Lubowa hospital land controversy arises from a sense of impunity

Tuesday August 20 2019


By Peter Mulira

In his letter dated February 10, 2016 the Commissioner for Survey clarified that “Mailo land cannot be turned into public land (Freehold). However in the early days of colonialism, land could be curved out of mailo land and defined as surplus land.
The surplus land could be treated like public land. It should be noted that surplus lands have been reverting to the original owners of the mailo from where they were curved out.”
Ssuuna was allocated 8 square miles under the Buganda Agreement of 1900. He obtained a Final Certificate on June 6, 1906, which was registered under the Registration of Land Titles Ordinance of 1908. After survey, Ssuuna’s land came down to 6 square miles (592.27 acres).
According to Cadastal “Catridge” Map Sheets 71/1/21 and 22 four square miles or 2,560 acres were marked out at Bunamwaya, Lweza, Lubowa, Naziba, Nakukuba and Mutungo while 1,587 acres were marked out at Bunamwaya. After taking into account Ssuuna’ land, which was subject to Grants of 99 years and 11,872 acres, which he deposed of under his will, there remained 718 acres in his residuary estate, which has been fraudulently shared between three government agencies.
The much vanted Lubowa hospital sits on part of the land shared by Joint Clinic Reseach Centre Ltd. Mitchell Cotts, whose name appears prominently in the Lubowa land saga, took over management of the company in April 1967 through a management company, Mitchell Cotts (U) Ltd after the general manager resigned for personal reasons.
However, Mitchell Cotts managers had to leave Uganda upon expulsion of expatriates by the military regime in 1973.
Upon departure of top management, all title deeds in the names of Uganda Company, were submitted to the Ministry of Finance by the company’s lawyers and their receipt was acknowledged by an officer by the name of J. Kahoza.
After the fall of the military regime, the chairman of Mitchell Cotts Group Ltd, visited Uganda and negotiated an agreement for revival of the Uganda Company tea estates.
The agreement dated August 18, 1979, provided that “the government would assist Mitchell Cotts in repossessing its properties in Uganda, which were not nationalised.” It seems that Lubowa Estate fell in the hands of Mitchell Cotts pursuant to this provision although the company never owned the estate. What followed after this is pure impunity and arrogance. A certificate of repossession No 0412 dated 16th December, 1988, was issued to Uganda Company and the company was registered as proprietor of 1814 acres, Lubowa Estate.
Ssuuna left a will in which he disposed of 1,872 acres of his land. In addition, he gave away individual leases amounting to 58 acres. When you deduct lease area from the testamentary area, the balance is 1,814 acres. Accordingly, there is no doubt whatsoever that Ssuuna’s land was given away to a foreign company.
On February 1, 1960, Uganda Company registered a lease in favour of Eat African Tea Estates Ltd as to 1,485 acres. East African Tea Estates Ltd took a mortgage of Pounds 500,000 from Alliance Assurance Company Ltd of P.O. Box 26, Kampala.
A transfer dated 4th June 2012 of 85 acres from Uganda Company (Holdings) Ltd to Mitchell Cotts (U) Ltd was filed in the land office on 21st May 2013. Instead of transferring 85 acres the Registrar of Titles transferred 1485 acres. At the time both companies had ceased to exist.

Mr Mulira is a lawyer.