KAMPALA. Buganda Kingdom administration yesterday warned government that any attempt to scrap the Mailo land tenure system would be met with outright resistance.
The kingdom premier, Mr Charles Peter Mayiga, was reacting to one of the proposals by the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led Commission of Inquiry into land matters, suggesting the abolition of Mailo land tenure system in the country.
“I want to immediately put them on notice that we shall not allow that. We shall not give them space to play with people’s land. I don’t say this to excite, we have concrete points and that is why I oppose someone who says that,” Mr Mayiga said as he received kingdom subjects from Makulubita and Nnyimbwa sub-counties of Bulemeezi County at Bulange grounds.
Mr Mayiga reiterated an earlier appeal to government to consider six points he previously enunciated before the Buganda parliament.
These, he said, are weaknesses that must be tackled to solve the land question in the country.
Land conflicts in Uganda are exacerbated by six key factors, he said, including the inefficiency of police in detecting and investigating land related matters, the inefficiency of courts and failure to expeditiously dispose of land cases, the confusion and corruption in all land registries, the increase in population which exerts pressure on available land, overusing land which degrades its nutritional content hence leading to poor yields compelling those with means to acquire large chunks to sustain its use and political interference in land matters.
He cited Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) who he said obstruct enforcement of court orders and politically connected people who grab land with impunity.
It is not clear whether the recommendation will remain part of the final report that is expected to be handed over to President Museveni in May but several people have already come out to oppose the recommendation.
In 2007, Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze was appointed by the Mengo establishment to lead the Civic Education Central Committee (CECC), which visited all corners of Buganda mobilising the masses against the Land Bill, among other issues.
The activities of the committee and other vocal Opposition to the Bill by other Mengo leaders compelled President Museveni in a December 18, 2007 letter to the Kabaka to complain that Nambooze’s group was in breach of the Constitution by causing disaffection against the NRM party.
Ms Nambooze, Mr Mayiga then Information minister and his deputy then Medard Lubega Ssegona were consequently arrested and disappeared for some time.
Reacting to the probe team proposal, Ms Nambooze did not mince words. “And Mailo land only exists in Buganda,” she posted on Facebook “....so I hope you realise that the Bamugemereire commission had nothing to do with land grabbers but it was targeting Buganda land.”
Daily Monitor, yesterday, exclusively published 18 wide-ranging recommendations contained in the interim report handed over to President Museveni during a meeting with the probe team at Kawumu State Lodge last week.
While receiving the report, President Museveni, promised to appoint senior police officers and lawyers to work with the Commission to implement the probe findings.
Once the final report is submitted, government will also discuss the findings through a Cabinet White Paper and decisions will be made public. The recommendation on Mailo land tenure system reads: “Reduction of current land tenures from four to perhaps three; customary, freehold and leasehold. All government land to be held under freehold by the State.”
Article 237(1) of the 1995 Constitution as amended, provides that Land in Uganda belongs to the citizens of Uganda and shall vest in them in accordance with the land tenure systems provided for in this Constitution. The systems provided for under 237(3) (a) are customary, freehold, mailo; and leasehold. For the move to be implemented, the Constitution will have to be amended.
Other recommendations that have already triggered debate include the disbandment of the Uganda Land Commission, the re-establishment of “District Land Tribunals” headed by a magistrate, the establishment of a “futuristic Land Bank”.
In the run up to the appointment of the probe, Lands minister Betty Amongi, in 2016, described the Mailo land tenure as an unfair way of land acquisition introduced by the 1900 pact between the British colonial government and Buganda Kingdom. She said she would engage Buganda Land Board over the matter.