each person while the applicants demanded Shs60 million each.

According to court documents relating to the case which Daily Monitor has seen, on November 9, 2015 Kabale Chief Magistrate, Ms Agatonica Mbabazi, wrote that each party brings its own valuer and meets the costs of valuation and thereafter the valuers file a joint valuation report not later than February 20, 2016.

Mr Ordon Nzabonimpa, who leads the petitioners, says they engaged the valuer who established the value of the land to be worth Shs25 billion.

The report was submitted to the Chief Magistrate’s Court but district authorities never honoured the court’s directive as their valuation report is not on the file.

He adds that since 1998, various government agencies, including the district local government, Uganda Prisons and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have committed acts of trespass on their land.

The local government currently uses part of the disputed land as a livestock market. The complainants say they have received information that the district authorities surveyed the disputed land well aware that there is an ongoing court case

Mr Nzabonimpa says they were surprised in October last year when President Museveni was invited to lay a foundation stone for the construction of the John Kale Memorial Institute of Science and Technology on the land. “In our humble opinion this amounts to impunity that was intended to embarrass and bring into disrepute the good name of President Museveni especially when the authorities and the people behind the construction of institute took him to lay a foundation stone. We appeal to the President to use his powers to stop any developments on this land until the court cases are logically concluded,” he says.

The complainants say on August 23, 2017, they wrote to the Minister of Education protesting the proposed construction of the institute on the land but have never received any feedback.

“If Kisoro District local government can give us Shs25 billion as compensation we can withdraw the court cases. Whereas we support development, it should not deprive us of our rights,” he said.
Part of the disputed land is currently used as the Nyakabande Refuge Transit Camp where Congolese refugees are being received and registered.