Thursday February 7 2013

Land should be valued, not sold off cheaply to buy boda bodas

By Bosco Nyombi

I recently visited Uganda and did a lot of travelling around especially in Buganda. I take long without coming back home because of the tight schedule I have here in the United Kingdom.

This time, I found a very dismaying practice. Many land owners are selling their land in the village to migrate to Kampala, others use the proceeds from land sale to buy boda bodas or to buy meat and chicken.

Landlords or land owners can better utilise their land by practicing commercial agriculture. They however are hampered because the government has not done enough to create a conducive environment for this.

This reminded me of some of the recent government programmes like Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture, Naad s, Entandikwa among others.

If not all the monies, most of it meant for those projects has been stolen by government officials. And nothing has been done to apprehend such people.

I ask myself why cooperative societies are not reinstated to help Ugandans do their agricultural work by themselves. But in the absence of this and with the continued theft of money, legislators especially those in the Buganda caucus have a lot to do for their people.

Many Baganda are desperately selling their land to the rich. After some officials steal government money meant to help the population, they solicit land lords through land brokers to sell them land. I was dismayed to find most youth moving around with photocopies of land titles for sale.
Most of our prominent business men like Sembule, zigoti, Greenland Bank’s Sulaiman Kiggundu (RIP), have been forced out onto the street . I also noticed developing high scrappers. Who are those few Baganda claiming to own malls in cities?
It is the role of legislators to help the people know the importance of owning land.

Baganda cherish their Kabakaship. We cannot protect the King or the Namulondo from inside the palace. We need to protect it from outside the borders of Buganda. Just imagine if 70 per cent of our land goes to different people, how long will it take for them to change or challenge our customs or culture?

There are certain individuals who are lucky enough to have unlimited access to funds from unidentified sources, large enough to buy off the whole of Buganda from the desperate land lords I mentioned above. These happen to be the same people who are not sympathetic to Buganda.

Sometime back, MP Medard Lubega Ssegona reminded the President to return the Buganda properties “Ebyaffe” but the tone and anguish with which the President retorted, was unbelievable. Ssegona was right to remind the President that, since he is a President for all Ugandans he has an obligation to answer everyone’s concerns.

The President’s response among the people of Busiro where Ssegona is the people’s representative was not befitting. It seemed to be directed only to Ssegona’s supporters.

Working with their colleagues, the Buganda caucus has to fight tooth and nail to make sure other regions adopt the Mailo Land system where everyone has the title to his land.

It is not fair to liquidate our land while others enjoy their God-given gift as this will dilute our culture which has been kept for hundreds of years, the question is why our generation?
As we try to advise our people not to sell off their land, the ministry of Lands where land titles are sometimes faked, should also be prevailed over.

We need to create a favourable environment for our children including those borne in the Diaspora. Elders from Buganda and other regions have a role to play.

I saw what happened to the president of the Democratic party Nobert Mao and the two Italian investors when they went to visit Amuru. People were anxious to protect what belongs to them.

Mr Nyombi is the Chairman,
Buganda Heritage Association