On May 12, 2013, Sssaabasajja Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi appointed me Katikkiro (prime minister) of Buganda.
When the announcement was made, I received many phone calls from family and friends, which signified the magnitude of the job at hand.
They expressed joy and stated their hope in my leadership. I had thought about this role because I had been informed of the pending appointment before the announcement was made, but nothing prepares you for a responsibility of this scale.
I started re-thinking what needs to be done and wondering how I would execute this larger than life task. I think it is only natural to question yourself.
I was also encouraged by the messages, especially from people who I didn’t personally know yet they pledged to support me.
The majority of such people are still determined to see a Buganda that is better.
On May 29, 2013, the Kabaka handed over Ddamula (the mace that symbolises the office of a Katikkiro) to me at a function held just outside the main entrance of the Mengo Palace.
Lots of people turned up in their thousands stretching from the palace to Bulange, a mile away.
They seemed happy with my appointment, which signaled to me that disappointing them would be disappointing the Kabaka.
As I drove through the crowds of jubilating people, I thought about failure as a frightening prospect.
I also saw it in their eyes that if I worked hard, these people would accompany me on this sometimes lonely journey.
I have been lucky that they still walk with me five years later.
We have registered some modest achievements in the past five years since that Sunday evening announcement.
However, I will leave the extent of the achievements to others to judge. What I can say is that whatever has been achieved has been a collective effort.
For what we haven’t achieved yet, I can easily own that because I am the Kamalabyonna — Ssaabasajja Kabaka’s principal advisor.
So as I reflect on the period ahead, I see a lot of things that have not been achieved yet.
Land, which is a key aspirational tenet of our Kingdom, has become such an issue that we must resolve.
Like Mark Twain is quoted to have said, “they no longer make land.” What the legendary writer and humorist didn’t say is that the land in Buganda is the most sought after.
The increase in population and corruption in government agencies plus the weaknesses of the police and the unsatisfactory way the Judiciary handles land cases have led to land conflicts; without mentioning the reactionary policy decisions or proposals that seem to solely target the Kingdom.
In Buganda, land is a propriety issue and it is therefore our right to protect it. As long as I am Katikkiro, I will continue to fight for our inherent rights.
I also intend to continue pursuing the introduction of a federal system of government for Uganda. Federalism doesn’t make Buganda special or superior.
It would simply empower all major regions in the country to govern themselves in a manner they see fit. They would also develop themselves better.
A federal status would help Bunyoro manage its affairs better including receiving a percentage from oil revenue.
The Banyoro know what is better for them and their regions would develop much more than it is at the moment. But also development would stop to be concentrated in Buganda as it is today.
If we want our country to develop as a whole, it is high time we implemented recommendations of the Justice Benjamin Odoki Constitution Commission and Prof Fredrick Ssempebwa Constitution Review Commission.
Majority of Ugandans, not just Baganda, have demanded for federalism for many decades now. Demanding for sharing power through a federal system of government is something we won’t abandon.
As Buganda, there are many things that the central government still owes us. In the last five years, some of these have been returned including some land titles and properties at the Ssaza (county) level.
There are still many others that haven’t been returned. I will continue pressing for the return of these properties to the rightful owners.
Where others have been sold by the government such as Muteesa House in London, the plot of land on Kampala Road where King Fahd Plaza stands today, and shares in companies such as Uganda Electricity Board, compensation must be paid to the Kingdom.
It is not just a demand I make, compensation is the right thing to do. If Asians got their properties back, why can’t Buganda get what is duly ours?
The majority of the people in Buganda, as elsewhere across the country, are young people. They must be inspired to get themselves out of poverty. We have been doing this with Emmwanyi Terimba (grow coffee) campaign but that isn’t enough.
Ebert Bukenya: Introduces the session. My Lord we start the with the delegation from Buganda led by Prime Minister Mayiga
Judge: We would like you to tell us how to address you
Charles Peter Mayiga: Just call me Owekitiibwa
EB: Please introduce yourself
Mayiga: My name is Charles Peter Mayiga. I am the Katikkiro (Prime Minister) of Buganda Kingdom. I have been in this office since 2013. I exercise duties on behalf of the Kabaka of Buganda. I am accompanied by Prince David Wassajja; the Kabaka’s young brother and ministers, a committee of clan heads and the executive of Masaza (counties) chiefs and other technical staff from different departments of the Kingdom.
EB: Normally I have witnesses whom I lead upon taking oath. But yours, is high level submission and not evidence on oath. Please clarify to us whether you will be the only one addressing the Commission or others will speak.
Mayiga: I will be the person to read the memorandum but should the commission want any clarification, I will direct one of the people to answer it according to their department
EB: Now I invite you to make presentation
Mayiga: I thank you for inviting us to make a presentation in regard to the mandate of Kingdom on land. I wish to thank you for the work you do relating to land matters…
Reads the memorandum ….
On December 8, 2016, the President appointed a Commission of Inquiry into the effectiveness of the law, policies and processes of land acquisition, administration, management and registration in Uganda headed by the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire.
The commission commenced public hearings across the country and has received several memoranda. On January 15 2018, it submitted an interim report to the president with several recommendations including the need to abolish the Uganda Land Commission (ULC), to create a new land authority and to reduce the current land tenures from four to perhaps three freehold, customary freehold and leasehold.
The Kingdom of Buganda which, through the Kabaka of Buganda is vested with Constitutional rights and interests in land wishes to submit its views and recommendations to the commission not only to ensure that its people’s native rights and interests in land are protected under the law. The Kingdom’s views derive from both a historical and contemporary context of land allocation, land tenure and manament in Buganda before and after Uganda’s independence.
The Kingdom’s concerns on land cover five major areas namely; The proposal to abolish the mailo land tenure and to fuse it with other tenures into a single tenure contrary to Article 237 of the Constitution and the public concern that the Commission was essentially established to target land tenure in Buganda and to ultimately abolish mailo land tenure in a manner similar to what previous regimes have attempted to do.
Compulsory acquisiton of land
The proposal to introduce a new regime for compulsory acquisition of land contrary to Article 26 and 237 of the Constitution in a manner that mostly disenfranchise land owners and occupants in Buganda which constitutes the most sought after land for commercial and public interests on account of the fact that it lies at the heart of the country’s transport system, public administration, business and commerce.
The delay in effecting the complete return of and or compensation for expropriated land to the Kingdom of Buganda contrary to Article 26 of the Constitution, the traditional Rulers Act (1993)and the agreement on the return of certain assets between the government and the Kabaka of Buganda in 2013.
The need to reform land laws – in particular the land Act of 1998 (as amended) – that perpetuate unfair laws between registered land owners, Housing and Urban Development, tenants and other occupants on land so as to improve land management and administration as well as introduce effective and quick dispute resolution mechanisms across the country.
The need to address factors that are responsible for or that contribute to rampant land grabbing and overall crisis in the land sector in Uganda. These factors include institutional weaknesses in entities relevant to the law and order sectors as well as the land sector in general. These institutions include the ministry of lands and district land boards, police, the directorate of public prosecutions (DPP) and the judiciary. Because of the institutional weaknesses, these bodies delay, neglect and or fail to investigate and prosecute land related crimes in a timely and judicious manner.
Sadly, the resolution of the land question in Uganda since independence and particularly in 1967, 1975. 1998 and 2007 has often been subjective and done in piecemeal or ad hoc manner often without due consultations with all the stakeholders. Each development right from 1900 has been heralded as a reform by its advocates yet still the land sector remains in a state of disorganisation. We sincerely hope that this commission will take the time to consider all the evidence before it objectively and judiciously and as a result of this Commission’s work, recommendations will be made to critically review and take necessary measures to address the malaise that affects land tenure in Uganda once and for all.
Proposals to fuse mailo and freehold land tenure into one
In its interim report to the president, the Commission recommended for the reduction of current tenures from four to three; freehold, customary and leasehold.
Proposal to abolish mailo land
This recommendation was greeted by a public outcry particularly from individuals and institutions such as the Kingdom of Buganda who hold mailo land titles. The outcry arose out of the fact that no known public demand had been made before the commission for the abolition of mailo tenure. Also because no persuasive or justifiable reasons were tendered by the commission to back up the recommendation.
Moreover, it was unclear what the recommendation meant to registered owners of mailo land titles. Were they to be cancelled? If so, would these not be contrary to Article 26 and 237 of Constitution? In response to these concerns, the Commission issued a press release where it denied recommending the abolition of ownership rights currently represented by mailo land tenure. In its clarification, the Commission stated that its recommendation was in fact efforts to be made to fuse overtime these parallel freehold type systems into a single tenure to introduce clarity and cohessions. To the Kingdom and indeed other registered owners of mailo land titles, the clarification created more confusion.
…Buganda is apprehensive about the proposal to abolish the mailo land tenure or to fuse it with other tenures into a single tenure. It believes that mailo land tenure is uniquely part of Buganda’s history and is now deeply engrained in its culture, customs and traditions. The mailo land tenure is unique in the way it recognises the interest of the registered proprietors and occupants of land. Indeed customary practices have developed that it defines the terms of ownership, usage, occupation and inheritance of land and the mailo land regime... It is difficult to imagine how these would be defined and understood in a fused tenure system.
The unique character of the mailo land tenure in Buganda may explain why, even after it was abolished by Gen Idi Amin in 1975, the Mailo land division in the ministry of lands remained and mailo land titles continued to be issued and held. In effect, Mailo land tenure was abolished in name and not in fact.
It is sometimes wrongly argued Mailo land tenure represents historical in justices of the land distribution under the 1900 agreement. On this basis, it is argued that the abolition of this tenure would somehow redress these historical injustices.
It is important to point out that as of today, the only entity that retains land as was allocated under the 1900 Agreement is the Institution of the Kabaka who still holds the 350sq miles that is occupied by a variety of people including a lot of non-Baganda. This being the case, it would be the institution of the Kabaka that would be most adversely affected by a proposal to either abolish mailo land tenure or somehow fuse it with other tenures. This reality explains the kingdom’s fears that the proposed removal of mailo land tenure is targeting the Kabaka.
It is also claimed that mailo land tenure is responsible for lack of proper planning and zoning of developments in peri-urban and urban centers. However, such claims cannot be justified. The problem of congestion, poor planning, slums, poor sanitation and haphazard developments can only be blamed on the lack of effective laws and poor implementation of planning laws and policies. Mailo land tenure does not prohibit or preclude urban authorities from formulating and implementing town plans within clearly demarcated development zones or set standards. In any case, it cannot be argued that poor planning and slummy conditions in other parts of Uganda are attributable to the mailo land tenure where it does not exist. It is doubtful that the fusion of land tenures will miraculously result in proper planning of urban areas in absence of effective laws and policies as well as effective and deliberate implementation mechanisms by urban and town authorities.
Regarding the problem of overlapping and sometimes conflicting interests on the same land mostly under mailo land tenure between registered land owners and occupants, the Kingdom agrees that there is a need to find a lasting solution. We believe that one of the main causes of rampant and wanton evictions of occupants of land is paralysis that arises out of the duplicity of ownership by registered proprietors and tenants, bonafide or lawful occupants on land. We consider that the solution to this problem lies not in abolition of mailo land tenure or fusion of tenures but in the layering of ownership of land as well as the provision of leasehold certificates of titles to the landless groups occupying or using registered land. The protections under the current law for bonafide occupants, bibanja holders or lawful occupants of land such as payment for nominal ground rent and prohibitions of evictions without court orders have not provided sufficient security of tenure for these categories.
... We invite government to utilise the land fund to help unregistered occupants on land to acquire leasehold land titles on willing seller-willing buyer basis.
We consider that if well managed and funded, the idea of land fund under Section 41 of the Land Act would solve the problem rather quickly. We believe this is where government should focus its energies provided always that the land fund is used in a transparent and a non-discriminative way against one group in favour of another...
More importantly to Buganda, the fact that much of Buganda of Buganda’s land was expropriated and managed without accountability by the government from 1967 and land has not been fully returned to the Kingdom and is managed by government agencies; much of this land has been converted from leasehold or mailo land tenure to freehold by ULC and district land boards render the proposal to fuse land tenures even more suspect and tenuous in the eyes of Buganda Kingdom. Why should violent expropriation of the Buganda Kingdom land by government be perpetuated and defended when all other victims of expropriation had their property returned to them or were duly compensated?
It is for these reasons that Buganda is strongly opposed to the idea of abolition of mailo land tenure or fusion of tenure system as suggested by the Commission. The Commission needs to dispel public fears that its work is targeting land tenure in Buganda.
Proposals for new regime on compulsory acquisition of land
Buganda and other interested parties are not convinced about the need to change the law to allow for compulsory acquisition of land without prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation prior to the taking of possession or acquisition of the said land contrary to Article 26 and 237 of the Constitution. The spirit of this legislation is that a person should not be dispossessed of their land unless they have been fairly and adequately compensated. Therefore any policy, law or practice that flouts this provision is ultra vires the Constitution and must not be allowed to stand. The Kingdom considers that government proposals on compulsory acquisition of land contradicts the spirit and the law enshrined in Article 26 and 237 of the Constitution. They (proposals) only seek to reverse the Supreme Court decision in the case of Irumba Vs UNRA where it was held that compensation must be paid before land is gazatted for acquisition by the government.
The Kingdom believes that the current law is sufficient to address compulsory acquisition. Instead of amending the law, it should address issues of assessment, corruption, cases of over payment whereby some people are compensated and others not. Instead of changing the law, the government should set up a mechanism to curb speculators who buy land in anticipation of projects and hike prices of the land earmarked for public projects. We also believe that the idea to leave compensations to courts is problematic because courts in Uganda are generally slow, sometimes are corrupt and are costly.
To make matters worse, government has a bad record and has been poor and slow at compensation of some verified claims. There are many cases in point including delays in payment even where the Chief Government Valuer has made assessment. These include compensation for Plot 52 Kampala Road and Muteesa House in London to Buganda Kingdom and compensation for Kibaale-Hoima refinery project where 100 families were affected.
We believe that the following problems are responsible for the crisis in the land sector and unless they are addressed, the crisis will persist.
Corruption in government institutions with responsibility over land, a compromised, slow and sometimes unfair judicial process in the resolution of land disputes, increased pressure on land resulting from an increased population and demand for land.
Undue politicisation and creation of multiple layers of authority within the government structures that often interfere and cause confusion in land administration. Land matters are concurrently handled by officials in the president’s office, the police, Resident District Commissioners, ULC, District land boards, District chairpersons, ministry of lands and the courts. There is no doubt that the multiplicity of centers handle land matters and disputes has contributed greatly to the crisis within Uganda’s land sector.
Lack of a comprehensive and consultative process aimed at land reform. Land laws are often passed in a piecemeal or fashion and without due consultations of all stakeholders. The Land Act and all amendments thereof are a case in point. Because of this, there is apathy and resistance to comply with laws that are regarded as unfair and discriminatory.
More than 600 tenants occupying Buganda Kingdom land in Bukungulu Village, Sentema Sub-county in Wakiso District have protested planned eviction, saying there is no clear compensation plan.
Led by Mr Frank Kisuule, the affected tenants said the decision by Buganda Land Board (BLB) to evict them from the 962-acre piece of land is aimed at replacing them with the rich people who can afford apartments in the proposed satellite city.
“We bought our plots of land in Sentema because we could not raise Shs25 million needed for titled plots of land in Wakiso Town. So if they come out now and tell us to register and get ekyapa mungalo, we are poor people and don’t have the money they want,” Mr Kisuule said in an interview yesterday.
“The compensation package is also unclear, that’s why we ask the Kabaka to intervene in this matter because we are all his subjects,” he added.
Mr Kisuule wondered why BLB plans to compensate only tenants who have registered with them yet all tenants paid money to secure the pieces of land they are occupying. BLB is the business arm of Buganda Kingdom, which manages part of the assets returned to the Kabaka under the Traditional Rulers Restitution of Assets and Properties Act 1993.
‘Targeting the poor’
Ms Annet Nakibuuka, a resident in Bukungulu Village, said BLB officials are only pushing for their interests without considering those of poor residents.
“For some years Buganda Kingdom officials have been promising to construct a satellite city for poor people in Sentema and we welcomed the idea but amongst us, who will afford to buy houses of between Shs100m and Shs200m?” she said.
Recently, Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga revealed that the kingdom wants to build low-cost housing units for Kabaka’s subjects on the land.
A similar project, according to Mr Mayiga, is planned for Mpigi District and will sit on 204 acres in Mayembe ga Mbogo Village.
But during a recent meeting with the affected residents, Mr Charles Kiberu, the Kabaka’s chief in Busiro County, said only tenants who registered with BLB during the ongoing mass registration of tenants on Kabaka’s land will be fully compensated.
The exercise, the kingdom says, is meant to provide an opportunity to bibanja holders on kingdom land to document their ownership and to provide for planning and guided land utilisation. But some Baganda have opposed the programme, saying it will deprive residents of their land rights.
However, Mr Dennis Bugaya, the BLB spokesperson, allayed the residents’ fears, saying they have no intention of evicting tenants. He said they are currently holding meetings with different stakeholders to sensitise them about the planned housing project.
“We plan to start with 50 acres of land, which are vacant, as we allow all tenants around to register with BLB. After registration, they will immediately start paying nominal ground rent ranging between Shs5,000 and Shs50,000 as one way of regularising their tenancy,” Mr Bugaya said, adding: “Those who wish to work with BLB will be incorporated in the project and those who don’t want will be fully compensated.”
Mr Bugaya defended the proposed price of between Shs100m and Shs200m, saying the planned houses will be of international standard and will last more than 100 years. He said the planned housing concept will help to increase the value of land to enable tenants become loanable using their houses as security.
“We are not putting up temporary structures, but we are planning to erect good houses. Those who can afford the prices will pay and those with little money will be linked to financial institutions, which will finance them to enjoy the houses at a cheaper price,” he added.
He said the project will have a complete set of social amenities such as schools, hospitals and hotels, including a green park.
Buganda Kingdom has of late faced public criticism over the rate at which they are leasing out land, some of it occupied by Kabaka’s subjects and other housing public facilities, to private developers.
Tenant rights. Uganda’s land regulations dictate that before a landlord sells off or leases land, they must consider interests of sitting tenants by giving them the first priority to purchase the land.
According to the Land Amendment Act, 2010, tenants can resist eviction, especially if they have been paying the annual nominal ground rent.
Kampala. The serene hills of Lugazi, renowned for its vast sugarcane canopy, will offer a new home for Uganda Cranes and Ugandan football at large.
With Namboole Stadium now showing its age and over-working effect, Fufa have partnered with Buganda kingdom to build a 20000-seater stadium on 10 acres in Lugazi at an initial cost of $1m (Shs3.6bn).
The land, situated on Plot No. 262, Block 179 in Kawolo, Lugazi adjacent the Kawolo Division headquarters in Buikwe District, was handed over by the Katikkiro of Buganda Kingdom Charles Peter Mayiga to Fufa officials yesterday before the ground breaking ceremony was conducted.
“Lugazi town has provided a lot of football talent over the years and this means we can get more with the stadium situated here,” Fufa President Moses Magogo said.
“In 2015 after Morocco rejected the Afcon finals and Kenya failed to host Chan, Caf inquired whether we could host but we couldn’t. If we get more stadiums, we can host Afcon tourney soon,” he added.
Magogo says among other benefits, the stadium will save Fufa from the fans’ pitch invasion Caf fines, overfilling of the stadium and avoiding the ticket mess witnessed at Namboole recently.
The project will last for five years and will be executed in phases. The project source of funding shall be majorly from Fifa as well as other Fufa partners and stake holders.
“The Kabaka blessed the request of a football stadium and we shall offer the necessary support to this project. We believe locals are going to be the first to benefit from it,” Mayiga revealed.
Youth groups such as Nkoba za Mbogo must find a way to use their numbers for investments. Groups such CBS Fans Club have been doing well with social investments, such as helping each other when a member loses a close relative or when one decides to get married.
These are good causes and they must continue. However, I want to see them do more by saving money and investing it.
Nkoba za Mbogo, for example, has 600 branches across the country. If each branch saved just Shs500,000 a month, which they can easily do, they would be able to start up enterprises that can create jobs for themselves and their fellow youth.
For the future, I will consolidate on what has been achieved over the past five years and focus more on ensuring that we have properly running companies and institutions in the Kingdom.
Like I have written in my latest book titled Uganda: 7-Key Transformation Idea, the major problems in the world today are ignorance, poverty, and disease.
During this Omulembe Omutebi (Kabaka Mutebi’s reign) we must ensure that such problems that curtail our people from maximasing their potential are addressed.
That way the Kabaka will preside over a progressive Kingdom. Protecting the environment is going to be an important milestone in the period ahead if we still want to live on this planet or leave it safer for our children and grandchildren.
To that end, the Kabaka has directed me to work with Rotary International to double our efforts as we plant trees, among other initiatives.
We had already started on this programme by planting trees at every Kwanjula (introduction) event as well as at last funeral rites ceremonies, among others.
But we also know that Rotary is involved in other areas such as health, education, and poverty alleviation, among others and has an effective reach in the communities.
Lastly, I would like to thank Saturday Monitor for giving me this space to express my views and use this opportunity to thank all those that have supported the Kabaka, myself, and the Kingdom at large.
Like the old saying goes, if you want to walk fast, do it alone but if you want to go far, you walk with others. I look forward to continue walking with you on this tough and at the same time exciting journey in the period ahead.
Key issues to focus on
Land: According to Mr Charles Peter Mayiga, land is a propriety issue and it is therefore the kingdom’s right to protect it from an apparent plot to grab it by the powerful.
Federalism: As a system of governance, federalism, Mr Mayiga says, doesn’t make Buganda special or superior but simply empower all major regions in the country to govern themselves in a manner they see fit.
Return of Ebyaffe: As Buganda, there are many things that the central government still owes us. Some, such as land, have been returned but there are still a lot of others that have not been returned. I will continue to pursue their return.
Poverty: Through different programmes such as Emmwanyi Terimba, Buganda must use its numbers to fight poverty.
For the future, I will consolidate on what has been achieved over the past five years and focus more on ensuring that we have properly running companies and institutions in the Kingdom.
Protecting the environment
This is going to be an important milestone in the period ahead if we still want to live on this planet or leave it safer for our children and grandchildren.
The author is the Katikkiro of Buganda Kingdom.